By Eric Vandenbroeck and co-workers

Russia, Germany, and Poland 1917-1945 Part Two

While we have covered Poland on several earlier occasions we noticed that what was missing in the most recent book on this subject is among others that the German military leadership, who in 1919 sought rearmament and the destruction of Poland as part of a program to overturn the results of the First World War. Bolshevik leaders in Moscow were even bolder, dreaming of a worldwide revolution. Their shared antagonisms produced the partnership at Rapallo that started Europe down the road to renewed war. As has been argued here, many of the key milestones along that path - the Reichswehr’s acceptance of Hitler, the speed of German rearmament, British and French appeasement, the Soviet purges, the inability of the European powers to contain Hitler, and finally, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact - as we shall see can only be fully understood in light of the Rapallo relationship and what led up to this. And so we continue in part two that as the Russian Civil War began in earnest, only one state had established diplomatic relations with Bolshevik Russia and could provide aid: the former archenemy Germany.

As we shall see, the Reichswehr - and its representative in Russia - embraced Hitler in 1933, albeit with some reservations. Their shared views on rearmament and the revision of Germany’s borders played a major role in that process. So too did the general instability of the late Weimar Republic, to which Reichswehr rearmament efforts had contributed. The secret budgets and semi-autonomous foreign policy conducted by the Reichswehr between 1919 and 1933 strengthened the hand of the military and weakened the state. It was no coincidence the two most significant political figures in Weimar immediately before Hitler came to power, Hindenburg and Schleicher, were both military men. It was they who would hand Hitler the chancellorship of a country already possessing the essential elements needed for a revival of its military power.

As Trotsky sought to build a new military for the Bolsheviks in 1918, Imperial Germany faced disaster. After the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the military rulers of Germany - Commander-in-Chief of the Oberste Heeresleitung Paul von Hindenburg and his domineering deputy, General Erich Ludendorff - had transferred hundreds of thousands of soldiers from the Russian front to France, hoping to win the war in one last great offensive.1 However, opposed by growing numbers of American soldiers, it petered out 70 miles from Paris. The German Army was forced back on the defensive, short on men and shells. On August 8, the Allies launched an offensive of their own at Amiens, which tore a 15- mile hole in the front with the aid of tanks. The Germans began retreating eastward.

Conditions on the Western Front deteriorated fast. On September 30. General Ludendorff informed Kaiser Wilhelm II that the war was lost. The Oberste Heeresleitung - now effectively ruling the country - decided to replace the pro-war chancellor Georg Hertling with a liberal, Prince Maximilian von Baden, Hindenburg, and Ludendorff empowered Prince Maximilian to negotiate an armistice, using the United States as the intermediary. When the American communique made it clear that the Kaiser must step down and the German Army withdraws to Germany’s prewar borders as a precondition of peace, General Ludendorff himself had no choice but to resign.

Ludendorff's replacement was Wilhelm Groener, a staff officer from Württemberg best known for managing Germany’s wartime economy. He was much more inclined to listen to demands for peace and political reform than was his predecessor.- His political skills would soon be put to the test: as Groener assumed his new office on October 23, the German Army and the Imperial government were falling apart. On October 28, the Reichstag (the German Parliament) declared that it could dismiss the cabinet and chancellor. This “October Constitution” was reinforced as soldiers’, sailors’, and workers’ committees seized power in major cities, leading to the abdication of all of the country’s surviving noble houses, save Kaiser Wilhelm himself. On November 3, the German Hochseeflotte (The High Seas Fleet) in Kiel mutinied. Within twenty-four hours, more than 40.000 soldiers and sailors had taken up arms against their own government. It was clear that Germany could not continue to fight.

Yet, at this critical moment, the German military suddenly deferred to the new civilian government, passing responsibility for seeking an armistice with the Allies to Secretary of State Matthias Erzberger. On November 7, Erzberger drove across the front lines under a flag of truce, rendezvousing with French general Ferdinand Foch in the forest of Compiegne to discuss an armistice. In the words of General Groener, this was done to “keep the armor shining.’13 By abjuring responsibility for defeat and the treaty to come, the military could blame civilian leaders for Germany’s downfall and remain the most popular institution in postwar Germany, as Hindenburg and Groener had intended. This would serve as the basis for the “stab-in-the-back” conspiracy theory that would help Hitler rise to power.

