Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lenin - The Train : Remembering the historic train journey to Petrograd during First World War

Some accuse Parvus of having funded Lenin while in Switzerland. Historians, however, are skeptical. A biography of Parvus by the authors Scharlau and Zeman have concluded that there was no cooperation between the two. It declared that "Lenin refused the German offer of aid."

Parvus's bank account shows that he only paid out a total of 25,600 francs in the period between his arrival in Switzerland in May 1915 and the February Revolution of 1917. Parvus did little in Switzerland, historians conclude.[18] Austrian intelligence through Parvus gave money to Russian emigre newspapers in Paris. But when the sources of this funding became clear in the beginning of 1915 and more widely understood—Lenin and the emigres in Paris rejected such support. Harold Shukman has concluded, "Funds were plainly not flowing into Lenin's hands" [19]
Parvus placed his bets on Lenin, as the latter was not only a radical but willing to accept the sponsorship of the Tsar's wartime enemy, Germany. The two met in Bern in May 1915 and agreed to collaboration through their organizations, though Lenin remained very careful never to get associated with Parvus in public. There is no certain proof that they ever met face to face again, although there are indications that such a meeting may well have occurred on April 13, 1917 during Lenin's stop-over in Stockholm.[20]
Parvus assiduously worked at keeping Lenin's confidence, however Lenin kept him at arms length to disguise the changing roles of both men, Parvus involvement with German intelligence and his own liaisons with his old ally, who was not respected anymore among the socialists after his years in Turkey and after becoming a millionaire entrepreneur.[21] German intelligence set up Parvus' financial network via offshore operations in Copenhagen, setting up relays for German money to get to Russia via fake financial transactions between front organizations. A large part of the transactions of these companies were genuine, but those served to bury the transfer of money to the Bolsheviks, a strategy made feasible by the weak and overburdened fiscal and customs offices in Scandinavia, which were inadequate for the booming black market in these countries during the war.
It is still debated to the present day whether the money with which this financial network operated was actually of German origin. The evidence published by Alexander Kerensky's Government in preparation for a trial scheduled for October (November) 1917 was recently reexamined and found to be either inconclusive or outright forgery.[22] (See also Sisson Documents)
However, setbacks occurred, as Yakov Ganetsky's suspicious arms smuggling activities drew unwanted attention from the British Secret Intelligence Service who now traced Ganetsky to Parvus and hence to Baron von Wangenheim. The Baron had long been under surveillance for his support of the Young Turks' revolutionary actions against the British. As a result Ganetsky was forced out of Denmark, while attempts were made by the British and Russians to stamp out the Bolshevik's financial network in Turkey. Additionally, as Lenin became more and more aware of Parvus' relations with German intelligence their relations became increasingly strained. Losing the confidence and/or control of his agents, Parvus began looking for other avenues of operation.
Parvus' reputation with the German ministry of foreign affairs came into question when in the winter of 1916 a Parvus planned financial catastrophe in St. Petersburg (akin to Parvus' provocation against the Russian banks in 1905) failed to produce a massive uprising. As a result, financing for Parvus' operations were frozen. Parvus went for support to the German Navy, briefly working as their advisor. He managed to help prevent Russian naval Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak from taking on his offensive against the Turko-German Fleet in the Bosphorus and Dardanelles by planning the sabotage of a major Russian warship. This success gave him more credibility, once again, in the eyes of the Germans.
In March 1917, in a plan strategized together with Parvus, German intelligence sent Vladimir Lenin and a group of 30 of his revolutionary associates from Switzerland through Germany in a train car under supervision of Swiss socialist Fritz Platten.[23]

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