An American Lie

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To all, to all, to all. Announcement by the People’s Commissariat for Military and Naval Affairs, August 22, 1918.

When, in April, the Japanese landing at Vladivostok was being prepared, the General Staff in Tokyo circulated by the Allies’ cables the story that the Trans-Siberian Railway was under threat from German and Austro-Hungarian prisoners.

I then sent out from Moscow, along the Trans-Siberian line, American and British officers who were obliged to confirm officially that all the reports about a threat to the line from prisoners were foolish inventions. [For the Webster-Hicks report on prisoners-of-war in Siberia, mentioned here, see Bunyan, J., Intervention, Civil War and Communism in Russia, April-December 1918 (1936) and sources given there. About 50,000 former German and Austro-Hungarian prisoners-of-war eventually served in the Red Army. They fought in Transcaspia against the British-Indian forces which had entered from Persia and on the Manchurian frontier against Ataman Semyonov. They also played, along with the Lettish and Chinese units, an important role in internal security, as in the suppression of the Left SR revolt in Moscow by Bela Kun’s Hungarians. K. Paustovsky describes (In That Dawn, p.159) the suppression by an ‘Internationalist’ unit of a mutiny in the Red Army. Trotsky makes another reference to the Webster-Hicks report in his speech of April 14, 1918, published as A Paradise in This World, by the British Socialist Party in 1920 (pp.5-6).]

This fact is well-known to ex-Ambassador Francis and to the former head of the American Red Cross in Russia, Colonel Robins.

Now, when intervention by the Allies has become an accomplished fact, the American Government has picked up the Japanese lie and is trying to present it to the world in warmed up form.

According to the American statement, the aim of the Allied intervention is to bring help to the Czechoslovaks against armed German and Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war who have attacked them. Participation by these prisoners in the struggle against the Czechoslovaks is no less a monstrous invention than the Japanese statement about danger to the Trans-Siberian railway from the Germans.

It is true that there are in the Soviet forces a certain number of former prisoners of war, revolutionary socialists who have become Russian citizens and are ready to fight against any imperialism, from whatever direction it may come. It must, however, be said that the internationalists who are soldiers in the Soviet army make up no more than one-twenty-fifth of the Soviet forces as a whole.