The Bullitt Mission to Russia
William C. Bullitt
Part 1 out of 3
THE BULLITT MISSION TO RUSSIA
Testimony before the Committee on Foreign Relations United States
Senate of WILLIAM C. BULLITT.
THE COMMITTEE MEETS
MR. BULLITT'S OFFICIAL STATUS
ORDERED TO RUSSIA
COUNCIL OF TEN DISCUSSES RUSSIA
THE TROOPS AT ARCHANGEL
SITUATION IN RUSSIA
FRANCE BLOCKS PRINKIPOS CONFERENCE
WHAT AMERICA WANTED
THE BRITISH TERMS
TEXT OF PROJECTED PEACE PROPOSAL BY THE ALLIED AND ASSOCIATED
MR. BULLITT'S REPORT ON RUSSIA
APPENDIX TO REPORT
STATEMENTS OF LEADERS OF OPPOSITION PARTIES
BREAKFAST WITH LLOYD GEORGE
BULLITT REPORT SUPPRESSED
PROPOSED DECLARATION OF ASSOCIATED GOVERNMENTS' POLICY AND OFFER OF
NANSEN PLAN TO FEED RUSSIA
BULLITT MEMORANDUM FOR AUCHINCLOSS
REPLY OF PRESIDENT AND THREE PREMIERS TO NANSEN
HOLCHAK'S ADVANCE CAUSES REJECTION OF PEACE PROPOSAL
LLOYD GEORGE DECEIVES PARLIAMENT
MR. BULLITT RESIGNS
REPORT OF LINCOLN STEFFENS
REPORTS OF CAPT. W.W. PETTIT
SOCIAL WORK IN PETROGRAD
THE COMMITTEE ADJOURNS
UNITED STATES SENATE, COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS,
Washington, D.C., Friday, September 12, 1919.
The committee met, pursuant to the call of the chairman,
at 10 o'clock a.m., in room 310, Senate Office Building, Senator Henry
Cabot Lodge presiding.
Present: Senators Lodge (chairman), Brandegee, Fall, Knox, Harding,
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Bullitt is to make a statement to the committee this
morning. I think I ought to say that Mr. Bullitt was summoned on the
23d of August, I believe, and he was in the woods at that time, out of
reach of telegraph or telephone or mail, and only received the summons
a few days ago. He came at once to Washington. That is the reason of
the delay in his hearing.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Bullitt, will you take the stand and give your full
name, please, to the stenographer?
Mr. BULLITT, William C. Bullitt.
The CHAIRMAN. You are a native and a resident of Philadelphia, are you
Mr. BULLITT. I am, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Prior to the war, what were you engaged in?
Mr. BULLITT. Before the war I was employed by the Philadelphia Public
Ledger. I had been a correspondent for them in various places, and I
had been a member of the editorial staff in Philadelphia for a time.
The CHAIRMAN. You went abroad for them as a correspondent?
Mr. BULLITT. I did, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Before we went into the war?
Mr. BULLITT. Before we went into the war I toured Germany, Austria,
Hungary, Belgium, Poland, and other places, studying conditions there,
for the purposes of the Public Ledger.
The CHAIRMAN. After we entered the war, what did you do? You came
Mr. BULLITT. Yes, sir; I came back. I was in the United States at that
The CHAIRMAN. At that time?
Mr. BULLITT. And I was asked to enter the Department of State, to work
in the Division of Western European Affairs under Mr. Grew, in which
my special province was to follow the political situation of Germany
and Austria-Hungary, to prepare the confidential reports of the
department on Germany, Austria, and Hungary--the weekly reports--and
also such memoranda on conditions as the President and the Secretary
and others might call for.
The CHAIRMAN. And then you went to Paris as a member of the staff,
after the armistice?
Mr. BULLITT. Yes; I was an employee of the department at the time of
the armistice, and I was ordered to Paris as a member of the staff of
Senator KNOX. When did you first go to Paris, Mr. Bullitt?
Mr. BULLITT. I sailed on the _George Washington_. I went over with the
original trip of the President.
Senator KNOX. And you were there continuously how long?
Mr. BULLITT. I remained in Paris until--I can give you the exact
date--I was ordered to go on a special mission to Berne about the
first week of February. I can give you the exact date, if it is of any
Senator KNOX. No; it is not.
Mr. BULLITT. I remained a week in Berne, then returned and remained in
Paris until I was ordered to go to Russia.
I left for Russia on the 22d of February. I was in Paris during the
entire period until the 22d of February. Senator KNOX. You said you
went over on the original trip of the President. Just to get these
dates right, when did you reach Paris?
Mr. BULLITT. I left New York on December 4 and, as I remember, we
reached Paris on December 13.
Senator KNOX. And you were there, then, until you went to Berne in
Mr. BULLITT. In February,
Senator KNOX. What was your personal relation to the peace conference
and its work?
MR. BULLITT'S OFFICIAL STATUS
Mr. BULLITT. When I first arrived I was asked to take charge of a
confidential bulletin which was to be gotten out for the benefit of
the commissioners each morning. It was to be read by them. That lasted
a very short time, and as is usual with most things of the kind, we
discovered that the commissioners did not care to spend the time
reading it, and therefore it was decided to abolish this bulletin, and
that instead I should receive all the intelligence reports of military
intelligence, of the State Department, intelligence received through
all the special dispatches of the ambassadors, etc., in fact, all the
information that came in, and a section was created called the Current
Intelligence Section. I was called the Chief of the Division of
Current Intelligence Summaries.
Senator KNOX. Then, as I understand, your function was to acquaint
yourself with everything that was going on in connection with the
conference, and disseminate the news to the different branches of the
peace conference and the different bureaus?
Mr. BULLITT. I was to report only to the commissioners.
Senator KNOX. Well, but the essential thing is, was it your duty to
Mr. BULLITT. Yes; it was my duty to be in constant touch with everyone
who was in the American delegation, and present information to the
commissioners each morning. I had 20 minutes with each commissioner
Senator KNOX. So that you were practically a clearing house of
information for the members of the American mission?
Mr. BULLITT. That is what I was supposed to be.
* * * * *
ORDERED TO RUSSIA
Senator KNOX. What was your mission to Russia, and when did you go?
Mr. BULLITT. I was ordered to go to Russia on the 18th of February. I
received the following order from Secretary Lansing [reading]:
AMERICAN COMMISSION TO NEGOTIATE PEACE,
18 February, 1919.
MR. WILLIAM C. BULLITT,
American Commission to Negotiate Peace.
SIR: You are hereby directed to proceed to Russia for the
purpose of studying conditions, political and economic,
therein, for the benefit of the American commissioners
plenipotentiary to negotiate peace, and all American
diplomatic and consular officials are hereby directed to
extend to you the proper courtesies and facilities to enable
you to fulfill the duties of your mission.
I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Secretary of State of the United States of America.
Senator KNOX. What is the date of that?
Mr. BULLITT. February 18, 1919. I also received at the same time from
Mr. Joseph C. Grew, the secretary of the American commission, the
AMERICAN COMMISSION TO NEGOTIATE PEACE,
18 February, 1919.
To whom it may concern:
I hereby certify that Mr. William C. Bullitt has been
authorized by the American commissioners plenipotentiary to
negotiate peace to proceed to Russia, for the purpose of
studying conditions, political and economic, therein, for
the benefit of the commission, and I bespeak for him the
proper courtesies and facilities in enabling him to fulfill
the duties of his mission.
Secretary of the American Commission to Negotiate Peace.
Senator KNOX. You say you started in February. What time in February?
Mr. BULLITT. I left on the 22d day of February.
Senator KNOX. Did you know at that time, or have you ascertained
since, whether a secret mission had or not been dispatched from Paris,
that is, by the President himself; a man by the name of Buckler, who
went to Russia a few days before you did?
Mr. BULLITT. Mr. W.H. Buckler, Mr. Henry White's half brother. He was
an attache of the American embassy in London. He was ordered from
there to go, about the 1st of January, to Stockholm, to confer with
Litvinov, who had been the Ambassador of the Soviet Government to
London--the British had allowed him to stay there without actually
recognizing his official status, and had dealt with him.
Mr. Buckler there conferred with Litvinov, who made various
propositions and representations to him which Mr. Buckler at once
telegraphed back to Paris, and which were considered so important by
the President that the President read them in extenso to the council
of ten on the morning of January 21. I regret that I have no actual
copy of those proposals by Litvinov, or of Buckler's telegrams. At
that time there was a discussion taking place in regard to Russia
which had extended over a couple of weeks, a discussion of the utmost
interest, in the council of ten. I happen to have the minutes of the
council for January 16, when this Russian question was taken up, which
I shall be glad to read, if the Senators should be interested, and
also the minutes of the council of ten on January 21, at which meeting
the Prinkipos proposal was decided upon. The Buckler meeting with
Litvinov was what eventually swung the meeting in favor of Prinkipos,
the suggestion for which had been made by Mr. Lloyd George. No; that
is slightly incorrect. Mr. Lloyd George had suggested that
representatives of the various Russian governments and factions should
be brought to Paris.
