The Bolshevik threat
Catalogue reference: AIR 1/2312/221/41 no. 38



Western and General Report No. 101.

The following extract is taken from a Report (G.T. 6603) circulated by the Home Secretary.

          The Progress of Bolshevism. - (1) Germany. - The present position appears to be that the Spartacus Group has succeeded in seizing the executive power in Berlin. It was already predominant in Hamburg, Kiel and Bremen. How far Bolshevist principles will radiate from Berlin no one can foretell, but it is difficult to believe that there will not be a reaction in South Germany and the Rhine Provinces, or that the German people as a whole, with their love of organisation and good order, will tamely submit to a Bolshevist regime on the Russian plan. At the present moment the prospect of having a stable Central Government to deal with in the Peace negotiations is not good.
          There is undoubted evidence to show that a systematic attempt to corrupt the morale of the Allied troops in occupation is being made. The German Legations in Copenhagen, The Hague, and Berne have been left untouched, both in personnel and in policy. They appear to think that their best chance of saving something from the wreck is to provoke Bolshevist disturbances in the Allied countries, and to this end they are printing leaflets and employing returned prisoners as agents to go among the troops and incite them to depose their officers. Agents have also been taken on for service in England and France. They are especially active among the American troops of occupation, and it is perhaps significant that a considerable number of Americans are reported to have deserted into Germany. These may perhaps be merely men who are determined to escape from military discipline at all hazards and who have taken the line of least resistance in the hopes of securing a passage home to America.
          Besides the German source of propaganda, there is another stream flowing from Russia. These agents are for the most part returned prisoners of war, well supplied with money and passes and leaflets on Bolshevist principles. The chief Bolshevist organ for propaganda is the Velt Revolution, published weekly in several languages under the auspices of the International Federation; the editor of the edition in English is Philips Price, formerly correspondent of the Manchester Guardian.
          The munition works are still busy for eight hours a day, the hands working four hours and loafing four hours. For the last four hours they are paid 75 per cent. of their ordinary wage. The general impression in Berlin is that the return of the troops will at first strengthen the forces of order, but that if they remain in Berlin they will become infected with Bolshevism; at present they show no tendencies in that direction.

          (2) Denmark. - The attempt of the Syndicalists to bring about a general strike on November 13th having failed, the Social Democratic Party has issued a programme of reforms, and has, through its organ The Social Democrat, called upon the working classes to remain orderly. There is no immediate danger of a Bolshevist disturbance in that country.

          (3) Switzerland. - Revolutionary deserters in Zurich have already organised a Spartacus Group, and are in communication with Haase and Liebknecht. The German Consul has been instructed to give passes to those who are willing to go to Berlin to serve under Haase.
          The Government enquiry into the recent disturbances has resulted in the determination to expel 18 Bolshevists and 15 Italian anarchists.
          A number of Swiss Socialists are reported to believe that there is already disorder in England. Generally speaking, they are not in favour of violence, believing that propaganda among the peasants and workmen will be more effective.

          (4) France. - Bolshevism does not appear to be making much progress in France, in spite of the fact that Mosimann, chief of the Berne Police, a Germanophile, is believed to be issuing false Swiss papers to agents working for the Central Powers. An Italian deserter named Adolfo Sismondo stated that while in Paris a few weeks ago he attended the Bolshevist meeting at the Hotel Suisse, 5, Rue de la Huchette, convened for deciding on the propitious moment for starting revolution in France and Italy. The meeting was attended by 16 revolutionaries, including Charbrières, the proprietor of the Hotel Suisse, and Morgari, the Italian Socialist Deputy, who visited England a few months ago. There was a difference of opinion as to whether the move should be made on the signature of the armistice or after the signature of peace, and the meeting showed that there was distrust between the revolutionaries themselves.

          (5) Belgium. - The morale of the Belgian population in the British Army areas continues to be good. Feeling runs very high against those who trafficked with the enemy during the occupation. There is a very strong feeling against profiteering and the high price of food.

          (6) Spain. - The Government proposes to send the Russian and Levantine Bolshevists, now in Barcelona, to Odessa and Constantinople. Since they have ceased to receive pay from the German Secret Service these men are becoming desperate. In ordinary times they would simply be put across the nearest frontier, but this, of course, is impossible at present.
          The unrest in Spain is crystallising into the Separatist Catalan Movement, and many well-informed Spaniards think that the Crown is not at present in any real danger, though there will be sporadic disorders all over the country. The Army and Civil Guard are believed at present to be faithful.
          A spurious anarchist body, now calling itself "La Ligue Nationalists (sic) Catalana," has reappeared in Paris. It was formed 15 years ago under the name of "La Ligue Catalana," and carried on a noisy agitation in favour of Ferrer. During the war it was believed to be defunct, but it has now become active again with a view to the Peace Conference, where it hopes to obtain President Wilson's support as representing an oppressed nationality like the Poles and the Irish.

          (7) Italy. - The speedy and friendly settlement of the metal workers' strike at Milan has relieved the tension in Northern Italy, and for the moment Bolshevism is making no progress. The worst feature is the bad management of the demobilisation, especially in regard to returned prisoners of war, who are said to be wandering about, sleeping out and stealing or begging their food.

          Interest attaches to an interview given to the Warsaw Correspondent of the Associated Press by M. Paderewski (published in The Times of January 9th). M. Paderewski declared that Bolshevism must be destroyed and drew attention to Poland's rôle as a barrier State against Bolshevist encroachments.


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