File No. 763.72119/1055
The Chargé in Denmark ( Grant-Smith ) to the Secretary of State
[Received January 1, 1918, 4.35 a.m.]
1755. Neutral diplomat referred to in Legation’s telegram No. 1141, September 3, 5 p.m.,1 who has again been in Germany, informed member of Legation as follows: Feeling between Foreign Office and Pan-German militarists has grown in bitterness and prestige of latter has declined with plain people who desire peace but who are still absolutely convinced that the war is one of self-defence in which they are fighting for Germany’s existence. This conviction based on: (1) alleged revelations of Sukhomlinov trial which they believe prove guilt of Imperial Russia in precipitating war; (2) publication of alleged secret treaties by Bolshevik government; and (3) refusal of Entente Governments to consider “no annexation, no indemnity” program. These last two points they believe prove the predatory character of the Entente’s war aims. President’s message particularly as interpreted by jingo press considered as support for such war aims. Socialists and Radicals failed to give message their support as they did the answer to the Pope because they believe the President’s refusal to see any significance in events of last two political crises, which they regard as a kind of “bloodless revolution” and as very material progress on the road to parliamentary and popular government, shows a complete lack of understanding of German internal political conditions and the difficulties confronting the Liberals.
The Socialists and Radicals also believe that the President’s utterances since the United States entered the war have been of immense aid to the Pan-Germans who have succeeded in interpreting the President’s message as aimed at interference with Germany’s internal affairs and as supporting the extremist war aims of Germany’s enemies and who have used these utterances effectively in their campaign against a moderate peace and against the Liberal movement.
The political power of the old conservative Junker party has been largely broken and its members are expending their energies in bitter attacks on the “new men,” particularly Kühlmann, and against the new Government’s peace platform of “no annexations,” etc. The new Government, however, did not feel strong enough to risk the internal political fighting which would have been caused by the intended specific declaration regarding Germany’s noninterest in Belgium.[Page 516]
Kühlmann’s influence is at least as great as the Chancellor’s and these two with Czernin are regarded as the chief determining factors in the policy of the Central powers. At the present time the influence of the Emperor and his entourage has decreased.
Events in Italy and Russia encouraged the Conservatives in their fight to block franchise reform but the general popular encouragement derived from these events was and is really less than indicated by the press. Popular opinion recognizes that peace with Russia is only of minor importance as compared to a general peace. It is the general opinion that the Entente are aiming at a more or less extensive dismemberment of Germany. The strength of the forces arrayed against Germany is not underestimated in spite of the best efforts of most of the press to create the impression that the condition of the Entente is hopeless.