Testimony Before Overman Committee
February 20, 1919 — Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee, US Senate, Washington DC
Maj. Humes. When did you leave Russia?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. I left Russia two months ago.
Maj. Humes. When you left Russia what was the condition of the schools in Russia? Were they in operation?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. We had no schools, we had no teachers, we had no pencils, no inks. Even when I was in Moscow, for months we could not get ink. When you did get it, it was very bad.
Maj. Humes. Do you know whether the schools are in operation in any part of Russia?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. There were schools last year, but now they are empty. The teachers were thrown out by the Bolsheviki, and many had nothing to do, because they had no furniture, no materials to teach the children. There were also no books. I was asked by my teachers to come to America and to pray, and pray very deeply, to bring some millions of books back to our peasant children, for we had no books.
Maj. Humes. When you left Russia, were any of the factories in Russia running?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. Perhaps you have read in your papers and perhaps you have learned from your own people in the Red Cross and the Young Men’s Christian Association in Russia that there is no clothing, no food, and no goods. Even our cooperations have nothing to sell to the peasants, for we have no industry now at all. The factories are destroyed, and there are no importations, for we have no transportation; no railroads for transportation.
Russia gives the privilege to every American to come there, and it is our custom and habit to give preference especially to the American people. For many years we were accustomed to treat the American people as our friends. Up until this time the Russian people were fond of the American people, and they were not afraid of their intervention.
Industry is quite destroyed, and we have no furniture for the use of our schools. We have no machines; we have no tools, no scissors, no knives, or any of such things. We have here many merchants who came to beg something for Russia, some goods; but nothing is running to transport them.
Senator Overman. Where is your home, madam?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. My home, sir, is Russia.
Senator Overman. What part of Russia?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. All over. I have no home of my own; no house, no home.
Senator Nelson. What part of Russia were you born in?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. You know, perhaps, that half of my life I spent in prison and in Siberia.
Senator Overman. How long were you in prison?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. Thirty-two years.
Senator Overman. Thirty-two years in prison?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. Yes; in prison, in exile, and at hard work, altogether, in the hands of our despotism, for 32 years; that is all.
Senator Overman. What is your age now?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. Seventy-five.
Senator Wolcott. For what were you in prison?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. For socialist propaganda among my people. We have had a dynasty of monarchs, who were terrible despots, in Russia. Perhaps you have all heard that 15 years ago I was in America, and I told all that to your citizens.
Senator Overman. How does the condition of the Russian people to-day compare with the condition when you first came over here?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. We Russian socialists and revolutionists were so happy to see Russia free two years ago, and we hoped when we got quite free to get excellent laws for her freedom all over Russia, under the government of Kerensky. We got political freedom and personal and social freedom, and we hoped to begin to build the Russian State on a new form. We could do it, for the government was in the hands of the people, and all the peasants and all the workmen and all the soldiers were together and accepted those laws. We hoped to get land for all, and the Kerensky government wrote many times in the papers and announced that the people would get the land, but that we should wait until there could be a national assembly which would confirm all these new laws. So I say that for six months the Russian people were free, and had in their hands every possibility to have order and to have freedom, and to have land.
Senator Overman. Have you freedom there now?
Mrs. Breshkovkaya. Perhaps you know, sir, that many years ago the German Government sent her spies over to Russia and prepared this war; and not only the Germans, but many Russians who were abroad. When the revolution was on and everybody was free, and Russia was about to have a constituent assembly, out of Germany came Lenine and Trotsky with their group, and all these traitors of Russia came to begin their propaganda. Perhaps you will say it was the fault of our provisional government not to take them and put them into prison. Perhaps you will say it; but the government was so liberal and hoped to see our people so happy with new possibilities, that it would not make any arrests. It was too liberal. And, as you will remember, it was a time of war, and Russia was weary of this war, and there were 20,000,000 Russians, grown up boys and men, who were sent to the front, and for three years Russia was forced to work only for these 20,000,000, making nothing for herself. The people were tired and weary, and our soldiers, when they got the propaganda from Germany and from the Bolsheviki who came into Russia, were very glad to hear it. They believed that the German population were brothers of our Russian soldiers, that the German soldiers and the Russian soldiers were brothers, so they had no reason for continuing the war.