Still, even as defeat loomed, Kaiser Wilhelm II dithered about abdicating, wondering about the possibility of retaining his crown, at least in Prussia. Groener finally lost his patience on November 9, declaring to the Kaiser that the army would march home “in peace and order under its leaders and commanding generals,” but not under the Kaiser’s command, “for it stands no longer behind Your Majesty.”4 When Hindenburg reluctantly seconded Groener's statement, the Kaiser abdicated and went into exile.

Within hours of the abdication announcement, the largest party in the Reichstag, the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Social Democratic Party, or SPD), effectively took charge of handed power by the remnants of the Imperial government. Led by Friedrich Ebert, the SPD’s leadership mostly hoped to retain the monarchy and extant the Imperial German constitution despite the Kaiser’s resignation.s But the SPD's radical antiwar wing, the Unabhangige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Independent Social Democratic Party, or USPD. Which had broken away in 1917,) demanded more radical change. Full of uncertainty, a huge crowd of spectators assembled outside the Reichstag building on the afternoon of November 9, demanding that Ebert address them.6

Ebert refused, sending word for them to disperse. But his SPD cochair Philip Scheidemann, with whom he was at lunch that afternoon, concluded on his own some public statement was necessary, especially given rumors the USPD might declare a republic later that day. Without telling Ebert, he appeared in front of the Reichstag, shouting to the crowd below: “That old and rotten thing, the monarchy, has collapsed. Long live the new! Long live the German republic!”7 Ebert was furious with this unilateral declaration but had few choices. The SPD would back a new republic. Following Scheidemann's announcement, USPD leaders occupied the former Imperial Palace, declaring a rival “free socialist republic” inspired by the Russian Revolution.8 It seemed that events might follow the course of the February Revolution in Russia, with a workers’ soviet and a bourgeois provisional government competing for power. Faced with two rival regimes, the German military intervened, that night. General Groener called the Reichskanzlei, where Ebert had taken up residence. He told Ebert that the army was at the “disposal of his government” and that he expected it to be used to maintain law and order and resist Bolshevism. As he recalled, “Ebert accepted my offer of an alliance.”9

While political drama unfolded in Berlin, the war continued on the Western Front, with German forces in full retreat. On that same dramatic day, Chancellor Ebert finally ordered Secretary of State Erzberger, still in France, to sign the armistice agreement. Erzberger did so in the early morning hours of November 11. The final ceasefire went into effect at eleven in the morning on November 11, 1918. The First World War was over.

The war might have been over, but the German Revolution had just begun. The state was now leaderless. Three forces wielded power: the military, led by Hindenburg and Groener; the Reichstag, where the SPD championed a moderate socialist republic; and the mushrooming councils of radicalized soldiers, sailors, and workers, inspired by the Soviet model. United against revolutionary violence, the tenuous alliance between Ebert and the SPD on the one hand, and General Groener and the Reichswehr on the other, would define the Republic.

The armistice had major ramifications for the Soviet-German relationship, too. With the declaration of the Armistice, Lenin and Trotsky immediately renounced Brest- Litovsk, eager to cease paying reparations and reestablish control over much of the former Tsarist Empire. Prisoner of war exchanges had been conducted for the previous eight months under the terms of the treaty. However, when the Armistice arrived, more than a million Russian prisoners were still in German hands. Facing a political crisis, famine at home. Without the resources to care for the hundreds of thousands of Russians in captivity, the German government began packing the POWs onto train cars, shipping them east to the truce line between the German and Bolshevik forces in modem-day Belarus, and releasing them. On his way home from Moscow to Berlin, a German diplomat recalled that the “pitiful sight" of Russian soldiers shuffling past his train on both sides. “Many of the Russians collapsed from hunger, cold or exhaustion, and remained to lie beside the tracks.”10

