Before his 1931 summer jaunt across Ukraine with Heinze, Gareth Jones placed his political article “Poland’s Foreign Relations” in London’s The Contemporary Review. Published in July his story is good reading in the prestigious journals racked next to Foreign Affairs at State or in any of the CFR-RIIA clubs. One of Stalin’s greatest fears is that trouble in the Ukraine might provoke Poland’s expansion to the East.
Jones is a shrewd political observer; his analysis of the problems in Poland provide a perch to look more closely at the problems in the Ukraine. “Geography teaches Poland to be wary,” Jones writes, and he adds, “Her straddling frontiers run for thousands of miles through the flat European plain. Not a single mountain bars the way to foreign troops; there is hardly a hillock between Warsaw and the Urals… Poland’s economic structure necessitates an outlet to the sea, which raises formidable barriers against friendship with Germany…”
“On her western frontier, therefore, Poland feels no security. Neither have her relations with Soviet Russia inspired her with great faith in her eastern neighbour, in spite of the signing of the Litvinov Protocol (1929) for the Renunciation of War. Poland has a propaganda value to the Communist Party. Soviet organs and theatres never cease vilifying the Poles in caricatures and plays, in order to provide an outlet for popular dissatisfaction and to unite the peoples of the Union in the face of the so-called menace of intervention from Poland. It is the belief in Moscow that war between the capitalist states and Communist Russia is inevitable and that Poland is destined to be the cats paw of France, America and Britain. In the Soviet Union propaganda banners blare out the slogans ‘The Imperialists of the West are preparing war on Soviet Russia.’Great stress is laid on the war industry and everything is done to inculcate a military spirit into the masses. The Soviet child is taught that Bessarabia is Soviet territory temporarily in the possession of Rumania and that it was snatched away from the socialist fatherland by the capitalists. Poland cannot remain unperturbed by these developments in Russia, especially since most Poles remember that ten years ago the Soviet troops came within sight of Warsaw. Nevertheless, there is more fear of Germany than of Russia in Poland… It is true that many observers in Warsaw consider that the present Soviet Union is weak and would never wage war, and that only a Bolshevik Russia would allow Poland to retain territories with a non-Polish population.”
“The Manchester Guardian has done a great service in calling the attention of the world to the treatment of the Ukrainians. It omitted, however, to give sufficient space to the provocations which led to the Polish pacification. During centuries the hatred between Ukrainian and Pole has flared up from time to time. Gogol in his Tarass Bulba describes vividly the wars between the Cossacks in the Ukraine and the Catholic Poles. The antagonism is not only that between two nations, it is also the jealousy of one social class for another. In Eastern Galicia the Pole has been the conqueror, the landowner, the administrator, and the Ukrainian peasant has always looked upon him as the oppressor; the peasant wants more land and the land is in the possession of the Poles. Added to these sources of grievance are the clashes and jealousies of the Catholics and the Uniates. And so the movement for Independence flourishes. In September, 1930, after a series of fires, caused according to some by Ukrainian revolutionaries and according to others by peasants anxious to receive insurance money, a pacification began. Troops were sent to villages in Eastern Galicia. Peasants were flayed; there were burnings and searchings, and deeds of cruelty and brutality were committed.
“The oppression of the Ukrainians takes on a more serious aspect when we remember that in that remote corner is the frontier line between Soviet Russia and the rest of Europe. The five to seven million Ukrainians in Poland have twenty-five to thirty million fellow-countrymen across the border.”
“On the Soviet side of the frontier, although any anti-Communist independence movement is instantly crushed, every effort is made to encourage the Ukrainian language, literature, schools and art. The Soviet Press knows how to describe in lurid terms the fate of the oppressed peasants in Poland. A dissatisfied Ukraine smarting under the memory of the Polish pacification can be no source of strength to Poland. The recent events have put more barriers than ever in the way of those who support the policy once advocated by Marshal Pilsudski of a Polish-Ukrainian-Lithuanian Federation. To describe the oppression of the minorities and to go no further does not give a true picture of the situation. There have been serious provocations. In the Ukraine the U.M.O., or the Ukrainian Military Organisation, is working by illegal means for independence. It is accused of receiving funds from Berlin. Last autumn it started on a campaign which led to the burning of Polish cottages and barns. The final aim of the other main Ukrainian party, the U.N.D.O., is also an independent Ukrainian national state.” (italics added)
In October 1931 as Russia awaits the harsh Russian winter now only a few weeks away when many more people will die, Gareth Jones and Jack Heinz return to London and the calamity that awaits them there. Moving from hotspot to hotspot, from the fire into the pot, Jones warns the British that the storm of the Terror-Famine is mounting in force, already taking untold thousands of victims by death and imprisonment and famine that will surely strike with full force just around the corner in the early months of spring. And doing their part the editors at The Times again publish Jones’ unsigned series “The Real Russia” (October 14-16).
Here are some extracts from the first article titled “The Peasant on the Farms”: “Increase and its cost”, “The Outlook for the Plan”,“From the farm to the factory”, “Youth and the future, A blessed word”:
“Among some young peasants there is an enthusiasm for socialisation in which a love of machines plays a great part. This is a favourable sign for the future of socialistic agriculture in the Soviet Union. It is being developed by the spreading of education on Communist lines throughout the country. The fight against illiteracy is being taken with admirable energy. Campaigns to encourage the peasants to study are carried on by the Communist Pioneers and the Komsomoltsi (young Communists), and pamphlets and books are spread by the million. The electrification of the villages will impress youth. The clubs are rallying points for young people of the villages and by radio and visitors from the towns, by films and lectures, their minds are being molded along Communist lines. A battle royal is being waged for the mind and heart of the young peasant. Will he cling to the ‘Land and Liberty’ ideal of his parents and grandparents or will he firm himself into a socialistic system of agriculture.
