Winston Churchill urges talks with Russia - HISTORY
Year
1918

Winston Churchill urges talks with Russia

One month after Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, formally ending its participation in World War I, Winston Churchill secretly proposes to the British War Cabinet a method by which Britain’s former ally could be persuaded to reenter the war.

Russia’s withdrawal from the war was a direct result of the sweeping revolution of 1917 that brought the abdication of Czar Nicholas II in March and the rise to power of the radical socialist Vladimir Lenin and his followers, the Bolsheviks, in November. The departure left the other Allies reeling, as they assumed (correctly) that Germany, freed from its struggle in the east, would launch a renewed, potentially devastating, initiative on the Western Front.

Churchill, a former first lord of the Admiralty who had been forced to resign for his role in the disastrous Allied campaign at the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915, had returned to London after a stint spent serving in a battalion on the Western Front to become the minister of munitions in Prime Minister David Lloyd George’s cabinet. In his note to the War Cabinet of April 7, 1918, Churchill suggested that a prominent and well-respected representative of the Allies—perhaps former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt—should be dispatched to Russia to negotiate with the Bolsheviks a plan to reopen the Eastern Front.

In these negotiations, Churchill wanted Britain, France and the United States to offer support to the Bolsheviks in their efforts to overcome internal opposition to their regime in Russia. Let us never forget, Churchill reminded his colleagues, that Lenin and Trotsky [Leon Trotsky, the Bolsheviks’ foreign minister] are fighting with ropes round their necks. They will leave office for the grave. Show them any real chance of consolidating their power, of getting some kind of protection against the vengeance of a counter-revolution, and they would be non-human not to embrace it. The future prime minister and legendary statesman later proved to be an avid anti-Bolshevik and steadfast supporter of the White (opposition) forces in Russia in the post-World War I years; thus his April 1918 plan, which was not put into practice by his superiors, was a clear manifestation of his all-consuming drive to achieve victory for the Allies.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Tito is made president for life

On April 7, 1963, a new Yugoslav constitution proclaims Tito the president for life of the newly named Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.Formerly known as Josip Broz, Tito was born to a large peasant family in Croatia in 1892. At that time, Croatia was part of the ...read more

Hammarskjold elected U.N. head

By a vote of 57 to 1, Dag Hammarskjold is elected secretary-general of the United Nations.The son of Hjalmar Hammarskjold, a former prime minister of Sweden, Dag joined Sweden’s foreign ministry in 1947, and in 1951 formally entered the cabinet as deputy foreign minister. The ...read more

Civil war erupts in Rwanda

On this day in 1994, Rwandan armed forces kill 10 Belgian peacekeeping officers in a successful effort to discourage international intervention in the genocide that had begun only hours earlier. In approximately three months, the Hutu extremists who controlled Rwanda brutally ...read more

Italy invades Albania

On this day in 1939, in an effort to mimic Hitler’s conquest of Prague, Benito Mussolini’s troops, though badly organized, invade and occupy Albania.Although the invasion of Albania was intended as but a prelude to greater conquests in the Balkans, it proved a costly enterprise ...read more

Lewis and Clark depart Fort Mandan

After a long winter, the Lewis and Clark expedition departs its camp among the Mandan Indians and resumes its journey West along the Missouri River.The Corps of Discovery had begun its voyage the previous spring, and it arrived at the large Mandan and Minnetaree villages along ...read more

William Wordsworth is born

William Wordsworth, one of the founders of the Romantic school of poetry, is born.Born near England’s Lake District in 1770, Wordsworth lost his mother when he was eight and his father five years later. He attended Cambridge, then traveled in Europe, taking long walking tours ...read more

Indian sitar legend Ravi Shankar is born

“East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,” goes the famous Rudyard Kipling quotation. It’s a statement that certainly applied in the world of pop music prior to the 1960s, when a handful of influential British groups brought the sound of Indian classical ...read more

John Wayne wins Best Actor Oscar

On this day in 1970, the legendary actor John Wayne wins his first–and only–acting Academy Award, for his star turn in the director Henry Hathaway’s Western True Grit.Wayne appeared in some 150 movies over the course of his long and storied career. He established his tough, ...read more

The Rwandan genocide

Rwandan armed forces kill 10 Belgian peacekeeping officers in a successful effort to discourage international intervention in their genocide that had begun only hours earlier. In less than three months, Hutu extremists who controlled Rwanda murdered an estimated 800,000 innocent ...read more

Battle of Shiloh concludes

Two days of heavy fighting conclude near Pittsburgh Landing in western Tennessee. The Battle of Shiloh became a Union victory after the Confederate attack stalled on April 6, and fresh Yankee troops drove the Confederates from the field on April 7.Shiloh began when Union General ...read more

Auto pioneer Henry Ford dies

On this day in 1947, Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, which developed the first affordable, mass-produced car–the Model T–and also helped pioneer assembly-line manufacturing, dies at his estate in Dearborn, Michigan, at the age of 83.Ford was born July 30, 1863, on ...read more