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Origins of the Cold War, Part One,1917-1945

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Excerpts from Janette Rainwater's book-in-progress, Since the New Deal: An Annotated Chronology of the Events that Have Changed the United States

November 7, 1917

The Bolsheviks seize power in Russia in the "October" Revolution. (The country was still using the Julian calendar.)

March 3, 1918

The Bolsheviks sign a separate peace treaty with the Germans at Brest-Litovsk on very unfavorable terms, giving up 1/3 of the population and 1/3 of the productive lands of the old Russian Empire--- including the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia), Georgia, Finland, and the Ukraine.

March, 1918

The first troops of the Allied Expeditionary Force leave for Murmansk and Archangel to help the White Russians in the civil war against the Bolsheviks hoping, in Winston Churchill's phrase, to "strangle Bolshevism in the cradle". [By the end of the year there were nearly 200,000 troops there from the USA, Britain, France and Japan plus Italian, Greek, Serb and Czech contingents, some of whom remained into 1920. Additionally several hundred thousand anti-Bolshevik Russians were armed and supplied. This occupation was responsible for much of the Soviet paranoia toward the West. An angry Krushchev said in Los Angeles in 1959: "Never have any of our soldiers been on American soil, but your soldiers were on Russian soil." Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1991.]

March 14, 1919

Lenin makes an offer to William C. Bullitt (who is in Moscow on a secret mission sponsored by the British and Wilson's Colonel House): In return for a peace conference with the Allies, the removal of all foreign troops and cessation of military aid to the insurgents, the Soviets would accept responsibility for the repudiated Tsarist debt and allow all de facto governments to remain in control of the territory they occupied, thus relinquishing the Urals, Siberia, Finland, the Baltic states and most of the Ukraine. [This extraordinary offer was good until April 10. But thanks to the strong anti-Bolshevik sentiments that were prevalent, Wilson and Lloyd George never seriously considered the proposal. Also Admiral Kolchak's troops had just made asurprising 100-mile advance in eastern Russia which led to predictions that Kolchak's White Russians would be in Moscow in another two weeks. The refusal of the West to accept Lenin's offer solidified the Soviet feeling of isolation and hostility. The history of the rest of the century might have been quite different if the Bullitt-Lenin plan had been accepted by the Allies, the blockade lifted, the starving people fed. The threat of a new blockade might have been sufficient to cause the Russians to adopt a communist government less threatening to the West. Bullitt, disappointed with the dismissal of Lenin's offer, resigned as a member of the American peace delegation to the Paris Peace Conference and later was bitterly opposed to most of the provisions of the Versailles Peace Treaty, correctly predicting that it would encourage German irredentism and Japanese imperialism and ultimately war between Japan and the United States. His testimony before Lodge's Senate Committee on Foreign Relations aided the defeat of the treaty and the ultimate resignation of Secretary of State Lansing. (1)

Notes and Sources for Origins of the Cold War, Part One

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This site was last changed November 28, 2001. It was created on March 20, 1997.

© Janette Rainwater 1997-2001

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