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Capture of Kiev and Odessa by the Bolsheviks and Subsequently by the
Austro-German Forces — ^Austro-German Occupation of the Ukraine and
the Crimea — Establishment of the Skoropadski Government in the Ukraine,
April 29, 1918-— The Crimean Government of Sulkevich — Exploitation of
these Regions by the Central Powers— Appeal of the Ukrainian National
Council to President Wilson, October 15, 1918

PUe No. 861.00/1167

The Consul at Odessa {Ray) to the Secretary of State


Odessa, Fetruary 21^ 1918^ 11 a, m.

[Received February 27, 9.61 p. m.]
After three days' battle between the Little Russians and Maximal-
ists aided by the fleet which bombarded the city Odessa remains
under the control of the Maximalists. The Americans are uninjured.


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File No. 861.00/1808

The Consul at Kiev (Jenkins) to the Secretary of State

MoBoow, March J, 1918.

[Received May IT.'l

Sir: I have the honor to report as follows with reference to the
evacuation of Kiev. *

Owing to the approach of Austrian and Gterman forces, the con-
sulates of all the Allied powers in Kiev were closed on February 24,
and the French, British, and American consular representatives left
that evening for Moscow. The French and British military missions
left Kiev two days earlier, also coming to Moscow. These missions
included General Tabouis and Mr. Bagge, who had been appointed
commissioners by the French and British Governments, respectively,
to the former Ukrainian government.

It is difficult to say how large the enemy forces were which were
advancing on Kiev from several directions on the date the consular
representatives left, but they were believed to be considerably larger
than anything the Bolsheviks had to oppose them. Information
coming into Eaev was very imsatisf actory, but there was no doubt
but that some of these forces had approached to within fifty or sixty
miles of the city, and scouting parties were even nearer, some within
twenty-five or thirty miles. It was estimated, on good authority,
that Kiev would be occupied the first week in March.

The political situation with relation to Kiev and the Ukraine is
very much involved. It will be remembered that the Rada govern-
ment, just a few hours before it was driven out of Kiev by the
Bolsheviks, had declared the complete independence of the Ukrainian
republic and had followed that declaration with an announcement
that peace terms had been signed between the Ukrainian government
and the Central powers.

The Bada government succeeded in escaping from the Bolsheviks
and went over into territory occupied by Austrian troops. From
that point it is presumed the Kada got into touch with Austria and
Germany and completed its plan for a "friendly" invasion of
Ukraine territory with the object of suppressing the Bolsheviks and
establishing order in the country. Such a plan had long been
hinted at in Kiev.

So far as could be learned before the consular representatives left
Kiev, the enemy forces entering the Ukraine were all preceded or
accompanied by Ukrainian troops. These troops assured the people
as they came along that the Austrians and Germans were not coming
as enemies but as friends of the Ukrainian people and that they

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should all remain at home where there would be nothing to fear.
As has been hinted at in these reports before, it has now become
evident that the moving spirits in the Ukraine Rada were pro-
Austrian, including Vinnichenko, the former president of the
Council of Ministers, and Hruchevski, the president of the Rada. In
returning to Kiev with the support of Austrian and German military
forces, these leaders are simply carrying out their original plan.

The Rada government has tried to impress the people with the
idea that the Ukraine would be entirely independent. This is gen-
erally believed to be impossible, however, for the Ukraine is in no
position to govern itself. It is exceedingly doubtful if the people,
as a whole, were in favor of complete independence. What they really
seemed to want was a confederation with Russia. The aims of the
Central powers seem to be to control the Ukraine by military force
and ultimately make the state a dependent of the Austro-Hungarian

In its peace agreement with the Central powers, the Rada govern-
ment agreed to allow them to have large supplies of grain, fats, etc.,
and at the same time the Central powers boimd themselves to supply
the Ukraine with certain manufactured goods, including farming
implements, agricultural machinery, hardware, etc. There was no
provision in the terms, as published, giving the Central powers the
right to police the Ukraine, but it was thought at the time that a
secret arrangement to that effect had been made. There is now no
doubt but that it has been done.