Then Lenine and Trotsky, with the aid of German money, overflowed Russia with their propaganda. We also have now many, many millions of paper money printed by Lenine and Trotsky, and it is a great misfortune for Russia. All the people who served our tyrants in Russia, the old bureaucratic class, the gendarmes, all those of the old regime, became Bolsheviki, and they made a large company who would overthrow the regime of Kerensky in Russia.
After October of 1917, when we saw that the Kerensky government was overthrown, with all faithful servants of our people we immediately addressed our hopes and our prayers to our so-called allies. I myself, 14 months ago, wrote a letter to the ambassador to America, Mr. Francis, exposing to him all that was done; that we had no national assembly in which people could express their views, that it was overthrown by the Bolsheviki, and instead we came under two gendarmes, Lenine and Trotsky. Our people, believing perhaps at first that they would do some good, even listened to them. Lenine said himself, “Nothing will be of us. There will be another czar after the Bolsheviki. But a legend will remain in Russia after us.”
But now, these days, all say Russia is in fault. I wrote to your embassy in Russia that if you would be so good as to give us some support (from 50,000 good soldiers of your armies) the Bolsheviki would be overthrown. Yet I got no answer.
Meanwhile in Siberia, and over all Russia, the criminals were set at liberty, and after the Brest-Litovsk peace we got in Moscow two mighty rulers, Lenine, and Gen. Mirbach from Prussia. He was there, and he was all over Russia. He asked to get all the German and Magyar prisoners to be gathered and armed, to make new troops against Russia. He asked, too, to disarm at once the Czecho-Slovaks, who forced their way to Vladivostok to get to France. Lenine obeyed these orders and sent troops to do it. The Czecho-Slovaks had no more desire to remain in Russia. They wished to go to France. Russia, after the Brest-Litovsk peace, could not use their forces, so that they tried to get to Vladivostok, and their little army of 80,000 troops were dispersed over the Volga and away about Siberia. Mirbach understood that this was so much good for those soldiers to get to France and come back against Germany, so he gave the order to disarm them. The first troops, who were nearest to Moscow, were disarmed. Yet they left some arms with them. Then Mirbach ordered to disarm them all — every Czecho-Slovak soldier.
Then came some Red Guards from the part of the Bolsheviki out of Moscow, with some officers, and they asked the Czecho-Slovaks to be disarmed. The Czecho-Slovaks understood that if disarmed they would be as prisoners and left in Siberia, and that Mirbach would make of them all he wished; so they decided not to go to Siberia and not to he disarmed, but to turn toward the west, and they began to fight — these gallant soldiers.
First, they took the town of Nicolaievsk, and then Omsk and then Tobolsk.
All the time Lenine and Trotsky and all the so-called Bolsheviki were entertained and given support from Germany by the German Kaiser and his Government. I do not know if the German people were in this plot. Certainly German soldiers, many of them, were, for they would make show of their brotherhood to our soldiers.
After disorder grew, after all our factories and mills were destroyed in Moscow and Petrograd, all our depots and supplies which had been provided by our zemstvo, by Kerensky’s government, all that was given to the Germans. The Bolsheviki could not oppose in any wav. They were quite dependent on the German Government and Mirbach and the other German generals, for we had no army, and he would have the support of the German Government.
Senator Sterling. Were German soldiers helping the Bolsheviki against the Czecho-Slovaks?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. Help them? Against the Czecho-Slovaks? Certainly, and the Czecho-Slovaks combated very well with the German people and the Magyars. They hated them, yes. Now they are entirely for themselves, and as they have their own republic, they would go back. Now Russia will be left quite alone. Yes; if we had our own forces; the Russian forces against the Bolsheviki. We had no organization to fight with them. The Bolshevik igrew and grew in forces. Idle men, who did not have any work, for all the factories were shut, nolens volens became Bolsheviki, too, because there was nothing to eat. The industries were all gone. The factories were shut, and there was no material to work on and no desire to work on the part of the workers. They said all the bourgeois had to be overthrown, and the workmen would work alone to make our industries. Not so many, but a few, of the Bolsheviki gave the example of giving the factories into the hands of the workmen. In one or two months it all was destroyed. Nobody worked, and they could not continue because they were inexperienced in these matters.
