File No. 763.72/5381

The Minister in Denmark ( Egan ) to the Secretary of State


767. The following is the text of the reply to President Wilson’s note to Russia printed in the Norddeutsche Allgememe Zeitung, June 16. This reply has been quoted quite a little by the German press and may be considered as the reply of the German Government.

Reuter’s agency publishes a communication from President Wilson to the Russian Government for the purpose of establishing the aims which the United States had in view on their entry into the war. President Wilson feels the need of such a statement because he says these aims have lately been much beclouded and misunderstood. His war aims could not very well escape becoming thus obscure due to the changes thru which his attitude has passed.

When President Wilson takes the stand that he is entering the war for the purpose of freeing the world from the attacks of an autocratic power, that indicates a complete abandoning of his previous statements. According to his own previous declarations his exclusive reason for war was the endangering of American navigation in the blockaded waters resulting from the unrestricted submarine war. Undoubtedly this reason was not such as would hold forever inasmuch as America has given over to England its own free will. Now that it is necessary to win the good wishes of the new liberal Russia this reason is entirely insufficient. We have therefore that fine saying—America has begun the war to set aside German autocracy. This saying contradicts the facts and is all the more surprising jn the mouth of President Wilson considering that he at the time he declared war himself displayed an autocratic power which was scarcely exceeded by that exercised by the former Czar. He thereby let it be seen, as indeed he had often done on previous occasions, that his fight against us should also serve to introduce liberal institutions in Germany. It is time for President Wilson to give up worrying over Germany’s internal affairs. He has quite enough to do in fighting the plutocracy in his own land as well as in attending to the cares of a social political nature relative to the American workmen. The President of the German Reichstag elected by democratic universal [Page 105] suffrage told him just a short time ago that we reserved to ourselves the ordering of our own affairs and decline all interference.

President Wilson also occupies himself with the question of the causes of the war and here as well he makes statements hitherto not mentioned but which he now needs in order to kindle anew the desire in Russia for war. President Wilson has suddenly made the discovery that government after government in Germany has through its influence and without open capture of territory been able to weave a net of intrigue sufficiently strong to satisfy German plans for power and which shall extend from Berlin to Bagdad having as object nothing less than the overthrow of the peace and freedom of the world. We ask President Wilson where he got this knowledge. In the course of the past year he declared to us repeatedly that he wished to mediate for peace, that, however, he could not do so before his reelection was assured. Nevertheless even after this occurred he could come to no decision in the matter although we made it quite easy for him by our offer of peace of December 12, 1916.1

However let it be as he wills. So long as the interests of American navigation and England herself were not dangerously threatened President Wilson knew nothing of autocratic and intriguing Germany, whose power in the interests of the world’s peace and freedom must be broken. Did he not declare in, words, even if no actions followed, that he was ready to give the world peace and along with it wicked Germany as well?

Whence then came so suddenly to the President of the United States his knowledge of Germany’s years of intrigues? The Triple Alliance treaties and their absolutely defensive character, are [they] not known to the world? And if President Wilson has especially emphasized the Berlin-Bagdad matter so do we place before him the suggestion that he inform himself regarding his English, Russian and French allies and their agreement with reference to the opening up of Asia Minor, which agreement we find on consultation with Turkey either had been made or was in the making when the war broke out.

Most especially however we would like to recommend to President Wilson that he at the same time look into the agreements of his allies in which the members of the Entente Cordiale assure to each other their respective war winnings. He will find that—Monsieur Briand has been forced to admit this recently in a secret session of the French House—France, and with France, England, has promised Constantinople to Russia and as a return Russia has promised to France not only Alsace-Lorraine but the left bank of the Rhine as well. He will further find that the Entente Cordiale has formulated a complete plan for the division of Asia Minor, the detailed settlement of which (though made behind Russia’s back) is still causing difficulties. This is because the hunger for power exhibited by Italy has found just as much complaisance relative to promising her further annexation at the expense of Austria-Hungary as has Rou-mania. It would also be most interesting for the United States to learn what promises have been made to Bulgaria as price for her [Page 106] entry into the war on the side of the Entente Cordiale, this to be paid for by the Servian allies.

End section 1.