REVIEW of REVIEWS

The Poison Propaganda in Russia

How the Germans Brought About the Dissensions There.

February 1 1918
REVIEW of REVIEWS

The Poison Propaganda in Russia

How the Germans Brought About the Dissensions There.

February 1 1918

The Poison Propaganda in Russia

How the Germans Brought About the Dissensions There.

THE defection of Russia is the direct result of the poison propaganda carried on in that country by the Germans. The dissension resulted from the work of the German gents and the Bolsheviki are in German pay; such is the story told by Roger Lewis in Collier's Weekly. He outlines the propaganda as follows:

Sukhomlinov was finully dismissed, the whole Department of'Munitions thoroughly reorganized, and in the summer of 1916 the army was plentifully supplied with rifles and ammunition and reudy for an offensive campaign.

As Brusiloff’s brilliant advance began to wear down Austro-German resistance and clearly demonstrated Russia’s complete recovery from her helpless condition of the summer before, Germany suddenly changed her methods.

Formerly Germany had counted upon the Russian War Office in her plans to cripple the Russian army and make u successful conduct of the wur impossible. But she now planned an intrigue on a much wider and more daring scale, 'i his was to corrupt, or ut least to Germanize, the entire Russian Government. She knew thut she could always rely upon the assistance of a pro-German court and a strong reactionary party, but there were still too many honest, liberal-minded ministers faithfully working for the good of their own country. While Sazonov remained in power it was clear that Germany could not hope to dominate the Russian Government. History may not give Sazonov a prominent place among the statesmen of the world, but he was at least a conscientious, far-sighted foreign minister, absolutely devoted to the cause of the Allies, enjoying the respect of til parties in Russia and the full confidence of the French and British Governments.

I do not pretend to know through what particular channel of court influence Germany worked to bring about the removal of Sazonov. Technical reasons, one of them Sazonov’s Polish policy, were, of course, given by the Government for his dismissal, but no one attempted to conceal or disguise the real one. Sazonov was dismissed because he was not acceptable to Germany.

But that was not all. To complete the German plot a final stroke of superb irony was necessary. This was the instatement of Sturmer, the perfect personification of the reactionary, pro-German court society in Russia. Soon the last liberal minister in the Cabinet, Ignatiev, whose progressive educational reforms had received the warmest approval of the whole country, followed Sazonov into retirement, and the reactionary party was supreme. The affairs of the country were now in the control of the German premier, Sturmer; a corrupt and demented Minister of the Interior, Protopopov; and a depraved “stareek” or “elder”—not a monk, as he has generally been called abroad—Rasputin.

One may challenge history in vain for such a picturesque trio of rogues and impostors. Sturmer was in secret negotiations with Berlin to bring about a separate peace; Protopopov was conspiring to do what little was necessary to complete the internal disorganization of the country; and the whole imperial policy was at all times subject to the whims and caprices of an illiterate, sensualized charlatan whose amazing story has, since the revolution, become known to the whole world. Germany’s second intrigue, to Germanize the entire Russian Government, had met with phenomenal success.

And this time Germany's success was neither transient nor superficial. It had been possible to remove a corrupt war minister and reorganize a munitions department, but it was not possible to indict and dismiss a whole autocratic government which had its ropts in the imperial court. The sense of outrage at

the conduct of its rulers so deepened in the hearts of the Russian people that by December, 1916, it became a sullen, fearless defiance, uniting all classes and factions except the reactionaries, and finding echoes in the most remote parts of the empire. There was but one method of bringing the rulers to justice —that of revolution.

Three days after the revolution the proGerman court, including the Emperor and Empress, were in confinement at Tsarskoe Selo. The ministers who had conspired to wreck the country were locked up in the ancient dungeon of Peter and Paul. Autocracy was dead and all the channels through which Germany had poured her deadly influence into the heart of the Russian nation were automatically closed. It seemed for the moment that German machination had overreached itself and had resulted in an upheaval which had placed the loyal forces of the nation on top. Germany obviously could no longer hope to deal with the heads of the Russian Government. There was no underhand methodof approach to Miliukov, Lvoff, Kerensky, or any of the other representatives of the new power. Moreover, even if it had been possible, there would have been no point in it, for it was clear that the real power in Russia was to rest from that time in the hands of the people. But here Germany’s genius for international intrigue and propaganda reallv asserted itself. No longer finding it possible to conspire with the heads of the Government, she planned a manoeuvre which was much more brilliant. She decided to appeal to the Russian people themselves.

