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First thing I read edition of this book published by Aleph Publishing. This was a very good edition where text was retyped and not just scanned. Unfortunately I cannot find this edition on GR anywhere so I have selected this one as closest possible.

This was rather emotional book. Author was first hand witness to the Allied Forces expedition into the Russia following Bolshevik's withdrawal from the WW1 battlefields following the Revolution and finally armed push from the Germany that forced Bolsheviks to sign the Brest-Litovsk agreement.

I have to say I came across the stories of Allied expedition by chance, through some articles that described ever alive hatred from the Great Britain side towards what they considered to be betrayal of WW1 efforts in the West and (and nobody can tell me this did not play the role) what they considered as rising of plebs and commons against the Imperial family (relatives of the English Crown and funnily enough Kaiser who started the bloody war but by powers to be was left to die in peace in exile in Netherlands in 1941).

And as they say always follow the money and it is definitely that big business was involved into entire mayhem from the very beginning on all sides. Huge amount of money and financial interests were invested by (again majorly) Great Britain but also rest of the world (prominently the France) and they wanted their investments and money back, local people and their lives deemed inconsequential. Bolsheviks did not cooperate and therefore military had to step in.

And so Archangelsk expedition began - landing of thousands of soldiers sent to "safeguard the Russian property until democratic forces return". Very goal was ridiculous - neither was Tsar a democrat nor were Bolsheviks - so very soon goal was changed to help the Czecho-Slovakian Legion stuck behind Bolshevik's lines. Then it was mentioned that goal is to prevent Germans from accessing the riches of Russia, especially around Archangelsk region (which was commercial hub again for the Great Britain - so as they say, go figure, right?). In any case all these dubious reasons piled one on another and caused great doubt in the ranks of soldiers fighting in Russia. They fought but more out of professionalism than belief and this escalated immediately after the Armistice when entire talk about the effort against the Germans proved to be nothing more than hot air.

Author is writing very openly how - through actions of generals in deep background and politicians and financiers - decision was made to start war (without actual formal declaration of war) on a country that was an ally, that fought bravely and bled profusely and helped to keep German forces in the East so they could not move to West; country brought to such level of social destruction by incompetent Tsar and his government that finally Bolsheviks took over the rule and after short resistance, collapsed before German war machine and agreed to Brest-Litovsk agreement. Why was this war started, with what goals and intentions is unknown to the author and one can see his frustration with State Depratment and unwillingness to disclose any official information on the reasons because of negative effect they might have on the US populace.

What is known is that behind the planning of the expedition was United Kingdom and France and they got their allies involved - primarily US forces.

Although they constantly said the opposite this was a punitive expedition against the Bolsheviks without any link to German war effort. It was for all means and purposes war campaign that was never officially declared and as such it can be marked as freebooter expedition. Sent to help Russians, expedition spent more time burning down and destroying the villages and farms and leaving people more destitute than they were before expedition came in (militarily completely understandable because expedition never established links with the locals, so burn everything down if necessary).

And this was not isolated point of conflict - "weary" Allied forces attacked from Far East (Vladivostok and Siberia), Archangelsk, Baltic states, Ukraine and Caucasus. This was for all means and purposes full offensive aimed at destruction of Bolsheviks and basically punishing Russia for bringing down Imperial rule and making peace with Germany - after almost total military destruction (with which they bought time for West Front) but hey peasants had to die for "greater cause" right?

As far as I can see this was operation more in line with anti-revolutionary wars of 1848 than any effort against Germany and its allies.

Author's views o locals show just how totalitarian was Tsarist regime and how subdued were people living outside the cities, despised by bureaucrats and intelligentsia that was completely useless. Is it strange that this situation brought many recruits to Bolsheviks? Author is proud of his compatriots and their fighting prowess but he shows how Red Army gradually improved. Very interesting are author's comments on the way Bolshevik's treated Allied prisoners and sick (interestingly same as today they were all declared killed while the truth was the very opposite).

Greatest value of the book is that it is written in 1924 and it is written by the eye witness of the events. Author proves that West's understanding of Russia remained the same - West has their reasons for propaganda they use but this will never be officially published. This hatred underlines something in inter-state relations that did not diminish even after hundred of years. Lets just hope these reasons do not end the world in the process.

It is incredible how events from almost hundred years ago are so similar to our times. Frighteningly similar.

Excellent book on a very interesting (in Chinese meaning of the word) period after official WW1 fighting.

Highly recommended.
Zare | Jan 23, 2024 |