Dora B. Montefiore, Vanguard, August 1920

Open Letter to Mr Winston Churchill

Source: Vanguard, August 1920, p.5;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

To the Right Honourable S. Winston Churchill, Minister of War.


I seem to remember that it was we militant suffragists who first applied the suitable adjective to your political activities. But though some of us then knew you for what you are, your powers and scope for evil-doing were not what they are now, and therefore at that time, in the general dirty work of politics, your soiled hands passed muster. But now that your hands, besides being grimy, are red with blood – the blood of your fellow-countrymen, slain at your orders, and in consequence of your intrigues with continental militarists; and red with the blood of workers and of poor Jews, whom your friend and fellow-militarist, Denikin, tortured and slew during his short hour of triumph over Russian Soviet troops – all decent men and women must turn away with a shudder from the man you are proved to be.

It is not, let me remind you, that your Coalition partners are guiltless of bloodshed, but in the great European war, which ended in the Armistice of 1918, you could all of you at least plead that you had the country behind you; and that therefore for your special blusters and mistakes at Antwerp and Gallipoli you were covered with the mandate of the people. But the scene shifted after 1918, and political war intrigues became the order of the day at the War Office and Foreign Office – so that after the General Election of 1919, when you (in spite of Mr. Lloyd George’s only thinly disguised personal antipathy to you) became his Minister for War, the stage was set for yet another of your intriguing adventures, and the chance was given you to deal another deadly blow at the Proletariat, which your mushroom house of Marlborough has ever despised. Because, while Allied Imperialisms were struggling, during the months immediately following the Armistice, among themselves for the spoils and oils of victory, Russia (whose territory extended over more than half the Continent of Europe and a third of Asia) was quietly renouncing Imperialism, was divesting itself of the pomp and gauds of court and aristocracy, and was changing from the roots upwards the whole basis of its economic structure, you, with your hereditary instincts of courtier and politician, immediately scented danger to every form of Imperialism, and, in your position as Minister for War, you threw yourself into every doubtful militant intrigue against Soviet Russia. It is needless to
recapitulate the list of your defeated friends, the Admirals and Generals driven by public opinion from Russia, and for whom you found, from the pockets of the British tax-payers, munitions, uniforms, accoutrements, stores and money to pay fighting men. The British tax-payer is such a somnolent individual, and allows himself to be so easily robbed that you felt certain the series of Russian adventures could be easily pulled off if only the public were told from time to time that we – the British Empire – were not at war with Russia, and were only doing our best to withdraw from certain positions our troops who were in danger. But like other gentlemen of a certain class, Mr. Winston Churchill, you left your finger prints on the scene of your crime, and the international police of the workers, who are wandering about the world taking notes, will be obliged if you will show your hands. Meanwhile, if the finger prints correspond, you might also oblige by reading from page 112 to page 129 of Col. Malone’s “Russian Republic,” where are set down some only of the horrible crimes committed by your friend, Denikin, at Kharkov, Voronerzh, and elsewhere. Besides the thousands of murders of workers and intellectuals, the shrieks of the violated women should ring in your ears. You may perhaps have once read Clough’s lines:

“Thou shalt not kill, but needst not strive
Officiously to keep alive.”

So you allowed the lives on both sides to be offered up on the off chance of one of the militarist friends you were supporting being successful in downing the Soviet Republic.

But the off chance, just like your other little military adventures, Mr. Winston Churchill, did not come off!! Even Peter the Painter escaped from your seige of Sydney Street; then just remember Antwerp, and if you can try and realise Gallipoli....

While I am writing these lines the news is brought of the death of the man who tried to withstand you in that last disastrous adventure. “Jacky” Fisher has gone west, and history will some day justify him and judge you.

The newspapers report that when the question was raised in the House of your detected correspondence with Golovin, the military envoy of Koltchak, you left another man to answer for you, and you smiled, and smiled....

The newspapers also report that when you made your speech a day or two later on the. Amritzar question, you agreed with the decision of the Army Council that General Dyer should be retired on half pay; and you added that “the British gunfire did not need to be supported by deeds like those of Amritzar.” That, sir, is itself a lie. All Imperialisms are supported by bayonets and bloodshed. Indians, Kaflirs, Zulus, Egyptians have all, within the memory of living men and women, been massacred in order that British Imperialism might spread and be consolidated.

Sir; you may smile to-day; you may lie flippantly and oratorically; but the handwriting is on the wall, and you, as the English friend in power of Koltchak and Co., will have to go.

Yours, without a regret at your approaching fall.