You cannot corrupt a nation of more than

160.000. 000 people, but you can poison it. And the convulsions which the country may have to go through in order to throw off the poison may result in anarchy or civil war. This is exactly what Germany counted on. She immediately set out,by a systematic dissemination of propaganda and by a most lavish distribution of bribes, to discredit the new Government in the eyes of the people, to befog further the nebulous ideas about democracy held by the uneducated classes, and to do everything conceivable to aggravate the class warfare which was the natural accompaniment of revolution. The extent of her efforts is indicated by the fact that in the first three months after the revolution she spent

50.000. 000 rubles in Russia in her propaganda campaign. Never was money spent with more immediate or satisfactory returns. Three weeks after the new ministry had taken office a cry went up in Russia against the “bourgeois” government. Not one person in a thousand knew what the word meant, but it vaguely connoted prosncrous-looking people with clean collars who had more money than you did. There was no answer to this form of reproach. If you were bourgeois, you were bourgeois, and, by the same token, the deadly enemy of the people.

The radical newspapers, which were practically the only ones read bv the working people, and the Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies, accused the new Government of being as imperialistic as the old one. Miliukov, who had been hailed at the time of the revolution as the chief champion of the people’s rights against the wicked tyranny of the old regime, was now, according to the German-tainted extremists, the enemy of the new freedom.

The Government’s leniency toward German agents was a mystery to almost everyone. A hundred times a day the question was asked: “Why isn’t Lenine arrested?” But the Government was really in a dilemma. If it arrested Lenine prematurelv, it would have made a martyr of him. and a violent protest would have gone up from all the radical elements of the country, which would have charged the Government with violating the new freedom of speech and political amnesty. Lenine was a Russian citizen, and according to their views he had a right to do and say what he wanted. On the other hand, if the Government left Lenine at liberty, it gave Germany a free hand to agitate as much as she liked in Russia.

Petrograd became a scene of the most extraordinary street meetings. Everyone in the country suddenly decided he was an orator, and the principal squares became open-air theatres in which everyone fancied that he had been chosen for one of the important

speaking parts. For generations the Russian people had been compelled to live in silence, and they were now making up for it.

And through the din one note became louder and more insistent, the voice of Germany. Under the inspiration of her well-paid agentä, democracy began to mean to the masses as much pay as possible, as little work as possible, all the power in the country and none of the responsibility. It was socialism gone mad. All this was quite as Germany had planned.

I am not making the preposterous contention that all the difficulties into which Russia was plunged were of Germany’s making. All the materials were waiting; an ignorant population, dazzled by vague vistas of freedom, beyond its understanding; a latent class feeling, easily fanned into flame; a government totally lacking real power or authority; and a large anarchistic element ready to defy any condition except lawlessness and chaos. These materials were in readiness. Germany applied the spark.

Germany knew that the real power in Russia lay not in the Government but in the Council of Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Deputies. So she aimed to control this organization. The Boisheviki, or extreme socialist faction, made up largely of foreigners, anarchists, and criminals, became her natural weapon. Skillfully manipulated by paid German agitators, this party, not inconsiderable either in size or influence, became thoroughly imbued with German doctrines. “Down with the Government!” “Down with the war!” became the popular watchwords, shouted from the public squares and inscribed on flaming banners borne by the Workmen’s and Soldiers’ parades.

I went up to a soldier in one of these processions who was tottering under a tremendous standard bearing the inscription “Down with Miliukov!” and asked him what grievance he had against the Foreign Minister.

“I don’t know anything about Miliukov,” he answered sullenly, “but I’ve got my fifteen rubles.”

There was no particular attempt made to conceal the promiscuous distribution of German money in the capital. Over on the Viborg side of the Neva an agent stood one night before the Bolshevik insurrection, in July, with an enormous bundle of five-ruble notes which he was freely distributing to all the workingmen of the district who applied. He dealt it out. however, with a very generous dose of political advice. It may be added that when the Government at last decided to round un the principal offenders in the Bolshevik disturbances, it was found that these denouncers of the bourgeoisie and the capitalists had without exception comfortable bank accounts, ranging from a few hundreds to a million rubles.

The industries of the entire country fell under the influence of the Boisheviki. Factory employees in the important business of manufacturing war munitions interpreted democracy as some strange act of political alchemy which had suddenly changed their state of oppression and economic slavery into one of unlimited power. It was their turn to do the oppressing. They formed small workingmen’s committees which took upon themselves the entire management of the works, retaining their employers under a sort of suspicious tolerance, to attend to some of the details which they felt were beyond them. They invaded the offices of the owners and sacked the safes, sometimes marching the owners to the banks of one of the canals, where they presented them with the alternative of acceding immediately to n written list of demands or being thrown forthwith into the canal. The majority of demands included an increase of wages far beyond the entire business of the factories. Other demands were for a sixhour working day, ten minutes’ rest after each hour of work, two hours for lunch, and two months’ vacation each year on full pay. Owners were powerless. They were not even left the alternative of closing down. The workmen not only threatened them with bodily violence if they did, but asserted that, if they did, they would take over the factories and run them themselves.

In the first three months after the revolution the average output of factories engaged in the manufacture of war supplies suffered a decrease of 40 per cent.