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The New International, August 1934


G. Vassilkovsky

Diplomacy in the World War

From New International, Vol. I No. 2, August 1934, pp. 52–54.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


THE Communists have invariably maintained, and continue to maintain, that at times when international politics appear to be covered with an icy sheet of perfect quiet, the preparations for war are being carried on with the greatest intensity.

It is precisely at such times that the general staffs and the spies are working most intensely! The archives of czarist diplomacy revealed by the revolution, every fresh document brought out of the dust of the records, prove this.

The appended material, published for the first time, from the Central Administrative Records of the Soviet Union, adduces documentary proof contained in the second, third, and following volumes of the complete work: International Relations in the Epoch of Imperialism (Commission for the Publication of Documents on the Epoch of Imperialism, appointed by the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Union), that long before the shots were fired at Sarajevo, the machine for the preparation of imperialist war was running at full speed.

Valuable information is furnished by a letter sent to the Russian ambassador in Belgrade, Hartwig, by the Servian prime minister, Pashich, on the sending of munitions and cartridges (Hartwig passed the letter on to Petersburg on June 2, 1914).

This interesting and instructive document is worded as follows:

To the Ambassador, Dear Sir,

Re the note which I had the honor of handing over to his Excellency Sazonov, home secretary for Russia, on January 26 (February 8), I beg your Excellency to inform the government of the Russian Empire that in the opinion of the Servian general staff Servia requires the following as rapidly as possible:

120,000 rifles with 1,500 cartridges each, 24 large field guns 10 cm. calibre with 500 shells each, 43 mountain guns of the latest model with 2,000 each.

The Royal Servian government expressly begs the government of the Russian Empire to place these arms at its disposal as rapidly as possible at cost price, and the Royal Servian government undertakes to pay the sum incurred as soon as it possibly can. In the above mentioned note sent through his Excellency Sazonov, I had the honor of emphasizing the extreme urgency of this request and since then this urgency has become greater, now that the neighboring countries have completed their armaments. The Royal Servian government will be extremely grateful to the government of the Russian Empire if it replies in the affirmative to this request, and thereby helps to complete armaments in these hard times.


Pashich [1]

The rifles, cannon, guns and munitions here referred to are those afterwards used in the first conflicts on the Austro-Servian frontier. Pashich’s request was the result of a lengthy and intense course of provocation work carried on by the czarist government in Belgrade. A glance at the secret letter sent by Savinski to Sazonov at February 4, interpreting Hartwig’s “idea” (“to set Servia on Austria”) will convince the reader:

February 4 (January 22), 1914.

Sergei Dmitriyevitch, Dear Sir,

I permit myself to write you the following lines, which are intended solely for your personal information [2], since they must contain a number of questions which are of a personal nature, always very difficult to mention, and which I should avoid did I not think it my duty to raise them.

During my sojourn in Belgrade I had repeatedly long conversations with Hartwig, who had obviously hoped that you would call him to Petersburg when the Servian crown prince and Pashich arrived there. He is disagreeably surprised at not hearing from you, I asked him what he was particularly anxious to discuss in Petersburg. He replied that there are a great many things he wanted to speak about, especially about the sending of guns and ammunition to the Servians, and that for this reason he wanted to meet the ministers of finance and war. In the course of further conversation I became convinced that Hartwig’s idea was to set Servia on Austria.

Naturally it is not my business to judge of the dangerousness of such a policy at the present juncture, and I deem it my duty to inform you of the above.

In Sofia nobody knew what was going on in Belgrade, but Petersburg was well informed. It is not for nothing that this letter from the czarist ambassador in Sofia was preserved in an especially secret portfolio of the ministry for home affairs.

Hartwig’s efforts were “successful”. When the news arrived of the culmination of his activities, the murder of the Austrian crown prince in Sarajevo, the immediate impetus for the world war, Hartwig was so overcome with joy that he succumbed to heart failure.

The documents referring to the war preparations often appear pale in comparison with the present preparations, and all the facts which they adduce insignificant as compared with all that is being done at present to prepare for the intervention against the Soviet Union and for new imperialist wars. It must, however, be remembered that the documents of the last war throw light on the practises of the imperialists. The spoor left by the criminals of yesterday leads us on the track of those who are preparing the bloodbath of tomorrow ...

Another document is appended: a letter from the deputy Klofac, the present leader of the Czechoslovakian National Socialists. This document reveals one of the methods of war preparations.

In this letter (dated 1914 in Prague) Klofac offers to put his party at the service of the Russian espionage service. He recommends his goods as follows:

Where the National Socialist Party agitates, where it applies the extensive means at its disposal, there the spirit is to be found which the Slav nationality needs ... It is in the interests of Russian policy to support the National Socialist party, in order that its agitation may penetrate where Slav feeling is still weak. This is the case in East Moravia and in Silesia, among strata of the utmost importance for Russia in case of war. Russia must devote special attention to these. It is impossible to send agents to these people; even now they would be seized. Work must be done cautiously, inconspicuously, and exactly ... This task can be carried out by the National Socialist party, which is opening up new secretariats in the above-named districts. This is the manner in which Austria has worked, and still works, against Russia in Russian Poland.

Each secretariat would need 1,000 rubles yearly; including the newspapers, about 10,000 rubles would be needed yearly. The results of the whole action would be both rapid and effectual.

Thus Klofac sold his party to the Russian espionage department for ten thousand rubles yearly. It must be commented that Klofac did not estimate his party very highly ... He certainly underestimated its espionage capabilities.

Are not similar transactions being concluded, or at least negotiated, in all the lobbies and antechambers of the general staffs of the imperialist states today? The trial of the Industrial party, the trial of the Mensheviks, showed us how and where such transactions are carried on.