When the Bolshevik forces took possession of Kiev on February 8,
there were all sorts of rumors about the position of the Bolshevik
authorities with regard to the French and British missions. There
were also rimiors that the Belgians, who had armored cars at Kiev,
had taken part in the fighting on the side of the Ukrainians. This
later proved to be false. It was difficult to learn just what passed
between the Bolshevik leaders and the missions mentioned, but I
am inclined to believe they were pleasant enough on the surface. The
Allied missions certainly took no part in the fighting. It is hardly
necessary to say this, in view of the fact that it had been known for
some time before the Rada fell that it was about to conclude a
separate peace with the Central powers entirely against the interests
and wishes of the Allies. In this connection it is interesting to note
that at a conference the Consular Corps had with the Bolshevik
conmiandant of Kaev on the day following the capture of the city,
the commandant asked the British Vice Consul if Mr. Bagge, the
British commissioner, intended to remain in Kiev, and whether it
was true that the British had recognized the Rada government.
The commandant said that although they wished to remain friendly

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with Great Britain that was a question he would have to know.
The Vice Consul explained that Mr. Bagge was already conferring
with the Bolshevik commander in chief, but that so far as he knew
Great Britain had not recognized the Ukraine ; that Mr. Bagge had
been appointed unofficially to look after British interests.

When the commandant was introduced to the American Consul
he said something about all the anarchists coming from America to
Bussia and that perhaps the anarchists would end by putting the
Bolsheviks out. He said this in a sort of laughing manner. It is
impossible to say whether he intended it to convey any hidden
meaning or not. It was probably a mere pleasantry.

With regard to the benefits the Central powers will derive from
their occupation of the Ukraine, it must be admitted that this is
the richest agricultural district in Russia. It is a large territory,
including several governments, and there are enormous supplies of
grain and sugar. These supplies are partly assembled at various
points and partly in the hands of the peasants. Most of the sugar
is assembled at the factories and refineries. There is an arsenal at
Kiev which will benefit the invaders and one large factory which
has been engaged in the manufacture of ammunition. There are
no other factories of importance, except those for the making and
refining of sugar. There is no coal in the Ukraine and the wood
supply is limited. Coal will have to be brought in from Germany
unless the Central powers succeed in reaching as far as the Donets
Basin, the Russian coal fields.

In order to profit by the rich grain supplies in the Ukraine, it will
be necessary for the Central powers to bring about some order in the
country and arrange for transport. Difficulties will be met with in
doing this, but it can undoubtedly be accomplished in the course
of a month or two. The next step will be to reorganize agriculture
with a view to inducing the peasants to till their lands for the
coming year. This will be more difficult, it is thought, because the
peasants will probably be hostile to the Germans and Austrians.
Besides, they are imbued with the idea of distributing the lands
of the great proprietors and if the Germans decline to allow this
there will be disorders and discontent. A large part of the sugar
and wheat lands are owned by these great proprietors, especially the
sugar estates, though they have been seized by the peasants upon
promises of the Rada government that all land should be given to

In leaving Kiev, the American Consul burned all archives of
any importance and turned over American interests to the Spanish
Consul. All Americans who wished to leave were assisted in getting

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Owing to the interruption of the telegraph and the danger of
transmitting matter through the post, even by special messenger,
the American Consul was unable to make a detailed report of the
fighting in Kiev, which began January 29 and ended February 8,
He sent messengers through, who called at the Consulate General
and gave such verbal accounts as they were able.

The people of Kiev were stunned after the battle was over. They
seemed dazed by the bombardment and the terrible events they
witnessed during the closing hours of the battle. It is estimated
that there were 6,000 casualties, of whom between 2,000 and 3,000
were killed, but these figures may be too low.

Before they left the city the Ukrainians, whose forces were com-
posed principally of so-called free Cossacks and volunteers, executed
many soldiers who had deserted to the Bolsheviks and were later
captured. For the first two days of Bolshevik occupation there were
hundreds of executions, or more properly speaking, murders. It
is estimated that 300 or 400 officers were shot down on the streets
or taken to a park near the former residence of the governor, where
they were killed. Many well-dressed civilians were also reported to
have been shot down, but this is not confirmed. The Bolshevik
troops were embittered against the officers found in Kiev, because
they believed they had all assisted the Ukrainians, and at first seem
to have made little effort to find out whether the officers had actually
taken part in the fighting or not. They were simply shot or clubbed
with rifle butts. Later, however, as order began to be established,
this promiscuous shooting practically ceased, though whenever offi-
cers who carried Ukrainian papers were found, they were shot.

