So, why should they care about their victims anymore? Why should they care about their mothers and sisters in Mother Ukraine? And that is why the Holodomor tragedy is their tragedy too although they never will admit it. Because they didn’t want to. They too must respect their duty to public service and the rituals of their class distinction as leaders of society, philanthropists dedicated to uplift the oppressed and downtrodden. Most probably they cannot care. Like the battle-weary soldier of the war returning to the peace of his home town words would have no meaning, empty words, shells without soul. It would be too painful, and they don’t feel the pain. They don’t feel anything. Greed and the rage for profits and service to a greater evil robbed them of their Humanity to their fellow man. Otherwise how would they pursue a logic of war and destruction making it so easy to send millions of young men and women, barely adults, to suffer painful deaths. It is criminal but it is so. Rockefeller could laugh, tossing dimes to young girls in white cotton dresses sitting on his knees and speak of God and the people would listen and believe and wait for the Final Judgment. Stalin, too, alone in a stark bare room behind an empty table and his list of new victims to be taken away and eliminated.
Cole tells Skinner he had been in contact with Russians “ever since the 1st of January 1913”. He is at a loss, at the crossroads in his career and uncertain where to go with Skinner’s absurd and inane exercise. Cole refuses to play fiddle. He tells his thinly masked Skinner, “I feel myself incompetent to express a reasoned judgment of the particular kind you desire”. During the coup and armed intervention for three years from 1917-19 had been stationed in the cold northern wilderness of Archangel not far from Solovki. Cole admittedly declared he had read “all” the “interviews with Americans coming out of Russia” and similar interviews form other Legations and found them all biased and subjective “controlled by whether or not he wants to go back in again at an early or a later date”. To the nature of the “happiness of the Russian people” he ventured a description. “What can be drawn from the printed material at the disposal of the Legation in regard to the specific question you ask? Little or nothing, I believe.” And that should have been the end of it. But the point of the matter was not who was or was not better off under communism than during the Tsarist era. Would the Soviet regime persist. And that was very much on everyone’s mind. Cole wrote, “until physical misery and mental discontent become so extreme that life under the given conditions is no longer bearable people do not revolt and throw off the existing social system. Whatever may be the degree of happiness or unhappiness the Russian population now enjoys or suffers, the latter is not sufficient now – and I do not believe will soon be – to put the present Soviet Government out of the saddle.”
It should not seem that unreal that Cole would here refer to his experience in Russia under “the famine which the ARA relieved in 1921 and during the NEP until the fall of 1930” to qualify as a proper background to ground his reply to Skinner’s inquiry about prospects for regime change and Russian forbearance under socialist repression though not uttering a word about starving conditions in these most difficult and tense test to stay the course and get through the crisis that has been inflicted on one hundred and sixty million people.
About the plight of the peasantry Cole describes the dilemma of people’s dissatisfaction with living conditions in Russia : “Here again, as in the army, one would have to have lived both in the old villages and in the new collective and Soviet farms. The only fairly certain guess that can be made is that since the dekulakization campaign in 1930 the individual peasants are pretty miserable, being a class harried and harassed both physically and legally. Before 1930 it is a safe statement that they were very much better off than under the old regime, roughly during two periods; first after the war and before the period of ‘war communism’ with its attendant grain seizures which contributed to the famine which the ARA relieved in 1921 and during the NEP until the fall of 1930.” The latter time frame puts responsibility squarely on the launching of The Plans and the Consortium squarely in the center with Stalin.
William M. Gwynn is pragmatic, a bit mystical even prophetic. Gwynn writes, “The Russians, like the rest of us, will be happy when they want what they’ve got, as they will probably never get what they want.” For most of the hundred million Russians today this is still the sad truth.
Then there is the Margolin letter. About this time a detailed and accurate report of famine in the Ukraine falls into the hands of Undersecretary James G. Rogers in Washington. It was sent by Arnold D. Margolin, the American-Ukrainian of significant prestige and experience recently returned from a trip to Europe, including Germany and Czechoslovakia, “where”, Margolin informs the American government undersecretary, “I had a few instructive talks with some of the officials and – in Germany – also with several leading industrialists and business men”. His memorandum is sent to Klots, as well as Rogers. “Since the beginning of wholesale collectivization of the farmers,” Arnold Margolin informed Stimson’s office, “a great number of hungry peasants are brought from time to time to the hospitals; most of them have swollen arms and legs as the result of starvation. There is a mass desertion of villages by peasants who run in an unknown direction, trying to find some new occupation.” Further, in his conclusion he meant not to be overlooked, Margolin substantiated his findings that “Especially strong is the separatist movement among the peasants and intellectuals. Also a very considerable portion of factory workers are in favor of a political independent existence of Ukraine.”
