Mr. Alston to Earl Curzon. ― (Received February 12.)
(Telegraphic.) Vladivostock, February 11, 1919.
I HAVE received the following statement from a British consular official, who was at Ekaterinburg in September, 1918, regarding the situation in that town during Bolshevik régime, from 1917 until the end of 1918, when town was relieved by Czechs :―
Bolsheviks ruthlessly "nationalised" all property during first four or five months, including British firms, like Contutshtim, Syssert, &c., and they made constant demands on all moneyed merchant classes for huge contributions, with penalty of arrest and confiscation of all belongings unless paid promptly. Businesses of all kinds, banks, and houses were either placed under control of labour elements or nationalised, and to such a low level were industry and manufacture reduced that they practically came to a standstill. Systematic searches of houses and private individuals took place daily, and gold and silver ornaments, and even spare clothes, were taken without compensation, and merchants who attempted to resist or evade constant decrees from local Soviet were immediately arrested. Robberies and murders were frequent, law and order were at very low ebb, and almost complete anarchy reigned. A local consular corps was formed in March, 1918, consisting of consuls and representatives of some dozen different nationalities to act as an intermediary between Bolshevik Soviet and subjects of foreign Powers, owing to the molestation of foreign subjects.
All public meetings were suppressed, and, with the exception of the daily official organ of the Bolsheviks, no papers or printed matter could be published.
Czech movement on Omsk began towards the end of May. We were in a state of siege from the end of May to the 25th July, when Bolsheviks finally evacuated the town and Czechs marched in. Bolshevik terrorism succeeded Bolshevik despotism. Having publicly announced their intention of making "red terror" as dreadful as possible, they arrested hundreds of private citizens as hostages for the sole reason that they belonged to so-called bourgeoisie and "Intelligentsia." Hotels and private residences were requisitioned to accommodate these hostages, as prisons were full of them ; under armed bands of Red Guards scores were taken to the front to do work for "Proletariat Army," and dig trenches. Without semblance of a trial, many of them were shot during June and July. A placard on the walls of one of the gates which was reprinted in Bolshevik paper the following day, was the first intimation we had of this. This proclamation gave names of nineteen citizen hostages who had been shot, amongst whom were the member of a well-known engineering firm, Mr. Fadyef, and the manager of Syssert Company (an English undertaking), Mr. Makronosoef. The rest were mostly peaceful hard-working merchants and mostly well-known persons. Eight more were shot a few days later, amongst them being the son of a wealthy flourmiller, Mr. Markarow. Number of bodies, amounting, I believe, to sixty or more, were discovered after Czechs took the town. Subsequently it was discovered that they were shot in the most cruel manner, just like animals in woods, and some of them were undoubtedly left to die on the ground, as no pains were taken to discover whether their wounds were mortal or not. It was alleged by Bolsheviks that to prevent any counter-revolutionary movement in the town it was necessary to terrorise population in this manner. Consular corps were informed roughly that Bolsheviks would allow no interference, when they protested against these wholesale assassinations. Although they vigorously denied it, Bolsheviks began to evacuate Ekaterinburg about the middle of July. One of their leaders publicly stated that if they were obliged to leave the town they would massacre a thousand citizens.
Three days before they finally left Ekaterinburg, Bolsheviks announced at a public meeting on 25th December, that they had recently shot the Emperor. Their system of espionage was very perfect, and during whole of their régime nobody dared to utter a word that might be construed into anti-Bolshevism, as they were liable to be immediately arrested and shot.
In addition to the above-mentioned horrors we were always anticipating an outbreak of typhus, cholera or other epidemic, as everything was in a state of unutterable filth, no attempts being made to clean buildings, offices, streets, railway stations or trains.
Everybody appeared dejected and depressed, and decent and cleanly dressed people were seldom seen in the streets.
Bolshevik evacuation was most thoroughly carried out, and it is estimated that they took with them over 4,000,000,000 roubles worth of platinum, gold; stores and money. There is no doubt that there would have been a great many more murders if they had not been so busily engaged in this plunder, but owing to rapid advance of Czechs, they were forced to hasten their departure.
There will be wholesale massacres of moneyed and merchant classes if Bolsheviks succeed in retaking Ekaterinburg.