COUNCIL OF TEN DISCUSSES RUSSIA
NOTES ON CONVERSATIONS HELD IN THE OFFICE OF M. PICHON AT THE QUAI
D'ORSAY, ON JANUARY 16, 1919--PRELIMINARY DISCUSSION REGARDING THE
SITUATION IN RUSSIA.
Mr. Lloyd George commenced his statement setting forth the information
in the possession of the British Government regarding the Russian
situation, by referring to the matter which had been exposed recently
in L'Humanite. He stated that he wished to point out that there had
been a serious misconception on the part of the French Government as
to the character of the proposal of the British Government. The
British proposal did not contemplate in any sense whatever, a
recognition of the Bolsheviki Government, nor a suggestion that
Bolshevik delegates be invited to attend the Conference. The British
proposal was to invite all of the different governments now at war
within what used to be the Russian Empire, to a truce of God, to stop
reprisals and outrages and to send men here to give, so to speak, an
account of themselves. The Great Powers would then try to find a way
to bring some order out of chaos. These men were not to be delegates
to the Peace Conference, and he agreed with the French Government
entirely that they should not be made members of the Conference.
Mr. Lloyd George then proceeded to set forth briefly the reasons which
had led the British Government to make this proposal. They were as
Firstly, the real facts are not known;
Secondly, it is impossible to get the facts, the only way is
to adjudicate the question; and
Thirdly, conditions in Russia are very bad; there is general
mis-government and starvation. It is not known who is
obtaining the upper hand, but the hope that the Bolshevik
Government would collapse had not been realized. In fact,
there is one report that the Bolsheviki are stronger than
ever, that their internal position is strong, and that their
hold on the people is stronger. Take, for instance, the case
of the Ukraine. Some adventurer raises a few men and
overthrows the Government. The Government is incapable of
overthrowing him. It is also reported that the peasants are
becoming Bolsheviki. It is hardly the business of the Great
Powers to intervene either in lending financial support to
one side or the other, or in sending munitions to either
Mr. Lloyd George stated that there seemed to be three possible
1. Military intervention. It is true there the Bolsheviki
movement is as dangerous to civilization as German
militarism, but as to putting it down by the sword, is there
anyone who proposes it? It would mean holding a certain
number of vast provinces in Russia. The Germans with one
million men on their Eastern Front only held the fringe of
this territory. If he now proposed to send a thousand
British troops to Russia for that purpose, the armies would
mutiny. The same applies to U.S. troops in Siberia; also to
Canadians and French as well. The mere idea of crushing
Bolshevism by a military force is pure madness. Even
admitting that it is done, who is to occupy Russia? No one
can conceive or understand to bring about order by force.
2. A cordon. The second suggestion is to besiege Bolshevik
Russia. Mr. Lloyd George wondered if those present realized
what this would mean. From the information furnished him
Bolshevik Russia has no corn, but within this territory
there are 150,000,000 men, women, and children. There is now
starvation in Petrograd and Moscow. This is not a health
cordon, it is a death cordon. Moreover, as a matter of fact,
the people who would die are just the people that the Allies
desire to protect. It would not result in the starvation of
the Bolsheviki; it would simply mean the death of our
friends. The cordon policy is a policy which, as humane
people, those present could not consider.
Mr. Lloyd George asked who was there to overthrow the
Bolsheviki? He had been told there were three men, Denekin,
Kolchak and Knox. In considering the chances of these people
to overthrow the Bolsheviki, he pointed out that he had
received information that the Czecho-Slovaks now refused to
fight; that the Russian Army was not to be trusted, and that
while it was true that a Bolshevik Army had recently gone
over to Kolchak it was never certain that just the reverse
of this would not take place. If the Allies counted on any
of these men, he believed they were building on quick-sand.
He had heard a lot of talk about Denekin, but when he looked
on the map he found that Denekin was occupying a little
backyard near the Black Sea. Then he had been told that
Denekin had recognized Kolchak, but when he looked on the
map, there was a great solid block of territory between
Denekin and Kolchak. Moreover, from information received it
would appear that Kolchak had been collecting members of the
old regime around him, and would seem to be at heart a
monarchist. It appeared that the Czecho-Slovaks were finding
this out. The sympathies of the Czecho-Slovaks are very
democratic, and they are not at all prepared to fight for
the restoration of the old conditions in Russia.
Mr. Lloyd George stated that he was informed that at the
present time two-thirds of Bolshevik Russia was starving.
Institutions of Bolsheviki are institutions of old Czarist
regime. This is not what one would call creating a new
3. The third alternative was contained in the British
proposal, which was to summon these people to Paris to
appear before those present, somewhat in the way that the
Roman Empire summoned chiefs of outlying tributary states to
render an account of their actions.
Mr. Lloyd George pointed out the fact that the argument might be used
that there were already here certain representatives of these
Governments; but take, for instance, the case of Sazonov, who claims
to represent the Government of Omsk. As a matter of fact, Sazonov can
not speak from personal observation. He is nothing but a partisan,
like all the rest. He has never been in contact, and is not now in
direct contact with the Government at Omsk.
It would be manifestly absurd for those who are responsible for
bringing about the Peace Conference, to come to any agreement and
leave Paris when one-half of Europe and one-half of Asia is still in
flames. Those present must settle this question or make fools of
Mr. Lloyd George referred to the objection that had been raised to
permitting Bolshevik delegates to come to Paris. It had been claimed
that they would convert France and England to Bolshevism. If England
becomes Bolshevist, it will not be because a single Bolshevist
representative is permitted to enter England. On the other hand, if a
military enterprise were started against the Bolsheviki, that would
make England Bolshevist, and there would be a Soviet in London. For
his part, Mr. Lloyd George was not afraid of Bolshevism if the facts
are known in England and the United States. The same applied to
Germany. He was convinced that an educated democracy can be always
trusted to turn down Bolshevism.
Under all circumstances, Mr. Lloyd George saw no better way out than
to follow the third alternative. Let the Great Powers impose their
conditions and summon these people to Paris to give an account of
themselves to the Great Powers, not to the Peace Conference.
Mr. Pichon suggested that it might be well to ask M. Noulens, the
French Ambassador to Russia, who had just returned to France, to
appear before the meeting to-morrow morning, and give those present
his views on the Russian situation.
President Wilson stated that he did not see how it was possible to
controvert the statement of Mr. Lloyd George. He thought that there
was a force behind this discussion which was no doubt in his mind, but
which it might be desirable to bring out a little more definitely. He
did not believe that there would be sympathy anywhere with the brutal
aspect of Bolshevism, if it were not for the fact of the domination of
large vested interests in the political and economic world. While it
might be true that this evil was in process of discussion and slow
reform, it must be admitted, that the general body of men have grown
impatient at the failure to bring about the necessary reform. He
stated that there were many men who represented large vested interests
in the United States who saw the necessity for these reforms and
desired something which should be worked out at the Peace Conference,
namely, the establishment of some machinery to provide for the
opportunity of the individuals greater than the world has ever known.
Capital and labor in the United States are not friends. Still they are
not enemies in the sense that they are thinking of resorting to
physical force to settle their differences. But they are distrustful,
each of the other. Society can not go on that plane. On the one hand,
there is a minority possessing capital and brains; on the other, a
majority consisting of the great bodies of workers who are essential
to the minority, but do not trust the minority, and feel that the
minority will never render them their rights. A way must be found to
put trust and cooperation between these two.
President Wilson pointed out that the whole world was disturbed by
this question before the Bolskeviki came into power. Seeds need soil,
and the Bolsheviki seeds found the soil already prepared for them.
President Wilson stated that he would not be surprised to find that
the reason why British and United States troops would not be ready to
enter Russia to fight the Bolsheviki was explained by the fact that
the troops were not at all sure that if they put down Bolshevism they
would not bring about a re-establishment of the ancient order. For
example, in making a speech recently, to a well-dressed audience in
New York City who were not to be expected to show such feeling, Mr.
Wilson had referred casually to Russia, stating that the United States
would do its utmost to aid her suppressed people. The audience
exhibited the greatest enthusiasm, and this had remained in the
President's mind as an index to where the sympathies of the New World
President Wilson believed that those present would be playing against
the principle of the free spirit of the world if they did not give
Russia a chance to find herself along the lines of utter freedom. He
concurred with Mr. Lloyd George's view and supported his
recommendations that the third line of procedure be adopted.
President Wilson stated that he had also, like Mr. Lloyd George,
received a memorandum from his experts which agreed substantially with
the information which Mr. Lloyd George had received. There was one
point which he thought particularly worthy of notice, and that was the
report that the strength of the Bolshevik leaders lay in the argument
that if they were not supported by the people of Russia, there would
be foreign intervention, and the Bolsheviki were the only thing that
stood between the Russians and foreign military control. It might well
be that if the Bolsheviki were assured that they were safe from
foreign aggression, they might lose support of their own movement.