Our peasants alone are working in the villages. There is not any industry since then. For instance, take the coal mines; it is so easy to use them. But they could not use them. You must feel, yourself, the need of the Russian people.
We ask you for everything. We ask you to give us paper, to give us scissors, to give us matches, to give us clothes, to give us leather to make boots. We ask everything; not because we are so poor, but all our riches are under the ground. Russia is destroyed in industry and husbandry. There is no industry at all. What we need is to have handicrafts in Russia, to have schools, and to spin and weave, and to make boots; because we are naked. I am ashamed to express myself that we are like mendicants now; that we must ask everything, even things like this [indicating a penholder], but it is so. You know when you send your Red Cross you send your medicines and every sort of necessity. If you came without your own medicines and other things, without your clothing, you would do nothing, because there is nothing to work with.
Also I assert that the Bolsheviki destroyed Russia and divided and corrupted the people of Russia. They turned loose on the people all the criminals that were out and in the prisons. They are now with the Bolsheviki. They have never a [soviet?] composed of all honest people. They are the refuse of our people in Russia.
And now you ask, how does the people support such conditions? Dear me, our people supported for 300 years our despotism, and when 15 years ago I was here in America I was asked, ”If your despotism is so bad, why do you people stand it?” Our people are illiterate. Our people never had access to the government; never had sense to deal with the political questions; never were permitted to read papers where was stated the truth. Our people are like children. There is a person here who has spent three years in Russia, and he says to me, “Oh, yes; to understand the psychology of your people one must understand the psychology of children.” They are good-hearted and openhearted, and they have confidence in every one especially in those who after so many hundreds of cycles of repression and poverty and suffering will promise them to have peace, as did the Bolsheviki; to have bread, to have schools, to have everything. They did believe it. Now they do not believe anyone. But there is nothing now to have. And after that, I do not hope that any of our allies will be so generous — I will say so bold — as to give us armed help. I do not hope.
I see everybody is so much involved with their own affairs and interests, that Russia is left alone. Yet the Russian people would be raised up by those who would give them help, who would give them tokens of their friendship not only with words and not only with promises, but with real help; to secure our railroads, for instance; to have for us school books; to have for us merchandise and several sorts of machines; for our peasants began to be accustomed to have machines out of Germany and out of America. Now, we have none at all. All that we had before is used up, now. For five years we have not been working for ourselves; for five years, three years with Germany and now two years in civil war. Lenine and Trotsky promised to make peace and to have peace in Russia, and after their peace with the Germans in Brest-Litovsk they said, “We will reconstruct Russia”; and when German troops came into west Russia, and made every sort of disorder, then Trotsky exclaimed, “We shall have a crusade against Germany,” yet in two weeks Lenin made a declaration, “We are not so foolish as to begin again to make war with somebody, for certainly otherwise our efforts to deepen and deepen the revolution would fail,” and instead of beginning to make war with the German people, they began to make civil war in Russia and instead of having one front, between Russia and Germany, we have now, I will not say five, but I will say hundreds of fronts all over Russia, for everywhere we have gangs and bands. Now the people, being starving, being naked, they will go and serve Trotsky or any leader or any general, who will make them brigands. Here they turn around, and with Germans, and others, prisoners of Russia, all Russia is robbed, and all Russia has nothing now, and all Russia will fight, perhaps, for many years among themselves, before they get out of this boiling pot, and will find out an issue for themselves.
I will not say anybody is in fault, no; but we are left alone, and we do not now hope to get any support from any side. It will be very hard for us to fight in our own country for five, six, I do not know how many years, before we begin to be reasonable and strong-minded, and understand our own interests.
