The Helfferich Mission in Moscow: A Forgotten Episode in Soviet-German Relations in Summer 1918

Lannik L.V.


The first stage of Soviet-German relations was a constant balancing on the verge of break. Historically it is been thought that Soviet Russia and Germany had come closest to resuming the war after the Mirbach assassination. Much less attention has been paid to another dangerous crisis caused by the activities of the second German ambassador in Moscow. Although his mission in Soviet Russia was very short (9 days), during that time an attempt was made to provoke both a breakdown in Soviet-German relations and an armed coup against the Bolshevik government. The sharp deterioration of the Soviet Russia’s position on the fronts of Civil War in those days made the reorientation of German policy in the East even more likely. Only due to the persistent opposition to Helfferich in the German Foreign office, continuations of negotiations in Berlin and the sharp crisis in the campaign on the Western front, this crisis ended «simply» with the departure of the German Embassy from Moscow. The German Headquarters, which tended to choose military ways to solution of any problems in the East, had proved to be unable to use another occasion for expanding its occupation zone and addressing accrued conflicts. Equally, they did not succeed in thwarting the preparation and signing of a most important Supplementary Treaty of August 27. The Helfferich-mission had nearly provoked a sharp turn in the history of the Eastern Europe and, perhaps, in the history of the whole world. Examination of these events helps to put the Civil war in Russia as well as the German politics in the East of 1918 in the context of final stages of WWI and the consequent defeat of the Central Powers with all its consequences.


Soviet-German relations in 1918; the Brest system; Supplementary Treaty 1918; K. Helfferich; P. von Hintze; E. Ludendorff; A. Ioffe; H. Count Kessler.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2020.04.11

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