Situation in Siberia


Situation in Siberia


Graves, William Sidney, 1865-1940




1918 October 1


Letter from the action in Siberia reporting what the Americans are experiencing.


Library of Congress, Woodrow Wilson Papers


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


World War, 1914-1918--United States
Baker, Newton Diehl, 1871-1937


Danna Faulds






Document scan was taken from Library of Congress microfilm reel of the Wilson Papers. WWPL volunteers transcribed the text.


War Department
Headquarters American Expeditionary Forces

From: Commanding General.
To: The Adjutant General of the Army, Washington, D.C.
Subject: Situation in Siberia.

I have now been here four weeks, and have tried as best I could to form an estimate of the situation as it exists here today.

My instructions as to helping the Czechs under the changed condition, and specific instructions, are clear to me.

As to what can be done for the Russian people in helping them reestablish a government, is a very difficult question. I have not been able to see any starting point in rendering any assistance from a military standpoint. General Simeonoff has been in the pay of the Japanese government. In fact, his Supply Officer has informed my Intelligence Officer of this fact. He now claims that he does not desire longer to receive assistance from the Japanese government, but desires the United States government to back him. I am inclined to think this attitude is due, on his part, to the fact that probably the Japanese government will no longer give him the backing he desires. It is common gossip, and I believe it is true although I am unable to establish it, that General Horvat has been receiving pay from the Japanese government.

General Dietrichs, who appears to me to be one of the best Russian officers I have met, is being backed in a small way by the French government. I was requested by General Paris to ask the United States to combine with the Allies in giving General Dietrichs arms, clothing, equipment, munitions, etc., for about 85,000 men. I informed General Paris that before I could submit such a question I would have to know what General Dietrichs’ plans were and for what purpose he contemplated using this force; and I also desired to know if General Dietrichs claimed to be entirely independent of all the Russian authority, or if he felt that he was subordinate to and acting under the authority of the Central Siberian government with headquarters at Omsk. I have never received this information from General Paris, who has now gone west with General Guida. I feel that, undoubtedly, the object of General Paris was to get the backing of the Allies in organizing a force for the purpose of forming an Eastern Front.

It appears to me that the Russians who have been in power are becoming so disappointed with their situation that they are ready to do anything suggested which would get them relief from the terrible conditions under which they are living now. Reports from all over Siberia show conclusively that the Russian people feel more confidence in the statements of the United States than in any of the other Allies, and feel more friendly toward the United States troops than toward the troops of any of the other Allies.

I fear that our close cooperation with the Japanese on the Ussuri line at the north will tend to remove some of the good feeling which the people have toward America. We have cooperated fully with the Japanese during their movements toward Habarovsk and Blagovestchensk. The custom of the Japanese army seems to be different, in some respects, than the customs we follow when entering a town. I have been told by the Commanding Officer of the 27th Infantry that Russians come to him asking for redress on account of the actions of the Japanese troops. It is very likely, and I believe such will be the case, that the actions of the Japanese troops with whom we are so closely associated will soon be considered by the Russian people as the actions of the Allied troops and it will not be long before no distinction will be made, whether such acts are committed by Japanese or American troops. If the opportunity is presented to go to Harbin, as mentioned in your 26, I hope to get out of this difficult situation by removing the troops now with the Japanese in Harbin.

Unless the railroad is opened and run on a business basis, I am unable to see how the people are to get along during the winter. This fact apparently does not worry the Russians and one does not find them making any strenuous or determined effort to prepare for the winter.

These few thoughts are submitted with a full realization that there are no helpful suggestions or information for the War Department, but I desire to submit them so that the Department will be in possession of the situation as I see it, and I submit them at this time because I have an opportunity to send this mail direct to the States on the Sheridan, which leaves Thursday.

(Sgd) Wm. S. GRAVES
Major General, Commanding.

Original Format



Harris, P. C. (Peter Charles), 1865-1951




Graves, William Sidney, 1865-1940, “Situation in Siberia,” 1918 October 1, WWP25414, World War I Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.