As tens of thousands of Russian POWs were left to their fate in wintry Belarus, the Imperial German Army disintegrated. Many soldiers simply started walking home, still in possession of their weapons. Out of the 10 million rifles and tens of thousands of machine guns in circulation at the end of the war, only 1.3 million rifles and 9,000 machine guns were surrendered to the Allies or the German government.11 Armed and organized, common soldiers and sailors helped determine the postwar political landscape. Facing violence from mobs of veterans in Berlin in December 1918, Chancellor Ebert appointed SPD representative Gustav Noske, a former butcher, as minister of national defense and commander-in-chief for Brandenburg, the territory surrounding and including Berlin.12 Noske had dealt firmly with the naval mutinies in Kiel two months earlier, listening to sailors’ grievances but restoring discipline and officers’ control, even in the face of armed mutineers. Upon hearing of his appointment, Noske remarked, “someone must be the bloodhound.”13

Noske understood that the government would not survive without a military force upon which it could depend.14 Much as Trotsky had concluded earlier that year, Noske decided that senior German military officers must guide the Republic’s new military force. This entailed serious political risks, as few professional military officers felt anything but disdain for Noske’s SPD. To shore up their support, Noske took steps to ensure that the military remained a willing partner by appointing Colonel Walther Reinhardt as Prussian minister of tenuous alliance between the military and the SPD by including a member of the military, albeit a junior one, in the ruling circle.15 Then, with some leadership in place, it was essential to form the rudiments of a new army from the remnants of the old.

The heart of this new force would be drawn from the Freikorps (Free Corps), paramilitary bands that had sprouted up across the country. As early as November 1918, groups of (mostly) right-wing veterans had organized themselves against the forces of revolution or to protect order and private property in their neighborhoods. The first Freikorps unit drew heavily from Germany’s StoBtruppen (Stormtroopers), elite bands of infantrymen concentrated by the German High Command to break through enemy lines on the Western Front.16 These men shared attributes. They were uniformly young and physically fit, and they tended to contain a very high percentage of former army officers, as high as one officer per four enlisted.

Freikorps members were volunteers, drawn together by fears about the future. Their typical gathering places were beer gardens and beer halls, where they bemoaned the fate of postwar Germany. A typical recruiting poster highlighted their concerns: “Comrades! The . . , [Communist] danger has not yet been removed. The Poles press ever farther onto German soil. Soldiers, Arise! Prevent Germany from becoming the laughing stock of the earth. Enroll NOW in the HUELSEN FREIKORPS.”17 Some enlisted men or NCOs requested their favorite officers organize them into Freikorps. Others were drawn back to service by the calls of their senior officers. Noske and Reinhardt soon began placing loyal officers in charge of existing Freikorps, merging smaller units into larger ones and coordinating their movements.18

On December 31, 1918, a variety of radical groups,  including the Communist Spartacus League and part of the USPD, united to form the Kommunistiscke Partei Deutschlands (Communist Party of Germany, or KPD). Four days later. Chancellor Ebert’s government dismissed Berlin's chief of police, a radical leftist, for refusing to follow orders. The KPD voted for confrontation with the government to challenge his dismissal. On January 5, 1919. the Spartacist faction, the radical core of the KPD’s membership,  organized demonstrations that soon swelled beyond their control. Rioters occupied government buildings and newspaper offices and besieged the city center. For eight days, anarchy reigned in the streets of Berlin as nearly 20,000 armed “red guards” and workers organized a Revolutionary Committee and set about dismantling the Republic.19 Eager to see the German Revolution succeed, several senior Bolsheviks, including Vice-Commissar for Foreign Affairs Karl Radek, attempted to reach Berlin to assist their revolutionary comrades-in-arms. They were denied entry, but Radek, alone, crossed the border secretly, arriving in Berlin.