Will the peasant be happy as a cog in a great agricultural wheel, or will he always yearn for his little patch, his own cow, and freedom to buy and sell as he wishes? The next few decades will show.”(italics added)
“The collectivization of agriculture, which, at the sacrifice of happiness of the peasant gives the government control over Russia’s grain, and the businesslike programme outlined by Stalin in June, are two factors which point to a coming improvement in the industrial situation and to a strengthening of the regime itself. A third factor is the springing up of this new generation, which has it’s schooling in the Soviet State and has no recollection of life in pre-Revolutionary days. It is upon the youth of the country that the Bolshevist leaders set their highest hopes; and it is upon them that powerful influences are working which in time will result in the emergence of a new type of citizen. The main influences are Communist education the worship of the machine, anti-religious agitation, militarisation and the propaganda for world revolution.”
“Communist education now lays the greatest stress upon the part, which the future citizen must play in production. Three years ago the ‘polytechnical’ school was introduced. Under the ‘polytechnical’ system each school has an agreement with a factory or with a collective farm which the pupils visit regularly to study methods of production. It is remarkable to note what importance is attached to the word ‘production’, a word, which is surrounded with a halo of respect. At an early age children are introduced to factory life and learn to handle machines. An enthusiasm for technical things is engendered, and the knowledge, which children have of machinery, is surprising. As it was the ideal of the Prussian child to become an officer, so it is now the ideal to become ideal of a Soviet child to become an engineer. At present a widespread campaign is being conducted for compulsory education for all and the cult of the machine will thus be extended to the farthest parts of the Soviet Union. Processions of children are seen marching with banners bearing such inscriptions as ‘Obligatory education is the basis of the cultural revolution’; ‘Give us technical power’; ‘For a seven-year education’; ‘Let us fight for the Plan, for the speed, for the carrying out the Plan in four years.’ Technical and political toys are encouraged among children. In shop windows one can see “A Mass Political Toy according to the resolution of the 16th Congress of the All-Russian Communist Party” called ‘To catch up and surpass the Capitalist Countries, the carrying out of the Five-Years Plan in Industry.’
“Political education is given in schools along the lines of the principle ‘History is the record of class struggles.’ Such an education is a narrow basis for the rearing of a new generation, especially when one considers that music, art and literature are all subordinated to a political aim. ‘Art is agitation’ such is the teaching that guides the Communist thinkers. It is inconceivable that there should not be some day a reaction against this limited conception of all branches of learning as weapons of class warfare.
“Anti-propaganda is carried on among youth and is achieving distinct success, for the children readily believe what is taught in the schools.
A religious Leningrad mother bewailed the fact that her 10-year old daughter had recently returned from her class and had demanded: ‘Show me God! You cannot. There is no God.’ Throughout the country posters proclaim: ‘Religion is a weapon for oppression’, while cartoons lampoon the priest as the tool of the Capitalist and a friend of the interventionist. The Communists try to establish a close connection between drink and religion. Posters frequently to be observed are ‘Alcohol is the friend of religion’ and ‘The man who makes home-brew and the illegal trader in spirits are allies of the Pope.’
“This bitter propaganda often produces an effect quite different from that which it intends. Adherents of religious sects are numerous and among the Communists themselves there are many who pay lip service to atheism but who at heart are believers. On priest told of the Communist in his village who on his deathbed confessed his belief in God. There are many thousands of Christians enrolled in the Young Communist League. ‘I am a believer,’ said a schoolteacher, ‘but I cannot repeat Communist speeches as eloquently as any Commissar in Moscow. If I do not become a Young Communist I shall not receive a good education, so I pretend to rejoice in their long-winded foreign words like “industrialization”, but what my tongue says my heart does not believe.’ Never the less, among young people religion is now losing ground and together with the lessening of the religious basis, stable family is in the towns also losing its importance.
“An alarming and potent influence upon youth is the extreme militarisation of the country. A jingoistic spirit is being fostered in the Soviet Union and the firm belief in the inevitability of war, which is to result in the inevitability of the war which is to result from the clash of the Capitalistic and Communist system leads to an intensification of war training. In the theatre one reads the appeal in large red and white letters: ‘Be prepared at any moment to defend your Socialistic fatherland.’ In the interval between two acts of a brilliant performance in an opera house a gas mask demonstration may take place. Dominating the militarisation of the Soviet Union lies the fear of foreign intervention, and its guiding principle is the quotation from Lenin: ‘No revolution can last unless it can defend itself.’ Lenin’s study of Clausewitz is today bearing fruit in the stress laid upon military science. Members of the Young Communist League are urged to be leaders in the task of spreading military knowledge. A powerful instrument for the training of the civilian population is the Ossoariakhim (Society for Aviation and Chemical Defense), which now numbers 11,000,000 members. This has numerous branches in factories and collective farms, where men and women alike receive training in shooting and in the use of gas masks. In many factories regular military exercises are obligatory for party members and the young Communists. Communists share this keenness on preparedness for war in the villages and even peasants living thousands of miles away from the borders have received anti-gas practice. In one collective farm the church, which had been closed, was to be turned in to a house of Culture, a section of which was to be devoted to military purposes.