Yes, the people is depressed, morally and spiritually depressed; and it is not so fresh, you know, not at all. Depressed, the people is. And now bolshevism will not be finished in Russia so soon, for we see now that it spreads more and more around Russia. When I was talking to one member of our elected government. Gen. Boldoreff, he said, “See. in some years we are going to give help and restore order in Europe.” Certainly, Russia shall help herself, and have rest and order, and then it is quite sure that this venom of Bolshevism will die out. You in America, you mix together Bolshevism and socialism. I have been a socialist for 50 years, and I wished to get my people free, and have all political rights in Russia;’ and when two years ago we got them, then I would say to myself, “Now we will construct, and not destroy. We will construct; we will raise our people and build and construct and create, to make a beautiful place out of Russia.” And the Bolsheviki are now saying, “We must destroy, and destroy, and destroy.”
I have a letter from one of my young partners who brought his wife from Petrograd to Vladivostok. Everywhere where the Bolsheviki are, there are no intelligent people; there is no intelligence; all killed or hidden, for they destroyed not only our factories and our mills, and not only our schools, but they destroyed, they killed, all the intelligent people, the best professors, the best professional men, the best men we had in Russia, hundreds of them; and I myself was hidden for two months in Petrograd, and for six months in Moscow before I left it. Thousands of old socialists, revolutionists, are killed by the Bolsheviki as being reactionary and counter-revolutionists.
Senator Overman. Why did you hide?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. Oh. dear me! I was illegal in Russia. I have friends who hid me. I expected to live in Russia, in this part where there are not Bolsheviki, and to work with my peasants. Our peasants are everywhere; and every peasant is so tired of the Bolshevism that he only says. “If only some good people would come and rescue us!” Very often I have said,” For shame! You ask help of them, and you ask the American people. Why do you not help yourselves?” “Oh, we are so tired; and we are disarmed.” You see, the German Government was so clever, had so much foresight; and all our soldiers who were discharged were disarmed before this coup d’état.
Senator Sterling. So that the peasants had no arms?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. No arms, no powder. They were without any arms. And the Bolsheviki have all things.
I will finish my speech by repeating what I have said, if you Americans could help us and aid us to have in Russia a national constituent assembly, it would appease all the people. When it is said that you Americans do not know how you can act, it is not essential, to my mind. You could act; and in Russia you can not understand how it is. It is quite simple. We are an original people, perhaps; but we need what all other people need. We need order; we need to work; we need political freedom; we need all that is due to every free nationality; a quite democratic government; not, as they claim, any Lenine and Trotsky, but a government elected by the people. We must have good transportation. We have now none. Also, we must have schools.
Maj. Humes. Which government treated the people of Russia the best, the old regime government or the Trotsky-Lenine government?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. Ah, perhaps many people are now, especially among the peasants, calling for the Czar again. They were denied paper and newspapers and education, but they could work; and that is now impossible. Everywhere we have fighting fronts, and everywhere the people are persecuted, and everywhere we have Soviets, and the Soviets are composed of people sent out from Petrograd and Moscow, that rule the district. Certainly the mindful would never have a tsar again; never, never! Even the most of the people never would have him again; and we will fight until we have a democratic government. But when we compare this view with the conditions under Lenine and Trotsky, if it would endure twenty years, for instance, Russia would be dead. The people would be kept corrupted.
Senator Nelson. Do you believe that Lenine and Trotslcy were the tools of Germany?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. I do not believe it; I am sure of it, sir.
Senator Nelson. Do you believe that they received German money?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. Yes. They also make this paper money and flood Russia with it. Every pood of our rye bread now costs 500 or 600 rubles.
Senator Nelson. Do you believe that the bolshevik government of Lenine and Trotsky is a tyranny and a danger and a menace to Russia?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. It is. But more than a danger, it is destroying Russia. It is on the verge of being quite destroyed.
Senator Nelson. Do you believe that this government will be destructive of the liberties of the Russian people?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. Already we have no liberty in Russia. No newspapers except the bolshevik newspapers are permitted, sir, and therefore you read only Bolshevik newspapers. There are no universities no colleges, and no schools. All of them are shut. Certainly Russia will struggle and will shed her own blood for many, many years to become free. We have no freedom in Russia.