Textfeld: they issued calls to comrades-in-arms, and As these fires of revolution grew, Noske withdrew from Berlin to the suburb of Dahlem, along with a few General Staff officers, the former leader of the Imperial German Army. Their veterans were willing to support the SPD government. Volunteer Freikorps units from across Germany began arriving and organizing themselves into a field army. Within three days, several thousand well-armed and disciplined troops at Dahlem answered to the remnants of the General Staff and Noske in particular. As these forces swelled in strength, Noske ordered General Freiherr von Liittwitz, commander of the III Army Corps, to retake Berlin.20 With the aid of artillery, his soldiers, began reconquering the capital on January 8. On January 11, Noske entered the city with 3,000 Freikorps men. At the cost of 13 militaries and 156 civilian dead, including the nighttime executions of Spartacist leaders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, Noske and the Freikorps had restored order, at least temporarily.

The turmoil would also entangle the Bolsheviks in German politics. A few weeks after the failure of the January Uprising, government forces caught Karl Radek and locked him up in Moabit Prison in Berlin. Here he would remain for nearly a year, holding a sort of jailhouse salon as an unofficial representative of the Bolshevik regime. Senior German politicians, diplomats, and military officers would be visited by senior German politicians and allowed to communicate with the outside world. As the SPD and the Reichswehr moved to crush the communists, Radek would serve as a point of contact with the Bolshevik regime in Moscow. Eventually, he would move into the apartments of a German staff officer, an indication of how important the military considered their prisoner.“ On the political front, the establishment of control in Berlin gave the SPD the time it needed to hold elections to a new National Assembly that would meet beginning on January 20. The radical left refused to participate in the elections. The result was, therefore, a victory for the moderate parties: the SPD won 37.9 percent of the vote; Zentrum (Center), a moderate Catholic party, won nearly 20 percent of the vote; and a center-left liberal party, the Deutsche Demokratische Partei (German Democratic Party), received 18.56 percent.24 All were supportive of the Republican project.25 Shortly thereafter, these representatives met at Weimar, the birthplace of the German Enlightenment, Goethe's adopted home, and one of the country’s great cultural centers. There they drew up the Republic’s constitution. Crucially, they created a strong legislature and weak executive, except for one provision:

Article 48, which allowed the president, with the countersignature of the chancellor, who was appointed by the president, to rule by decree in the event of a national emergency. This would later turn out to be the Republic’s mortal weakness. For the time being, however, the democratic order seemed to be stabilizing, as Chancellor Ebert won the presidency in a landslide on February 11, 1919.

While the constitutional order solidified in Weimar, violence across the country was just beginning to erupt. Noske acted quickly after the legitimation of the elections, dispatching Freikorps units to reconquer city after city from revolutionary councils or anti-government forces. Bremen fell after a daylong battle on February 4. Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, and Wilhelmshaven were captured with minimal fighting by February 19. Meanwhile, in Berlin, the remaining Spartacists staged another attempted revolution on March 3. Raising 15,000 armed workers, Russian POWs, and red militiamen, the revolutionaries, announced a general strike, murdered police officers and seized control of the eastern half of Berlin. Noske immediately declared Berlin under a ‘'state of siege'5 and rallied Freikorps units to the government’s defense.

The fighting in February and March proved much bloodier than in January. One Freikorps officer told his peers that it was “a lot better to kill a few innocent people than to let one guilty person escape.”26 Violence matched the rhetoric: revolutionaries deployed chemical munitions while Freikorps bombed the capital from the air and rolled their tanks through the streets.2 Both sides committed atrocities. On March 9, Noske issued an order that read, “Every person who is taken, arms in hand, fighting against government troops, is to be shot immediately.”- This order was interpreted broadly by the Freikorps officers leading the counterrevolutionary forces. It may have been effective. From March 9 to March 16, the city's working-class neighborhoods were taken, block by block. Between 600 and 1,200 people were killed and thousands more wounded.29 The final reconquest of Berlin was followed by short but effective campaigns across the country by the increasingly well-organized Freikorps.

The last major bastion of the revolution was in Bavaria, where a brief-lived ‘‘People's Republic" had formed. It proved to be one of the strange footnotes of history. Its half-mad commissar of foreign affairs, Franz Lipp, sent off a series of lewd telegrams to the Pope and Vladimir Lenin regarding the Bavarian Chancellery toilets. Another, sent to the government in Berlin, read. “My dear colleague: I have just declared war on Wiirttemberg and Switzerland because these dogs did not send me 60 locomotives immediately. I am certain of victory.”30 The local SPD government, which had been chased out of Munich, was forced to turn to a Bavarian Freikorps unit led by rabidly right-wing Franz Ritter von Epp. This was awkward, as SPD functionaries had ordered Epp’s arrest for treason not long before. Epp, the future Nazi Reichskommissar for Bavaria, began the reconquest of Bavaria on April 29. Hundreds were killed in four days of street fighting. By May, the country was largely pacified and under government control.