“In spite of the thorough militarisation of Soviet Russia, there is no feeling of aggression but a keen desire for peace, based on the necessity of good relations with the capitalist powers, essential for the industrialisation of the country. Nothing is less desirable to the Kremlin than a foreign adventure, which would threaten the fulfillment of the Five-Years Plan. Moreover the Soviet Union is now concentrating upon her own affairs and eager to realise ‘Socialism in one country’, a policy, which Trotsky condemns from afar as ‘National Communism’ and a betrayal of Marx and Lenin. It is true that the inevitability of world revolution and the ultimate formation of a World Union of Socialist Soviet Republics are convictions as unshakeable as ever. But in spite of the world crisis they are no longer represented as imminent realities. As a consequence the youth of Russia is encouraged to devote itself to the economic tasks of national construction and the prestige of the Third International has suffered a sad decline. No longer the headquarters of the leaders of the Government, it has become the resort of nonentities and it has to subordinate its revolutionary ardour to the cold common sense of the Foreign Office, which prefers not to risk valuable credits and machinery for the sake of a weak revolution in Germany. Serious disturbances abroad or revolts, which the Russian Communists would be morally bound to aid would be a setback to their plans of industrialization and are depreciated until the time when the Soviet Union will be stronger.
“Such are the outstanding influences to which the younger generation in Russia are exposed. The power of the Communist Party to mold youth along the lines they desire is increased by the unity of the party, which has been achieve after a bitter struggle against right and left opposition. Rarely has there been less dissension within the ranks as to the policy to be pursued. Never the less, the movement in Soviet Russia to transform men and women into the cogs of a great productive wheel and to crush all thought which clashes with the official philosophy is faced with two insurmountable barriers. These are the originality of the Russian mind and the human passion for liberty which is intensified by tyranny and which will increase with the spreading of education.
Here are some more extracts from “The Real Russia”, “The Peasant on the farm; Increase and its Cost”:
“… A woman on the boat turned to me and said quietly, “Do you see those? They are kulaks, being exiled, just because they have worked hard throughout their lives. The peasants have been sent away in thousands to starve. It is terrible how they have treated them. They have not been given bread-cards or anything. A large number were sent to Tashkent and were left bewildered on the town square. They did not know what to do and very many starved to death.”
“…Throughout Russia on hears the same tale: ‘They took away our cow. How can it get a better if we have no land and no cow?’ The cry of the Russian peasant has always been ‘Land and Liberty’, and it is the same cry today.”
“… In one collective farm one old white-haired man bowed deeply and groaned: ‘Have pity on me! My courtyard is empty. Three horses and three cows have they taken from me and now they are getting thin and scraggy because they are not well kept. How can I get enough to eat? It is a dog’s life.’ A woman was passing and stopped to shriek at him.
“Its little pity you deserve! You had your horses. You had your cows and you had little pity for us poor peasants then. I had no cow and no horse. I am better off under the kolkhoz.”
“The Outlook for the Plan – From the farm to the Factory: …They [workers] are forced, they complain to buy on the private market at exorbitant, prices and even then they remain hungry. Among the general workers there is little of that faith in the future, which is so striking in the Communist. Disbelief in the newspapers and in propaganda is widespread. On being confronted by some figures showing that the Five-Years Plan was being completed in two and half years, one factory worker replied: ‘You cannot eat figures. The Five-Years Plan is on paper. You see that tree over there; it is no apple tree, is it? But the Communists say. “Tomorrow that tree has to grow apples”.’
“… But it is, above all, the nervous strain caused by under-nourishment and over-crowding that makes the life of the average Russian a misery. He blames not only the export of food, but also the bad distribution and delays, which result in the food supplies arriving in a decayed state.
Still optimistic to the point of incredulity that Lee and his crowd would sit by passively indifferent in their baronial exclusion at their summer estates in Maine or aboard their stately yachts watching the towering J-Boats of the America’s Cup from their estates at Newport the Long Island Sound shoreline.
On Sunday, October 14 Jones banged away at his typewriter the notes of his interview during the previous August 25 when he sat with Karl Radek, Comintern Bolshevik friend of Lenin and Trotsky, now editor at Izvestiia , and shot by Stalin six years later in 1937. Radek (his real name is Tobiach Sobelsohn) had been part of the inner circle of 1917 Jewish revolutionaries in Petrograd in charge of International Revolutionary Propaganda working with foreigners including Americans John Reed, Boris Rheinstein, Alexander Gumberg, brother of the Bolshevik Zorin, and Rhys Albert Williams. Ivy Lee received Jones’ report in New York and filed it away in his papers now at Princeton University. Jones meets the prominent Bolshevik Radek in the offices of the Izvestiia . (Remember reader, Jones is fluent in Russian.) There is no mention of American banks or corporate investments. Radek cautions Jones, however, “It is nonsense to say that Russia will be independent and self-sufficient. The more a country develops, the greater will its trade be.” Other extracts of his interview include: “For the next twenty years, we in the Soviet Union will be absolutely occupied with internal developments. In the next twenty years Russia will develop her internal market. The masses need so much. The peasants want better clothing and objects they never dreamed of. The situation of dumping is false. If we could receive a higher price for our goods we should be very glad. Thus we have every reason for peaceful and better relations with other countries. Relations will, I believe improve. There is now an argument for a more quiet policy. We are getting stronger in Russia. Every year more peasants realise that a tractor is better than a horse.”
