Lord Kilmarnock to Mr. Balfour. ―(Received December 6.)
Copenhagen, November 27, 1918.
I HAVE the honour to report that Mr. D―—, director of a Petrograd Manufacturing Company, who has under his charge about 4,000 Russian workmen, and who is well acquainted with their views, called at His Majesty's Legation and stated that the position in Petrograd was as follows :―
In his opinion some 90 per cent. of the soldiers of the Red Guard are disaffected, and would desert the moment a well-organised force appeared if it were properly provided with supplies of food. The Guard consists largely of men who have become soldiers in order to escape starvation, and there is no revolutionary enthusiasm among them.
When he left Petrograd on the 16th instant the situation as regards food had improved slightly, but deaths from starvation were still a constant occurrence, especially among the intellectuals and those placed in unfavoured categories. The improvement was due to larger supplies of potatoes and vegetables arriving from the country. Flour, however, was still very scarce, only the soldiers and workmen could get bread. Horses were being slain, partly in order to provide food, partly because there was no fodder with which to feed them.
The transport difficulties in Petrograd were getting worse, and it was almost impossible to move the small quantities of rye and potatoes which reached the stations of the capital. The charge for a cab, which used to be 60 kopecks, was now 100 roubles, and Mr. D―— who used to pay 10 roubles for the transport of a load of wood to his factory had now to pay 300 roubles. There was hardly any benzine for automobiles. The city was still lighted, but the scarcity of fuel was very acute.
Mr. D―—'s factory had not been nationalised, and owing to the stocks of raw materials which had been accumulated, the workmen, about 4,000, were still able to turn out about 7,000 pairs of shoes a day. Very few other factories, however, were working owing to the lack of raw material.
The power of the Bolsheviks has greatly diminished during the last six months, and the peasants in the villages round Petrograd were hostile to them, largely because their supplies were being commandeered by the soldiers. Though a small force would be sufficient to overthrow the Bolshevik rule, it would take a long time to establish order in the country, as the authorities had either disappeared or been killed, and the people had lost the habit of obedience.
Men were being shot every day, and the political terrorism continued.
The Red Guard had sent a notice to the Council of Workmen in Mr. D―—'s factory, which had been shown to him in confidence by a faithful workman. It was worded as follows :―
"If there is anybody in the administration of the factory who is undesirable, please inform us."
And shortly afterwards two of his secretaries were arrested and imprisoned. Later they were released, but one at any rate will not recover from the hardships he endured in prison.
Three brothers named Stolyrow, who had a factory in the neighbourhood, had been denounced because they had been rough with their workmen, and had been shot.
Zinoviev (Apfelbaum) was still supreme in Petrograd, and he still exercised a brutal reign of terror.
Mr. D―— thought that the Bolsheviks were not contemplating an attack on Finland, as they were afraid of the Finnish army, but an attack on the Baltic provinces was likely, as the Bolsheviks desired to obtain food supplies and hoped to find supplies of potatoes, corn, &c., in Esthonia and Lettland.
I have, &c.