Words That Won the War: The Story of the Committee on Public Information, 1917-1919

By James R. Mock; Cedric Larson | Go to book overview

Chapter 14
THE CPI AND RUSSIAN CHAOS

ON June 19, 1918, Secretary of War Newton D. Baker wrote to President Wilson: "If I had my own way about Russia and had the power to have my own way, I would like to take everybody out of Russia except the Russians, including diplomatic agents, military representatives, political agents, propagandists, and casual visitors, and let the Russians settle down and settle their own affairs." Mr. Baker acknowledged that his wish was impractical, but he suggests here the incredible extent to which Russia was overrun with the political agents and armed forces of other countries.

Aside from the Russians themselves, split into monarchists and several special brands of revolutionists, there was a whole array of other military forces at one time or another on Russian soil--British, French, American, Japanese, German, Austrian, Czechoslovak, Roumanian, Polish.

And the complexity of foreign interests was similarly bewildering. Imperial Russia had been a member of the Triple Entente with England and France, and had been the first of the three to declare war on Germany. The Russian army failed to sweep down into Germany in the advertised "steam-roller" fashion, but as long as Russia was in the war Germany had to keep divisions on the Eastern Front, making the task of England, France, and Italy just that much easier in the West. The "Kerensky Revolution" in the spring of 1917 dethroned the Tsar, but both under Prince Lvov and later under Kerensky himself the government tried to keep on fighting for the Allies.

The Germans, however, had permitted Lenin to return to Russia, correctly believing that a Bolshevik revolution would

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