In the twenties Radek had organized underground communist cells inside Germany. Under Stalin’s guard he deliberately holds his radical tongue in check; anyway, he isn’t in charge of foreign policy. The Germans and Soviets have extensive programs of secret military cooperation and commercial agreements. Germany remains Russia’s premier trading partner. Radek dismisses Soviet communist insurgency inside Germany. “We should be obliged to help them. I do not think that a German revolution is a concrete possibility present… Every people must be its own saviour. The German workers know, moreover, that if there were a revolution, they would have to fight from the first day against intervention. Because of Germany’s situation between imperialistic France and Poland, a revolution there would be a difficult question. Moreover, a revolution in an industrial country like Germany would be difficult because Germany depends on raw materials from other countries … war with Soviet Russia would be very difficult.” But Radek is more accurate on his assessment of France. “Before the War, France made Russia a tool against Germany…The Treaty of Versailles will not be a basis of the world’s relations. It would be in the interest of France to revise what cannot last in the Treaty.”
On the state of the world economic depression Radek seriously misjudges the future. “It is not the last crisis of capitalism. It will end. America and France have great resources. Ford will produce more at the expense of Great Britain and Germany. The capitalistic world will never again have a period of general prosperity but the greatest powers will be stronger in relation to the others.”
Yet Radek is right about the eclipse of England’s power superseded by American capitalists. “The greatest danger for England is not the English Communism but American capitalism. Montague Norman hates Mr. Strauss more than Pollitt.”* Radek described the Comintern “like the Daughters of the American Revolution.” On relations with America, he said “You ask how could relations improve between the United States and the Soviet Union: “First, end embargoes and troublesome crusades. Secondly, development is not possible without political recognition. Thirdly, you should end the ‘America for the Americans’ attitude. You are not more realistic than some of our Komsomoltai who think we shall have the whole world in our hands in Five-Years time. “We are a country like America. Without your help, development would be slower, but there is no power which can check us… We shall not intervene in other countries. History will decide which system is better. We are absolutely convinced that the Socialist system will win.” (*Harry Pollitt (1890-60) General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain for more than twenty years.)
When Lenin invites the capitalists to launch his NEP in 1921 neither Lenin nor Radek bargained that the Wall Street capitalists would ever crash their own market. But that’s exactly what happened when the Fed dropped interest rates and Consortium kingpins Baruch, Dillon, and Morgan insiders Lamont and Morrow among them cash out early and grab their gains cleaning out the losers left holding the empty bag. Some insiders lost, too, but for the most part they are bailed out by their friends or have deep pockets to weather the storm. Harriman,for example, bails out Prescott Bush – son of Sam and father of George – , caught holding a ton of worthless paper.
A few weeks later Radek is publicly embroiled in a national book scandal over America’s role of armed intervention during the Bolshevik Civil War during Wilson’s administration. It returns to haunt the Department’s Russian section. General Graves, head of the 1919 American invasion force recounts in America’s Siberian Adventure the controversial role of 7,000 American soldiers under his command.
Now key Consortium players at State are publicly implicated in the controversy that for a decade had remained buried by the press. Gen. Graves writes, “DeWitt Poole, who afterward is chief of the Russian Division … proved by his support of Kolchak that he was opposed to non-interference in Russian affairs,’ as proclaimed by American policy.” Gen. Kolchak and his Cossacks were a ruthless enemy of Trotsky’s Red Army. On November 17, 1931 Izvestiia publishes Radek’s review of the book with the header “Where rumors originate, and where Interventions are given birth.” A translated version is sent to Washington by Cole on December 4, 1931.
In his review Radek declares that Graves “did not want to shed the blood of American soldiers for stopping the spreading of communism”. During the conflict Graves narrowly avoids a direct clash against a superior Japanese force which landed 92,000 troops in the Far East allied his with Cossacks under Kalmykov and Semenov. Then, and for many years after, Graves is denounced as a Bolshevik and ordered to return home hounded by “American police spies who were watching his activities”. At issue are the actual real politik of intentions, alliances and links between the Consortium’s interventionist adventure into post-Czarist Soviet Russia, an episode in US military and diplomatic history that State wishes to mask. There is more to this than splitting hairs or opening old wounds to settle grudges of exiled White Russians embittered by alleged pro-Bolshevik military operations of the American forces under Graves’ command. The controversy persists into the next year. A translation of an article appears in Pravda September 8, 1932 titled “American Generals Learning a Historical Lesson” and is sent to the State Department to be preserved in the archives. Written by a former White army officer G. Vasilkovski, Cole finds it merits dispatching home on October 5, 1932.
