Foreign Relations of the United States : 1918 The Conclusion of the Peace of Brest Litovsk
The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State

File No. 763.72119/1066

The Ambassador in Russia (Francis) to the Secretary of State


PETROGRAD, January 2, 1918.

[Received January 4, 2.09 p.m.]

2178. Following resolution adopted last night by joint session of Central Executive Committee of the Soviets, the Petrograd Soviet and the assembly [conference] on the demobilization:

Having heard the report of the peace delegation and entirely approving its action, the joint assembly of the Central Executive Committee of the Councils of Workmen's, Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies, of the Petrograd Soviet and of the demobilization conference representing the whole army, decides:

The first program statement made by the representatives of the Quadruple Alliance in Brest recognized in principle the conclusion of peace without annexations and contributions. This recognition created a basis for further negotiations regarding a universal democratic peace.

However, already in this statement the representatives of the German Government refused to recognize the right of self-determination in favor of the oppressed nationalities and the colonies which had been seized before the beginning of the war in 1914

Already this restriction which was immediately noted by the Russian delegation showed that the ruling classes of Germany under the pressure of the popular movement were forced to make concessions to the idea of a democratic peace. They are at the same time trying to distort this idea in the direction of the old annexationist policy. The repeated statement of the Austro-German delegation setting forth the practical conditions of peace in the east still further distort the idea of a just democratic peace.

The meaning of this statement is that the Austro-German Governments refuse to give immediately a plain undertaking to withdraw their troops from the occupied provinces of Poland, Lithuania, Courland and parts of Livonia and Esthonia.

In point of fact the free expression of the will of the population of Poland, Lithuania, Courland and all the other occupied provinces is impossible whilst foreign armies remain in them and until the return of the evacuated portion of the original population. The German delegation's reference to the fact that the will of the peoples in these provinces has been already expressed is manifestly unfounded. Under a state of siege, under the yoke of military censorship, the peoples of the occupied provinces have not yet been able to express their will. The documents to which the German Government might refer can, in the most favorable case, only verify as to the expression of the will of separate privileged groups, but not of the masses of the people of these territories

We declare:

The Russian revolution remains true to its international policy. We stand for the effective self-determination of Poland, Lithuania, Courland. We never recognize as just the imposing of an alien will on any peoples.

The joint assembly insists that further peace negotiations be conducted in a neutral state and commissions the Council of the Commissaries of the People to take all measures for carrying this into execution.

We address ourselves to the peoples of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey. Under your pressure your governments have been forced in words to appropriate your (this should read our) motto: " without annexations and contributions," but actually they are endeavoring to realize the old policy of annexations. Remember: the conclusion of a speedy and actually democratic peace is now in your hands. To you look the peoples of the whole of Europe, tortured and bled by an unexampled war. You will not allow the German and Austrian imperialists to carry on war against revolutionary Russia for the sake of the enslavement of Poland, Lithuania, Courland and Armenia.

The workmen's revolution calls upon the working classes of all countries to rebel.

The workmen's revolution of October (1) has done its duty towards the peoples of the whole world. The workmen's and peasants' government has published the secret treaties. The workmen's and peasants' government is ready to immediately evacuate all the territories occupied by the Russian armies during this war. It gives all the peoples that inhabit Russia without exception the right of complete self-determination up to separation without any military pressure on [its] part. But it requires the same of the other side also.

We appeal as to our kin to the French, the Italian, the Serbian workmen and say to them: The governments of your countries have not even advanced one step towards peace which the governments of Central Europe have been obliged to do. The governments of your countries have up to now not even announced their aims of war. Your governments are prolonging the war by all statements true and untrue. Your governments are not advancing a single step towards the peace program of the Russian revolution. Your governments do not want to renounce the treaties which they made unbekown to the people with the former Tsar Nicholas II. Achieve the immediate adhesion of your countries to the peace negotiations on the basis of the declarations made at Brest by the Russian delegation.


(1) November revolution, if the new-style calendar is used. Back

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