File No. 763.72119/797

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

[Telegram]

1293. German press summary:

Kölnische Zeitung. Inspired article [says] gruffness Wilson’s reply to Pope will surprise and perhaps incense Catholic voters who regardless of feelings towards Central powers must have expected President deal with Pope in different manner. For the rest this document of new American policy can be filed away after disclosures concerning Entente treaties for dismemberment Germany, Austria and Turkey and after testimony in Sukhomlinov trial. Chargé of German secret plot world domination is so grotesque that refutation superfluous. There is no discussing such humbugs as this. Sukhomlinov’s confession shows untiring efforts German Emperor for peace till last minute; in view this and the showing of great democracies as enemies of peace and oppressors of small free European nation Wilson might have saved himself trouble sowing seeds distrust against German monarchy.

Freisinnige Zeitung. Wilson talks like hostler in insolent language. His declaration no punition, no dismemberment empires, no economic war surprising since it completely conflicts with war aims of rest of gang with which hypocritical peace apostle and war demagogue has allied himself.

Germania. Not long ago President made several proposals for settlement World War and prevention future wars which were so reasonable, humane and just that Pope adopted them in his proposal and now President proclaims no peace with Prussian autocracy as though he had never wanted to mediate.

[Page 184]

Börsen-Zeitung writes: It is certain German people furnished guarantee that promises its Government are promises German people.

Berliner Tageblatt. No dismemberment of empires, principle conflicts with war aims Entente and is not well received in French press. Anglo-Russian view of peace makes democratization of Germany which we also desire but consider our internal affair as barred to foreigners precondition of peace, whereas France wants booty and is unwilling negotiate with any German regime whatever. American Government refuses believe present German regime affords permanent guarantees for adjustment.

Deutsche Tageszeitung. Reventlow calls note appeal to Reichstag Majority to help conquer and ruin heretofore unconquered German Empire; America wants help. Erzberger and Scheidemann in unrolling question constitution of Empire knowing this means a movement which would soon attain what world of enemies unable accomplish our enemies are backing up pseudo-Majority.

Vorwärts. American note is careful and shrewd document; quite true that German people did not want war and suffered much during it; apprehension of worse lot keeps it awake in self-defense, and that alone; though it may be said of others hundred times they attacked to conquer, the German people is fighting only to defend itself. American Government owes proof its assertion cherishes no enmity against German people; proof can only be given by plain statement German people shall not be robbed or made pay tribute enemies. American note passes over this point of decisive importance for German people, neither supports nor disavows Allies’ desires conquest and indemnity; Wilson clearly refuses negotiations with Germany as long as present system Government exists, demanding guarantees. Will of German people behind treaty with German Government; part of German press will hasten asseverate would be unworthy German people give such guarantees; we, however, believe it would be unworthy to refuse them. German people fighting this severest of all battles not for rights single families, not for certain form Government, but for its own existence; in this sense alone socialists support defense of country. Socialists refuse use means in their efforts for constitutional changes which might weaken defensive power of country but do not cease these efforts. Insupportable to think men in trenches fighting not for preservation of Empire, but preservation conditions unworthy of preservation or that one son should fall not for rights of the people but for privileges some few existing nowhere else in world. Examination world map shows everywhere monarchies and republics where decision of policy in hands people chosen by people. Why cannot it be thus in Germany after this year’s war? [President] tells us it must be thus if we [Page 185] want peace; possibly this is mere pretext, but pretext so cleverly chosen that only deeds not phrases will meet it. It is mere phrase to say we cannot permit enemy interference in our internal affairs or that enemy wants us democratized to undermine our best strength; Government of country warring with us has perfect right demand peoples themselves assume guarantee for conditions under which peace concluded. For socialists it is matter of course Government concluding peace incorporate people’s will and enjoy their confidence. Argument that Germany could not stand democracy powers is unsound; organization and self-discipline German people eminently qualify it for democratic régime. Military efficiency would not suffer and wise foreign policy would be [strengthened]. American Government expresses readiness in principle negotiate with duly accredited representatives of will German people. German Reichstag is accredited representative German people and is elected by democratic suffrage. What is needed is Government really responsible to people’s representatives. Shall we Germans let it be said negotiations with us impossible because we are nation of helots incapable asserting its own will? Deserve we this after years of trial and battle deeds and sacrifice without measure or number? Shall any one of us stand as sentinel before barbed-wire entanglements and think that all this were no longer necessary if we only adapted ourselves to form government of all rest of world? Those who hold fate German people in their hands should answer this question with their own conscience. In war no people even if democratically governed is master of its fate; state of war means restriction or even suspension of most important condition of democracy, the right of each citizen to free political activity. This enormously increases responsibility of those representatives last chosen by people, the members of German Reichstag. May it see the way mapped out for it by evolution. A fool who charges this most patient of all parliaments with thirst for power; the Reichstag never wanted power but now it must want power because the German people whose authority it represents demands it and because its way to power is the way of the world to peace.

Vossische Zeitung. President probably knew nothing of Sukhomlinov trial otherwise he would have changed his tactics of making alleged German autocracy responsible for war. Wilson is speaking to Germany when he refused accept assurances German Government unless expressly certified as will of German people. The Reichstag peace resolution is basis of all statements made by Germany during last two months. This first condition of governmental system Wilson has in mind is present; namely, the will of people’s representatives determining policy. We are aware we lack second conditions; [Page 186] namely, that course pointed out by Parliament and recognized by Government will be steadily pursued with proper means. The clear recognition of this necessity unites wide circles of Germans to-day whose views otherwise very divergent. The will for political responsibility has been aroused in German people and will make its way regardless of applause or disapproval of enemy, or whether Wilson will negotiate with us thereafter or not. Wilson need not warn Russia against us. The movement which Germany has created within herself is real liberty movement; it respects rights of nations and abhors oppression of any people; it will not stop at giving peoples self-government to split them and leave them prey to mighty powers but aims to teach them to learn community interests with neighbors and form sincere alliance of the weak. This is political aim Germany has in view for Continent and can be established by parliamentarization. If President wishes negotiate with Germany on this basis he may soon have opportunity.

Frankfurter Zeitung. All German parties united that changes internal politics by command or urging foreign countries impossible. Germany aims at democratization but foreign interference is imprudence and susceptible of suspicion of aiming at reaching opposite of alleged object. German people is completely in accord with Government in all material points. Why does not President mention program of peace, of accommodation and reconciliation subscribed to by Reichstag and Government? What the Entente leaders want is not democratic but impotent Germany. If they speculate on German revolution they are doomed to bitter disappointment. Pope can reply to Entente that guarantees demanded by Wilson are given, German Government and Parliament having declared themselves for accommodation peace.

Langhorne