The White Russian officer Vasilkovski declared that the Japanese had informed Gen. Graves that they would “not permit the Cossacks to be attacked, and if the Americans did, the Japanese would join hands with the Cossacks and together with them fight the Americans.” It’s another anecdote in the unfolding mystery of what really happened during the armed interventionist period; the job of cleansing the Wilson-Graves-Kolchak saga of confused and changing alliances is left to George Kennan, State’s junior Russian observer at Riga and Bullitt’s embassy aide. Kennan is also State’s ace in the deck, and its hack ghost writer for the Holodomor cover-up. (SDDF 861.51/, 861.00/11502)
This year 1931 Bullitt writes Col. House from London and Europe, sending out feelers that he’s available if Roosevelt wins presidency. On December 1931, two years before the normalization of US-Soviet relations by Roosevelt, Bullitt informs House that he expects the Soviets “to concentrate on their internal reconstruction and ignore slaps from Japan, feeling sure that in ten years they will be strong enough to regain in the Far East anything they may now lose.” Already, signs of American economic assistance under President Hoover’s administration were proving successful. Bullitt agreed. “Literally everyone on the continent expects a development of dictatorships and state socialism, labeled Fascism or Communism, but essentially similar,” Bullitt writes House, and he adds, “Common sense and the spirit live and let live are momentarily conspicuous in their absence” making no sense at all, which was typical Bullitt. Nothing is said, nor even the slightest hint by Bullitt of terror or famine. House understood Bullitt as a younger man’s need to get back into the circle of Wilsonian Democrats clustering around Roosevelt on his road to the White House. “I also want him to know”, House assures Bullitt, “what a valuable ally you will make in his treatment of foreign affairs should he become president which he now seems fairly certain to become.” (W. C. Bullitt to E. M. House Dec.13, 1931, E. M. House to W. C. Bullitt Dec. 28, 1931, W. C. Bullitt Papers Yale Archives; M. Cassella-Blackburn)
House played his customary role, pawn-pusher on the chessboard of power. He now uses Bullitt to get closer to Roosevelt and influence both. Less than three weeks pass when on January 20, 1932 House contacts Bullitt again and tells him “I called up the Governor at Albany and told him of the privileged granted you in the House of Commons. He was interested beyond measure and said that it would afford us valuable opportunities in the event we desired them.” Still out of the loop Bullitt writes House now wintering on his farm in Beverly, Massachusetts. Bullitt is full of bombast, lacking privileged access to secret negotiations, and assumes a slick and cocky demeanor much as he had during his hurried 1919 mission between London and Moscow to meet with Lenin. Comical in the absurd, the bench-sitter impatient for his chance up at bat to change the world. “The flounderings in Geneva this week”, he writes House, “made me itch to be back in the game – and I am sure that you too must have pawed the earth when you read about the meetings… How we could have handled that crew!”
By late April 29, Bullitt is becoming increasingly anxious. He feels time is running out and he knows House carries weight among the Consortium men. Bullitt volunteers to act as a confidence man in European political and diplomatic circles. For who? For Roosevelt? For House? For the State Department? He doesn’t say, nor does House bring him in. Not yet anyway. Bullitt is desperate, nearly at the end of his rope, impatient and without alternatives. He asks House pointblank, “Do you think that it might be worthwhile for me to poll Berlin, Moscow, Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Rome, Paris, and London before returning to the US for the campaign?” He needs House again as before. “I should like to be useful,” and he implores House, “Tell me how to be.” Three weeks pass before he reads House’s reply. House is vague and only offers encouragement “to see you play a great part in foreign affairs during the next administration … provided our crowd is successful.” This is on the eve of his departure to Moscow to try to collect on National City loans. Odd that Casella-Blackburn blithely ignores this critical document… (Col. House to W. C. Bullitt, May 11, 1932; M. Cassella-Blackburn, 76)
Again Bullitt persists. He reaches out apparently using his own private funds to cover expenses traveling on his own account to Prague and Warsaw. From Moscow he writes House late May, more specific now about the urgency of Manchuria, – then hot in the headlines – and casts a hint to recapture the spirit of conspirators mindful of their past intriguing with Litvinov and Lenin. He teases House with some more innuendo of his eagerness to serve. “It will be worth while also to know what Litvinov and Stalin plan to do about Japan’s performance.” Bullitt tells House he’s in touch with Litvinov, that he was to see him for lunch. But the meeting was suddenly canceled. He hamps up his role again, acting like a special agent, the shrewd court prince. After all, no one really knew what he is up to, who he was working for, nor did they ever, nor why he was there, nor who really sent him. In a world of mirrors there is no end to illusion and deception. Moscow is a city of perpetual rumors where usually the only confirmation is a body. But there Bullitt was again. Only this time it’s Stalin inside the impregnable fortress of the totalitarian machine where in every Party congress the spasm of the greatest industrial revolution ever undertaken in the history of the world sputters and roars on with thundering propaganda and those terrified clapping comrades. Poor Mr. Bullitt. He would never be a match for the crude leering wolf at home in his den. No one reached out to him there now. Once in Moscow he doesn’t know where to turn, who to see, where to go.
Its May 1932 and a wonderful time to be in Moscow celebrating the success of the Five-Year Plans. Yet Bullitt, the journalist and insightful visionary who claims to see into the deep recesses of the psyche, the friend of Lenin, Freud and House is unable to leave any lasting impression of what he witnessed. Stalin and the Party give him the snub. Why is this American now here in Moscow poking his nose into Soviet secrets? What does he want? Who is he working for? Why has he come here now to spy? Everyone was suspicious, everyone suspect. In the Soviet Union no one is above suspicion and certainly not the foreigner. This is the nature of the place. That alone is enough to arouse his curiosity. Just looking around? Nothing to offer, nothing to sell? It is not possible and they know it. The Terror-Famine is raging the countryside. Street markets display fewer goods. Food shortages strain the cities. Homeless peasant orphans in rags beg for breadcrumbs and dollars. The US Riga Legation too wonders what Bullitt is doing there. It would be unreasonable for anyone not to suspect that Roosevelt and the Democrats had sent him. If Bullitt wanted to be invisible then why was it so easy to find him? Was the brash upstart stepping too far ahead of the Game? About the encroaching Holodomor Bullitt sends no reports, not a word of it appears anywhere. The embassy set must have wondered just where next Bullitt is going to hang his hat. In the White House?
