File No. 763.72/8350
The Chargé in Switzerland ( Wilson ) to the Secretary of State
[Received December 30, 10 p.m.]
2315. German political. Mention has been made in the press of arrests of Independent Socialists in Cologne. This coupled with press articles from serious papers painting food situation in somber colors leads to supposition of at least anticipated troubles with laboring classes. Military leaders have rattled sabers presumably in endeavor to counteract this unrest.[Page 513]
The speech of Solf concerning future of colonial territory has been printed throughout Germany without unfavorable comment.
It is too early to have received commentary of Germany’s answer to Russian peace proposals but the fact that Allied states are given until January 4 only to announce their desire to participate appears to indicate no serious desire on part of German Government for such participation and to be merely another endeavor to reconcile German people to idea of continuing war by making apparent effort to obtain peace.
German economic. A Swiss doctor of confidence just arrived from Berlin reports that conditions there are intolerable, worse than at any stage of the war through shortage of coal and fats. I learn from reliable Swiss source that in Mannheim there is plenty of food and fuel though at exorbitant prices. In Cologne there is serious coal shortage and throughout Germany even factories used for important war products receive only greatly reduced percentage of needed allowance. This shortage is attributed to worn-out conditions of rolling stock and large transportation of troops and munitions.
German military. Italian Legation states on authority eminent personage Central Empires that persistent advertising of projected German offensive on western front is intended to divert attention and withdraw support from Italian front, where a new drive will be made.
From German merchant arriving Basel comes information of tremendous troop movements west through Cologne. One source reports point of attack in projected western offensive will be Cambrai while pro-German Swiss recently arrived Basel from Mainz, Kreuznach and Koblenz states that offensive will begin in Flanders within next few days. Informant adds the extent and enormity of preparations unbelievable and that Germans intend to break the English whom they consider the backbone of the war.
Swiss informant who has recently visited prison camps in Germany reports that German officer states that as Government feared revolution from returning soldiers they will be held at barracks and under military service for two or three years after peace concluded and will not be allowed to return to homes until each has secured employment.
[Austria-Hungary political.] Austria-Hungary electoral college reform bill before Hungarian Cabinet if passed will give Magyars about 62 per cent of representatives and the provision that all persons are disenfranchised who have been punished for agitation in matters of nationalities for past five years will act as effective check to Slav nationalities.[Page 514]
Neue Freie Presse of Vienna frankly admits that bill to redistrict Hungary in voting districts will be framed so as to assure Magyar supremacy.
Austria-Hungary military. German informant in hospital corps states that Hungarian Landsturm and Landwehr have replaced all German troops in Galicia.
Bulgaria. Theodore K. Shipkoff, Bulgarian subject, former member Sobranjé and friend of King Ferdinand, informs me that Germany has endeavored repeatedly to force Bulgaria to send troops to France, Mesopotamia and Turkey, and that Bulgaria has consistently refused and will continue to refuse. He states that Bulgaria has won what she desired in war, namely to restore Bulgaria to boundaries of treaty of San Stefano, and that she will do nothing further beyond resisting any endeavor to force her out of this territory. Bulgaria could at any time force Allied army out of Saloniki but they fear to let Austria get a footing there as it would be difficult subsequently to dislodge her. Bulgaria hopes after war to have access to Mediterranean at Kavala and thus be economically independent of Germany and act as barrier against Middle Europe scheme. He states Bulgaria fights only for her unity and independence and will resent any attempt at domination from Germany as from any other power. He hopes for American capital and enterprise to fight German commerce in Bulgaria after war.
I have ascertained from Bulgarian Minister that Shipkoff is what he represents himself to be and an intimate friend of the Minister.
From other sources I hear that Bundesrat are nervous at conciliatory attitude adopted by Germany towards Roumania in Dobrudja questions and gaining ground in Austria to conciliate Servia. These reports led me to feel, while talking to Shipkoff, that Bulgarian Government might be ready to discuss with Entente abandonment of war provided any possible formula could be found.
Turkey. Moukhtar Bey, one of the Turkish delegates for discussion prisoners’ questions, stated to reliable informant that he has visited German representatives here repeatedly and that he feels that the German Government is entirely preoccupied with the development of predominant influence in Russia to the exclusion of the Middle Europe scheme and that Turkey has been abandoned to her fate.
Switzerland. Consular officers in all portions of Switzerland confirm what is indicated by press, that signing of convention between the United States and Switzerland has led to most favorable attitude popular opinion towards America and corresponding growth of dislike for Germany.