Dozens of officers came to the Consul, disguised as common sol-
diers or peasants, and begged to be assisted to leave for America.
People of means ceased to appear on the streets in good clothing.
Furs were discarded to a great extent and many well-bred women
appeared in peasant headdress instead of hats. There were rob-
beries and looting of shops. In fairness to the Bolsheviks it must
be said that much of the looting was done before the Ukrainians left
the city. As the excitement wore off and the Bolshevik authorities
began to get their troops back under control, vigorous efforts were
made to reestablish order. The shooting of officers ceased, unless it
could be shown that they had had some connection with the former
government, and many robbers were summarily executed.

It is impossible to give any reliable estimate of the damage done
to property in the city. Many houses were jjractically destroyed
by shell fire, and several were burned. The house in which the
American Consul lived was struck by a shell which passed through
three rooms. The British Vice Consul's house was also damaged by

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shell fire. It is reported that toward the last the Bolsheviks poured
shells into the city from five different directions. Their guns were
undoubtedly served by experienced artillerymen. Damage was
greatest around the arsenal, at the railway station, and in the center
of the city, known as the "old town." At the latter point the
Ukrainians had a battery. Damage from shell fire, however, was
general through the city.

Food became very scarce as the fighting continued and there was
also much suffering when the water supply was cut off for two days.
This shortage of food and water forced many people to go into the
streets in search of supplies, even while the shelling was going on.
Many casualties resulted from this. Among the kiUed and wounded
were hundreds of women and children. After the fighting the food
situation gradually improved, but there was still a serious shortage
up to the time the Consul left the city. The authorities were trying
to force prices down, with the result that the peasants were bringing
in little or nothing.

I have [etc.] Douglas Jenejks

FUe No. 861.00/1313

The Consul General at Moscow {Swmmers) to the Secretary of

State ^


Moscow, March 13, 1918, noon.
[^Received March 17, HB p. m.]
260. Odessa occupied Austro-German troops. No news consul
who was instructed go Rostov. Summers

Pile No. 861.00/1355

TJie Minister in Sweden {Morris) to the Secretary of State


Stockholm, March 23, 1918.

[Received J^.66 /?. m.]
1755. Swedish press reports from Petrograd demobilization on
front completed. Yesterday last military organizations dissolved.
Reports labor council at Simferopol has advised Smolny as to es-
tablishment of independent Taurida republic comprising whole of
Crimea and has submitted list of delegates to Council of People's
Commissioners of new republic. Mobbis

* Sent via the Ck)nsulate at Vladivostok.

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PUe No. 763.7211^/1556

The Consul Oenerdl at Moscow (Sunvmers) to the Secretary of State


Moscx)w, April ^, 1918.
[Received April 8^ 9.17 a. m.]
313. In reply to demand Soviet government Grermany states
nkrainian boundaries will comprise governments Volhynia, Podolsk,
Kherson, Ekaterinoslav, Kharkov, Taurida, excluding Crimea, Kiev,
Kostov, Chernigov, and part of the government of Klolm, under
agreement Central powers.


File No. 861.00/1433

The Ambassador in Fnmoe (Sharp) to the Secretary of State


Paris, April J^ 1918^ 6 p. m.
[Received April 5, 6J5 p.m.']
3522. Joint telegram from the Allied Ministers dated Jassy,
March 27 :

