File No: 763.72119/1772

The Chargé in Denmark ( Grant-Smith ) to the Secretary of State

[Telegram—Extract]

2476.

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Following summary of Scheidemann’s Reichstag speech July 4 [3]: [Page 274]

Discussion caused by Kühlmann’s speech has shown how insurmountable are differences of opinion concerning war aims and despite all deceptive camouflage has thrown dazzling light upon distribution of power in our country. Kühlmann’s speech caused tremendous excitement because it seemed to express programatically a long-known and hotly-contested Government opinion supported by Socialists since war began and shared by all politically cool heads. Opinion based on appraisal of physical and moral forces both sides shows war of conquest prosecuted by Germany would lead to destruction of German race and perhaps entire Europe. Given a correct utilization of our powers, Germany cannot be crushed, but achievement of German world hegemony appears impossible. No policies could have been less suited to achieving German world hegemony than those carried out by German Government during the past thirty years. We have stumbled into this greatest of wars without any aim. Germany [has been] forced to prosecute war of national defense which [she is] ready to terminate as soon as possessions no longer challenged or attacked by enemies. German Socialists have now fought nearly four years to bring forth this view in official policies. I do not believe one single person at any time officially connected with our foreign policy will contradict Kühlmann’s statement which could only be considered inopportune. He uttered what we all think. His speech would have been a political accomplishment if second address had not followed next day.

To excuse Kühlmann I can repeat he has not contradicted first speech but greatly decreased its importance and destroyed good it might have done. Easy to imagine to what barrage fire of telephonic or verbal reproaches and invectives Kühlmann exposed after uttering his candid remarks. There has been much said about peace offensive. I advise trial of truth offensive. Kühlmann’s retreat before Great Headquarters opens up most unsatisfactory prospects. Where is the man in civilian clothes who will fearlessly tell gentlemen at Great Headquarters that the opinion that they can force peace upon world is merely self-delusion? They may perhaps take Paris, possibly drive the English from France, and even force all enemies to accept peace, but can never attain through purely military measures lasting international peace desired by German Nation. Those at Great Headquarters are mere political amateurs and should keep their hands off politics. Ignominious that press instructed how it must interpret Ministers’ speeches. Constitutional state under which we live is that of military absolutism [softened] by fear of parliamentary scandal.

Industrial laborers, middle classes and rural population agitated by extreme dissatisfaction and unanimously demand termination of war. Termination in honor, but termination. We demand Government recognize unrestrictedly Belgium’s right to independence and do everything to attain early peace without sacrificing Germany’s interest. Will heartily support such Government but cannot grant budget to Government unable to raise state of siege after four years. This not carelessly uttered declaration but serious warning, being matter of life or death to millions.

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American Legation