File No. 763.72119/1120

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

[Telegram]

1880. Your 907, January 11, 5 p.m. Person mentioned in my despatch 334, November 27,2 was in Holland on Thursday making [Page 27]arrangements for lecture by Professor Delbrück at Utrecht on January 28 and gave following information concerning German Moderate views of peace program proclaimed by the President:

Point 1 perfectly acceptable. Point 2 probably acceptable but further explanations required regarding exclusion of certain nations from use of high seas under certain conditions. Point 3 fully acceptable. Point 4 acceptable. Point 5 not clear but if it is a matter rightly interpreted in accordance with principles set down by Solf in his recent speech, then it is acceptable. In this connection criticism is made of the President’s message on the ground that although he stipulates evacuation of occupied territory by Germans, no mention is made of evacuation of former German colonies. Point 6—Matter will probably be decided along these lines at Brest Litovsk although the purpose of President’s remarks in this connection [is] not clear. Point 7 acceptable. Point 8 acceptable as to occupied territory; acceptable as far as Alsace-Lorraine is concerned provided that territory is made an autonomous state within the German Empire. In this connection it is acknowledged that Germany has not always accorded proper treatment to Alsace-Lorraine. There are two ways of looking at matter:

(1)
The French point of view which disregards question of nationality and considers matter only as a question of honor. If this view is to prevail it means a fight to the end.
(2)
The European point of view, Alsace-Lorraine has already been granted Parliament with equal suffrage and now should be made autonomous but as 88 per cent of inhabitants are Germans, this autonomous state should be incorporated in German Empire. This view is in opposition to Pan-German aim which is to divide Alsace between Baden, Bavaria and Prussia.

Point 9 not acceptable. Italy has broken her treaty with Germany, cannot expect to receive compensation for this act. Point 10—This state of affairs should and will come about, but it will be delayed owing to pressure from without. Point 11—This clause is interpreted to mean that the [Balkan states?] are not to be fully restored but are to be made independent. The national aspirations of Bulgaria must be regarded and Servia may receive an [outlet] to the sea by combining with Montenegro. Point 12 probably cannot be brought about but regarded favorably by the Moderates. Point 13 acceptable, provided it does not mean the giving up of a portion of Prussia and provided an agreement can be reached regarding the River Vistula which fulfills the principles of free access to the sea. Point 14 acceptable.

In general, informant stated that many things said by Wilson are acceptable but as Lloyd George is making similar statements in an apparently different spirit, the Germans are not sure what to believe. [Page 28]He stated that the main difficulty at present was Lloyd George; that owing to impression created by Lloyd George in Germany, it would be as easy for Germany to make peace with England while Lloyd George is in power as it would be for England to make peace with Germany if Tirpitz were in power.

Informant believes that further public statements regarding peace aims are utterly useless unless they are preceded by informal conversations between the representative men of countries at war who would attempt to prevent misunderstanding of statements when published in different belligerent countries. He hopes that some such conversations may take place before the commencement of the great offensive which the Germans are now preparing. He states that the preparations for this offensive are so far beyond anything which has been attempted as yet that it is not possible to disregard the claims of the military leaders which are lending and will continue to lend power to the demands of the Pan-Germans.

Garrett
  1. Not printed; see footnote 1, ante, p. 24.