President Wilson further stated that he understood that the danger of
destruction of all hope in the Baltic provinces was immediate, and
that it should be made very clear if the British proposal were
adopted, that the Bolsheviki would have to withdraw entirely from
Lithuania and Poland. If they would agree to this to refrain from
reprisals and outrages, he, for his part, would be prepared to receive
representatives from as many groups and centers of action, as chose to
come, and endeavor to assist them to reach a solution of their
He thought that the British proposal contained the only suggestions
that lead anywhere. It might lead nowhere. But this could at least be
M. Pichon referred again to the suggestion that Ambassador Noulens be
called before the meeting.
Mr. Balfour suggested that it might be well to call the Dutch Consul,
lately in Petrograd, if it was the desire of those present to hear the
Baron Sonnino suggested that M. Scavenius, Minister of Denmark,
recently in Russia, would be able to give interesting data on the
Those present seemed to think that it might be desirable to hear what
these gentlemen might have to say.
Senator KNOX. Do you know anything about a letter that Buckler wrote
to the President in relation to his mission? Have you ever seen a copy
of his report in the form of a letter?
Mr. BULLITT. I have read a copy of his report, but I have not the
copy. The only reference I have to it that I find, in the short time I
have had to go over my papers since I came down from the woods, is in
a memorandum to Col. House in reference to the withdrawal of the
American troops from Archangel [reading]:
Buckler discussed the matter of the withdrawal of these troops with
Litvinov, who said that unquestionably the Bolsheviki would agree to
an armistice on the Archangel front at any time; and, furthermore,
would pledge themselves not to injure in any way those Russians in and
about Archangel who have been cooperating with the Allies. He,
furthermore, suggested that such Russians as did not care to trust
their lives to such a promise should be taken out with the troops.
Senator KNOX. Do you know anything about whether Litvinov communicated
directly with the President in reference to this Buckler mission?
Mr. BULLITT. Litvinov had written a letter to the President, which has
since been widely published, on December 24.
Senator KNOX. That is the letter I had in mind. I had seen some
references to that. Do you have a copy of that letter?
Mr. BULLITT. I do not know whether I have any copies of this
letter--that is, authentic. I think I have a newspaper copy some
place, but I have no actual copy of the letter.
Senator KNOX. Can you tell us anything more about the discussion in
reference to the withdrawal of troops from Russia that took place at
that time--anything more than is indicated by your letter, there?
Mr. BULLITT. There were very serious discussions, all the time.
Telegrams were being received frequently from the various commanders
at Archangel, the American and the British notably, in regard to
conditions, which they described as likely to be disastrous, and
discussions of real gravity were taking place all the time. The
subject was very much in the air. I have, I will say, very few
references to that particular condition. I have here this memorandum
which takes up some of these subjects. I do not know if the committee
would care to hear it.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes.
Senator KNOX. This is a memorandum that you sent to Col. House?
Mr. BULLITT. Yes; Col. House.
Senator KNOX. Please read it.
Mr. BULLITT [reading]:
JANUARY 30, 1919.
Memorandum for Col. House.
Subject: Withdrawal of American troops from Archangel.
DEAR COL. HOUSE: The 12,000 American, British, and French
troops at Archangel are no longer serving any useful
purpose. Only 3,000 Russians have rallied around this force.
It is the attacked, not the attacker, and serves merely to
create cynicism in regard to all our proposals and to
stimulate recruiting for the Red Army.
Furthermore, the 4,000 Americans, 6,000 British, 2,000
French, and 3,000 Russian troops in this region are in
considerable danger of destruction by the Bolsheviki. Gen.
Ironside has just appealed for reinforcements and the
British war office has directed the commanding general at
Murmansk to be prepared to dispatch a battalion of Infantry
Instead of transferring troops from Murmansk to Archangel,
it seems to me that we should at once transfer to Murmansk
and bring home the troops which are now at Archangel. Aside
from the needless suffering which these men are enduring,
aside from the demands of the public in the United States
and England for the return of these men, it seems to me that
the withdrawal of these troops would be of great value as a
proof that we have made the Prinkipos proposal in full good
I have asked Gen. Churchill to obtain the most expert
opinion available on the practicability of moving the 12,000
American, British, and French troops and such Russians as
may wish to accompany them from Archangel to Murmansk. The
appended memorandum and map which he has prepared show that
unless the ice in the White Sea suddenly becomes thicker it
is at present possible with the aid of six ice breakers
which are now at Archangel to move these troops by water to
Kem on the Murmansk Railroad, whence they may be carried by
train to Murmansk.
Buckler discussed the matter of the withdrawal of these
troops with Litvinov, who said that unquestionably the
Bolsheviki would agree to an armistice on the Archangel
front at any time and, furthermore, would pledge themselves
not to injure in any way those Russians in and about
Archangel who have been cooperating with the Allies. He
furthermore suggested that such Russians as did not care to
trust their lives to such a promise should be taken out with
The provisional government at Archangel has just notified us
that it will not accept the proposal for a conference at
Prinkipos. It seems dignified and honorable at this moment
to inform the Archangel government that since it can not
agree to the allied proposal, presented after the most
serious consideration, we shall decline to support it
further with arms, but will make provision for the safety of
all Russians who are unwilling to remain at Archangel.
I have discussed this Archangel business at some length with
Philip Kerr, Lloyd George's secretary, who says that L.G.
intends to bring the British troops out on the 1st of May,
which he believes to be the first practicable moment. The
first practicable moment, however, seems to be now.
The situation at Archangel is most serious for the soldiers
who are stationed there, but it is also serious for the
Governments which sent them out and seem to have abandoned
them. Unless they are saved by prompt action, we shall have
another Gallipoli. Very respectfully yours,
WILLIAM C. BULLITT.
I discussed these matters with each one of the commissioners each
morning. It was my duty to keep them au courant with anything that
struck me as important, which in the stress of the business of the
peace conference they were likely to overlook.
Senator KNOX. This was a memorandum made in the line of your duty?
Mr. BULLITT. This was a memorandum made as the result of the
conversations that I had had with all of the commissioners that
This particular memorandum, in fact, was ordered by Col. House, and in
connection with it he asked me to have made a map showing the
feasibility of getting the troops out of Russia, by the military
experts of the conference, which map I have here. If you would be
interested in it in any way, I will append the memorandum made for
Gen. Churchill with regard to withdrawing the troops.
Senator KNOX. I was going to ask you whether or not you had any
information as to the terms which the Allies were willing to accept
COUNCIL OF TEN FORMULATES A RUSSIAN POLICY
Mr. BULLITT. I had, of course, seen the discussions of the conference
with regard to the entire Russian matter. The conference had decided,
after long consideration, that it was impossible to subdue or wipe out
the Soviet Government by force. The discussion of that is of a certain
interest, I believe, in connection with this general matter. There
are, in regard to the question you have just asked, minutes of the
council of ten, on January 21, 1919.
Lloyd George had introduced the proposition that representatives of
the Soviet Government should be brought to Paris along with the
representatives of the other Russian governments [reading]:
[McD. Secret. I.C. 114. Secretaries' notes of a conversation
held in M. Pichon's room at the Quai d'Orsay on Tuesday,
January 21, 1919, at 15 hours.]
United States of America: President Wilson, Mr. R. Lansing,
Mr. A.H. Frazier, Col. U.S. Grant, Mr. L. Harrison.
British Empire: The Right Hon. D. Lloyd George, The Right
Hon. A.J. Balfour, Lieut. Col. Sir M.P.A. Hankey, K.C.B.,
Maj. A.M. Caccia, M.V.O., Mr. E. Phipps.
France: M. Clemenceau, M. Pichon, M. Dutasta, M. Berthelot,
Capt. A. Potier.
Italy: Signor Orlando, H.E. Baron Sonnino, Count Aldrovandi,
Maj. A. Jones.
Japan: Baron Makino, H.E.M. Matsui, M. Saburi.
Interpreter, Prof. P.J. Mantoux.
SITUATION IN RUSSIA
M. Clemenceau said they had met together to decide what
could be done in Russia under present circumstances.
President Wilson said that in order to have something
definite to discuss, he wished to take advantage of a
suggestion made by Mr. Lloyd George and to propose a
modification of the British proposal. He wished to suggest
that the various organized groups in Russia should be asked
to send representatives, not to Paris, but to some other
place, such as Salonika, convenient of approach, there to
meet such representatives as might be appointed by the
Allies, in order to see if they could draw up a program upon
which agreement could be reached.
Mr. Lloyd George pointed out that the advantage of this
would be that they could be brought straight there from
Russia through the Black Sea without passing through other
M. Sonnino said that some of the representatives of the
various Governments were already here in Paris, for example,
M. Sazonov. Why should these not be heard?
President Wilson expressed the view that the various parties
should not be heard separately. It would be very desirable
to get all these representatives in one place, and still
better, all in one room, in order to obtain a close
comparison of views.
Mr. Balfour said that a further objection to Mr. Sonnino's
plan was that if M. Sazonov was heard in Paris, it would be
difficult to refuse to hear the others in Paris also, and M.
Clemenceau objected strongly to having some of these
representatives in Paris.
