LETTER FROM CHICHERIN TO POOLE, AMERICAN CONSUL-GENERAL, ON THE AIMS OF ALLIED INTERVENTION
5 August 1918 (dated 6 August 1918) Correspondance diplomatique, p. 291
Kluchnikov & Sabanin, ii, p. 162
[When, in a speech dealing with the unjustifiable Anglo-French invasion, Citizen Lenin declared that the English and French were in fact at war with us, and you came to ask whether we are at war or at peace, and]
The sentences in brackets appear in the English version published in Correspondance diplomatique, but not in the Russian from which this translation was made. Whether you should remain with us, I answered that our people are still at peace with your people and that, in order to enable you to continue your work as the representative of the United States, you would continue to enjoy the same facilities as before. These facilities are still at your disposal so far as they depend upon us, for the interruption of telegraphic communication through Murmansk is British work not ours. As the only means of communicating with your Government we placed our wireless station at your disposal. We are therefore asking you to make known to your Government and to the peoples abroad that a wholly unwarranted attack, an act of sheer violence, is being made upon us. We have done nothing to provoke this aggression, our people want nothing else but to live in peace and friendship with the toiling masses of all countries. Although at peace, Anglo-French armed forces invaded our territory, capturing our towns and villages, shooting down the faithful responsible workers of the Soviets, disbanding the workers' organizations and throwing their members into prison or ejecting them from their homes, with nothing to justify their acts of robbery. No declaration of war was made, and without a state of war being declared, hostilities were started against us and our national property is being plundered. Against us no right is recognized, no laws observed by those who have sent this army of invaders against us. Because we were the first in the world to establish a Government serving the interests of the oppressed poor, against us sheer brigandage is considered permissible. These peoples who have not declared war upon us are acting towards us like barbarians, but we, who represent the oppressed and the poor, we are not barbarians like these conquerors. Our answer to those who shot down the members of our Soviets does not take the form of similar actions against the representatives of these Governments. The official representatives of these Governments enjoy the immunities that their authorities refuse to the members of our Soviets. If we adopt this attitude towards the official representatives of Great Britain and France, we do so because we take into consideration your own insistent request, seeing in you the representative of a people who, to use your own words, will not do anything against the Soviets so long as we retaliate against the hostilities conducted against us with precautionary measures only. It is precisely for this reason that we are interning nationals of the invading Powers in concentration camps. We regard them as civilian prisoners. These precautionary measures are applied only to the members of the propertied classes who are our adversaries; they are not applied to our natural allies, the workers of those same countries who are by chance to be found here. The working classes of the entire world are our friends. Even now, we turn to those countries whose armies are proceeding against us with undisguised violence, and appeal to their peoples with the call, 'Peace to the houses of the poor.' Since you assured us that your people does not wish to overthrow the Soviets, we ask you whether you cannot tell us clearly what it is that Britain really wants from us. Is it Britain's aim to destroy the most popular Government that the world has ever known, the Soviets of the poor and of the peasants? Is its aim counter-revolution? In view of the acts referred to above, I must assume that this is so. We must assume that Great Britain intends to restore the worst tyranny in the world, odious Tsarism. Or does it intend to seize certain towns, or a part of our territory? Remembering your kindness, I hope you will help us to clear up these questions.
Documents on Soviet Foreign Policy
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