Among the documents of the second and third volumes there is an extremely characteristic telegram from the czarist ambassador in Tokio, dated May 23, 1914. This states that the economic rapproachment of Japan and England “on Chinese soil, is especially desirable to the Japanese” ... “Will England agree to such a combination, [asks the czarist ambassador Malyevski-Malevitch] and will it be prepared to bell the cat for the Japanese? The near future will show.”

The future showed that England is ready to bell any amount of cats for anybody, including Japan in Manchuria, so long as the Americans are not permitted to get any advantage from it ...

A characteristic document on war preparations is furnished by the report of the czarist military agent in Germany, Colonel Bazarov:

Military agent in Germany.

February 11 (24), 1914.

No. 93, Berlin. Strictly Confidential.

To the Quartermaster General of the General Staff.


A few days ago I spoke to the French military agent here, Colonel Serret, and became fairly friendly with him.

Colonel Serret is of the opinion that it is of paramount importance to prepare public opinion among the broad strata of the French people on the probable course of war events on the Eastern and Western frontiers of Germany in the case of a joint advance on the part of Russia and France against Germany. “General Serret stated his ideas as follows: “There is no doubt that Germany will deal its first blow against France, concentrating at least 20 to 22 field corps on her, for France is its most dangerous enemy. Hence decisive conflicts may take place within two weeks of the announcement of the general mobilization.

For various reasons, entirely comprehensible to the French general staff, and perhaps to other informed persons, but not likely to be comprehensible except to a few people, the concentration of the Russian army on the German frontiers will take place much later than the concentration of the French army.

Decisive conflicts between the main forces of the Russian army and Germany troops can scarely be expected earlier than, four weeks after the declaration of war. Hence it is comprehensible that the majority of the French population will become extremely impatient on receiving no news from the Polish scene of war. When the general excitability of the French is remembered, it may be easily imagined that if public opinion is not properly prepared beforehand – this necessary preparation must consist in teaching the public to form a correct estimate of the totality of circumstances, and to understand the possible if only partial failures of the French troops – if this necessary preparation is omitted, then there will be expressions of dissatisfaction in France, and especially in Paris, with regard to the allies, leading to very disagreeable assumptions, which might very easily become exaggerated under the conditions of nervous strain among the people.

Therefore I deem it advisable to prepare public opinion to a certain extent in time of peace, and to inform it as to the probabilities of the order of succession of war events on the East and West scenes of war.

In any case, decision on the question of the extent to which and the manner in which the people can and should be prepared for the modern peoples’ war in which the people take an immediate part, and have naturally the most vital interest in the events deciding these wars, which may decide their whole future fate, is subject to the joint decision of the general staffs of Russia and France.

Indubitably this question deserves the most serious attention, and must be solved at once.


General Staff Colonel Bazarov

On the margin there is a pencil note: More than has been done cannot be done. Sh. (Shilinski, head of the czarist general staff) On February 24, 1914, six months before the outbreak of the world war, a consultation took place in Berlin between the two military agents, the Russian and the French. Here the events taking place after the mobilization were stated beforehand. Would this have been possible if the plan of war had not been prepared in every point by the Russian and French general staffs on the one hand and by the German and Austrian general staffs on the other? Six months before the outbreak of the war the military agents consult on how “public opinion” is best to be prepared by the press for the first period of the war. And how often do the Serrets and Basarovs of today consult on the slander campaigns to be undertaken in the press against the Soviet Union, in order to work up feeling in favor of war?

The documents now published, revealing the crimes of the past, give the clues to the path taken by the imperialists in preparing fresh crimes, fresh wars and interventions.

These clues lead to the international social democracy. Below we append the viewpoint of a fairly resolute man, the czarist ambassador in Paris, Izvolsky. In his telegram to the minister for foreign affairs, No. 914 of August 29, 1916, he reports:

As is known to you, three members of the Socialist party, Guesde, Sembat and Albert Thomas, take part in the present French government. All three belong to the majority of this party, which recently announced its patriotic feelings at the congress of the national council of the French socialists, and opposed the renewal of relations with the Germany socialists. Of these A. Thomas has distinguished himself by special energy and successful activities; he manages the armament affairs. The presence of these three socialists in the cabinet has so far not only not hindered the unity of the activities of the government, but on the contrary, has imparted to this a special value and therewith special firmness – for instance, as the dangerous campaign of M. Briand commenced in parliament.

Not bad! The socialists Guesde, Sembat and Thomas are preferred to even such a protector of imperialism as Briand, who is known to have inclined for a time to a separate peace with Germany.

Another secret telegram from the Russian ambassador in Belgium, Nelidov, dated April 25, 1917, reports:

Yesterday the minister for foreign affairs gave me reliable information that in the near future the minister Vandervelde is to travel to Russia in order to establish contact with our socialist circles, and in order to come forward as an enthusiastic patriot against the strivings of some Russian social democrats who desire peace with the Germans; he is also to deal with the questions of the Armenians and of the Straits. The minister will pass some time in Stockholm, but will carefully avoid meeting the German emissaries; this has been impressed on him as a duty by his party. Today Vandervelde himself confirmed this information to me personally, and emphasized that he is traveling not only as a representative of his party, but as a member of the Belgian government and with the approval of the ministerial council.

What can be added to this exhaustive characterization of the leaders of social democracy by the officials of czarism ? The characterization is as fitting today as it was at that time.

Especially careful study should be given to the preparations made for the last war, in order that all the motive forces and methods may be discovered. The documents of these records not only bear witness to the past, they show what is going on in the present and what will be done in the future by world imperialism and social democracy.



1. The emphasis is mine – G.V.

2. The emphasis is mine – G.V.

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