The information coming to us from Mr. Bertrand confirms that
the Germans are progressing there without meeting with any re-
sistance and are miding inunense political and economic possibili-
ties. They are already utilizing there large forces of former Russian
prisoners formed more than a year ago in instruction camps in
txermany and stiffened by Germans, 'fiiey are also using Austro-
German prisoners found on the territory. Finally they have begun
the recruiting of a Ukrainian army. They propose to occupy Donets
[Basin] shortly where they will find the raw material wnich they
lack. Must not these terms of the commercial agreement, when
[with] the exodus of the Allied diplomatic missions from Bussian
territory, is [be] interpreted as a total abdication of the Entente?
The only means of rallying the elements still favorable to it, is an
energetic and inmiediate military action. If this action, already
much delayed, is still further postponed, it would soon run the risk
of being exercised by completely enemy countries and presenting the
appearance of a friendly aid for the reestablishment of a united and
inaependent Russia. Doubtless this action can, henceforth, only be
taken by way of Siberia and by troops the majority of which are
Japanese. But in order to have the necessary efficacy it must as
soon as possible cease being limited to extreme oriental troops and
be pushed as far as the vital interests of the Allied powers demand.


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File No. 763.72/9422

The Ambassador in France (Sharp) to the Secretary of State


Paris, April Ji^ 1918^ 11 p. m.

[Received April 5, 5£0 a, m.l
8628. Following joint telegram from Allied Ministers, dated
Jsssy^ April 2 :

According to a reliable source the Austro-German action in south-
ern Russia IS developing to an extent which is very threatening to
the interests of the Alfied powers. The Central powers are pre-
paring arbitrarily to extend the limits of the Ukraine to all regions
which they wish to exploit politically and economicallv. They iii-
clude therein the valley of the Black Sea, a portion of Bessarabia,
the Don, Crimea, Caucasus, thus marking out the road to Persia
and India. Odessa would become a free town under Austro-German

Differences are arising between the Austrians and Germans
concerning the policy to be followed in Russia. The Austrians,
whose ambitions are less excessive, recommend a Ukraine endowed
with a nominal independence and limits more or less national. They
flatter themselves doubtless that they will easily assert their pre-
ponderance by concentrating their efforts there. The Germans on
the other hand recommend a federal Russia under their aegis. They
seem to be preparing to abandon for a greater objective the
Ulsrainian field which they are already compromising by developing
it out of all proportion. Meanwhile they are employing, in the
regions which they occupy, fugitive Russians of the Tsarist party
who are moreover considered as Ukrainians. Except at Kherson,
where a Grerman detachment is said to have been massacred, the
Austro-Germans are welcomed as deliverers in all towns. In the
country districts where they seize all the food supplies they meet
with some difficulties, as the peasants who are disbanded soldiers
are massacring with their arms isolated parties. Nevertheless the
Austro-Germans are continuing to obtain immense results with
practically no effort, their troops being far from numerous and com-
posed of elements of the most inferior order. The head of their
revictualinff service estimates at 20 per cent the immediate increase
of the stock of food of the Central powers on account of the sup-
plies from Russia. This increase will be unlimited as soon as the
first crop in September is gathered. One can foresee that the [con-
duct?] of the Austro-Germans, more preoccupied in obtaining, by
no matter what means, an immediate re victualing rather than renew-
ing friendly relations with a view to the future, will soon cause a
reaction of a nature to facilitate the intervention of the Allied
powers. The latter should be prepared so as to produce these
results before the Austro-Germans are able to gather nesi^ harvest.


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File Na 861.00/1607

TJve Ambassador in France (Sharp) to the Secretary of State


Paris, AprU 16j 1918, 6 p.m.
[Beceived AprU 17 y 6.63 a. m.]

8635. Joint telegram from Allied Ministers dated Jassy, April

According to reliable information the situation in Ukrainia, and
especially at Odessa, is as follows :

(1) UKrainia is completely cut off from all communication with
Russia; (2) native officials are gradually being replaced by Austro-
German officials; (8) Grerman and Austrian money is in forced cir-
culation; (4) orders have been given to arrest all officers of the
Entente who may be found in lArainia in the future (we are in-
formed that our officers have already left Ukrainia) ; (6) aomiciliary
visits have been made to the houses of consuls at Odessa with the
view of billeting Austro-German officers; (6) there is a rumor that
the Austro-Germans intend to dissolve the Bada at Kiev and to
install a German Government.