M. Sonnino explained that all the Russian parties had some
representatives here, except the Soviets, whom they did not
wish to hear.
Mr. Lloyd George remarked that the Bolshevists were the very
people some of them wished to hear.
M. Sonnino continuing said that they had heard M. Litovnov's
statements that morning.
That was the statement that Litvinov had made to Buckler which the
President had read to the council of ten that morning.
The Allies were now fighting against the Bolshevists who
were their enemies, and therefore they were not obliged to
hear them with the others.
Mr. Balfour remarked that the essence of President Wilson's
proposal was that the parties must all be heard at one and
the same time.
Mr. Lloyd George expressed the view that the acceptance of
M. Sonnino's proposals would amount to their hearing a
string of people, all of whom held the same opinion, and all
of whom would strike the same note. But they would not hear
the people who at the present moment were actually
controlling European Russia. In deference to M. Clemenceau's
views, they had put forward this new proposal. He thought it
would be quite safe to bring the Bolshevist representatives
to Salonika, or perhaps to Lemnos.
It was absolutely necessary to endeavor to make peace. The
report read by President Wilson that morning went to show
that the Bolshevists were not convinced of the error of
their ways, but they apparently realised the folly of their
present methods. Therefore they were endeavouring to come to
President Wilson asked to be permitted to urge one aspect of
the case. As M. Sonnino had implied, they were all repelled
by Bolshevism, and for that reason they had placed armed men
in opposition to them. One of the things that was clear in
the Russian situation was that by opposing Bolshevism with
arms, they were in reality serving the cause of Bolshevism.
The Allies were making it possible for the Bolsheviks to
argue that Imperialistic and Capitalistic Governments were
endeavouring to exploit the country and to give the land
back to the landlords, and so bring about a re-action. If it
could be shown that this was not true, and that the Allies
were prepared to deal with the rulers of Russia, much of the
moral force of this argument would disappear. The allegation
that the Allies were against the people and wanted to
control their affairs provided the argument which enabled
them to raise armies. If, on the other hand, the Allies
could swallow their pride and the natural repulsion which
they felt for the Bolshevists and see the representatives of
all organized groups in one place, he thought it would bring
about a marked reaction against Bolshevism.
M. Clemenceau said that, in principle, he did not favour
conversation with the Bolshevists; not because they were
criminals, but because we would be raising them to our level
by saying that they were worthy of entering into
conversation with us. The Bolshevist danger was very great
at the present moment. Bolshevism was spreading. It had
invaded the Baltic Provinces and Poland, and that very
morning they received very bad news regarding its spread to
Budapesth and Vienna. Italy, also, was in danger. The danger
was probably greater there than in France. If Bolshevism,
after spreading in Germany, were to traverse Austria and
Hungary and so reach Italy, Europe would be faced with a
very great danger. Therefore, something must be done against
Bolshevism. When listening to the document presented by
President Wilson that morning, he had been struck by the
cleverness with which the Bolshevists were attempting to lay
a trap for the Allies. When the Bolshevists first came into
power, a breach was made with the Capitalist Government on
questions of principle, but now they offered funds and
concessions as a basis for treating with them. He need not
say how valueless their promises were, but if they were
listened to, the Bolshevists would go back to their people
and say: "We offered them great principles of justice and
the Allies would have nothing to do with us. Now we offer
money, and they are ready to make peace."
He admitted his remarks did not offer a solution. The great
misfortune was that the Allies were in need of a speedy
solution. After four years of war, and the losses and
sufferings they had incurred, their populations could stand
no more. Russia also was in need of immediate peace. But its
necessary evolution must take time. The signing of the world
Peace could not await Russia's final avatar. Had time been
available, he would suggest waiting, for eventually sound
men representing common-sense would come to the top. But
when would that be? He could make no forecast. Therefore
they must press for an early solution.
To sum up, had he been acting by himself, he would temporize
and erect barriers to prevent Bolshevism from spreading. But
he was not alone, and in the presence of his colleagues he
felt compelled to make some concession, as it was essential
that there should not be even the appearance of disagreement
amongst them. The concession came easier after having heard
President Wilson's suggestions. He thought that they should
make a very clear and convincing appeal to all reasonable
peoples, emphatically stating that they did not wish in any
way to interfere in the internal affairs of Russia, and
especially that they had no intention of restoring Czardom.
The object of the Allies being to hasten the creation of a
strong Government, they proposed to call together
representatives of all parties to a Conference. He would beg
President Wilson to draft a paper, fully explaining the
position of the Allies to the whole world, including the
Russians and the Germans.
Mr. Lloyd George agreed and gave notice that he wished to
withdraw his own motion in favour of President Wilson's.
Mr. Balfour said that he understood that all these people
were to be asked on an equality. On these terms he thought
the Bolshevists would refuse, and by their refusal, they
would put themselves in a very bad position.
M. Sonnino said that he did not agree that the Bolshevists
would not come. He thought they would be the first to come,
because they would be eager to put themselves on an equality
with the others. He would remind his colleagues that, before
the Peace of Brest-Litovsk was signed, the Bolshevists
promised all sorts of things, such as to refrain from
propaganda, but since that peace had been concluded they had
broken all their promises, their one idea being to spread
revolution in all other countries. His idea was to collect
together all the anti-Bolshevik parties and help them to
make a strong Government, provided they pledged themselves
not to serve the forces of re-action and especially not to
touch the land question, thereby depriving the Bolshevists
of their strongest argument. Should they take these pledges,
he would be prepared to help them.
Mr. Lloyd George enquired how this help would be given.
M. Sonnino replied that help would be given with soldiers to
a reasonable degree or by supplying arms, food, and money.
For instance, Poland asked for weapons and munitions; the
Ukraine asked for weapons. All the Allies wanted was to
establish a strong Government. The reason that no strong
Government at present existed was that no party could risk
taking the offensive against Bolshevism without the
assistance of the Allies. He would enquire how the parties
of order could possibly succeed without the help of the
Allies. President Wilson had said that they should put aside
all pride in the matter. He would point out that, for Italy
and probably for France also, as M. Clemenceau had stated,
it was in reality a question of self-defence. He thought
that even a partial recognition of the Bolshevists would
strengthen their position, and, speaking for himself, he
thought that Bolshevism was already a serious danger in his
Mr. Lloyd George said he wished to put one or two practical
questions to M. Sonnino. The British Empire now had some
15,000 to 20,000 men in Russia. M. de Scavenius had
estimated that some 150,000 additional men would be
required, in order to keep the anti-Bolshevist Governments
from dissolution. And General Franchet d'Esperey also
insisted on the necessity of Allied assistance. Now Canada
had decided to withdraw her troops, because the Canadian
soldiers would not agree to stay and fight against the
Russians. Similar trouble had also occurred amongst the
other Allied troops. And he felt certain that, if the
British tried to send any more troops there, there would be
M. Sonnino suggested that volunteers might be called for.
Mr. Lloyd George, continuing, said that it would be
impossible to raise 150,000 men in that way. He asked,
however, what contributions America, Italy and France would
make towards the raising of this Army.
President Wilson and M. Clemenceau each said none.
M. Orlando agreed that Italy could make no further
Mr. Lloyd George said that the Bolshevists had an army of
300,000 men who would, before long, be good soldiers, and to
fight them at least 400,000 Russian soldiers would be
required. Who would feed, equip and pay them? Would Italy,
or America, or France, do so? If they were unable to do
that, what would be the good of fighting Bolshevism? It
could not be crushed by speeches. He sincerely trusted that
they would accept President Wilson's proposal as it now
M. Orlando agreed that the question was a very difficult one
for the reasons that had been fully given. He agreed that
Bolshevism constituted a grave danger to all Europe. To
prevent a contagious epidemic from spreading, the
sanitarians set up a _cordon Sanitaire_. If similar measures
could be taken against Bolshevism, in order to prevent its
spreading, it might be overcome, since to isolate it meant
vanquishing it. Italy was now passing through a period of
depression, due to war weariness. But Bolshevists could
never triumph there, unless they found a favourable medium,
such as might be produced either by a profound patriotic
disappointment in their expectations as to the rewards of
the war, or by an economic crisis. Either might lead to
revolution, which was equivalent to Bolshevism. Therefore,
he would insist that all possible measures should be taken
to set up this cordon. Next, he suggested the consideration
of repressive measures. He thought two methods were
possible; either the use of physical force or the use of
moral force. He thought Mr. Lloyd George's objection to the
use of physical force unanswerable. The occupation of Russia
meant the employment of large numbers of troops for an
indefinite period of time. This meant an apparent
prolongation of the war. There remained the use of moral
force. He agreed with M. Clemenceau that no country could
continue in anarchy and that an end must eventually come;
but they could not wait; they could not proceed to make
peace and ignore Russia. Therefore, Mr. Lloyd George's
proposal, with the modifications introduced after careful
consideration by President Wilson and M. Clemenceau, gave a
possible solution. It did not involve entering into
negotiations with the Bolsheviks; the proposal was merely an
attempt to bring together all the parties in Russia with a
view to finding a way out of the present difficulty. He was
prepared, therefore, to support it.