Bullitt could end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unfortunately for America and the world he has a knack for that. A John Reed, his nemesis and alter-ego he isn’t’ and never will be. In politics timing is essential, if not crucial to success. Roosevelt’s campaign is heating up. Hoover is in the dumps. Was Bullitt preparing a report for Roosevelt on the Soviet situation? Putting out feelers before secret recognition talks? Was Bullitt planning to collect data on the Ukrainian famine? No, anyway, Riga could do that. Hoover and Stimson were two of the top Consortium men in charge of formulating and executing foreign policy decisions. They already have Haskell and MacMurray in the field. Coming as he did without any backdoor key, Bullitt was strangely out of place, yet there in Moscow he knew it was the right place at the same time. He just knew it. He could feel it. That was why he was there. He was there. And that was enough. And if he was an irritant, he was still a useful irritant. On stage without a role. But only he would know that for sure. Stalin too is closely watching him. Stalin’s eyes see everyone and everything; the Great Dictator is everywhere and the Great Creator of all things in the great Soviet Proletarian Socialist Republic! Bullitt is a spy, – what diplomat is not? Stalin too has his spies. Millions of spies. In the Soviet Union, everyone is a spy. They see everything with shifty eyes and heads that never turn to look back. Litvinov this year knows the campaign for recognition is on the back burner and heating up.
How strange to write this book about the Ukrainians when America is at war in Iraq and the Russians trade nuclear fuel with Iran. Halliburton announced moving its headquarters to Dubai for the reconstruction of Iraq. And who knows, as Seymore Hersh writes in The New Yorker magazine what Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers fame fears to be the certain imminent invasion of Iran. Americans are slow to learn. The War in Iraq is about oil and money. Reconstruction is worth trillions of dollars. It was true about the two World Wars. The profit of reconstruction is invariably the flip side of the profits of fighting a war. Destroy and Build. Ideology is the oil to lubricate the machinery of war and reconstruction. The Bush presidents proved just how useful and mundane words serve their pragmatism and contempt for the good faith and confidence that Americans invest in their elected leaders. From Wilson to FDR and the Bushes, the logic is the same. Stalin’s Soviet socialist reconstruction bear much of the hallmarks of the current Iraqi fiasco of destruction and war. Have no doubt, the Consortium is in control.
History is a process, never-ending, imbued with living revelations. History is never a dead-end, a stone unturned, or an inert and life-less thing, so long as historians are invoked, provoked, and perhaps convoked even, to carry a truth in service of it all, if there is an all-compassing Truth, that ever-elusive noumena of the phenomena. It is more pregnant with potentia than Page’s corporate principles for “truth” as he defined it in that era long before corporations were forced to adapt to ethical codes of conduct or brazenly risk lawsuits over humans rights violations. History is in part a museum relic, piece and parcel of a faded and fragile page torn from the past. It’s not a static entity, or a thing in itself. History is at the same time remote and ever-present. The truth as it was originally lived was imbued with possibilities of situations and people generations ago. Politics slant and spin perspectives fixing them in time for convenience and reflection. New findings provoke fresh insights and discoveries of life as it was or may have been. History brings us back to ourselves in photos, meetings, letters and conversations, anecdotes, telegrams, headlines, memoirs and accounts, in fiction and non-fiction. History takes us to the naked word and its ornate elaborations of intrigue, mystery, sometimes fantastic, and grotesque, sometimes true, often false. The intellectual and artist are not excluded from the stage of actors enacting the drama. Any reading of history brings the spectator shoulder-to-shoulder with a life revisited. History takes us to the crossroads, where we encounter face to face questions that compel and point us in old and new directions where along the way we mix with ghosts and memories of ancestors, predecessors for whom the past was a drama mixed with the present already conditioned for reenactment in the future.
Think about it. As in this story, those many if not the majority of those who died in the Holodomor knew they would perish by starvation, repression or war. Living desperate lives. Quietly or not. You would have to be desperate to survive Stalin’s terror. And yet their lives were the instruments contrived by policies born in an order and deliberately transformed for a future. It was something everyone talked in the Soviet Union , that great future of the liberated individual no longer bound by the authority of the state. The idea now seems almost farcical in retrospect as though people must have been lunatics to imagine life without centralized governments, authoritarian laws and a global family of federal banks. Such as it was we now see things as they were though perhaps it didn’t have to be that way. Every generation wonders how to change society and to make life happier and worth living.
On January 19, 1932 from the White House Hoover announces that Charles Dawes has been chosen to head the Finance Reconstruction Corporation, “the new big corporation which has been created to restore the security and credit of the banks”. Dawes is an unpopular wedge in the State Department hierarchy. In order to settle the squabbling between his lower chiefs Stimson decides to lead the Arms Delegation at Geneva “in Dawes’ place”. That night for dinner Henry Breckenridge and his wife join Stimson along with the President and Mrs. Hoover. Other guests include “Ted” Roosevelt, newly appointed Governor to the Philippines, George Peter, Curtis Bok, Goldthwaite Dorr, Chief Justice Hughes, Bob Bliss, Ambassador to Argentina, and their wives. By mid-spring Hoover will totally astound Stimson with a proposition for the disarmament conference which must have appeared to the veteran statesman who served seven US presidents as the most incredible proposition ever in his long career. Poison gas, tanks, aircraft carriers, offensive airplanes – all of it were to be abolished and “all armies” reduced “by one-third”. Had Hoover fallen off his rocker?
Stimson calls the Hoover disarmament paper “a proposition from Alice in Wonderland”. The orphan son of Quakers born in a one-room house the size of a match-box who became the first graduate of Stanford University, a trained engineer with a degree in geology and who made an early fortune in Australian mines, and speaks Mandarin Chinese… Had he flipped? Or does he see now that the Consortium plan dooms the world to total war and certain annihilation. Instead of more military government contracts employment in defense companies to end the breadlines, did Hoover really believe he could turn back the clock and start again? It recapitulated much of what Hoover and Stimson had talked about at the Rapidan “proposing a thirty per cent cut in the Navy and also the cuts which he was proposing to dictate to the other nations.”