Who is he? Since 1922, Margolin, a naturalized American who was born in the Ukraine and practices law in Boston. Not just any Ukrainian, however. He is the former Justice of the Ukrainian Supreme Court, and former member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. At the end of the civil war when Ukraine was lost to the Reds he emigrated to the US, in 1922. During these last “five or six years” Margolin met frequently with Kelley, and Stimson’s close advisers undersecretaries Rogers and Cotton. Rogers holds Margolin’s letter and documents. He writes Margolin, on August 18, “I shall read these with interest at the first opportunity”. But he offered him no encouragement or compassion for the victims less even an acknowledgment of the existence of a famine in the Ukraine. Rogers added, “In spite of the constant newspaper discussion of the change of policy in regard to Russia, there have been no developments here of any importance”. In fact, official recognition of the Soviets is still a year off. Kelley recalls Margolin had been “introduced to the Department by Professor Frankfurter and Justice Brandeis”. Margolin’s information we can be sure reached the top of the American judicial and executive branches of the US government. (J. G. Rogers to Arnold D. Margolin, Aug. 18, 1932; SDDF 11536)
On prices and conditions Margolin reports “the lack of bread in the distributory Government agencies… On the markets, peasants sell rye bread of 5 pounds for 10 roubles (2 roubles per pound). A small semi-white roll of ¼ pound costs 1 rouble on the market.” (value of a rouble 51 cents, “any private person for a price which in Soviet roubles is twenty times greater than the official valuation of the rouble”; a pound of rye bread distributed in rations coast “only five kopeks. The rations are, however, very small. So, the Soviet employees receive ½ pound, plus ¼ pound for each of the dependent members of the families. The factory workers receive from 1 to 1 ½ pound per person, plus ½ pound for each of the dependent members of their families. As a matter of fact, these additional rations for members of families are very seldom distributed in full measure because of the lack of bread…The ration of meat for the above privileged categories (factory workers and employees) is 2 ½ pounds per person and month. Sugar is almost entirely absent, and when it appears, the price is one rouble per pound in the government stores, and from 6 to 7 roubles – if bought from secret speculators, 10 eggs cost 5-6 roubles, butter – from 10 to 17 roubles a pound, Strawberries 1 ½ roubles for a pound, apples – 1 to 3 roubles a pound; lemons and oranges are considered as a luxury and cost from 3 to 10 roubles each. Kerosene is distributed on the basis of 8 pounds per person and month for privileged persons. On secret markets, kerosene costs from 50 ko Up to 1 rouble per pound. Speculators seldom have meat for secret sales; but even when meat appears on the market, it costs 3 – 3 ½ roubles per pound. Very bad sausages are sold for 2-3 roubles a pound, and very bad ham – 8 -12 roubles a pound. A chicken costs 12-15 roubles, a duck – 17 roubles. Only one rationed cake of very bad soap is sold per month and person for 20 -30 kopeks; on private markets a little cake of soap costs from 1 ½ to 6 roubles. The clothes are almost absent… The only two categories of people who are well fed and clothes are all the members and employees of the GPU and the Red Army. Even factory workers receive but 150 roubles per person and month. This sum is not even sufficient to buy the bread necessary for the survival of the dependent members of their families. There are everywhere spies of the G.U. among the factory workers who watch the workers and compel them to vote for ‘voluntary’ loans imposed upon distributed among the workers. All the resolutions at meetings of factory workers are prepared in advance by the agents of the GPU.” But the Americans knew that, right? What didn’t they know that wasn’t already explicit in the mountains of documents on “Russian conditions” filed since the 1917 October Revolution?
Margolin’s knowledge of the GPU confirmed countless other reports about the real program of collectivization and the methods evident day and night of Stalin’s “pacification” of the Ukraine. He writes, “Many of them destroyed their poultry during the collectivization, and went to Moscow and other large cities for the purpose of selling the feathers of the killed birds. The price for this commodity is very high in Moscow, and its weight is light and easily transportable. There remained in many villages only women and girls….The GPU penetrates into all spheres of the life, has its own cooperatives and warehouses. Wholesale arrests of all those who are suspected of concealing some foreign money or gold, or precious stones are made from time to time. The arrested people are subjected to many tortures such as deprivation of sleeping; they are compelled to stay on their feet for 24 hours, etc. All these trials are continued until the power of resistance is broken, and the victims surrender, either confessing what they have and giving everything away to the Government, or denouncing friends, neighbors, etc. Only 5 % of the registered Communists are sincere fanatics; the rest are liars and lazy people. There is a sec-sot (secret co-worker of the GPU) in every house.”
Nonetheless, according to this report, the Ukrainian language is still tolerated. “There is no trace of autonomy in the Soviet Republics as far as administration and economic life are concerned. The only field where Ukraine and other non-Russian Territories have some autonomy is the domain of local language. In Ukraine, the Ukrainian language is taught as the main language in all the primary and high schools. Even Jewish children in the cities speak a better Ukrainian than Russian in the schools at the present time. Street car conductors speak Ukrainian, all the names of streets, signs, etc. are in Ukrainian language. A very great number of books appear in Ukrainian language; both original literature and translations into Ukrainian from other languages. Every year all the Soviet employees in Ukraine are re-examined anew in Ukrainian language, literature, history. In the largest theaters, plays and operas are given or sung in the Ukrainian language.”
Margolin’s report is in sharp contradiction to pro-Soviet tone of the American Riga Legation summaries prepared for Skinner. Margolin is very clear about a strong nationalist sentiment seething with resentment against the Soviet communists. He writes, “The overwhelming majority of the population are impatiently waiting for the end of the Soviet regime. Even Jews who realize that any sudden change of Government can bring civil war and chaos, accompanied by Jewish pograms, have the same feeling, i.e., want to see the end of the existing government. ‘Let us go through most dreadful pogroms, and let us put an end to the present unbearable situation’, so say even older, well balanced Jews in their despair. The Ukrainian Population of Ukraine is bitterly opposed to any dependence of Ukraine on Russia in the future.” The report added, in a note “Among the 31 millions of the population of the Soviet Ukrainian Republic over 75% are Ukrainians. The remaining part of the population are Russians, Jews, Poles and some other non-numerous nationalities. A.M.”.