President Wilson asked for the views of his Japanese
Baron Makino said that after carefully considering the
various points of view put forward, he had no objections to
make regarding the conclusions reached. He thought that was
the best solution under the circumstances. He wished,
however, to enquire what attitude would be taken by the
Representatives of the Allied powers if the Bolshevists
accepted the invitation to the meeting and there insisted
upon their principles. He thought they should under no
circumstances countenance Bolshevist ideas. The conditions
in Siberia East of the Baikal had greatly improved. The
objects which had necessitated the despatch of troops to
that region had been attained. Bolshevism was no longer
aggressive, though it might still persist in a latent form.
In conclusion, he wished to support the proposal before the
President Wilson expressed the view that the emissaries of
the Allied Powers should not be authorised to adopt any
definite attitude towards Bolshevism. They should merely
report back to their Governments the conditions found.
Mr. Lloyd George asked that that question be further
considered. He thought the emissaries of the Allied Powers
should be able to establish an agreement if they were able
to find a solution. For instance, if they succeeded in
reaching an agreement on the subject of the organization of
a Constituent Assembly, they should be authorised to accept
such a compromise without the delay of a reference to the
President Wilson suggested that the emissaries might be
furnished with a body of instructions.
Mr. Balfour expressed the view that abstention from hostile
action against their neighbours should be made a condition
of their sending representatives to this meeting.
President Wilson agreed.
M. Clemenceau suggested that the manifesto to the Russian
parties should be based solely on humanitarian grounds. They
should say to the Russians: "You are threatened by famine.
We are prompted by humanitarian feelings; we are making
peace; we do not want people to die. We are prepared to see
what can be done to remove the menace of starvation." He
thought the Russians would at once prick up their ears, and
be prepared to hear what the Allies had to say. They would
add that food cannot be sent unless peace and order were
re-established. It should, in fact, be made quite clear that
the representatives of all parties would merely be brought
together for purely humane reasons.
Mr. Lloyd George said that in this connection he wished to
invite attention to a doubt expressed by certain of the
delegates of the British Dominions, namely, whether there
would be enough food and credit to go round should an
attempt be made to feed all Allied countries, and enemy
countries, and Russia also. The export of so much food would
inevitably have the effect of raising food prices in Allied
countries and so create discontent and Bolshevism. As
regards grain, Russia had always been an exporting country,
and there was evidence to show that plenty of food at
present existed in the Ukraine.
President Wilson said that his information was that enough
food existed in Russia, but, either on account of its being
hoarded or on account of difficulties of transportation, it
could not be made available.
(It was agreed that President Wilson should draft a
proclamation, for consideration at the next meeting,
inviting all organized parties in Russia to attend a Meeting
to be held at some selected place such as Salonika or
Lemnos, in order to discuss with the representatives of the
Allied and Associated Great Powers the means of restoring
order and peace in Russia. Participation in the Meeting
should be conditional on a cessation of hostilities.)
2. _Peace Conference_.--M. Clemenceau considered it to be
most urgent that the delegates should be set to work. He
understood that President Wilson would be ready to put on
the table at the next full Conference, proposals relating to
the creation of a League of Nations. He was anxious to add a
second question, which could be studied immediately, namely,
reparation for damages. He thought the meeting should
consider how the work should be organized in order to give
effect to this suggestion.
Mr. Lloyd George said that he agreed that these questions
should be studied forthwith. He would suggest that, in the
first place, the League of Nations should be considered,
and, that after the framing of the principles, an
International Committee of Experts be set to work out its
constitution in detail. The same remark applied also to the
question of indemnities and reparation. He thought that a
Committee should also be appointed as soon as possible to
consider International Labour Legislation.
President Wilson observed that he had himself drawn up a
constitution of a League of Nations. He could not claim that
it was wholly his own creation. Its generation was as
follows:--He had received the Phillimore Report, which had
been amended by Colonel House and re-written by himself. He
had again revised it after having received General Smuts'
and Lord Robert Cecil's reports. It was therefore a compound
of these various suggestions. During the week he had seen M.
Bourgeois, with whom he found himself to be in substantial
accord on principles. A few days ago he had discussed his
draft with Lord Robert Cecil and General Smuts, and they
found themselves very near together.
Mr. Balfour suggested that President Wilson's draft should
be submitted to the Committee as a basis for discussion.
President Wilson further suggested that the question should
be referred as far as possible to the men who had been
Mr. Lloyd George expressed his complete agreement. He
thought they themselves should, in the first place, agree on
the fundamental principles and then refer the matter to the
Committee. When that Committee met they could take President
Wilson's proposals as the basis of discussion.
(It was agreed that the question of appointing an
International Committee, consisting of two members from each
of the five Great Powers, to whom would be referred
President Wilson's draft, with certain basic principles to
guide them, should be considered at the next meeting.)
3. _Poland_.--M. Pichon called attention to the necessity
for replying to the demand addressed by M. Paderewski to
Colonel House, which had been read by President Wilson that
morning, and asked that Marshal Foch should be present.
(It was agreed that this question should be discussed at the
4. _Disarmament_.--Mr. Balfour called attention to the
urgency of the question of disarmament, and said that he
would shortly propose that a Committee should be appointed
to consider this question.
VILLA MAJESTIC, Paris January 21st, 1919.
This is the minute of January 21, and the Prinkipos memorandum was
written on January 22.
The instructions to the President were as follows:
It was agreed that President Wilson should draft a
proclamation for consideration at the next meeting, inviting
all organized parties in Russia to attend a meeting to be
held at some selected place such as Salonika or Lemnos, in
order to discuss with the representatives of the allied and
associated great powers the means of restoring order and
peace in Russia. Participation in the meeting should be
conditional on a cessation of hostilities.
The President then wrote the Prinkipos proposition.
Senator KNOX. Did you make a written report of your mission?
Mr. BULLITT. I did, sir.
Senator KNOX. Have you it here?
Mr. BULLITT. Yes, sir. I might read the report without the appendices.
Senator KNOX. The chairman wants you to read it.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not know whether it is very long. The report he
made would be of some interest. You were the only official
Mr. BULLITT. Yes, sir; except Capt. Pettit, my assistant. The
circumstances of my sending will perhaps require further elucidation.
I not only was acquainted with the minutes of the discussions of the
council of ten, but in addition I had discussed the subject with each
of the commissioners each morning and I had talked with many British
representatives. After the Prinkipos proposal was made, the replies
began to come in from various factions, that they would refuse to
accept it for various reasons. The Soviet Government replied in a
slightly evasive form. They said, "We are ready to accept the terms of
the proposals, and we are ready to talk about stopping fighting." They
did not say, "We are ready to stop fighting on such and such a date."
It was not made specific.
Senator KNOX. That was one of the conditions of the proposal?
FRANCE BLOCKS PRINKIPOS CONFERENCE
Mr. BULLITT. It was. That is why I say they replied in an evasive
manner. The French--and particularly the French foreign office, even
more than Mr. Clemenceau--and you can observe it from that minute were
opposed to the idea, and we found that the French foreign office had
communicated to the Ukrainian Government and various other antisoviet
governments that if they were to refuse the proposal, they would
support them and continue to support them, and not allow the Allies,
if they could prevent it, or the allied Governments, to make peace
with the Russian Soviet Government.
At all events, the time set for the Prinkipos proposal was February
15. At that time nobody had acted in a definite, uncompromising
matter. It therefore fell to the ground.
There was a further discussion as to what should be done. The peace
conference was still of the opinion that it was impossible to hope to
conquer the Soviet Government by force of arms, because in the latter
part of that report, which I did not read to the committee, there was
expressed very forcibly the opinion of Mr. Lloyd George, that the
populations at home would not stand it. Therefore they desired to
follow up further the line of making peace.
About that time I was working particularly closely on the Russian
affairs. I had had a number of discussions with everyone concerned in
it, and on the very day that Col. House and Mr. Lansing first asked me
to undertake this mission to Russia, I was dining at Mr. Lloyd
George's apartment to discuss Russian affairs with his secretaries, so
that I had a fair idea of the point of view of everyone in Paris.
I further, before I went, received urgent instructions from Secretary
Lansing if possible to obtain the release of Consul Treadwell, who had
been our consul in Petrograd and had been transferred to Tashkent, and
had been detained by the local Soviet Government and had been kept
there several months. He was one of our Government officers they had
seized. Mr. Lansing ordered me to do everything I could to obtain his
I further, before I went, asked Col. House certain specific questions
in regard to what, exactly, the point of view of our Government was on
this subject, what we were ready to do, and I think it perhaps might
be important to detail a brief resume of this conversation. The idea
was this: Lloyd George had gone over to London on February 9, as I
remember, to try to adjust some labor troubles. He, however, still
insisted that the Prinkipos proposal must be renewed or some other
peace proposal must be made, and I arranged a meeting between him and
Col. House, which was to take place, I believe, on February 24, at
which time they were to prepare a renewal of the Prinkipos proposal,
and they were both prepared to insist that it be passed against any
opposition of the French.
