File No. 862.00/172

The Chargé in the Netherlands ( Langhorne ) to the Secretary of State


1249. German press summary:

Late evening edition Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger, Wednesday, announced break between Reichstag Majority and Chancellor.

Berliner Tageblatt comments: Wednesday’s session Reichstag committee incident occurred in afternoon which caused considerable excitement. Political significance this incident unmistakable as it testifies to Reichstag feeling. Chancellor, who Tuesday said Pope’s note would be answered in close cooperation with Reichstag, Wednesday repudiated Reichstag Majority, deferring to wishes Pan-Germanists, Industrists, etc. He said he had never declared that he stood on ground of Majority peace resolution and believed there were differences of opinion even between Majority parties concerning meaning resolution. Majority parties protested most vigorously against this statement Chancellor. The official report given to press leaves out this statement which makes what followed almost unintelligible. Pause for lunch followed Chancellor’s speech. During recess Majority parties formulated following declaration: (1) In preliminary negotiations between parties and Chancellor concerning peace resolution July 19,1 none of parties could assume from statements made that Chancellor would not stand on ground Reichstag resolution; (2) Chancellor’s remark differences opinion among representatives Majority concerning meaning resolution is incorrect. All party representatives concerned were completely in accord as to unequivocal meaning and contents their resolution. After recess Michaelis retracted and said answer to Pope could only be imbued with endeavour for peace or compromise and as expressed in Reichstag’s peace resolution. Declaration of Majority parties was nevertheless read by Socialist Ebert. Chancellor does not seem to realize damaging effect his vacillation. Whole incident shows Michaelis lacks necessary authority. Despite his good qualities he is handicapped by whole history his appointment and choice of collaborators without consulting wishes Reichstag, thus his position has been untenable from beginning. Whether Reichstag votes measures for parliamentarization or not, fact remains no Chancellor and no government can work effectively which is appointed without consent Reichstag. Crisis and conflicts will never cease as long Chancellor and ministers are sought from uncontrollable higher spheres and unloaded [Page 174] on Reichstag. It is duty of Reichstag to break with principle bureaucratic absolutism.

Berliner Neueste Nachrichten says speech Erzberger’s in committee upholding peace resolution brought on conflict.

Vorwärts writes jingoes tried to make Bismarck out of Michaelis and break Reichstag Majority. Incident in committee now assumed to be settled but what is German people to think of new Chancellor? How is distrust already existing and accentuated by painful incident to be overcome? German people demand real leader as Chancellor. Second statement Michaelis shows he does not want conflict with Reichstag Majority, jubilation jingoes was therefore premature. Break between Chancellor and Reichstag as announced by Lokal-Anzeiger can only mean either the Majority or Chancellor is broken and if Majority stands fast it can only mean the Chancellor is broken.

Vossische Zeitung writes lesson from committee meeting is that Reichstag Majority must assume responsibility for Germany’s policy so that no one at home or abroad may think Chancellor is buffet [puppet of?] uncontrollable forces.

Berliner Lokal-Ameiger writes Majority parties seem to consider peace resolution sort of creed which Government must acknowledge word for word, letter for letter. Chancellor greedy, wished to reserve necessary freedom action for peace negotiations. Uncompromising attitude Majority parties makes new friction probable. This is very regrettable in view evident wish Government establish close relations with Reichstag.

Berliner Tageblatt reports Michaelis invited party leaders conference on coming regulation question Alsace-Lorraine in spirit Majority parties.

Münchner Neueste Nachrichten reports from Strassburg early change administration Alsace-Lorraine. Expected Reichsland to be changed into duchy. Member of house of Urach spoken of as regent.

Wolff 1 telegram reports Michaelis ordered headquarters.

Kölnische Zeitung complains utterly inadequate reports given out on Reichstag committee proceedings. Impossible for readers to form true judgment what goes on. Something is radically wrong, Government does not understand how to use press. Government, Parliament, and press should work hand in hand if country is to prosper.

  1. See telegram No. 1252, July 20, from the Minister in Switzerland, ante, p. 139.
  2. Wolff’s Telegraph Bureau.