The Second Secretary of Embassy in the Soviet Union ( Page ) to the Secretary of State
[Received April 20—12:10 p.m.]
323. The Soviet press on April 16 published a decree of the Supreme Soviet87 reading in substance as follows:
- All Soviet railways are placed under martial law.
- All railroad workers are mobilized and frozen to their work.
- The responsibility of all railroad workers for delinquencies is on the same basis as that of Red army personnel.
- Delinquencies shall be examined by railroad military tribunals according to martial law.
- Workers guilty of delinquencies shall be discharged and sent to the front in punishment brigades if they are not subject to more severe penalties. The People’s Commissar for Railways88 and the chiefs of all railways shall be responsible for a strict observance of the discipline regulations.
The press for April 17 carried leading editorials on the decree and published accounts of meetings of railway workers in which enthusiasm over the new regulations was expressed. The editorials stressed the military and economic significance of the railroads in time of war and the necessity for iron discipline. They pointed out that although only a small minority of the workers were not conscientiously fulfilling their duties no violation[s] of discipline whatsoever are permissible.