I arranged this meeting through Mr. Philip Kerr, Mr. Lloyd George's
confidential assistant. However, on the 19th day of the month, Mr.
Clemenceau was shot, and the next day Mr. Lloyd George telephoned over
from London to say that as long as Clemenceau was wounded and was ill,
he was boss of the roost, and that anything he desired to veto would
be immediately wiped out and therefore it was no use for him and Col.
House, as long as Clemenceau was ill, to attempt to renew the
Prinkipos proposal, as Clemenceau would simply have to hold up a
finger and the whole thing would drop to the ground. Therefore, it was
decided that I should go at once to Russia to attempt to obtain from
the Soviet Government an exact statement of the terms on which they
were ready to stop fighting. I was ordered if possible to obtain that
statement and have it back in Paris before the President returned to
Paris from the United States. The plan was to make a proposal to the
Soviet Government which would certainly be accepted.
The CHAIRMAN. These orders came from the President?
Mr. BULLITT. These orders came to me from Col. House. I also discussed
the matter with Mr. Lansing, and Mr. Lansing and Col. House gave me
the instructions which I had.
Senator KNOX. You said a moment ago that you went to Col. House to get
a statement of the American position.
WHAT AMERICA WANTED
Mr. BULLITT. Yes; I asked Col. House these questions [reading]:
1. If the Bolsheviki are ready to stop the forward movement
of their troops on all fronts and to declare an armistice on
all fronts, would we be willing to do likewise?
2. Is the American Government prepared to insist that the
French, British, Italian, and Japanese Governments shall
accept such an armistice proposal?
3. If fighting is stopped on all fronts, is the Government
of the United States prepared to insist on the
reestablishment of economic relations with Russia, subject
only to the equitable distribution among all classes of the
population of supplies and food and essential commodities
which may be sent to Russia?
In other words, a sort of Hoover Belgian distribution plan
so that the Bolsheviki could not use the food we sent in
there for propaganda purposes and to starve their enemies
and to feed their friends.
The fourth question I asked him was as follows:
4. Is the United States Government, under these conditions,
prepared to press the Allies for a joint statement that all
Allied troops will be withdrawn from the soil of Russia as
soon as practicable, on condition that the Bolsheviki give
explicit assurances that there will be no retaliation
against persons who have cooperated with the allied forces?
Col. House replied that we were prepared to.
Further, I asked Col. House whether it was necessary to get
a flat and explicit assurance from the Soviet Government
that they would make full payment of all their debts before
we would make peace with them, and Col. House replied that
it was not; that no such statement was necessary, however,
that such a statement would be extremely desirable to have,
inasmuch as much of the French opposition to making peace
with the Soviet Government was on account of the money owed
by Russia to France.
I further had an intimation of the British disposition
toward Russia. As I said before, I had discussed the matter
with Mr. Philip Kerr, and Sir Maurice Hankey and Col. House
asked me to inform Mr. Kerr of my mission before I went. It
was to be an entire secret from all except the British. The
British and American delegations worked in very close touch
throughout the conference, and there were practically no
secrets that the American delegation had that were not also
the property of the British delegation.
THE BRITISH TERMS
I was asked to inform Mr. Kerr of this trip. I told him all about it,
and asked him if he could get Mr. Balfour and Mr. Lloyd George to give
me a general indication of their point of view on peace with Russia;
what they would be prepared to do in the matter.
Mr. Kerr and I then talked and prepared what we thought might be the
basis of peace with Russia.
I then received from Mr. Kerr, before I left, the following letter,
which is a personal letter, which I regret greatly to bring forward,
but which I feel is necessary in the interest of an understanding of
this matter. [Reading:]
[Private and confidential.]
Paris, February 21, 1919.
MY DEAR BULLITT: I inclose a note of the sort of conditions
upon which I personally think it would be possible for the
allied Governments to resume once more normal relations with
Soviet Russia. You will understand, of course, that these
have no official significance and merely represent
suggestions of my own opinion.
That was from Mr. Kerr, Lloyd George's confidential secretary. Mr.
Kerr had, however, told me that he had discussed the entire matter
with Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Balfour, and therefore I thought he had
a fair idea of what conditions the British were ready to accept. The
note inclosed reads as follows:
1. Hostilities to cease on all fronts.
2. All de facto governments to remain in full control of the
territories which they at present occupy.
3. Railways and ports necessary to transportation between
soviet Russia and the sea to be subject to the same
regulations as international railways and ports in the rest
4. Allied subjects to be given free right of entry and full
security to enable them to enter soviet Russia and go about
their business there provided they do not interfere in
5. Amnesty to all political prisoners on both sides: full
liberty to all Russians who have fought with the Allies.
6. Trade relations to be restored between soviet Russia and
the outside world under conditions which, while respecting
the sovereignty of soviet Russia insure that allied supplies
are made available on equal terms to all classes of the
7. All other questions connected with Russia's debt to the
Allies, etc., to be considered independently after peace has
8. All allied troops to be withdrawn from Russia as soon as
Russian armies above quota to be defined have been
demobilized and their surplus arms surrendered or destroyed.
You will see the American and British positions were very close
Senator KNOX. With these statements from Col. House as to the American
position and from Mr. Kerr as to the British position, and with the
instructions which you had received, you proceeded to Russia, and, as
you said a moment ago, you made a written report?
Mr. BULLITT. I did, sir. Do you want it read, or shall I state the
substance and then put it in the record? I think I can state it more
briefly if I read the first eight pages of it and then put the rest of
it in the record.
The CHAIRMAN. Very well; do that.
Mr. BULLITT. This report I made to the President and to the American
commissioners, by order of the President transmitted to me on my
return by Mr. Lansing. I should like to say, before I read this
report, that of course I was in Russia an extremely short time, and
this is merely the best observation that I could make supplemented by
the observation of Capt. Pettit of the Military Intelligence, who was
sent in as my assistant, and with other impressions that I got from
Mr. Lincoln Steffens and other observers who were there.
Senator KNOX. How long were you in Russia?
Mr. BULLITT. For only one week. I was instructed to go in and bring
back as quickly as possible a definite statement of exactly the terms
the Soviet Government was ready to accept. The idea in the minds of
the British and the American delegation were that if the Allies made
another proposal it should be a proposal which we would know in
advance would be accepted, so that there would be no chance of another
Prinkipos proposal miscarrying.
I might perhaps read first, or show to you, the official text. This is
the official text of their proposition which they handed me in Moscow
on the 14th of March. Here is a curious thing--the Soviet foreign
TERMS WHICH RUSSIA OFFERED TO ACCEPT
As I said, I was sent to obtain an exact statement of the terms that
the Soviet Government was ready to accept, and I received on the 14th
the following statement from Tchitcherin and Litvinov.
Senator KNOX. Who were they?
Mr. BULLITT. Tchitcherin was Peoples' Commisar for Foreign Affairs of
the Soviet Republic and Litvinov was the former Soviet Ambassador to
London, the man with whom Buckler had had his conversation, and who
was now practically assistant secretary for foreign affairs.
I also had a conference with Lenin. The Soviet Government undertook to
accept this proposal provided it was made by the allied and associated
Governments not later than April 10, 1919. The proposal reads as
TEXT OF PROJECTED PEACE PROPOSAL BY THE ALLIED AND ASSOCIATED
The allied and associated Governments to propose that hostilities
shall cease on all fronts in the territory of the former Russian
Empire and Finland on ---- and that no new hostilities shall begin
after this date, pending a conference to be held at ---- on ----
[Footnote 1: The date of the armistice to be set at least a
week after the date when the allied and associated
Governments make this proposal.]
[Footnote 2: The Soviet Government greatly prefers that the
conference should be held in a neutral country and also that
either a radio or a direct telegraph wire to Moscow should
be put at its disposal.]
[Footnote 3: The conference to begin not later than a week
after the armistice takes effect and the Soviet Government
greatly prefers that the period between the date of the
armistice and the first meeting of the conference should be
only three days, if possible.]
The duration of the armistice to be for two weeks, unless extended by
mutual consent, and all parties to the armistice to undertake not to
employ the period of the armistice to transfer troops and war material
to the territory of the former Russian Empire.
The conference to discuss peace on the basis of the following
principles, which shall not be subject to revision by the conference.
1. All existing de facto governments which have been set up
on the territory of the former Russian Empire and Finland to
remain in full control of the territories which they occupy
at the moment when the armistice becomes effective, except
in so far as the conference may agree upon the transfer of
territories; until the peoples inhabiting the territories
controlled by these de facto governments shall themselves
determine to change their Governments. The Russian Soviet
Government, the other soviet governments and all other
governments which have been set up on the territory of the
former Russian Empire, the allied and associated
Governments, and the other Governments which are operating
against the soviet governments, including Finland, Poland,
Galicia, Roumania, Armenia, Azerbaidjan, and Afghanistan, to
agree not to attempt to upset by force the existing de facto
governments which have been set up on the territory of the
former Russian Empire and the other Governments signatory to
this agreement. [Footnote 4: The allied and associated
Governments to undertake to see to it that the de facto
governments of Germany do not attempt to upset by force the
de facto governments of Russia. The de facto governments
which have been set up on the territory of the former
Russian Empire to undertake not to attempt to upset by force
the de facto governments of Germany.]