The Weimar Republic had surmounted only one of the many hurdles it faced. It now had many men under arms, loyal to the former General Staff but less committed to SPD's program of nationalizations, high taxation, and constitutionalism.31 In addition, the Ebert government needed to end the war with the Allies formally, the final terms of a peace treaty had yet to be decided. In this context, Noske proposed forming a new national army by concentrating many of the Freikorps. He forced the proposal through a hostile Reichstag, as the SPD allied with the center and right against the other leftwing parties.

The integration of the Freikorps into the Vorlaufige Reichswehr (Provisional Reich Defense Force) began on March 6, 1919. with a government decree reorganizing the military.33 This law established several significant aspects of the Reichswehr. First, the president would be the supreme commander of all German military forces.34 Second, the Reichswehrminister (minister of defense) within the chancellor's cabinet would manage the incorporation of Freikorps units, oversee discipline, reform regulations, and hear complaints from enlisted and junior officers against commanding officers.35 For Deputy Chief of the General Staff Wilhelm Groener, the question was how to integrate the Freikorps units into the military structure. The law reinstated the old imperial system of promotion, meaning that regimental and battalion commanders handled the appointment of all junior officers. This, in turn, meant that the old Imperial officer corps, hostile to the republic, was in the position to reshape the army as it saw fit.36

The man who would play the critical role in this process was General Hans von Seeckt. Thin, almost skeletal, his stem, monocled mien suggested the epitome of the Prussian warrior class. Despite his laconic air, he had earned the nickname “The Sphinx5’, Seeckt was not a typical Prussian officer. Born in 1866, he was the son of a military family of noble status from Pomerania but took an unusual route to the Prussian Army. He received a civilian primary education, then enrolled in the “Kaiser” Alexander I Guards Regiment, a unit formed honor of its Russian namesake during the Napoleonic Wars. His intelligence and self-discipline led him to a position at the General Staff Course in 1893, then the coveted promotion to the General Staff Corps. He was unique among his cohort for his wide-ranging intellect, his grasp of several languages (including French, English, and Russian), and his love of travel, he had seen most of Europe, as well as Egypt and India.37 At the same time, however, he could be aloof, arrogant, and thin-skinned. His close subordinates found him difficult to work with, although the officer corps at large would come to revere Seeckt for his strong hand and capable leadership. He had spent the bulk of his wartime service on the Eastern Front. At the end of the war, Hindenburg had assigned him to lead all the German armies in the east, which meant maintaining discipline, withdrawing them in good order, and managing the chaotic occupation of Ukraine and the Baltic states. His interest in Russia was undoubtedly strengthened during this period.

The spring of 1919 found Groener and Seeckt, whom Groener had appointed to manage the army's structure, deliberating what should be done with the armed bands now spread across Germany. The chaotic months since the armistice provided evidence for excluding or including particular Freikorps units. They agreed that any unit that had refused to follow their orders during the revolutionary events of the preceding four months should be disbanded. This included several pro-Republic formations. In addition, units, including on the extreme right, that had proven undisciplined in their behavior would not find service in the Provisional Reichswehr; While they considered the future shape of the military, they awaited word from the peace conference then ongoing in Paris that was to determine Germany’s fate.

As they waited for the terms to be imposed, Germany’s officer corps began to evaluate why they had lost the war, conducting an extensive historical study of that question.38 The consensus was that Germany’s basic strategic, operational, and tactical decisions had been entirely correct, particularly in its emphasis on offensive war. Some believed that the Oberste Heeresleitung had failed to carry out the initial invasion of France correctly. Others argued that Germany had lost the technological arms race. Colonel Kurt Thorbeck of the Gewehr-Prüfungskommission (The Rifle Examination Board, responsible for developing new military technologies), for example, argued that “the German General Staff did not properly recognize the material demands of a world war,” particularly about economic mobilization and advanced weapons like tanks.39 The latter proved a popular view among German officers, in part because it relieved them of responsibility for a host of strategic and operational errors during the war.

