Welcome to the Museum of Diplomatic Corps’ website in Vologda, Russia. In 1918, for almost half a year, from March 1st to July 25th, embassies and missions of the Entente and a number of neutral powers stayed in our city. The exposition of the museum is devoted to that event. The stay of foreign embassies and missions in Vologda in 1918 is considered to be an important historical date in the city’s history. Unlike most local history dates, this date is used in connection to only a temporary stay of the main characters. The major events of this history took place in Moscow, Petrograd, Washington, Paris, London, and even in Berlin.
The first half of 1918 was a restless and rich time. The October Revolution had just taken place and the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin and Trotsky, had just come to power. Bolshevik Russia signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and withdrew itself from World War I. By doing so, Russia reneged on its allied obligations and the Diplomatic Corps of the Entente (Entente cordiale) countries in Russia found themselves in a difficult situation. The Western Powers did not want to deal with the Bolsheviks, betrayers of the Entente’s interests.
They also could not have any diplomatic relations with the new Russian governors because of the Soviets non-recognition by the World Powers and the lack of appropriate diplomatic protocol. Many of these nations chose to leave the country but some diplomats chose to stay.
In late February, 1918, afraid of Petrograd's capture by the German forces, the diplomatic services left Petrograd. Some of the diplomats headed to Finland, others evacuated to Vologda. The only advantage of Vologda for the foreigners, as it seemed at the beginning, was its location, its intersection of four important railroads and its relevant closeness to Petrograd and Moscow.
Finally, all of them met in Vologda, that became a place of temporary stay of six months for the diplomats and transformed Vologda from an ordinary town into the “diplomatic capital of Russia.” The dean of the Diplomatic Corps American Ambassador David Francis liked to use this phrase in his speech which helped to perpetuate the town’s specific status in the first half of 1918.
With best regards,
Director of the Museum of Diplomatic Corps, Candidate of History,
Alexander Vladimirovich Bykov