2. The economic blockade to be raised and trade relations
between Soviet Russia and the allied and associated
countries to be reestablished under conditions which will
ensure that supplies from the allied and associated
countries are made available on equal terms to all classes
of the Russian people.
3. The soviet governments of Russia to have the right of
unhindered transit on all railways and the use of all ports
which belonged to the former Russian Empire and to Finland
and are necessary for the disembarkation and transportation
of passengers and goods between their territories and the
sea; detailed arrangements for the carrying out of this
provision to be agreed upon at the conference.
4. The citizens of the soviet republics of Russia to have
the right of free entry into the allied and associated
countries as well as into all countries which have been
formed on the territory of the former Russian Empire and
Finland; also the right of sojourn and of circulation and
full security, provided they do not interfere in the
domestic politics of those countries. [Footnote 5: It is
considered essential by the Soviet Government that the
allied and associated Governments should see to it that
Poland and all neutral countries extend the same rights as
the allied and associated countries.]
Nationals of the allied and associated countries and of the
other countries above named to have the right of free entry
into the soviet republics of Russia; also the right of
sojourn and of circulation and full security, provided they
do not interfere in the domestic politics of the soviet
The allied and associated Governments and other governments
which have been set up on the territory of the former
Russian Empire and Finland to have the right to send
official representatives enjoying full liberty and immunity
into the various Russian Soviet Republics. The soviet
governments of Russia to have the right to send official
representatives enjoying full liberty and immunity into all
the allied and associated countries and into the nonsoviet
countries which have been formed on the territory of the
former Russian Empire and Finland.
5. The soviet governments, the other Governments which have
been set up on the territory of the former Russian Empire
and Finland, to give a general amnesty to all political
opponents, offenders, and prisoners. The allied and
associated governments to give a general amnesty to all
Russian political opponents, offenders, and prisoners, and
to their own nationals who have been or may be prosecuted
for giving help to Soviet Russia. All Russians who have
fought in, or otherwise aided the armies opposed to the
soviet governments, and those opposed to the other
Governments which have been set up on the territory of the
former Russian Empire and Finland to be included in this
All prisoners of war of non-Russian powers detained in
Russia, likewise all nationals of those powers now in Russia
to be given full facilities for repatriation. The Russian
prisoners of war in whatever foreign country they may be,
likewise all Russian nationals, including the Russian
soldiers and officers abroad and those serving in all
foreign armies to be given full facilities for repatriation.
6. Immediately after the signing of this agreement all
troops of the allied and associated Governments and other
non-Russian Governments to be withdrawn from Russia and
military assistance to cease to be given to antisoviet
Governments which have been set up on the territory of the
former Russian Empire.
The soviet governments and the antisoviet governments which
have been set up on the territory of the former Russian
Empire and Finland to begin to reduce their armies
simultaneously, and at the same rate, to a peace footing
immediately after the signing of this agreement. The
conference to determine the most effective and just method
of inspecting and controlling this simultaneous
demobilization and also the withdrawal of the troops and the
cessation of military assistance to the antisoviet
7. The allied and associated Governments, taking cognizance
of the statement of the Soviet Government of Russia, in its
note of February 4, in regard to its foreign debts, propose
as an integral part of this agreement that the soviet
governments and the other governments which have been set up
on the territory of the former Russian Empire and Finland
shall recognize their responsibility for the financial
obligations of the former Russian Empire, to foreign States
parties to this agreement and to the nationals of such
States. Detailed arrangements for the payment of these debts
to be agreed upon at the conference, regard being had to the
present financial position of Russia. The Russian gold
seized by the Czecho-Slovaks in Kazan or taken from Germany
by the Allies to be regarded as partial payment of the
portion of the debt due from the soviet republics of Russia.
The Soviet Government of Russia undertakes to accept the
foregoing proposal provided it is made not later than April
In regard to the second sentence in paragraph 5, in regard to "giving
help to Soviet Russia" I may say that I was told that that was not a
sine qua non but it was necessary in order to get the proposal through
the Russian executive committee, which it had to pass before it was
handed to me. I was also handed an additional sheet, which I refused
to take as a part of the formal document, containing the following:
The Soviet Government is most anxious to have a semiofficial
guaranty from the American and British Governments that they
will do their utmost to see to it that France lives up to
the conditions of the armistice.
The Soviet Government had a deep suspicion of the French Government.
In reference to this matter, and in explanation of that proposal, I
sent a number of telegrams from Helsingfors. I feel that in a way it
is important, for an explanation of the matter, that those telegrams
should be made public, but, on the other hand, they were sent in a
confidential code of the Department of State, and I do not feel at
liberty to read them unless ordered to specifically by the committee.
I should not wish to take the responsibility for breaking a code which
is in current use by the department.
Senator KNOX. I should think your scruples were well founded. I should
not read those telegrams.
Mr. BULLITT. I can simply inform you briefly of the nature of them.
Senator KNOX. You might give us the nature of them. To whom were they
Mr. BULLITT. On reaching Petrograd I sent Capt. Pettit out to
Helsingfors after I had had a discussion with Tchitcherin and with
Litvinov with a telegram, in which I said I had reached Petrograd and
had perfected arrangements to cross the boundary at will, and to
communicate with the mission via the consul at Helsingfors; that the
journey had been easy, and that the reports of frightful conditions in
Petrograd had been ridiculously exaggerated.
I described the discussions I had had with Tchitcherin and with
Litvinov, and said they had assured me that after going to Moscow and
after discussion with Lenin, I should be able to carry out a specific
statement of the position of the Soviet Government on all points.
On reaching Helsingfors I sent a telegram to the mission at Paris
"Most secret, for the President, Secretary Lansing, and Col. House
only," in which I said that in handing me the statement which I have
just read, Tchitcherin and Litvinov had explained that the Executive
Council of the Soviet Government had formally considered and adopted
it, and that the Soviet Government considered itself absolutely bound
to accept the proposals made therein, provided they were made on or
before April 10, and under no conditions would they change their
I also explained that I had found Lenin, Tchitcherin, and Litvinov
full of the sense of Russia's need for peace, and that I felt the
details of their statement might be modified without making it
unacceptable to them, and that in particular the clause under article
5 was not of vital importance. That, on the other hand, I felt that in
the main this statement represented the minimum terms that the Soviet
Government would accept.
I explained that it was understood with regard to article 2 that the
allied and associated countries should have a right to send inspectors
into Soviet Russia and see to it that the disposition of supplies, if
the blockade was lifted, was entirely equitable, and I explained also
that it was fully understood that the phrase under article 4 on
"official representatives" did not include diplomatic representatives,
that the Soviet Government simply desired to have some agents who
might more or less look out for their people here.
I explained further that in regard to footnote No. 2, the Soviet
Government hoped and preferred that the conference should be held in
Norway; that its preferences thereafter were, first, some point in
between Russia and Finland; second, a large ocean liner anchored off
Moon Island or the Aland Islands; and, fourth, Prinkipos.
I also explained that Tchitcherin and all the other members of the
government with whom I had talked had said in the most positive and
unequivocal manner that the Soviet Government was determined to pay
its foreign debts, and I was convinced that there would be no dispute
on that point.
Senator KNOX. Do you know how these telegrams were received in Paris,
whether favorably or unfavorably?
Mr. BULLITT. I can only say, in regard to that, there are three other
very brief ones. One was on a subject which I might give you the gist
of before I go on with it.
Senator KNOX. Go ahead, in your own way.
Mr. BULLITT. Col. House sent me a message of congratulation on receipt
of them, and by one of the curious quirks of the conference, a member
of the secretariat refused to send the message because of the way in
which it was signed, and Col. House was only able to give me a copy of
it when I reached Paris. I have a copy of it here.
Senator HARDING. Would not this story be more interesting if we knew
which member of the conference objected?
Mr. BULLITT. I believe the objection was on the technical point that
Col. House had signed "Ammission" instead of his name, but I really do
not know which member of the conference it was that made the
I then sent another telegram, which is rather long, too long to
attempt to paraphrase, and I will ask that I may not put it in,
because the entire substance of it is contained in briefer form in my
formal report. This telegram itself is in code.
Senator BRANDEGEE. Are there any translations of those of your
telegrams that are in code?
Mr. BULLITT. No; I have given you the substance of them as I have gone
As I said to you before, Secretary Lansing had instructed me if
possible to obtain the release of Mr. Treadwell, our consul at
Tashkent, somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000 miles from Moscow. In
Moscow I had spoken to Lenin and Tchitcherin and Litvinov in regard to
it, and finally they said they recognized that it was foolish to hold
him; that they had never really given much thought to the matter; that
he had been held by the local government at Tashkent, which was more
than 4,000 miles away; that raids were being made on the railroad
constantly, and they might have some difficulty in communicating.