Another letter to Rogers arrives from Margolin sent on August 17. Margolin has since updated his findings with recent information from fellow Ukrainians including “the President of the Ukrainian Social Democratic Party, Izaak Mazeppa”, who, Margolin said “is one of the Ukrainian delegates at the Second International”. This is particularly important, he said, since the “views of the group he represents seem to me very sound and genuinely democratic.” Margolin suggests that his friend Rogers “and Mr. Klots might be interested in Mr. Mazeppa’s letter…” Seven pages written in french are sent to the State Department. Mazeppa reached out to England and America “a notre cause” (“in our struggle“) of an independent Ukraine. But his appeal for US government aid to a nationalist Ukrainian movement against the Kremlin falls on deaf ears. The Ukrainians will still have to endure famine, war and 59 years more of constant oppression and terror before realizing their independence and national liberation from the Kremlin’s grip that bounds their lives and resources. Mazeppa’s enclosed letter dated July 20, 1932 is addressed to Arnold Davidovitch. It confirms Stalin’s worst fear. Ukraine, insists the nationalist leader was never Bolshevist, and remains in spirit free unlike the Russian people:
“Contrairement a ce que pretendent certains enemies de la cause ukrainienne, ce n’est pas vrai que le people ukrainien ne tient pas a l’Ukraine independante. Sans exaggeration on peut affirmer qu’aujourd’hui on ne trouverait pas un seul Ukranien politiquement concient qui ne tiendrait a l’independence nationale de l’Ukraine. Tous les partis politique ukrainiens, sans aucune exception, ont aujourd’hui le meme mot d’ordre: l’independence de l’Ukraine.”
Briefly paraphrased Mazeppa declares there isn’t a Ukrainian alive who would not welcome the national independence of the Ukraine. All that might have seemed very interesting at the moment. For Kelley the most urgent matter, however, was expansion of the international communist movement and subversion of the American democratic system inside America’s borders.
That summer Kelley keeps Stimson informed of a “sub-agency of the Communist International in Berlin having “funneled over a half-million dollars” to buy weapons for the Chinese communist revolution. Kelley tells his boss that the money was certainly not intended for “trade union” activities. (761.62/277; A. Meier, 201)
This same summer Bullitt travels on the same route from Moscow south into the Crimea towards the Black Sea but he sees little of that Ukrainian life that animated Witkin’s trip or which figures in Margolin’s numbers. Fischer had alerted Bullitt that Stalin “although away in the Caucasus, two days’ journey from Moscow – was closely following my negotiations, and that he advised the Committee to reverse itself.” Bullitt learns that “Fischer got his information from a member of the Committee of Ten” and confirmed by Krestensky, Acting Commissar for Foreign Affairs. “When we tried to see him in connection with the Bank’s books,” Bullitt discovers, “he sent back word that until Stalin and the Central Committee finished with us, he could not see us even informally.” Without a deal in hand Bullitt returns to America sometime late August 1932. He might have traveled through the Ukraine and riveted the world’s attention on the coming famine. Bullitt this time instead prefers secret diplomacy to chasing headlines set to newsprint selling newspapers owned by his Consortium pals. Lenin was dead. Trotsky the internationalist and doctrinaire communist for “Permanent Revolution” is living in exile. Nikolai Bukharin who moved the Party closer to the Stalinist line of “Socialism in one country” has been marginalized. It appears Bullitt and his fellow Americans in Riga and Washington feel as though they are part of a historical process over which they have no control. They grind their teeth, grin and smoke, drink their cognac and whiskeys and advance their government careers unable to change the course of events of their public service. Yet each one of them like Bullitt will suffer dreams and fantasies of another world if only life could have been different as Bullitt does four years later as ambassador in his beloved Paris when he had time and distance to reflect on life in the US after Stalin and his Consortium backers twisted and welded the great hopes of socialist experiment into a industrial totalitarian complex of grinding machines, forced labor, terror, exile, executions and famine. By then it is too late.
The Plans of the Consortium thoroughly depress Bullitt who seems forever disillusioned since the prime of his heyday when he was the young and adventuring idealist embarking to Red Square on the House mission to Lenin for Wilson. The world had changed horribly since then and Bullitt played his role as they all did in the Russian section to promote the Department’s plans put in place ultimately by the executive authority of the President. The Russians are still struggling to survive. Of that he could be sure. In 1919 during the chaos of civil war, terror and famine, Lenin and the Bolshevik Revolution had promised a great proletarian future. The glowing accounts of life in the Soviet Union whether written by Duranty or the American-Russian Chamber of Commerce seemed paradoxically similar to official Soviet propaganda. Instead of embracing the Soviet industrial revolution, Bullitt winced, grimaced at the singularly sour and gray face of despair and infectious paranoia of the Russians whom he had once found so eager to welcome the American foreigner. What would Bullitt do now?
Desperate not to be left out of the circle in the changing order of power Bullitt frequently writes the enigmatic Col. House, the Consortium ace always at the center of power. Neither shows any interest in the famine or treachery of the communist regime or compassion for the Ukraine. The Consortium would get their man in Moscow but in the end the final choice would be left to FDR.
FDR is the smoothest of operators around whom all the President’s men turn playing out their roles. To his credit Bullitt is still the establishment’s Bolshevik, a chum who counts among his friends “Ave” Harriman and song and drama star Cole Porter of Yale, together in the very rich and party scene of the Astor Vanderbilt society. (Cole Porter’s 1934 song You’re the Top contains the lyric, “You’re the top, you’re a Waldorf salad”.) But when he is alone Bullitt doesn’t really a friend in the world. He whimpers about his loneliness and seeks intellectual comfort in the bourgeois sexual mythology of the famed psychoanalyst in Vienna, Sigmund Freud who did more than his share to screw up the 20th century mindset of Bullitt’s generation and their sons. Bullitt was a lonely man, and he’ll be the loneliest man in Moscow after Stalin is no longer amused to keep him around.
Bullitt doesn’t miss the opportunity to send House his New Year greetings. “I meant to write you in my last letter that I had made arrangements in London to have any question whatever asked in the House of Commons: so that if you want anything explored by that means you have only to let me know.” Just to drive home the nail, Bullitt persists and writes the following week, “I should, of course, be glad to have you show Roosevelt my letter and I hope you will, as you suggest, let him know that I might not be altogether useless.” If that’s any reference to the abortive 1919 mission, the less said the better. Then throwing on more flattery which Bullitt was famously unashamed to do, he cautioned House that his own contact with Roosevelt “was so slight that I should have to come into contact with him de novo, and I should of course rather come to him through you than through anyone else in the world.”