Even as they debated the causes of defeat, Hans von Seeckt immediately turned to the next conflict. Victory would require alliances, and Germany’s allies from the war, the Austro- Hungarian and Ottoman Empires, no longer existed, dissolved amid national uprisings that had broken out in late 1918. But one of the former leaders of the Ottoman Empire happened to be in Berlin, at Seeckt’s behest. With his help, Seeckt intended to remedy Germany’s disastrous strategic position.

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, Enver Pasha, the former Turkish minister of defense (and one of the architects of the Armenian mass killings), had fled aboard a German submarine.41 He was tried in absentia by the new Turkish government and sentenced to death, leaving him in permanent exile. With grandiose plans about returning to Turkey and repelled the Bolsheviks, then seized control of part of Russia’s primary artery, the Trans-Siberian Railway. They effectively cut off Bolshevik forces in central European Russia from the rest of the country. Their actions emboldened formations of former Tsarist officers who had organized themselves into an anti-Bolshevik resistance. These units soon occupied Siberia, the Urals, and the Lower Volga.42 Despite a motley array of political beliefs and leaders, these forces would become known collectively as the “Whites.”

As the Whites and Czech Legion threatened the Bolshevik hold on power, the Allied powers, Great Britain, France, the United States, Italy, and Japan, decided to intervene. In July 1918, they landed forces along Russia's Black Sea, Arctic Sea, and Pacific Ocean coasts. They aimed to prevent either the Germans or the Bolsheviks from seizing huge stockpiles of military equipment in Russian ports. They also began delivering military aid to the Whites.

Perhaps most dangerously, forces within Soviet territory also threatened Lenin's new regime. The Bolsheviks had held a previously scheduled national election in November 1917 but lost badly to Lenin's great surprise. When members of the new National Assembly arrived in Petrograd in January 1918, the Bolsheviks arrested most elected representatives and then outlawed all but one other political party. The one exception was the Left Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs), who had backed Lenin during the October Revolution. On July 6, 1918, the Left SRs rose in revolt against the signing of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. They assassinated German ambassador Count Mirbach, arrested the head of the Secret Police Feliks Dzerzhinsky, and besieged the Bolshevik leadership, occupying the Kremlin. The Left SRs were eventually beaten back in fierce street fighting led by the pro-Bolshevik Latvian Riflemen.43 Nonetheless, the internal danger remained. One of the Red Army’s most experienced military commanders attempted to defect to anti­Bolshevik forces along with several thousand of his men before being shot by his commissar in mid-July 1918.44

In the midst of this desperate scene, Lenin tried to rally the forces of the revolution in Moscow. On August 30, 1918, he gave a speech to workers at the Michelson Factory, warning them about the dangers of democracy. “Wherever ‘democrats’ rule, you find plain, straightforward theft. We know the true nature of such democracies!” He concluded by shouting, “We have only one way out: victory or death!”45 He then waved and began working his way through the crowd to the exit. Caught in the throng of workers leaving the building, one of his bodyguards, Commissar Baturin, fell behind. As he caught up to Lenin, Baturin heard what he thought was a car backfiring. After a moment, he realized the noises were gunshots fired by an SR assassin. He saw Lenin face down next to his car. “I did not lose my head,” Baturin recalled, “but shouted ‘Catch the killer of Comrade Lenin!'”46 Lenin was not dead, however. After being driven back to the Kremlin, he even walked up three flights of stairs to his apartment before collapsing. Doctors summoned to the scene rapidly ascertained that he had been shot twice, in the neck and the shoulder, with the potential for serious complications.