Hoover’s plan “covers these ten points : (1) reduce by one-third the battleship strength of the world as now settled by the Washington and London Naval Treaties; (2) abolish all aircraft carriers; (3) reduce cruiser strength provided for three signatories of the London Treaty by one third, and require that France and Italy undertake no further construction in this category (4) reduce destroyer strength provided for the three signatories of the London Treaty to one-third, and require that France and Italy make no increase in tonnage over her present construction (5) abolish all submarines (6) abolish all military aviation except for scouting purposes (7) abolish all mobile land guns of more than six-inch caliber (8) abolish all tanks (9) abolish poison gas (10) reduce the defense component of all armies by one-third.”
The Secretary has reason to be concerned. “He had been brooding over it ever since the telegram from Stanley Baldwin. I opposed him in the Cabinet… ”, Stimson writes for the record noting in his diary. Baldwin is England’s acting Prime Minister behind the Ramsay MacDonald’s ailing minority coalition; in 1929 Labour returns to power with a majority in the House of Commons but Conservative votes out-numbered them. In 1931 Baldwin and the Conservatives regained power in a frail coalition with Labour. But when MacDonald is expelled from his party Baldwin as Lord President of the Council became de facto Prime Minister. Baldwin (Harrow, Cambridge Trinity College) had once given 20 percent of his private wealth or 150,000 pounds to reduce England’s reparation bill; when he was Financial Secretary to the Treasury during WWI. His family owned an iron and steel business; he secretly urges the rich to repay the UK war debt. Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley is the last of six prime ministers to be educated at Cambridge, and upon retirement became its Chancellor. Three times Prime Minister he will serve under three kings; at Baldwin’s funeral in 1947, Churchill proffered a dubiously respectful tribute remembering him as “the most formidable politician I ever encountered”.
Baldwin’s telegram and Hoover’s disarmament memorandum that spring 1932 bridged the two powers when, – as Baldwin recalled four years later, – there was “probably a stronger pacifist feeling running through the country than at any time since the War”. Pacifism prevails during the next two years until Churchill’s initiative late 1934 moved England to rearm the RAF on par with the Luftwaffe. In 1932 Baldwin believes as he put it “great armaments lead inevitably to war”, but by November he begins to retract that stance and declares “the time has come to end when Great Britain can proceed with unilateral disarmament”. During the first part of the Disarmament Conference Baldwin states on November 10, 1932: “Whatever people may tell him, the bomber will always get through. The best defense is in offense, which means you have to kill more women and children more quickly than the enemy if you want to save yourselves… But when the next war comes, and European civilization is wiped out, as it will be, and by no force more than that force, then do not let them lay blame on the old men. Let them remember that they, principally, are responsible for the terrors that have fallen upon this earth.”
Stimson recovers from his initial shock, and later notes in his diary: “But really so far as a practical proposition is concerned, to me it is just a proposition from Alice in Wonderland. It is no reality, but is just as bad as it can be in its practical effect… I pointed out to the President that there was only one point that would really affect the economies he wanted and that was the point on cruisers. Battleships we don’t have to touch: we are putting no expense on that. On the other hand, in abolishing airplane carriers, he is striking at the one weapon in which we have made great strides recently. Neither France, nor Italy, nor Japan will dream of giving up submarines; and, as I said before, it will not affect the land forces.” (HLS Diary)
FEBRUARY 1932 – THE SOVIET CENTRAL COMMITTEE PACIFICATION ORDER
If they had bothered to check their compass course Stimson and the Consortium gang might have checked for deviations with their Comrade in the Kremlin. Stalin wasted no time. The start of an intense pacification of the Ukrainians has since the start of the new year. On January 3, 1932, at a meeting of the Politburo of the CC CP(B)U) the top communist hierarchy debated Stalin and Molotov’s telegram ordering a merciless state procurement of Ukrainian grain. Stalin is well aware that over half of the grain needed to feed the USSR comes from the Ukraine and its rich black soil now covered with snow. Eighty-three senior-ranking officials are dispersed in great haste south throughout the Ukraine in order to organize the Party’s implementation of grain seizures and all the food they can get their hands on. By special resolution the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (CC AUCP) officially declared February 1932 the militant shock month to complete the USSR state grain seizures. This is no small decree. The whole nation is alerted. A terrible doom March and April 1932 falls upon village after village throughout the Ukraine as large numbers of starving people are subdued. Orphaned children roam the cities.
Reports continue to arrive at the State Department imploring for humanitarian assistance. The Lutherans played their part in the Russian-Soviet imbroglio. John A. Morehead, president of the Lutheran World Convention writes the State Department on January 30, 1932 asking for assistance to aid German-Russians in Harbin, some 1,200 to 1,500 persons “who escaped over the border from Siberia at the risk of their lives”. All are now destitute refugees in Chinese Manchuria. Among the lot are some 397 German-Russian refugees including “Mennonites, Lutherans, Baptists, and Catholics” – but no Ukrainians. “They were formerly prosperous farmers (Kulaks), mainly from the Volga Valley and South Russia.”, Morehead states and with particular emphasis he adds, “Under the process of the collectivization of agriculture under the five-year plan of the soviet Government they were deprived of their farms and personal property and exiled to Siberia. Under the hardships of their life in Siberia, with its forced labor and the under-nourishment of their children, they were constrained to escape… Their fellow-Christians in other lands have for many months been helping to supply them…” But Castle readily cuts him off with the Department’s official policy and he tells the Lutheron dignitary “as the refugees are not American citizens and as their status is one which concerns the foreign relations of China and Russia, the Department is not in a position to take any further steps”. There is nothing the State Department will do to help. It is time to go away! Be happy you are not in Siberia! (SDDF 861.48/ Refugees 93/50 reel 31)
The US Legation in Tallinn, Estonia sends dispatch No. 215 February 23, 1932 to Washington and Riga containing a translated report from an unnamed high-ranking Estonian diplomat and sent from chargé d’affaires Harry E. Carlson (1886-48). Carlson, from Illinois, was forty when he first arrived here in 1926; he stays until the Department shake-up in 1937. By the time Carlson and his wife are gone, three years later the Soviets exploit the German-Soviet Pact and invade Estonia on their way into Finland. Stalin deports some 22,000 Estonians to Siberia. Eleven years in the Balkans watching the Russians.
