Grigori Besedovsky, Revelations of a Soviet Diplomat


Soviet diplomacy in Germany

[…] the Politbureau decided to reinstate the Komintern representatives in the Embassies, thereby enabling them to use the staff more freely for such work as they considered necessary.

The Trade Commissariat made no concessions to foreign affairs. The trade delegates received a circular with injunctions “to communicate with every official who is a member of the Party.” This circular, signed by the president of the Council of People’s Commissars and by the Commissar for Trade, stated that “the advent of the German revolution confronted the Trade Commissariat with new problems; the present routine of trading must be replaced by the establishment of two German reserves: gold and corn, for the benefit of the victorious German proletariat.”

The agencies of the Trade Commissariat within the Soviet Republics had been urgently ordered to send sixty million pood of corn towards Petrograd and the frontiers; the external agents had been instructed to economize in all expenditure, to reduce imports, and to push exports in every possible way, so as to create a reserve fund of 200 golden roubles. Every member of the staff was to be guided by these instructions. Thenceforth the zeal of every official would be judged by the part he had taken in the preparations for the German revolution. p.62




Soviet diplomacy in China

The incidents at Nankin and the “defeatism” of the Russian instructors formed the climax of the first phase of the Chinese revolution. I was told later, at Moscow – though my informant was highly unreliable – that the Nankin incidents had been provoked by a Chinese general who had received a large sum promised by Borodin to the organizer of such [165] massacres. My informant, who was a member of the Soviet Government, was most indignant at the lack of skill shown by this general. He even said:

“If only it had been Budenny with one of his divisions! Then we should have seen some killing!”

The object of this move was to discredit Chang Kai Chek in foreign eyes, and to provoke Anglo-U.S. reprisals, which would be cunningly exploited in the Soviet Press. The moment news was received of the bombardment of Nankin by the Anglo-American forces (the foreign refugees in the Nobel storehouses had to be saved at all costs) the Tass announced that 6,000 Chinese had been killed. This statement was to be contradicted at once. 

Having broken with Chang Kai Chek, the Soviets began looking for a more extremist leader, and eventually lighted on Van Tsin Vei.

Lominadze, a personal friend of Stalin, and the new Komintern representative in China, was entrusted with Van Tsin Vei’s education. He was not successful. Van Tsin Vei, a peaceful bureaucrat, proved himself quite incapable of leading a bloody revolution. Finally all hope of finding a second Chang Kai Chek had to be abandoned. But the internal struggles of the Kuomingtang, which were the direct result of these Russian endeavours, caused a distinct weakening of the revolutionary party. The authority of the “Northern Campaign” collapsed, and China entered on a period of inactivity which is not over yet. 

At Tokio, then, I was a helpless witness of the last throes of Stalin’s Chinese policy. p.164-5.




Soviet diplomacy in France

From Stockholm, from Berlin, from Paris, from Rome – I have myself seen Dovgalevsky’s reports – the Ambassadors write to him heralding “the invincible onrush of the triumphant Revolution.” These lies are essential, for an Ambassador who told the truth would be suspected of corruption and would be recalled at once. If the facts do not coincide with the theories prognosticated at Moscow, so much the worse for the facts! For six years the Ambassadors have inquired at Moscow what was the theory in vogue, and composed their reports accordingly. 

On August 1stDovgalevsky wrote to Moscow that the proletarian demonstration “must be considered a great success, and a sure indication of class differences [sic] and of the consolidation of the revolutionary forces.” I dared to write the truth: “On the 1stAugust the streets of Paris were occupied by twenty thousand police and two thousand workers.” The arrival of Roisenmann was Moscow’s reply; I was ordered to Russia to be tried by the Party. p.228.




Soviet diplomacy in Britain

The rupture with Great Britain had just occurred, and had coincided with certain plans for the development of commercial relations between London and Moscow, based on credits the Midland Bank was to open for Russia, the terms of which had been arranged several days before. This London bank was to permit the Soviet economic organizations to purchase goods to the value of £10,000,000 sterling. p. 229.


[the credits from the Midland Bank] might be merely a trap set to head us into an economic, and so political, impasse. […] Overtly we would tender effusive thanks, but in practice we would make a very moderate use of the credits, so as not to tie our hands.

These fears of the Politbureau coincided with the interest of certain English companies, and of quite a number of high officials of the U.S.S.R. Soviet bills, in London as elsewhere, were discounted at exorbitant rates of interest, three or four times higher than that fixed by the Midland Bank. The difference between the normal rate and the Soviet rate went to swell the fortunes of firms that delivered merchandise to the Soviets and who kept the bills in their safes. Furthermore, the turbid atmosphere which surrounded these English transactions opened the field for all kinds of swindling on the part of the Trade Delegation officials. When discount is reckoned at 20, 25, and even 30 per cent. instead of 7 or 8, the agents dealing with the discount can easily increase the rate, and half these increases go straight into the pocket of whoever determines them. As in so many other ways, the absurdities of the Stalin policy suit the purpose of the most corrupt section of Moscow functionaries. 

This solidarity of interests was not long in making itself felt. As a matter of policy Stalin forbade any large-scale drawing on the Midland Bank credit, and the officials interpreted his orders literally, pocketing their commissions. On the other hand, the English firms obstructed the bank’s financial assistance, thereby making large profits. p.232.



Besedovsky, Grigory. Revelations of a Soviet Diplomat. London: Williams & Norgate, 1931.

Cantos LII - LXXI

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