The Bolsheviks faced their most dangerous moment. With Lenin incapacitated, the burden fell on Trotsky to revive the military fortunes of the revolution. He attempted to do that in person at the front. To make the process easier, he centralized military administration under the Revolutsionnyi Voemiyi Soviet (Revolutionary Military Council, or RVs) and named himself its chairman,47. With this reorganization came new commanders. Trotsky replaced most of the Bolsheviks in command positions with former Imperial Army officers, closely watched by newly appointed communist commissars.48 His goal was to professionalize the Red Army as best he could.

As a result of Trotsky’s leadership, the army that young Tukhachevsky, among others, joined during the summer of 1918 was largely composed of peasants, commanded by officers and NCOs who had served under the Tsar and supervised by a relatively small group of Bolsheviks.49 Indeed, workers never made up more than 18 percent of the Red Army’s strength.50 The wooing of 300,000 Imperial officers and NCOs who formed the core of the Red Army was decisive in sustaining its fighting strength. Arming and maintaining this heterogeneous force, essential to the survival of the new communist state, would require enormous investment. And external help. As the Russian Civil War began in earnest, only one state had established diplomatic relations with Bolshevik Russia and could provide aid: the former archenemy, Germany.


Part One:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part One

Part Three:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Three

Part Four:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Four

Part Five:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Five

Part Six:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Six

Part Seven:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Seven

Part Eight:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Eight

Part Nine:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Nine

Part Ten:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Ten

Part Eleven:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Eleven

Part Twelve:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Twelve

Part Thirteen:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Thirteen

Part Fourteen:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Fourteen

Part Fifteen:   Russia, Germany, and Poland Part Fifteen


Apart from the archival documents listed in the footnotes following is a list of published sources that have been used:

1. F. L. Carsten, The Reichswehr and Politics, The Reichswehr and Politics, 1918–1933 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), 4

2. See Groener, Lebenserinnerungen, 466. 

3. Carsten, The Reichswehr and Politics, 6. 

4. Groener, Lebenserinnerungen, 466, quoted in Carsten, The Reichswehr and Politics, 6. 

5. Alexander Watson, Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War One (New York: Basic Books, 2014), 66, 554–556. 

6. Anthony McElligott, Weimar Germany (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2009), 27. 

7. Ibid. 

8. Mark Jones, Founding Weimar: Violence and the German Revolution of 1918–1919 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2016), 13, 81–82. 

9. Groener, Lebenserinnerungen, 467, quoted in Carsten, The Reichswehr and Politics, 11. 

10. Hilger and Meyer, The Incompatible Allies, 22. 

11. Barton Whaley, Covert German Rearmament, 1919–1939: Deception and Misperception (Frederick, MD: University Publications of America), 7–8; Hans von Seeckt, “General Von Seeckt’s Statement on German Disarmament at the Spa Conference,” 7 July 1920, The British National Archives (Hereafter BNA), CAB 24/108, 94, 1–6. 

12. Harold J. Gordon, The Reichswehr and the German Republic, 1919–1926 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957), 15. 

13. William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1960), 55. 

14. Gordon, The Reichswehr and the German Republic, 14. 15.Ibid.,15. 

16. Robert G. L. Waite, Vanguard of Nazism: The Free Corps Movement in Postwar Germany 1918–1923 (New York: W. W. Norton, 1952), 26–27. 

17. Ibid., 39. 

18. Ibid., 157. 

19. Gordon, The Reichswehr and the German Republic, 28–29. 

20. Ibid., 26. 

21. Hilger and Meyer, The Incompatible Allies, 73. 

22. Edward Hallett Carr, German-Soviet Relations between the Two World Wars, 1919–1939 (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1951), 17–20. 

23. Vasilis Vourkoutiotis, Making Common Cause: German-Soviet Secret Relations, 1919–1922 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 50, 60. 

24. Ralf Lindner and Rainer-Olaf Schultze, “Germany,” in Elections in Europe: A Data Handbook, eds. Dieter Nohlen and Philip Stӧver (Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 2010), 776. 

25. John Wheeler-Bennett, The Nemesis of Power (London: Macmillan, 1967), 37. 

26. Waite, Vanguard of Nazism, 89. 

27. Ibid., 71. 

28. Gordon, The Reichswehr and the German Republic, 31. 

29. Jones, Founding Weimar, 287. 

30. Waite, Vanguard of Nazism, 83; Gordon, The Reichswehr and the German Republic, 48.

31. Helmut Heiber, The Weimar Republic, trans. W. E. Yuill (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1966), 24. 