Senator Nelson. Is this government by Lenine and Trotsky worse for the Russian people than even the bad government of the Czar?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. What a question do you ask, sir! I, for instance would suffer for twenty years not to have a czar; but simple people who work for their bread would certainly prefer a czar to Trotsky and Lenine. I can not believe that 180,000,000 people would have to suffer and struggle without any peace. It is impossible. It will be finished. And if Russia will have a czar, if Russia will have dictators, if Russia will have bolsheviki, it will be the fault of our allies, because they do not help us.
Senator Nelson. What is the feeling of the Russian peasants towards the Bolshevik government? How do you stand with reference to it?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. They are all against the bolsheviki. When the bolsheviki come to the village and ask for bread and grain and potatoes and meat, they fight with them. They fight with sticks against them. They will not be robbed. They have been robbed by German troops and robbed by the bolshevik troops, and robbed by Magyar troops. The bolsheviki consider the peasants bourgeois if they have a cow, some grain, and some potatoes. Only proletariat, only those who have nothing at all, can go about Russia and rob everyone. We have no banks, we have no stores or shops, we have no ships, we have nothing now, and we have thousands and thousands of people without work, who join the troops and go all over Russia.
Senator Sterling. I would like to ask what you think of the withdrawal of the allied forces from Russia — the French, British, and American troops, that were there?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. You ask only about the American troops?
Senator Sterling. All allied troops.
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. I shall be frank and say that the French and British troops, especially the British troops in Omsk, were in fault for the last coup d’état. Certainly if they had not had those troops they would not have made us appoint dictators instead of electing people.
Senator Sterling. I do not quite understand.
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. The French and British troops in Omsk are responsible for the coup d’état which put a dictator in in place of an elected assembly, and of course we are not in favor of such kind of troops.
Senator Sterling. But aside from that, do you think the presence of allied troops, American, French, and British, aside from the circumstance that you name, would be helpful to Russia?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. If they should fight with us against the bolsheviki they would aid us, but when they leave the bolsheviki to do what they wish to do, it will not help us. Russia has no arms, no munitions, nothing, and the allied forces are too few; 1,000 British, 2,000 French, and 1,000 Italians. Already our neighbors, the Japanese, are sending in their troops, and instead of having in Russia the American intervention, American aid, we will have the intervention of Japanese troops, with very selfish intentions. And perhaps some dictator will be able to use them to give the whole of Siberia to the Japanese people and to keep Russia for some years more in civil war. I assure you, sir, there will be a time when the Japanese and German people will have an alliance; and certainly the first who will suffer will be Russia. You will not help us unless you keep out such invaders as the Japanese, and help us to get rid of the criminals such as the Bolsheviki. Of that I am sure.
Senator Sterling. Do you think a sufficient allied force in Russia would help to restore the constituent assembly to power and give you a democratic government?
Mrs. Breshkoyskaya. Not only a large force of troops would help but if committees would come to Russia and ask to have an assembly formed in Russia, it would help. If you had come to our help a year ago, perhaps 20,000 of your troops would have been sufficient. Now it will take 50,000; not less and perhaps more. Fifty thousand armed troops that would fight would help us to reestablish the constituent assembly.
Senator Sterling. Do you think, Madame, that an army of 15,000 or 20,000 allied troops would have prevented the establishment of a Bolshevik government in Moscow?
Mrs. Breshkoyskaya. I am sure of it. Even yesterday a Czecho Slovak said to me that if they were not supported they could not hold out; they could not fight alone. The Russian people have no arm and the Bolsheviki would be sure to get through into Ukrainia, and with the aid of the German troops they would go straight through the country. When you ask how many troops would be needed, it depends. If you put a million troops in a place and they did nothing, they would not be as good as 50,000 troops who could fight. [If] you get 50,000 troops that will fight, that will be enough.
