File No. 763.72/3243

The Ambassador in Austria-Hungary ( Penfield) to the Secretary of State


1683. Following addressed to Secretary of State at the request of Minister for Foreign Affairs:

The Imperial and Royal Ambassador, Count Tarnowski, has conveyed to me the kind words which you were good enough to express to him concerning Austria-Hungary and I hasten to transmit to you on that account my very best thanks.1

I need not say I, too, would be very pleased if the diplomatic relations between us and the United States could be maintained intact. But in order to obtain that result I must above all once again ask the Government of the United States to take into consideration the position in which we are placed.

We have declared—openly and honestly—that we only wage a war of defense, that is, that we are ready to negotiate honorable conditions of peace, a peace without victory. These proposals we are still determined to maintain. The basis, according to which there should be neither victor nor loser, was suggested by Mr. Wilson himself and it is now up to the Entente to accommodate themselves to that basis as we did. As long as the Entente will not give up the program published in their last note, a program which aims at the dismemberment of Austria-Hungary, it is impossible for us to talk about peace, and we are forced to defend ourselves with every means at our disposal.

A technical modification of the submarine war is impossible. First of all an exchange of views with our allies would be necessary to that purpose. Moreover—and this is the chief reason—the numerous submarines which have left their ports can not be reached by any orders.

The point of the question is, it seems to me, that Mr. Wilson who proposed a peace without victory should now feel morally obliged to use his influence with the powers of the Entente to make them accept that basis as we accepted it. The President has all the qualities to achieve this—on account of his high position, the personal esteem he enjoys all through Europe and on account of the possibility for the [Page 39] United States, by cutting off the requisites of war, to induce the powers of the Entente to conform themselves to Mr. Wilson’s point of view.

I trust that the President of the United States will continue the work of peace he began in a spirit of impartiality and I sincerely hope that he will induce the powers of the Entente to accept, like us, the American point of view, that there should be neither victor nor loser and that the peace concluded should be an honorable one for both sides—a lasting one for the whole world.

Should the President follow this line of conduct not only the terror of the submarine war, but war in general would come to a sudden end and Mr. Wilson’s name will shine with everlasting letters in the history of mankind.

I beg to request you kindly to bring the above as well as the answer you might send me to the notice of Ambassador Count Tarnowski.


  1. See telegram to the Ambassador in Austria-Hungary, No. 1526, Feb 4, post, p. 112.