Home History Articles Brest-Litovsk and The Present Day Boundaries of Eastern Europe
Brest-Litovsk and The Present Day Boundaries of Eastern Europe PDF Print E-mail

The borders of Eastern Europe today look remarkably like those negotiated at the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk 3 March 1918. Most people today have not even heard of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. There were actually two, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, 9 February 1918 between Germany, Austria and Ukraine, which established the independence of Ukraine from the Russian Empire and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, 3 March 1918, where the new Bolshevik government of Russia (The Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic) and the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria.

Peace in the East

This treaty ended Russia's participation in the First World War. The town of Brest-Litovsk is now called Brest, and is in Belarus. This Treaty was forced on the Soviet government by the rapid advances of the German and Austrian forces and the complete collapse of the Russian Armed Forces.


It was the first diplomatic treaty ever to be filmed. In the hall of a grand house that had once been a Russian Officers Club, Prince Leopold of Bavaria, son-in-law to the Austrian emperor, in Field Marshalls uniform, led the delegates of the Central Powers. Representing the Russian side an admiral, some staff officers, and assorted representatives of the Bolshevik government of Vladimir Lenin, several of whom were noticeably drunk.

Redrawing the Map

As Norman Stone in World War One observes, "The terms of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk were quite clever. The Germans did not take much territory. What they did was to say that the peoples of Western Russia and the Caucasus were now free to declare independence. The result was borders strikingly similar to those of today." The independence of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine, were recognised.

The Betrayal of Ukraine

Tragically the Allies betrayed Ukraine back into the hands of Soviet savagery through the Versailles Treaty (28 June 1919), which expressly abrogated the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Compounding the catastrophe, the Allies, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin, at the Yalta Conference (4-11 February 1945 in Crimea) betrayed another 100 million Christians in Eastern and Central Europe to the most brutal and murderous dictatorship in history, that of Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union.

Operation Keelhaul

One of the agreements of the Yalta Conference was that the Western Allies would forcibly repatriate all Russians in Western Europe to the Soviet Union. This not only affected the Russian Prisoners Of War, but was also extended to all East European refugees who had fled to the West to escape the ravages of the Red Army. This included hundreds-of-thousands of Cossacks who had fled Russia after the Russian revolution of 1917. Many hundreds-of-thousands of these had actually been born in Western Europe and had never been in the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, between 2 to 3 million Russians and East Europeans were forcibly handed over to the NKVD secret police of the Soviet Union, who summarily executed many tens-of-thousands of them within earshot of the British and American forces who were herding them at gun point and bayonet point, into the hands of their brutal enemies. The rest were condemned to work as slave labourers in the Gulag in Siberia.

Facts Are Stubborn Things

As the Crimea and Ukraine are back in the news today, it is good for us to remember that the first taste of freedom and independence for Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine came from the German victory over the Russian Empire and the terms of their Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, 18 March 1918.

Dr. Peter Hammond
The Reformation Society
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480
Fax: 021-685-5884
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See also:

The Causes, Consequences and Catastrophe of the First World War

The Best of Enemies

How Propaganda Changes Perceptions and People

Surprising Facts About the First World War

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