32. Waite, Vanguard of Nazism, 78. 

33. “Gesetz über die Bildung einer vorläufigen Reichswehr” [Act on the Formation of the Provisional Reichswehr], Der historischen Dokumenten, 6 March 1919, Weimar Republic Document Collection, accessed 1 May 2011, 

34. Ibid. 

35. Gordon, The Reichswehr and the German Republic, 55. 

36. Ibid., 69–70, 431–438. Seeckt’s military experiences in World War One shaped his strategic and operational thinking. Carsten, The Reichswehr and Politics, 107; Matthias Strohn, “Hans von Seeckt and His Vision of a ‘Modern Army,’ ” War in History, 12:3 (2005), 320. James S. Corum, The Roots of Blitzkrieg: Hans von Seeckt and German Military Reform (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1992), 25–27. 

37. Corum, The Roots of Blitzkrieg, 25–26. 

38. For more on the subject of German conclusions about the First World War, see Corum, The Roots of Blitzkrieg, 24 and Robert Citino, The Path to Blitzkrieg: Doctrine and Training in the German Army, 1920–1939 (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishing, 1999), 7–42. As James Corum argues, the initial impulse of the German officer corps was to argue that General Moltke had failed to carry out the Schlieffen plan satisfactorily. 3

39. Corum, The Roots of Blitzkrieg, 23. 

40. For the realities of German tank production during the war, see Ralf Raths, “German Tank Production and Armoured Warfare, 1916–18,” War and Society, 30:1 (2011), 24-47. 

41. AzadeAyse Rorlich, “Fellow Travellers: Enver Pasha and the Bolshevik Government 1918–1920,” Asian Affairs, 13:3 (1982), 288. 42.Rorlich, “Fellow Travellers,” 289. 

42. Johnson, Ian Ona. Faustian Bargain (pp. 245-247). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition. 

43. There is some dispute in the historiography over the date of this first trip. Vasilis Vourkoutiotis’s analysis of the primary sources—he saw the original versions of documents—strongly suggests that the date was April 1919, not October 1919. 

44. Vourkoutiotis, Making Common Cause, 44. This story is confirmed by Seeckt’s correspondence. See Rabenau, Hans von Seeckt, 306. 

45. Rorlich, “Fellow Travellers,” 291. 

46. Vourkoutiotis, Making Common Cause, 42. 

47. There were four passengers on board the aircraft, including an engineer with the Junkers firm. The latter had a letter on his person that was seized by the Lithuanians and given to the British, indicating he had orders to “1) start trade relations with the Soviet government, 2) to take from German a person, who was of great importance to the Bolshevik government.” Despite this note, the British did little to investigate, leaving the matter in the hands of the Lithuanians. Rorlich, “Fellow Travellers,” 291, citing “Notes of a Meeting of the Heads of Delegations of the Five Great Powers Held in M. Pichon’s Room at the Quai d’Orsay, Paris on Wednesday, October 22, 1919 at 10:30 am,” in Documents in British Foreign Policy, 1919–1939 (hereafter DBFP), Series I, Volume 2, eds. E. L. Woodward and Rohan Butler (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1948), 43–47.

48. Rorlich, “Fellow Travellers,” 291.

49. Vourkoutiotis, Making Common Cause, 42.

50. Being a conscientious officer, Tschunke first called his superior officer in Germany, Hans von Seeckt, to inform him of the situation. 


51. No. 4, DBFP, Series I, Volume 2, 45–47. 

52. Vourkoutiotis, Making Common Cause, 42. 

53. Rorlich, “Fellow Travellers,” 291, citing Ernst Köstring, General Ernst Köstring: Der militärische Mittler zwischen dem Deutschen Reich und der Sowjetunion 1921–1941 [General Ernst Köstring: The Military Intermediary between the German Reich and the Soviet Union, 1921–1941], ed. Herman Teske (Frankfurt: Mittler, 1965).


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