Bullitt and “the Colonel”– it was purely an honorary title, his health prevented any military career – , renewed their correspondence in the mid 1920s as well as meeting in Europe, New York, and at Bullitt’s farm in the Berkshires. Their correspondence picked up in 1930, after Bullitt became more involved in his work with the Viennese psychologist Sigmund Freud ever since their collaboration for Bullitt’s vindictive book on Woodrow Wilson. In March 1930 Bullitt reminded House of their dinner with the Turkish ambassador in Vienna when told “not to talk about the Armenian Genocide”, or the slaughter of a million people by the Turks in 1915. Bullitt keeps House well informed about his progress, prompting House on July 31, 1930 to advise Bullitt that he use more discretion and ‘write with moderation and without bias so that your influence may carry with those who disagree as well as those who agree with you.”
According to scholar Casella- Blackburn, in The Donkey, the Carrot, and the Club, Bullitt had so thoroughly impressed House, Wilson’s adviser that House initiated the process leading to Bullitt’s work for Roosevelt. Bullitt had sent a letter from Europe on political conditions there; House reassured Bullitt that he would ‘let the Governor read it in confidence so that he may have the benefit of the information you give.” Late 1931 Bullitt writes House on Soviet-Euro relations. “Incidently in London I ran into the information, ‘direct’ information, that the Soviet Government intended to endure any provocation rather than go to war with Japan.” (M. Cassella-Blackburn, 74-5, William C. Bullitt Papers, Yale Univ. Archives)
Bullitt is still an actor without role. By the time Bullitt sits firm in the saddle with the new Democratic administration he will display for FDR the same passion for early 20th century American liberalism that he and journalist Walter Lippmann coin for President Wilson when he officially pushes America into the First World War, backed by George Creel’s government phalanx of CPI (Committee of Public Information) journalists. Then Bullitt was a junior Washington reporter and learned then if you wanted to pole-vault your career, better to keep House’s direct telephone number. On April 6, 1917 he writes Wilson after briefly meeting the newly declared war President, “I just want to tell you,” Bullitt ventured, “that today you said the things which everyone in the world who cares about the future of Humanity has been waiting for you to say. And you said them supremely well. You’ve made yourself the leader of everyone in the world who wants real peace.” Back in the Wilson era when weeks after Lenin smashed the Constituent Assembly ending all chances of compromise between Bolsheviks and democratic parties by February 1918 Bullitt is urging House to recognize the Bolsheviks and give them everything they need to survive. Writing then he declares “… it is so obvious that no words could so effectively stamp the President’s address with uncompromising liberalism as would the act of recognizing the Bolsheviki”. Then Bullitt had pleaded with House to replace the US ambassador Francis with “an Ambassador who will not be an obvious target for radical attack … and will be able in at least some measure to understand what the Bolsheviki are about?” But Bullitt was young and very brash then and he didn’t know much at all who Francis was or what Francis was really up to there in the grab for Tsarist concessions. Had he really known more about the Bolshevik mentality, or Russian history which he confessed to Croly he was not too up on, he might have had more diplomatic skill with Stalin. (W. Brownell and R. N. Billings, “Pipeline to the President”, 67)
Freud and Bullitt together share a dislike bordering on mocking contempt for Woodrow Wilson. Unwilling to be perceived as an adoptee of “the American method”, the Viennese Freud confesses, “As far as a single individual can be responsible for the misery of this part of the world, he surely is.” In his chapter titled “The Ugly Americans” Peter Gay depicts Bullitt’s collaboration with Freud in 1930 having first contacted him in the mid-twenties about collaborating on a psychological historical portrait of Wilson and the Versailles Treaty debacle. Freud could not forgive him for making a blunder of his “Fourteen Points”, calling them “fantastic promises” beyond the scope of any reality. Freud has little affection for America, and late in his life refers to it as an “anti-Paradise”. He added, :”Yes, America is gigantic, but a gigantic mistake.” and finds it bothersome late in his life with his publishing firm Verlag to be “working for the dollar”. In 1932 he said, “My suspicion of America is unconquerable.” The description in Peter Gay’s seminal work on Freud leaves with Bullitt political suicide before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September 1919 revealing details of his secret diplomatic mission and revealing confidential secrets including Lansing’s opposition to the treaty. Freud’s loyal and strong-minded daughter Anna exhibited no fondness for Bullitt finding him more than a little intolerable. “There is no doubt about it that my father over-estimated Bullitt. I never did.” (Anna Freud to Dr. Max Schur, Nov. 6, 1966, P. Gay, Freud, 555-70, 776 note.)
During this time 1930-31 Bullitt writes frequently to House of his work with Freud; mid-December he and his daughter settle in Vienna while he observes Austria “slowly sliding towards the abyss of stagnation and starvation”. That month House writes asking to be kept informed, “How are you and Prof. Freud getting along with your book. I shall be eager to see it.” Bullitt replied “The book is at last finished … at least there is now a complete manuscript and I am beginning to think about politics again” It was only published after the death of Wilson’s widow,and a year after Bullitt dies in 1966, titled Thomas Woodrow Wilson. (P. Gay, Freud, 557-8)
This time his technique with FDR was identical but bore more fruit. Bullitt leans on Louis Wehle, FDR’s Harvard classmate, and prominent New York lawyer who had helped keep Roosevelt’s presidential ambitions alive during the twenties; Wehle is also a mutual friend of Col. House. For too long now Bullitt has been out of the loop and doesn’t know where to go or who to turn to. Wehle tells him to stick to his loyalities in the Democratic Party that he spurned a decade before in the highly publicized scandal and turned his nose up at the Party and exiled himself to the Mediterranean resorts of southern France. Bullitt is depressed and lonely, estranged from Louise Bryant who he left in Paris in a messy divorce with a meager settlement and taking away from her their young daughter. Bryant loathed Bullitt and never stopped loving Reed. Wehle tells him to be patient and stay close to House who proposes Bullitt to Roosevelt for the Paris ambassador job, but it goes instead to Jesse Strauss, the wealthy campaign backer and president of Macy’s department store in New York. On August 28 he writes House again prostrating himself with devout loyalty common to sinners, saints and other scoundrels. Bullitt makes a final plea to House, “If I can be of the slightest use please command me. I am entirely at the disposal of Roosevelt and yourself for any service you may wish in the campaign.” Why didn’t anyone call?