Senator Sterling. Do you think such troops would be welcomed by all but the Bolsheviki?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. Certainly, if they asked for them a year age They are crying, “Save us. Come and defeat the Bolsheviki, for we cannot exist. There is no work in Russia.”
Senator Sterling. Suppose this Bolshevik rule goes on, and as a result of Bolshevik rule there is disorder and chaos in Russia, will it not lead eventually to the domination of Russia by Germany?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. Certainly.
Senator Sterling. You think it would?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. If Bolshevik rule continues, Japan and Germany will cut Russia into pieces. That is quite plain, for having no forces to fight against them, and always occupied with her interior disorders, certainly those two neighbors will come in and make of Russia their own colonies. The Japanese have already begun to make them. They already have bought houses and materials and goods in the east of Siberia, and have openly confessed that it is in their interest to have Siberia in their hands, to keep for themselves and they say, “We can not permit anyone, including the America] people, to ask us to take a subordinate position.”
Senator Sterling. Is there any possibility of America helping industrially as long as the Bolsheviki rule?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. While the Bolsheviki rule? Would you ask us to sit at the table with criminals and deal with them? If all Russia is destroyed, and all the people shot or hung, it means nothing to them. All they want is to sit and rule, after they have corrupted our people, corrupted our soldiers, and corrupted our sailors am corrupted our workers. Only peasants they could not corrupt, because in every village there are only a very few Bolsheviki.
Senator Sterling. And on that question you feel that you can not treat or deal with the Bolsheviki?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. Certainly not; not when they deceive everybody and destroyed everyone, especially honest people. Honest and intelligent people are destroyed in Russia. I say to you that for the head of Kerensky they promised 100,000 rubles — only to have his head.
Senator Sterling. Madam, have you read the appeal of the Eurasian Economic League to the people of America in regard to the withdrawal of American forces from Russia?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. No, I have not.
Senator Sterling. It is an appeal by five or six whose names I do not now recall.
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. I do not remember. I read, sir, two months ago that your good President wanted to give from your American bank $5,000,000 to aid commerce between America and Russia and Russian corporations and people. That is very well. But I ask you what will be the use of this proposition if we have already American goods in Vladivostok, many millions of tons, and we can not move them, and speculators get hold of them and hold them for high prioity, and they can not move them because there are no railways? Sugar costs 20 rubles in Kharbin, and they sell it for 800 rubles in Omsk. It is impossible to get goods from that place. We have no sugar. Today some lady asked me why we had no sugar. A short time ago we had no grain, and we had no oil — no kerosene oil. We have no bread. There is some bread in the villages, but in Moscow there is not. Neither is there any in Petrograd. They have no grain. All our provinces are depending one upon another, and will have to do so until we have railroads and communication on the rivers. Until then we will always be depending upon one another. All improvements in husbandry and in agriculture have been stopped, and any improvements in industry have been stopped. We have none now.
Bolshevists got their principles mainly from the socialists, and misused them. Instead of creating in Russia they began to destroy and overthrow what was done until now.
I am surprised that you, who are so clever and so mighty, you do not go and see yourselves what has happened to Russia. But do not see only the Bolsheviki, in some towns, but go through all towns and ask our people and our workmen what is their idea. Russia is 12,000 miles long and 6,000 miles broad, and it can not be known by any except those that spend all their lives, as to what is there, what is their people, and what is their country, and what are their sufferings, and what are their needs. For 25 years I had to learn and for 50 years to struggle against every evil and every misfortune which our people suffered.
Senator Sterling. To what extent, madam, are there soviet governments in Siberia?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. There are none. Perhaps somewhere there are, but I do not know of any in Siberia.
Senator Sterling. In European Russia are there any soviet governments that are not controlled by the Bolshevik element?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. Every soviet government now springs up controlled by brigands, like bubbles out of the water.
