Sovdepia under German Pressure

  • Brian Pearce


Between March and May of 1918, a period when the war in France was going badly for the Allies and well for the Germans (though not as well as had been hoped by their Supreme Command), the Germans extended their power over large parts of European Russia.1 Thanks to their separate peace treaty with the anti-Bolshevik regime in Kiev they were able to occupy the whole of the Ukraine — and then proceeded, in flagrant contempt of their treaty with Soviet Russia, to push on beyond even the borders claimed by the extremest Ukrainian nationalist, into the Crimea and part of the Don territory.2 The new Muscovy was to be cut off, as of old, from all independent access to the sea: after the Baltic coast, that of the Black Sea must be brought under German control. Not only, moreover, would the German occupation of the Ukraine oblige Soviet Russia to depend in her foreign relations on the courtesy of Germany — it would deprive her of her principal source of grain. This grain was desperately needed by Germany (and Austria-Hungary), in order to break the British blockade on food imports.3 To the north, German military aid to the ‘Whites’ in the civil war in Finland would enable Germany, it was hoped, to gain control of Soviet Russia’s last remaining possible ‘window to the West’, her Murman coastline: where, furthermore, as already mentioned, a U-boat base might be established which would be of great value in the naval conflict with Britain.


Kola Peninsula Railway Carriage Soviet Republic German Occupation Extreme Party 
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Notes and References

  1. 4.
    Ludendorff, My War Memories (1919), vol. II, p. 629;Google Scholar
  2. Chicherin, Vneshnaya Politika Soy. Rossii za dva goda (1920), p. 6.Google Scholar
  3. 10.
    G. V. Chicherin, Vneshnaya politika Soy. Rossii (1920), p. 15.Google Scholar
  4. 12.
    Albert Norden, Zwischen Berlin and Moskau (1954), pp. 105–6, 129. Pamphlets appeared in Germany in the spring of 1918 which discussed how German capital would exploit the Trans-Siberian Railway and ‘develop’ Russian Turkestan (E. Tarle, Evropa v epokhu imperializma p. 388).Google Scholar
  5. 20.
    Ludovic Naudeau, En Prison sous la terreur russe (1920), pp. 180–3.Google Scholar
  6. 28.
    V. A. Antonov-Ovseyenko, Zapiski o grazhdanskoy voine, vol. II (1928), pp. 293–4.Google Scholar
  7. 29.
    I. K. Koblyakov, Ot Bresta do Rapallo, (1954), p. 33.Google Scholar
  8. 30.
    G. A. von Müller (ed. W. Görlitz), The Kaiser and his Court (1961), p. 355.Google Scholar
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    W. Baumgart, Deutsche Ostpolitik 1918 (1966), p. 76.Google Scholar
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    V. M. Kholodkovskii, Revolyutsiya 1918 goda v Finlandii i germanskaya interventsiya (1967), p. 337.Google Scholar
  11. 33.
    Debo, ‘Lockhart Plot or Dzerzhinsky Plot?’, in Journal of Modern History, vol. XLII, no. 3 (Sept. 1971), p. 423. (Cf. Lockhart, 27 and 28 May 1918, in FO 371/3286, pp. 66 and 126–7.)Google Scholar
  12. 37.
    T. Borenius, Mannerheim (1940), pp. 190–1.Google Scholar
  13. 39.
    W. E. Ironside, Archangel 1918–1919 (1953), p. 17. A submarine base on the Kola Peninsula would have enabled the German Navy to outflank the mine-barrages that the Allies had laid across the North Sea. To oppose the Germans there was no British base nearer than the Orkneys.Google Scholar
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    L. I. Strakhovsky, The Origins of American Intervention in Russia (1937), pp. 105–6.Google Scholar

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© Brian Pearce 1987

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  • Brian Pearce

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