His luck changed. By September 3, Bullitt writes House of his encounter with Louis Howe, intimate friend of FDR and his presidential campaign manager. Bullitt signs on as a speech writer at the NY headquarters. A lucky break for the man banished from the Democratic Party center after his flash in the glory of history that led to Lenin and Freud. Still it’s a step down and Bullitt knows that the longer he stays there he’d be in a rut. Ironically those earlier days with House and Wilson are his only claim to the job in Moscow. He went for it like a devil back from hell desperate to get closer to Roosevelt and this time stick. Bullitt tells House “… as you said on the phone, there is no reason why, if he wants me, he should not lift me out of the New York organization”. Roosevelt promised to raise taxes on the wealthy. Bullitt worries the Democrats had little money. He wrote, “… there seems to be scarcely a penny to elect Mr. Roosevelt”. (W. Brownell and R. N. Billings, 126)
Louis Wehle is no insignificant conduit either. He writes FDR August 13 telling him to use Bullitt in Europe. Wehle later takes credit for recommending Bullitt for Moscow telling FDR “… if we should recognize Russia, he would by all odds be your best man as our first ambassador”. Few Americans today have any clue who was Louis Wehle and his power he sways over the White House. A lawyer and member of Wilson’s war cabinet he sat on the US Shipping Board and the Emergency Fleet Corporation from the first year of the Great War to 1919. The next year he brokered the Hoover-FDR ticket in the presidential contest. A Consortium man Louis Wehle was undoubtedly a Pilgrim. Owner of the Genesse Brewing Company in Rochester, New York Wehle made it big when Prohibition was repealed and thirsty Americans on the dole in need of a drink rediscovered the pleasure of cheap legal beer. Wehle too was a genteel landowner, with 1,700 acres near Rochester where he keeps a harness racing track, a duck-breeding pond and a shooting range. During the Second World War, FDR appointed Louis Wehle ambassador to the Netherlands for a year replaced in 1955 by Stanley Hornbeck; Wehle is more at ease sitting on “Ave” Harriman’s New York Governor’s staff as his Conservation Commissioner and peacefully enjoy his promenades in the woods away from the limelight of politics.
Two weeks later Bullitt is on the inside track writing speeches in FDR’s campaign Manhattan headquarters scheming his way back into Roosevelt’s Democratic organization. He liked to chat up FDR’s longtime personal Secretary Marguerite (‘Missy”) LeHand who September 12 sends Bullitt instructions to contact Moley, the organizer from Columbia University in charge of Roosevelt’s “brains trust”. Bullitt is quickly tasked and excelled speech writing on foreign policy issues. Two days later Bullitt writes his candidate applauding FDR’s speech in Topeka, Kansas on a notepad from the Yale Club located behind Grand Central Station at Vanderbilt Ave and 44th Street. “My dear Governor Roosevelt”, he writes, and calls the Topeka Radio speech “the most spiriting address that I have heard since Wilson’s speeches in 1918. You not only said the right things but also said them with a 1776 spirit. That is what I care most about in American life and that is what we need in the White House.” That’s laying it on thick. If there is one thing Bullitt has learned to do well its how to flatter his way into a job and in his case it means jumping hurdles over the State Department careerists. He tells his boss he’s now at work in the State Department “preparing a memorandum on foreign policy which might perhaps be of some service if you should wish to make an address on foreign affairs. Mr. Hoover’s foreign policy has been as inept as his domestic administration, and I think you could, if you wished, point that out in an address as stirring as your address of today.”
Side-stepping Stimson Bullitt is still an undersecretary without portfolio. His path to a steady job at the State Department is not yet clear. Dreams of springtime in Paris have more appeal than stark wintry nights in Moscow. Bullitt kept a thick address book of influential society contacts to the millionaire social set of New England’s blue-blood Brahmins, careful not to fall to far astray of the American “establishment” to which he belongs and yearns to serve. He can still count on the senior power guard of House and Baruch who remain in reach. In a letter to FDR he encloses a personal check for $1,000 with the right few words, “Please use the cheque in any way you see fit. Please also use me in any way you wish.”
It worked. Bullitt is hired as a speech writer drafting Roosevelt’s speech at the Commonwealth Club on September 23 in San Francisco warning that “the American economy had achieved a state of maturity that without state interference would lead inevitably to consolidation and control by a private economic oligarchy”. It’s a direct swipe at DuPont – Mellon Consortium gang behind Hoover and weary of Roosevelt. In that speech Roosevelt warned “we are working against horrible odds in this point of time”. The next day humorist Will Rogers introduces Roosevelt to 120,000 people in the Los Angeles Hollywood Bowl with McAdoo and James Farley sharing the podium. Rogers will go to Russia as a goodwill ambassador and calls it “the poorest country in the world for a Communist to go to… there is no Communists or Reds there”, no strikers, no agitators, no protests. (I. Gellman, 141; A. Hamby, For the Survival of Democracy, Franklin Roosevelt and the World Crisis of the 1930s, 2004, 106; Richard M. Ketchum, Will Rogers, His Life and Times, American Heritage, 1973, 348)
Something clicked in FDR’s mind. Still out west on the campaign trail he sent back a handwritten note advising Bullitt contact Moley. Once back east FDR summoned Bullitt to meet him October 5 together with Wehle who observed the two men bond. “There was a certain community of social background,” Wehle writes, “as well as temperamental congeniality… But there was a difference: in the main Roosevelt was apt to absorb only what he could grasp quickly; Bullitt had the capacity for prodigious, sustained toil…Yet he could swiftly and vividly make available to Roosevelt his scholarship of history and also his familiarity with Europe and current leaders.” (W. Brownell and R. N. Billings, 128-9; Louis Wehle, Threads, 114-9)
Less than a month after Moscow, Wehle observed that Bullitt had become “thoroughly disillusioned by the development of the US under Stalin.” He did not long to return. Bullitt might have Paris but not yet. Instead Wehle advises Bullitt to “formulate the principles for an agreement of recognition between the United States and the US”. He turns out to be a valuable speech writer. “To anyone who fears that the presence of a Russian Ambassador in Washington will promote communism in this country, I should like to say this: I have no more use for Communism than Mr. Hoover has; but I know that communists are produced not by ideas or the presence of a few human beings, but by foul living conditions.” What about bayonets, printing presses American trucks and farm machines and the chance to create the New Soviet man? No, something much more foul and sinister is making communism in Russia but nothing is said of the totalitarian mechanization of the masses by Consortium billionaires and Big Business which FDR needs to be elected to the White House. In no political speeches must American industrial aid to Stalin be mentioned. (SPEECH 1932 Folder 594, Box 168, W. C. Bullitt Papers, Archives, Yale Univ.)