Senator Sterling. They do not have to be residents of the town or district in order to become members of the soviet?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. Now, they come with guns and take possession of the Soviets. If the Russian people could have been organized they could have overthrown the Bolsheviki and the Soviets long ago. But there has been a collapse of forces, a collapse of spirit, and we cannot accuse our people. They have suffered all through the centuries, as serfs under a despotic government, and now in this terrible war they have suffered much. Many mothers had six boys at the front. They are quite ignorant of their country. The people in the provinces have no conception of what is going on around them. Every peasant knows only his village, his district, and nothing more. Yet we will work, and we will learn, and some day we will be strong, religious people. We are religious.
Maj. Humes. Is there a greater amount of crops planted under Bolshevik rule than under the old regime?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. Planting is diminishing. The landlords are not so bold to risk, and the peasants are not so sure the land will be for them, and therefore they will not even attempt to cultivate mud land, and without horses they can not, so the planting diminishes and diminishes. We have not exported any grain for five years. All was left in Russia. Nevertheless they are quite near starvation. What does it mean? It means that for instance in many province the peasants are hiding their grain. They will not sell it into the towns. They are always saying, “Give us goods. Give us machinery wares and goods, sugar and tea, all we need, and we will sell you you grain. Otherwise, you give us some paper money, and what shall we do with it? Nothing at all.” And they think, too, that they must sell at the price fixed by the Bolsheviki where there are Bolsheviki. am this price is not high; but when they want to get anything in town — to buy anything else — they must pay for a pound of sugar 40 rubles Therefore they will not sell their grain to the Bolsheviki, and brigands are going over Russia and robbing them, so that they are hiding their grain in the ground — making great holes in the ground and putting the grain in — and much of the grain is rotting. All over Russia it is destroy, and destroy. There is no order, no industry and no work.
Senator Sterling. Do you have any idea, madam, how many people have been killed by the Bolsheviki? Has there been an estimate made?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. It is said that the war against the German took only half of those who are killed now. Twice as much as were had in casualties during the war have been killed by the Bolsheviki. It is not imaginable to you. They shoot, for instance, thousands and thousands of them at once. Every man and every woman who is against them, as they believe, is shot or hanged.
Senator Overman. How many people have fled the territory on account of this terrorism?
Mrs. Breshkovskava. All the provinces are overflowed with refugees. There are refugees in every town now, and we have committee for refugees. They come out of the towns quite naked. They come in during the night, women with children, and old women, and many of them come from the towns quite naked. And of sickness, there is typhus everywhere.
Senator Wolcott. Do you know of any agents who are spreading the Bolshevik propaganda in this country?
Mrs. Breshkovskaya. I have heard of them. I have heard that you have 3,000,000 Russian Bolshevik refugees. Perhaps it is not quite so much. But I am sure that all the Bolsheviki, all these criminals who are making propaganda in Russia, will make the same propaganda everywhere. They will not work, but they always have means to put out this propaganda. Here in America your democracy could be so well organized against Bolshevism. I am sure there is liberty of association here, of assembly, of unions, and so we socialists hoped to have such an organization in Russia during the first three or four months after the revolution; but until now man- kind has many bad instincts, it is true; and when one comes to the poor people and demonstrates his worst side of nature, certainly they will find things pretty bad. And so it was in Russia. But I am glad to say that all the Russian people are not corrupted. Yet it is quite enough to have some 100,000 of such corrupted people, to bring misfortune over the whole country. It is quite enough. We have no navy, we have no factories, we have no guns, we have no transportation. All of those which we had the Bolsheviki have sold to the German people. When I spent six months in hiding in Moscow, every day there was a train going to Orsba, a town down near Germany. Every day they sent down cars loaded with goods from Moscow to Germany. Every day goods were carried out. So that our national riches, our best art productions, and all of that, has gone to Germanv. All of that they sent to Germany and nothing was left for the people. Ask anybody if the organization of the Bolsheviki is for the welfare of our people, and nobody will answer you that it is. We have no schools, no colleges, no universities. You will read in the papers that everybody is working and learning. But the fact is that there are no factories, no mills, nor anything.
Source: Brewing and Liquor Interests and German and Bolshevik Propaganda, Reports and Hearings of the Subcommittee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, In Three Volumes, (Washington DC: US Government Printing Office), 1919, pp. 241-252.