File No. 763.72119/1098

The Minister in the Netherlands ( Garrett) to the Secretary of State


1867. German press comment on President’s speech:

Kölnische Zeitung of 10th prints full text and terms speech “Wilson’s clumsy trap.” The most critical hour for the Entente has now arrived, the Russians are on point of making separate peace and becoming friends of Centrals. Where then is the dynamite wherewith to blow the negotiators apart? The old arguments had lost their effect, so it was decided to proclaim the ideals of unselfish defence of the weak, the protection of the rights of humanity and the establishment of lasting peace, especially since there were political parties in Germany which had subscribed to those ideals. The only trouble with the plan was that the rapacious instinct of the Entente couldn’t be suppressed either in Lloyd George’s or Wilson’s speech. It is unnecessary to examine in detail all the foolish and impudent proposals. It would be the dying hour of the German people should it have to sign the peace proclaimed by Lloyd George and Wilson. Under the false label of Society of Nations, Anglo-American world domination would be permanently reestablished and central Europe would be as poor and powerless as after the Thirty Years’ War. There is no warm-blooded German who doesn’t feel that President’s message is insult to his patriotic feeling, but happily the peace of the world isn’t dependent on intrigues and tricks but on deeds and blows of destiny.

They have brought us together with the Russians at Brest and will complete there what is ready for completion. After that, deeds alone will have the floor until they are crowned with success in the west also.

Frankfurter Zeitung prints brief summary of speech, which it states deliberately distorts facts and reveals Wilson’s intention to stir up the German people. His insinuations that first German proposals at Brest originated with statesmen, whereas second proposals were dictated by military authorities, is ridiculous. The opponents of Hertling’s, Kühlmann’s and Czernin’s policy have [Page 25]attacked the latter program with the same vigor as the former. President has evidently thoroughly informed himself concerning press discussions in Germany and taken good advantage of the Pan-German campaign against the Government which has shown such indifference to all national interests, but he confuses two entirely different matters.

Rhemisch-Westfälische Zeitung writes that Mr. Wilson’s veiled praise of Kühlmann and Czernin and open denunciation of German military authorities intended to create dissension among German people, but the people will not go into his trap. They have unlimited confidence in their military leaders and it is to be expected that the Reichstag Majority will take an early occasion to withdraw its mistaken peace resolution and reject Wilson’s arrogance in a new manifesto.

Düsseldorfer General-anzeiger writes that Wilson’s demands cannot be distinguished from Lloyd George’s. They are inacceptable for Germany, Austria and Turkey. The history of the German peace offer has repeated itself. No agreement with the leaders of the enemy is possible at the conference table. The battlefields alone can bring the agreement.

Freisinnige Zeitung writes, the Russians will take Wilson’s assurances of help at the same value as the English will take his conditions relative to freedom of seas.

Vossische Zeitung speaks of Anglo-Saxon danger and states that Wilson’s speech is necessary tactical complement to Lloyd George’s speech in great strategic campaign of Anglo-Saxons.

Vorwärts writes that two circumstances impair effect of Wilson’s world peace program: first, the indignation of German public opinion at President’s former violent speeches, and second, the suspicion that the idealistic flights of the speech are only a diplomatic move to make the Russians look at the will-of-the-wisp of general peace and plunge themselves anew into the bloody morass of general war.

Tägliche Rundschau writes that one part of speech is devoted to Russia and the other to fomentation of internal political strife in Germany, with the hope of reaching an Anglo-Saxon peace. All the points of the peace program are inacceptable.

Volkszeitung writes Wilson’s program conforms in the main to Lloyd George’s and is equally inacceptable for us. Wilson demands even more boldly than Lloyd George the separation of Alsace-Lorraine, which is nine-tenths German. In veiled language he demands the separation of parts of Prussia inhabited by Poles. The difference between this and earlier messages of Wilson is that formerly the tone, but now the demands themselves amount to brutal challenge to Prussia.

Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung writes that the fourteen points of the program conflict with the title Wilson gives them. They aren’t a program of world peace but a real symphony of the will [Page 26]for discord. It starts in with encouraging motifs about free navigation and other things, concerning which the whole world is agreed, although perhaps not as to the manner in which the principles are to be realized. Interference by Wilson on this point was unnecessary. When he had an opportunity to bring about peace on that basis he neglected it. In appealing to the right of self-determination, he arrogates to himself the right to meddle with the internal affairs of Austria-Hungary and proclaims violence to nations without duly considering their history and the actual facts. With like ingeniousness he finds a motive for the division of Turkey, which can only be used by those whose policy is directed towards the incitement against each other of nations and parts of nations which belong together and are fully conscious of the fact.