There is the Bullitt speech for FDR attacking the Hoover and Stimson foreign policy towards Japan, Manchuria and the League: “The essence of Mr. Hoover’s policy is to present a permanent controversy to the world. He has not only achieved the greatest diplomatic defeat that the United States has suffered in a century but also has won the enmity of Japan and created a situation filled with danger of future war…and let us remember for our future guidance the words of Theodore Roosevelt: ‘I do not believe in our taking a position anywhere unless we can make good’.” Calling his policy in the Far East closing “the Open Door”, he renamed it “the Open Sore”, destroying American prestige in the Far East certain to get a chuckle out of the candidate. This would not be a stumbling block for Bullitt during the chimera abusing the trust of Americans over FDR’s Russian policy.
Bullitt and FDR chide Hoover for not moving fast enough to pressure the Japanese to temper their imperialist rape of China. The Japanese could, and readily did point to America’s domination of the Philippines where Stimson himself had sat high, in Manila, as America’s imperial Governor after its annexation from the Spanish in the 1898 war. Now they quote TR in his letter to President Taft, December 22, 1910: “The Open Door policy in China was an excellent thing, and I hope it will be a good thing in the future so far as it can be maintained by general diplomatic agreement; but, as has been proved by the whole history of Manchuria, alike under Russia and under Japan, the ‘Open Door’ policy, as a matter of fact, completely disappears as soon as a powerful nation determines to disregard it, and is willing to run the risk of war rather than forgo its intention’.” The fact was that at that time, and Bullitt called attention to the fact of the findings of the commission of the League of Nations on the Japanese occupation of Manchurian provinces in China and installing its puppet government “maintained by Japanese bayonets”. (SPEECH 1932 Folder 594, Box 168, W. C. Bullitt Papers, Archives, Yale Univ.)
More likely the initiative for the normalization of US relations with the Kremlin came from Stimson and the CFR. Stimson (1867-50) lived throughout his life witness and participant at the pinnacle of the American power establishment in the Consortium. Born to a wealthy New York family long involved in Republican politics Henry L. Stimson (Phillips Academy, Yale, Harvard Law (1890) joined the prestigious Wall Street law firm of Root and Clark in 1891, becoming a partner two years later. Elihu Root (1845-37), Teddy Roosevelt’s Secretary of war (1899-04), Secretary of state (1905-09), US Senator, head of Wilson’s 1917 Mission to Russia under Kerensky’s Provisional Government, and the major influence and role model for Stimson. Two years later Henry Stimson married Mabel Wellington White, a great-great granddaughter of America’s founding father Roger Sherman. In 1906, Stimson was appointed a US Attorney for the Southern District of New York but was defeated as the Republican candidate in his 1910 bid for governor. His consolation prized was a cabinet seat in the Taft White House as Secretary of War (1911-13).
In 1927, President Coolidge sent him to Nicaragua to calm things down. His was the onerous task of bearing the White Man’s Burden. There he imposed military dictatorship saying the Nicaraguan people “were not fitted for the responsibilities that go with independence and still less fitted for popular self-government.” After his apprenticeship in Nicaragua disarming rebels and freedom fighters seeking land reform, better working conditions, schools for their children, social justice and a negotiated peace, Stimson is rewarded with the Philippines seized by his mentor Teddy Roosevelt and Elihu Root presiding over the America’s massacre of over a million inhabitants. For two years Henry Stimson enjoys the congenial comforts with all the aura of a 19th century colonial viceroy in the famed style of Joseph Conrad; actually he’s America’s Governor-General of the archipelago. Whoever said America was not interested in imperial conquest and Empire is not familiar with the American pacification of the Philippines and over a million dead nationals alarmed with sticks and knives shot by American troops like animals on a turkey hunt. Stimson vigorously opposes Filipino national independence as had done his predecessor General Leonard Wood. In 1929, Hoover brings Stimson back to Washington to be his Secretary of State. FDR will do the same during the Second World War as his Secretary of War and intimately responsible for coordinating the Manhattan Bomb Project that nukes Japan – twice – to end the war. Stimson at the time in Manila, however, has much catching up to do with the New World Order that he helps to shape. In 1929, when he takes over Hoover’s State Department, he shuts down MI-8, the crypto-analytic office. “Gentlemen don’t read each other’s mail,” he declares. (M. Cassella-Blackburn, 77)
