File No. 763.72119/2191

The Ambassador in France ( Sharp) to the Secretary of State


5442. Marshal Joffre has given the following statement to Mr. Warrington Dawson, a member of the staff of this Embassy whom I had asked to secure such statement. It expresses his views upon the question of the demand for an armistice.

I believe that every one has had enough of war for all have suffered heavily; in consequence it will be a boon for humanity to stop the war, but there must be guarantees so that it may be not only the end of this war, but the end of wars for decades and decades to come. We can attain this result only by being very strict in our demands.

The armistice will be long, several months or perhaps more. I doubt if peace can come for a year yet, and the armistice should not end entirely until peace is signed. The armistice might be renewed at intervals running one into the other, the first might be for one month after which our military precautions and effort might be reduced if Germany’s good faith were then established; that month will enable us to know. Germany is, I think, reduced to extremity, but her desire for an armistice might possibly be only a ruse of war. In this case, her bad faith would become evident during a respite of one or two months allowing her to reconstitute her strength. There may be people in Germany who have such hopes from the armistice. But there are certainly others who know better. Germany is not a unit, there are divergences of opinion within her borders as elsewhere. But we ourselves could do much more than she during this time, therefore the situation would not be to her advantage.

Certain Governments of the Entente have not yet decided upon all the measures which might be taken with a view to the armistice and to peace.

Although Germany as a whole desires peace, and we desire peace, yet we have the upper hand, thanks especially to America, and we must have a logical and rational peace. Above all, we must suppress the German governmental system. It has already been done away with in other directions, even in Austria, and in Germany [Page 364] itself many small states would be happy to have more freedom. I entirely agree with President Wilson that this present system must disappear, or it would be a permanent menace to peace.

The Marshal also gave an outline of the measures which he thought should be imposed for the armistice as well as other very interesting statements on general conditions which I will forward in the next pouch.

Perhaps as fairly typical of the sentiment of the press other than the Socialist I may quote the concluding lines of leading editorial appearing in the Sunday’s Temps:

The regime of the Hohenzollerns has changed labels at most and it survives in its entirety. President Wilson must realize this as we do; the rulers of Germany are at the end of their tether; at all costs they must obtain a respite to restore their calmness, their army, their people. To discuss with them is to give them back their prestige, to treat with them is to save them. Let them be told as soon as possible to address themselves to Marshal Foch.

However, Mr. Herbette, political writer of the Temps, has just telephoned me that his paper will today express its great satisfaction over the President’s reply to Germany just received. It is to appear in both English and French.

As I dictate this telegram, various French patriotic leagues and committees are placarding posters calling for complete victory and protesting against any attempt to come to other terms than those imposed upon the enemy by force of arms. One of these posters runs: “With incendiaries, with murderers, with thieves, there can be no question of discussions; judgement must be passed on them.” Another poster is headed “A Trap”, and is an appeal to refuse an armistice.

I wish that I might disabuse my mind of the belief that some of the comments appearing in the Paris press during the past few days owe their inspiration in no small part to the personal jealousies by a few men in high places over the authority exercised by one so far removed from the European arena of politics. I would not confine these jealousies to France alone. Even Marshal Joffre in his communication to me has not failed to severely censure those possessed of this fault. The unique position of an arbiter of the world’s destinies which must inevitably grow out of a settlement of this war, is a shining rôle not unenvied. How much real conviction there is in the fear expressed in some of the French journals that Germany may after all succeed, through discussions and parleying, in escaping the full visitation of justice upon her, I do not know, but I have wondered if withal there is not some pique over the turn of events which has transferred a discussion of the whole subject over [Page 365] to the shores of America. Perhaps I have said enough to apprise the Department of the actuating motives and real significance of what may be expected to crop out from time to time in other discussions which must follow.