From this listening post in Tallinn and Riga across the border not far from Leningrad Carlson will hear as much as anyone can about the Holodomor. He and wife Laura serve Estonia with passion and genuine care for the Estonian people. Harry and Laura loved Estonian culture and enjoy the romantic style of Tallinn’s medieval architecture. Here the capitol of Tallinn looks West, not East; ships and small yachts of the port head to Finland and Sweden, not Russia. They lived much like a native couple enjoying the summers in their homes in Haapsalu and Valgejoe. Harry’s passion for fishing amused the Estonians charmed by his amiable nature. In 1932 the Estonian government honored him and his wife with the Order of the Estonian Red Cross 2nd Class for their humanitarianism when they helped civilians during Estonia’s War of Independence. Before the First World War, Carlson had been an elementary school teacher in Lafayette, Louisiana and taught at the National Cathedral School for boys in Washington DC. Then when war came he serves as Vice Consul in Frankfurt, and Christiania (Oslo), Norway before arriving in Lithuania as full Consul in 1924 and stationed further north in Tallinn.
Carlson reads the translated Latvian document Carlson citing “the liquidation of Trotski” late 1931 and describes the general opposition to Soviet government as “a ‘right inclination’, particularly in the Caucasus…” that has since been “radically liquidated”. But Trotsky is still alive in the USSR. Soon he will be banished, then exiled out of the country. The Holodomor and Stalin usurpation of Party power are completely incongruous with the fragile hiatus of peace sustained by economic prosperity and government guarantees for minimum prices for butter and eggs and subsidies to farmers who bought virgin lands to cultivate. All that helps make Carlson’s life endurable and not entirely unpleasant while Estonia’s political leaders balance the last years of any semblance of freedom in their lifetime here on a tightrope between Berlin and Moscow. When France falls to Nazi Germany on June 18, 1940, Estonia is taken prey to Moscow; Commissar Zhdanov arrived the next day and by August 5 it the proud population is imprisoned as another Soviet Republic. On a single day, June 14, 1941, the Soviets herd 10,000 men women and children from their homes and sent them to Siberia; at most only a few hundred would ever see their country again. In 1991 after the collapse of the USSR Estonia is the first Soviet Republic to strike back and regain its freedom and immediately recognized by the United States, an event deeply cherished by the population speaking English and no longer bound by the Russian tongue they so passionately despised.
Death by starvation and political repression is not exactly his cup of tea. But Carlson is well-familiar with gruesome reports on Bolshevik terror ever since the first days of revolution. Here Carlson notes high-level European diplomatic concern over deteriorating conditions there. Several months have already passed since Stalin’s isolation of opposition by the old-guard Bolsheviks and his putting in place his own people to carry out the new wave of repression in the countryside.
The Carlson dispatch further declares, “At the same time reports appeared in the press that the ‘right inclination’ has become evident among peasants, allegedly a result of secret agitation by the kulaks. It was feared that this tendency among the peasants would have a very retarding effect on the completion of harvests. These assumptions appear to have been correct inasmuch as the general pace of harvesting and delivery of grain to the Government presented disagreeable surprises to the leaders. There were given a number of extremely resolute instructions, the personnel of the Kolkhozes were checked up, but these measures failed to increase enthusiasms among the members thereof. Furthermore, when it became evident that the workers on Kolkhozes had to yield to the Government at official prices that part of their compensation in kind for piece work which was in excess of the officially designated subsistence reactions, there began an increased movement from the country to the cities.”
Harry Carlson takes particular exception to Stalin’s handling of political opposition. “The question of prices,” he declares, “was also given consideration at the plenary session of the Party’s central committee October 28-30, 1931 and a resolution was passed to avoid increases in prices by all means.” He goes on. “This is a wish,” the American observed, “which is difficult to accomplish under the present circumstances. In the first place it seems that goods, especially foodstuffs, will not be produced for the domestic market in such quantities as to bring about decreases in prices, since the fiscal plan provides for an increase in the quantity of export goods to offset the falling of prices. The production of agricultural products was already in 1931 appreciably smaller than in 1930.” With catastrophe under their feet and over their heads, the American combed the Soviet scene for more tremors of the unfolding debacle inside the soviet economy. “In the Commissariat of Agriculture”, he notes, “three acting commissars were transferred (seemingly due to misunderstandings in connection with grain harvests and deliveries).” Shot would have been closer to the truth but Carlson doesn’t say. All during his tenure there he most definitely has had access to countless similar reports on alarming conditions contributing to the Holodomor yet only a few remain in declassified government files. His peers were satisfied that Harry Carlson did his job well earning a transfer to London in 1937. When the US officially recognizes Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Carlson is promoted ambassador to the Baltic States.