File No. 763.72/11621

The Chargé in the Netherlands ( Bliss) to the Secretary of State


4632. German press summary, October 2.

Tageblatt, 1st: It cannot be denied that Foch uses his numerical and material superiority with skill and energy; there is something demoniacal in rapidity of his attacks, his indifference to cost, indefatigability with which he forces one sector of front after the other into foreground of public interest. These qualities can only be shown in attack. German Command is committed to defensive for present; what will happen when enemy is forced by exhaustion to desist from his furious attacks is written in the stars. It now devolves upon German Command to concentrate its forces as much as possible, to shorten various fronts, and to evacuate all positions not strongly enough fortified. Necessary retreating movements call for full confidence in Command on the part of the troops and all reports agree that this confidence is unshaken. Those at home should also recognize that this surrender of ground is result of cool tactical deliberation and is not a confession of defeat; it is highly desirable that home front look upon these adjustments of front, which are likely to be repeated several times, from this point of view.

Kölnische Volkszeitung, 1st: The Emperor has addressed following decree to Hertling:

Your Excellency has reported to me that you no longer feel able to remain at head of Government. I cannot be insensible to your reasons and am obliged with heavy heart to dispense with your further cooperation. You may be certain of the thanks of the Fatherland for sacrifice made by you in assuming office of Imperial Chancellor in most serious times and for services which you have rendered. I wish to have German people cooperate more effectively than heretofore in determination of destiny of Fatherland. It is therefore my will that men supported by confidence of the people shall participate to large extent in rights and duties of government. I request you to conclude your work by continuing in office and preparing the measures wished by me until I have found your successor. I await your proposals in this direction. General Headquarters, September 30, 1918. Signed, Wilhelm II, countersigned, Hertling.

This decree is act not merely of constitutional monarch but monarch of country with pronounced parliamentary government. We register this fact without expressing regret or approval. There is not slightest doubt that this means change to parliamentary government. Uncertainty of further developments makes it impossible for [Page 336] us to judge whether reform will inure to advantage or disadvantages of Empire. Our approval will depend on whether constitutional foundation of Empire can be maintained without material impairment.

Norddeutsche Allgemeine, 1st: Crisis is over; thanks to Emperor’s noble decision to permit people to share more effectively in determination of fate of country, our internal front can be made as solid as possible.

Vorwärts, 1st: Socialist Party will show that it can serve country if given opportunity. Times demand, first, resolute men who will break with outlived prejudice. We need Social Democratic ministers who remain true to their principles while in office. Decisive day in history of our people and our party has dawned. We are attached to this party with heart and soul because we believe in great task which it must accomplish for our nation and all mankind. Whatever is injurious to it is therefore bad for whole, of which it forms most virile and hopeful part. No one will enjoy our responsibility. What is at stake is welfare of people, nation and new world which must arise, return to peace and entry of German people into league of nations, equality of all nations and decisive transition to democracy.

Tageblatt, 1st: Emperor has cleared road for new Germany. Only coming generations will be able fully to appreciate what he has done. Millions at front and at home will welcome this step in advance as relief from heavy care in perhaps darkest days of German history. Change into new time is proclaimed, reform was never more necessary, this is merely beginning.

Börsen-Zeitung, 1st: Emperor’s decree is turning point in the life of our nation, the old autocracy has come to an end and parliament tarianism enters Germany; also, the German subject becomes a citizen with voice in the Government.

Kölnische Zeitung, 1st: Parties can only be united on basis of compromise. Next few days will show whether parties are alive to gravity of the moment. We well know what is at stake, we must go through this crisis and reach united internal front in face of enemy’s will to destroy. There must be no parties, only Germans.

Kreuz Zeitung, 1st: We make no efforts to [conceal] great apprehension with which we contemplate developments; we have only wish that energetic men may enter Government. Fatherland is in danger and this consideration should guide new Government.