In fine Ukrainia is in process of transformation into a German


File No. 861.00/1660

The Minister in Sv^eden {Morris) to the Secretary of State


Stockholm, AprU 26, 1918.
[Beceived AprU £6, 2 €L m.]

1944. Swedish press reports from Moscow Foreign Commissariat
has sent following telegram to German Foreign Ministry :

We learn that German-Ukrainian troops have crossed Perekop and
advanced on Simferopol despite declaration of German-Ukrainian
Government that does not belong to territory Ukrainian republic.
Advancing of German-Ukrainian troops in Crimea constitutes viola-
tion of Brest treaty. This raid being threat to our Black Sea Fleet,
[measures] will have to be taken for its security which might lead
to deplorable events. Commissariat in expressing hopes that troops
in Crimea will be ordered to retire requests German Government
immediately to notify us that request been complied with.


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File No. 801.00/1723

The Minister in Sweden (Morris) to the Secretary of State


Stockholm, May 2^ 1918,
[Received May 5, SM a. m/]
1991. Swedish press reports the decree recently issued by
German CJommander in Chief Eichhorn in Ukraine has caused seri-
ous conflicts both in German Eeichstag and Ukraine. The decree
notified the peasants the German commander in Ukraine exacted
fulfihnent of following points :

1. The man cultivating soil be the one to get the crop and pay-

ment in accordance current prices.

2. The man cultivating land beyond his forces was inflicting

detriment on UKrainian state and would receive severe

3. Where peasants unable plant whole of the soil the pro-

{)rietors must provide for planting, and in such case the
and distribution commissions should not take it for dis-
tribution among peasants; on contrary they should
supply horses and machines for the planting.

The Ukrainian Agricultural Minister regarded decree as intoler-
able intrusion of his official authority and resigned. The Bada
unanimously adopted following resolution in protest :

The Rada having heard declaration of Agricultural Minister and
noted his resignation emphasized that German troops were called
by Ukrainian troops for purpose of helping them in restoring
order within such limits and in such direction only as decided by
the Ukrainian people's republic, that no arbitrary interference on
part of German and Austro-Hungarian military commanders [in]
social-political life of Ukraine will be tolerated, that such interfer-
ence as that of General Eichhorn will disorganize our economic
life, aggravate social-political conditions, and render impossible
fulfilment of obligations concluded and signed between Uln*ainian
people's republic and Central powers. At same time the Bada in
refusing to grant demission of Minister of Agriculture requests
him to announce to population that Eichhorn's order shall not be
obeyed. Foreign Mimster will send presidents of Berlin and
Vienna Ministries notes in accordance with this decision, protesting
against order and other interference on part of German-Austrian
military authorities in social-political life of Ukraine.

Decree been subject of debate in main committee of German Beichs-
tag, where was criticized by Scheidemann, Erzberger, and others.
However, it is asserted semiofficially discontent in Ukraine over de-
cree partly due to fact it had been corrupted in translation repro-
duced by Kiev paper, and therefore been mistaken for some kind of
interference in Ukrainian land proprietorship question.

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Eichhom prompted by regard for necessity of getting cultivation
started had therefore guaranteed crop be given to those culti-
vating soil even if were proprietors, and he had also proclaimed the
one failing to do his part of the spring work must be prepared to
takjB punishment for detriment thus inflicted upon Ukrainian state,
(rerman military committee must see to it Germany really received
the quantities of grain provided for in agreement for sake of which
peace had been concluded and military assistance given Ukraine.
It is announced moreover a formal agreement fixing scope of ac-
tivity of German army in Ukraine is being drafted, and is expected
for benefit both parties to settle conflict arisen through Eichhom
decree. Morris

FUe No. 861.00/1788

The Mimater in the NetJverlands {Garrett) to the Secretary of State


The Hague, May 5, 1918.

[Received 10.46 p. nu]
2468. Dutch press publishes Wolff telegram from Berlin dated
May 4, containing Vice Chancellor's statement before Reichstag
conmiittee regarding Ukrainia, of which following is summary:

Online LibraryGreat Britain. ParliamentThe parliamentary debates from the year 1803 to the present time → online text (page 78 of 100)