According to author M. Cassella-Blackburn, opposition to US government recognition of the Soviets stemmed principally from Hornbeck and Kelley. President Hoover publicly took the position that recognition could ‘lose the moral standing we had theretofore held in the controversy with Japan.” Japan’s march into Siberia in 1918 was still etched in his memory. Stimson argued that America risked losing moral prestige by recognizing the communist dictatorship. Down the hall in the State Department the staunch anti-communist Kelley was forever obsessed with the Kremlin’s call for a world communist revolution. He feared the Bolsheviks with the animosity and outrage helpless men once faced the plague. Only now it’s the Holodomor and he could care less for that. The Soviet menace was a blight to the civilized world, and he claimed the image of the US would suffer constant propaganda attacks as an “opportunist nation”. Kelley’s paranoia would be enough to exacerbate any debate on the famine crisis and further obstruct any proposals for emergency aid relief from Washington, a definite “no-go” during the worsening depression at home. Moscow he argued showed no loyalty to accepted codes of ethical conduct and international law. We know from the record that Kelley covered up the famine and terror as best he could rather than raise flags long before it reached critical mass and risked becoming a political issue. The disturbing irony is that Kelley’s personal aversion to the Bolsheviki was so great that he felt compelled to show no regret in readily sacrificing the Ukrainians and other indigenous peoples in Russian republics even to the point of making only a meek response to the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in September 1931. Thereafter Moscow pushes harder for US recognition. (M. Cassella-Blackburn, 92)
Like a sick bird with a bellyache of Christian principles Kelley harked daily against the ruthless atheists in Moscow. When it came to aiding the patriotic Ukrainian nationalists fighting for their survival and the survival of their nation Kelley does nothing to sound the alarm or show any discontent. He harped about Soviet violation of international principles yet he fails to see how his belief in “principles” were irreconcilable with own the irreconcilable contradictions of his class. Like a man possessed with an obsession his way was blocked. Kelley misses the opportunity to heed the recalcitrant resistance of the peasants and their latent and irrepressible nationalism which still offered itself up as a valuable resource for freedom. But what could he do more than curse the communists and turn his back? He was a Consortium man, their tool. Nor did he have FDR’s ear and never would, lacking the finesse and status of his peer Bullitt, and too fanatic to serve Harriman. Kelley is bound by contusely shared “principles” and cultural affinity with Stimson and Hoover who disparaged struggles of national liberation regardless of Japanese expansion in the Far East.
A year later while he’s assembling documents and awaiting FDR’s return from vacation, Kelley writes a memorandum on July 27 in the doldrum indolence of summer calm in Washington while Ukrainians are dying by the hundreds and thousands each day: “An essential prerequisite to the establishment of harmonious and trustful relations with the Soviet Government is the abandonment by the present rulers of their revolutionary aims.” Ha! What a buffon. Absurd that it was but Kelley still believed it with no less irony than that which animated his denial of the Holodomor. Was this an unsaid detail in the quid pro quo for Stalin in a recognition deal with FDR? The Department really had no idea how to handle the monster in the Kremlin apart from letting FDR have his fun encouraging more military industrialization to hold off the Japanese and the Germans as well as the Russian and Ukrainian masses. To Hell with democratic national liberation struggles. When did the great American democracy ever support one? Ask any American in or out of the State Department. All that was Wilsonian bunk long discarded since the Versailles debacle over the real goals of Empire bound in secret treaties. In the memorandum Kelley prepares the road map for the President how to proceed “in the way of the establishment with Russia of the relations…” Strictly speaking, respect for non-interference in internal affairs by both nations was the rule. (R. Kelley memorandum July 27, 1933, US State Department)
“The fundamental obstacle in the way of the establishment with Russia of the relations usual between nations in diplomatic intercourse is the world revolutionary aims and practices of the rulers of that country… It would seem, therefore, that an essential prerequisite to the establishment of harmonious and trustful relations with the Soviet Government is abandonment by the present rulers of Russia of their world revolutionary aims and the discontinuance of their activities designed to bring about the realization of such aims. More specifically and with particular regard to the United States, this prerequisite involves the abandonment by Moscow of direction, supervision, control, financing, et cetera, through every agency utilized for the purpose, of communist and other related activities in the United States.” This had been done ever since Stalin’s takeover of absolute dictatorship. No mention of the famine here. Evidently, the Soviet experts failed to grasp the meaning of Stalin’s consolidation of power, his purge of Bukharin and the Rightist opposition, and Trotsky’s ban from the Party and deportation. Trotsky was still too famous to kill. Stalin would wait until the time was right.
Back in Washington Stimson writes Senator William E. Borah September 8, 1932. Republican President Hoover is a rabid anti-Bolshevik. The Secretary underlines his doctrine towards the USSR in the strategic advantage of a military alliance with Stalin against further military occupation of China by the Japanese. Years later FDR recalled Stimson’s early opposition to the Japanese in a wartime radio broadcast in October 1944 saying, “Let us always remember that this very war might have been averted if Henry Stimson’s views had prevailed when in 1931, the Japanese ruthlessly attacked and raped Manchuria.”