However, they promised me that they would send a telegram at once
ordering his release, and that they would send him out either by
Persia or by Finland whichever way he preferred. I told them I was
sure he would prefer to go by way of Finland. Here is a copy of their
telegram ordering his release, which will not be of much use to you, I
fear, as it is in Russian. They carried out this promise to the
letter, releasing Treadwell at once, and Treadwell in due course of
time and in good health appeared on the frontier of Finland on the
27th of April. All that time was consumed in travel from Tashkent,
which is a long way under present conditions.
Senator NEW. I saw Mr. Treadwell here some time ago.
Mr. BULLITT. I then sent a telegram in regard to Mr. Pettit, the
officer of military intelligence, who was with me as my assistant,
saying I intended to send him back to Petrograd at once to keep in
touch with the situation so that we should have information
constantly. I will say in this connection that it was not an
extraordinary thing for the various Governments to have
representatives in Russia. The British Government had a man in there
at the same time that I was there. He was traveling as a Red Cross
representative, but in reality he was there for the Foreign Office, a
Maj. A.R. Parker, I believe. I am not certain of his name, but we can
I also sent a telegram from Helsingfors, "strictly personal to Col.
House," requesting him to show my fifth and sixth telegrams to Mr.
Philip Kerr, Mr. Lloyd George's secretary, so that Mr. Lloyd George
might be at once informed in regard to the situation, inasmuch as he
had known I was going, and inasmuch as the British had been so
courteous as to offer to send me across on a cruiser. When I got to
London and found that the torpedo boat on which I had expected to go
was escorting the President, Mr. Lloyd George's office in London
called up the Admiralty and asked them to give me a boat in which to
go across. Incidentally I was informed by Col. House, on my arrival in
Paris, that copies of my telegrams had been sent at once to Mr. Lloyd
George and Mr. Balfour.
Senator KNOX. Mr. Bullitt, I do not think we need to go into quite so
much detail. You have told us now with what instructions you went,
what the British attitude was, what the American attitude was, and
what the Soviet Government proposed. Now, let us have your report.
Mr. BULLITT. All right, sir. This was my report--
Senator BRANDEGEE. What is the date of that, please?
Mr. BULLITT. This copy does not bear the date on it. On the other hand
I can tell you within a day or two. The date unfortunately was left
off of this particular copy. It was made on or about the 27th or 28th
day of March, in the week before April 1.
Senator BRANDEGEE. 1919?
Mr. BULLITT. 1919. I unquestionably could obtain from Secretary
Lansing or the President or some one else the actual original of the
Senator BRANDEGEE. I do not care about the precise date, but I want to
get it approximately.
Mr. BULLITT. It was about the 1st day of April.
Senator KNOX. To whom was the report made?
Mr. BULLITT. The report was addressed to the President and the
American Commissioners Plenipotentiary to Negotiate Peace. I was
ordered to make it. I had sent all these telegrams from Helsingfors,
and I felt personally that no report was necessary, but the President
desired a written report, and I made the report as follows:
MR. BULLITT'S REPORT ON RUSSIA
Russia to-day is in a condition of acute economic distress. The
blockade by land and sea is the cause of this distress and lack of the
essentials of transportation is its gravest symptom. Only one-fourth
of the locomotives which ran on Russian lines before the war are now
available for use. Furthermore, Soviet Russia is cut off entirely from
all supplies of coal and gasoline. In consequence, transportation by
all steam and electric vehicles is greatly hampered; and
transportation by automobile and by the fleet of gasoline-using Volga
steamers and canal boats is impossible. (Appendix, p. 55.)
As a result of these hindrances to transportation it is possible to
bring from the grain centers to Moscow only 25 carloads of food a day,
instead of the 100 carloads which are essential, and to Petrograd only
15 carloads, instead of the essential 50. In consequence, every man,
woman, and child in Moscow and Petrograd is suffering from slow
starvation. (Appendix, p. 56.)
Mortality is particularly high among new-born children whose mothers
can not suckle them, among newly-delivered mothers, and among the
aged. The entire population, in addition, is exceptionally susceptible
to disease; and a slight illness is apt to result fatally because of
the total lack of medicines. Typhoid, typhus, and smallpox are
epidemic in both Petrograd and Moscow.
Industry, except the production of munitions of war, is largely at a
standstill. Nearly all means of transport which are not employed in
carrying food are used to supply the army, and there is scarcely any
surplus transport to carry materials essential to normal industry.
Furthermore, the army has absorbed the best executive brains and
physical vigor of the nation. In addition, Soviet Russia is cut off
from most of its sources of iron and of cotton. Only the flax, hemp,
wood, and lumber industries have an adequate supply of raw material.
On the other hand, such essentials of economic life as are available
are being utilized to the utmost by the Soviet Government. Such trains
as there are, run on time. The distribution of food is well
controlled. Many industrial experts of the old regime are again
managing their plants and sabotage by such managers has ceased.
Loafing by the workmen during work hours has been overcome. (Appendix,
The destructive phase of the revolution is over and all the energy of
the Government is turned to constructive work. The terror has ceased.
All power of judgment has been taken away from the extraordinary
commission for suppression of the counter-revolution, which now merely
accuses suspected counter-revolutionaries, who are tried by the
regular, established, legal tribunals. Executions are extremely rare.
Good order has been established. The streets are safe. Shooting has
ceased. There are few robberies. Prostitution has disappeared from
sight. Family life has been unchanged by the revolution, the canard in
regard to "nationalization of women" notwithstanding. (Appendix, p.
The theaters, opera, and ballet are performing as in peace. Thousands
of new schools have been opened in all parts of Russia and the Soviet
Government seems to have done more for the education of the Russian
people in a year and a half than czardom did in 50 years. (Appendix,
The Soviet form of government is firmly established. Perhaps the most
striking fact in Russia today is the general support which is given
the government by the people in spite of their starvation. Indeed, the
people lay the blame for their distress wholly on the blockade and on
the governments which maintain it. The Soviet form of government seems
to have become to the Russian people the symbol of their revolution.
Unquestionably it is a form of government which lends itself to gross
abuse and tyranny but it meets the demand of the moment in Russia and
it has acquired so great a hold on the imagination of the common
people that the women are ready to starve and the young men to die for
The position of the communist party (formerly Bolsheviki) is also very
strong. Blockade and intervention have caused the chief opposition
parties, the right social revolutionaries and the menshiviki, to give
temporary support to the communists. These opposition parties have
both made formal statements against the blockade, intervention, and
the support of antisoviet governments by the allied and associated
governments. Their leaders, Volsky and Martov, are most vigorous in
their demands for the immediate raising of the blockade and peace.
(Appendix, p. 60.)
Indeed, the only ponderable opposition to the communists to-day comes
from more radical parties--the left social revolutionaries and the
anarchists. These parties, in published statements, call the
communists, and particularly Lenin and Tchitcherin, "the paid
bourgeois gendarmes of the Entente." They attack the communists
because the communists have encouraged scientists, engineers, and
industrial experts of the bourgeois class to take important posts
under the Soviet Government at high pay. They rage against the
employment of bourgeois officers in the army and against the efforts
of the communists to obtain peace. They demand the immediate massacre
of all the bourgeoisie and an immediate declaration of war on all
nonrevolutionary governments. They argue that the Entente Governments
should be forced to intervene more deeply in Russia, asserting that
such action would surely provoke the proletariat of all European
countries to immediate revolution.
Within the communist party itself there is a distinct division of
opinion in regard to foreign policy, but this disagreement has not
developed personal hostility or open breach in the ranks of the party.
Trotski, the generals, and many theorists believe the red army should
go forward everywhere until more vigorous intervention by the Entente
is provoked, which they, too, count upon to bring revolution in France
and England. Their attitude is not a little colored by pride in the
spirited young army. (Appendix, p. 62.) Lenin, Tchitcherin, and the
bulk of the communist party, on the other hand, insist that the
essential problem at present is to save the proletariat of Russia, in
particular, and the proletariat of Europe, in general, from
starvation, and assert that it will benefit the revolution but little
to conquer all Europe if the Government of the United States replies
by starving all Europe. They advocate, therefore, the conciliation of
the United States even at the cost of compromising with many of the
principles they hold most dear. And Lenin's prestige in Russia at
present is so overwhelming that the Trotski group is forced
reluctantly to follow him. (Appendix, p. 63.)
Lenin, indeed, as a practical matter, stands well to the right in the
existing political life of Russia. He recognizes the undesirability,
from the Socialist viewpoint, of the compromises he feels compelled to
make; but he is ready to make the compromises. Among the more notable
concessions he has already made are: The abandonment of his plan to
nationalize the land and the adoption of the policy of dividing it
among the peasants, the establishment of savings banks paying 3 per
cent interest, the decision to pay all foreign debts, and the decision
to give concessions if that shall prove to be necessary to obtain
credit abroad. (Appendix, p. 64.)
In a word, Lenin feels compelled to retreat from his theoretical
position all along the line. He is ready to meet the western
Governments half way.
Lenin seized upon the opportunity presented by my trip of
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