File No. 763.72119/8962
The Diplomatic Liaison Officer with the Supreme War Council ( Frazier) to the Secretary of State
[Received 2.8 p.m.]
142. Also for Colonel House:
I am informed on good authority that word was passed down by the French Government to the press in Paris to adopt an uncompromising attitude toward the peace proposals of the Central Empires. Public opinion in the provinces and the provincial press assure full agreement on this issue with Paris newspapers. While public opinion will undoubtedly be influenced by the press, the man in the street looks upon the German proposal as a suspicious maneuver, a device to enable the German Army to extricate itself from a difficult position and to placate public opinion at home. French people are highly gratified by the German proposal as indicating assurance of complete victory within a short time; because of this assurance it is expected the Allies will present conditions which Germany will not accept now, but which she will be compelled to accept in a few months. If the military judgment which now dominates public opinion should prove to be mistaken the reaction will be powerful and will in all probability be directed in part against the United States, as public attention in the last two weeks has been withdrawn from the American military effort owing to the slow progress in the American sector. French public opinion undoubtedly expects the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine and reparation for destruction in the occupied territory; any other result would be looked upon as a defeat.
The attitude of Socialist Party as expressed in the Socialist press is comparatively mild. It is to the effect that the proposal should be accepted with proper military and political guarantees. M. Albert Thomas, who occupies a middle position in the Socialist Party, believes that the Germans would consent to an armistice of conciliation; he feels that the Allies should have an armistice [obtaining], first, the evacuation of Belgium, France and Alsace-Lorraine and such other military guarantees as may be necessary and, second, the acceptance of President Wilson’s fourteen conditions as principles, not as chapter headings. He considers that the reply should have a firm content but a generous and pacific tone. There is an under [Page 346] current of hurt pride that the proposal should have been addressed to President Wilson rather than to France.
I think it fair to assume that all of President Wilson’s fourteen conditions will be acceptable to the French people save for the clause referring to Alsace-Lorraine which is considered ambiguous.