From 1930-31 Stimson leads the US delegations at the 1930 Naval Conference on disarmament in London and again in Geneva conference in 1932. That year he formally issued the Stimson Doctrine against the Japanese invasion of Manchuria to check any situation and reject any treaty that limits US treaty rights or brought about by aggressive action. It was empty threat, no stronger than a paper tiger. The Consortium uses that argument that it was the Japanese incursion into China that justified the rapproachment of a strategic alliance between America and the Soviet Union. (Stimson to Borah September 8, 1932)
Jonathan Haslam explores the politics of selling the Chinese Eastern railway and Stalin’s “abandoning” the Chinese communists in his book Soviet Union and the Threat from the East, 1933-1941: Moscow, Tokyo, and the Prelude to the Pacific War (1992). But they already been abandoned by Stalin during the years 1925 to 1927. Stalin fears losing control over Outer Mongolia. The Chinese Eastern railway was a strategic supply link in a wilderness of rugged terrain. Litvinov pushes for the sale. The Soviets paid the ransom with 20,000 gold rubles and in a non-aggression pact avoided war. “The greater our plans of development, the more rapid their pace, the greater is our interest in the preservation of peace,” Litvinov explained in a speech to the Central Committee early January 1933. (M. Cassella-Blackburn, 92-100, in Edward M. Bennett’s Recognition of Russia : An American Foreign Policy Dilemma, Watham, MA, 1970; Jonathan Haslam, Soviet Union and the Threat from the East, 1933-1941; FDR Radio Address at the New York dinner of the Foreign Policy Association, Oct. 21, 1944; M. Cassella-Blackburn writes in 1931 the Soviets push hard for recognition from Hoover. Also cited is Adam Ulam’s Expansion and Coexistence, 1972; Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS): Soviet Union 1933-39 , Washington DC, 1952, 3; Military attaché in Japan to Assistant Chief of Staff, 2/23/33, cites a confidential Japanese communique between the Russia and the US; Cassella-Blackburn gives no elaboration in concluding, “Last, Japan threatened Asia and American interests in the region. If aggressive Japanese actions could be curtailed the United States and Soviet Union were the two Pacific Rim powers most likely to do it.”, 95; See HLS in FRUS: Soviet Union 1933-39)
The US State Department knew declining Soviet imports for 1932 meant that the Kremlin offers “a good credit risk, all the more important due to the depression. Most of the major debtor nations had repudiated their debts or were in the process.” So declares the US Department of Commerce 1932 report praising the Soviet economy regardless of the sudden drop of American imports. The report is bullish on trade with the USSR, and it states, “American exports to the Soviet Union have increased 233 percent as compared with American exports to prewar Russia, American imports from the Soviet Union have actually fallen off nearly 20 percent.” M. Cassella-Blackburn observes that the drop was principally due to “threats of embargoes and propaganda about conditions in the Soviet Union, calculated to so increase business uncertainty and injure trade credits”. As a result “Soviet purchasers have been compelled to take their orders to other countries.” In fact the drop was enormous, 61%. For the same period Soviet orders for German imports increased 62%. Hoover’s pro-Soviet commerce department was in a virtual trade war with Kelley’s desk. Kelley argued what FDR feared, that Russian exports were shrinking as markets dried up and the Soviets would cause credit problems later. They were causing payment problems with Hitler’s Reich. Kelley’s report describes the Soviet state monopoly as “a weapon of political pressure which has almost infinite possibilities”; it could “turn off and on like a water faucet, regardless of all conditions”. (M. Cassella-Blackburn, 93)
Before the end of the year, in December 5, Welles’ friend Drew Pearson, the syndicated columnist featured a story in the Baltimore Sun on Skvirsky and recognition citing Senator Borah pro and Kelley con. It didn’t escape the attention of the Foreign Commissar Litvinov or Foreign Trade Commissar Rosengoltz and was clipped for the Soviet files. Or was that, too, just smoke to give an impression of anti-Bolshevism inside the State Department while Commerce and the ARCC vigorously pushed trade and exports for Soviet industrial development, including militarily conversion during these critical years of the famine-terror. “The Soviet Union, according to a recent Government statement in the British House of Commons, is the only European country which has a 100 percent record on foreign trade payments during the past few years.”
How the report got into Soviet files and lost from American sight perplexed Amtorg Board chairman Peter Bogdanov. On July 26, 1932, just weeks after Stalin’s draconian ultimatum for impossible grain procurements to the Ukrainian Communist Party leaders, Bogdanov wrote N. Yerzov (“a pathological case, a dwarf”), soon to replace Yagoda as head of the NKVD, and Rosengoltz, Soviet Foreign Trade Commissar in Moscow to explain the ruse. A flurry of negative mail from the Central Committee would surely mean the Gulag! The trade figures were wrong! The decline Bogdanov cried out wasn’t his fault. There was a serious masquerade of competing agencies and directives. Something very odd was going on here in Washington, he said. Things would improve once the Americans agree to send a new ambassador, and an embassy equipped with a professional staff of commercial attaches! Something serious for God’s sake! Bogdanov knew when to hold his tongue. Wasn’t FDR really an atheist too? Surely there was a change in the winds. Between the chaos of communism and the doldrums of bureaucracy, from Moscow to Washington, the future seemed irrepressibly bleak and obscure. Somehow FDR, paralyzed with polio, his legs strapped with metal rods which the public seldom ever saw and photographers would not dare to reveal, might make sense of it all. Six months later, after FDR’s election, the Soviet Central Control Commission, Narkom Workers and Peasants Inspection suggested to the Soviet Central Committee suppressing Amtorg’s trade representatives. Strangely, it was not followed by any official recommendation but noted Soviet industrial development, both economically and militarily without divulging details during the critical years of the famine-terror. (M. Cassella-Blackburn, 93-7; “Memorandum of Trade with the Soviet Union”, US Dept of Commerce report in Soviet files for 1932, March 17, 1932 Arkhiv Vneshnei Politiki Rossiski Federatsii (AVP RF), f. Ref ra no USA, o 16, d.6, Moscow; re. Yerzov, N. Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers, 81)
That same fatal summer in June 1932 FDR invites Duranty to sit with him in the Governor’s Executive Mansion in Albany for hours when they “talked about Russia.” Stalin, the Kremlin, secret police, farms, industry, the Plans. And of course, however could they not talk about the famine? “I turned the tables on Walter Duranty!” laughed candidate Roosevelt afterward. “I asked all the questions. It was fascinating!” It must have been. FDR laughed. Duranty laughed. Everybody laughed! FDR had a knack for slap-dash laughter. Its disarming. He would pick Duranty’s brains for all he knew about Stalin, the Politburo, and the Russian farmers. Time describes Duranty as “a small, calm, wooden-legged Englishman”, an injury from the war. Three years later in I Write As I Please, Duranty goes so far to certify that FDR has “a broadminded interest and profound knowledge of Soviet affairs”.