File No. 763.72119/1203

The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page) to the Secretary of State


8433. My 8165, January 6, 1 p.m., embodying telegram from Anderson to Harrison.1 London press of yesterday published a report purporting to be of Vienna origin suggesting that the President was fully informed of the contents of the recent speech delivered by Count Czernin concurrently with Count Hertling’s utterance in the Reichstag. This caused something like consternation here. The tone of the London press in presenting this information indicates a belief that Austria is suggesting separate peace negotiations with the United States and that she is not unwilling to have it believed that she has secret means of communication with the United States Government.

Your denial of any foreknowledge of Czernin’s speech is noted by London press today without the least appearance of incredulity but it seems to me evident that the Vienna suggestion is based on Anderson’s visit and it may well be that Austria is preparing to make use of his communications with Austro-Hungarian statesmen with the desire to create dissension which is never absent from the diplomatic offensive of the Teutonic powers.

The point I chiefly wish to emphasize is that this is regarded here as another move in the German peace offensive and is calculated to create the primary impression that Austria is capable of acting independently of Germany and secondarily that the United States may be disposed to act independently of her cobelligerents which would create consternation among the Entente Powers. An evidence of this may be found in the fact that yesterday’s London papers showed surprise and an undercurrent of uneasiness at the Vienna reports and today are engaged in explaining them away with an appearance of relief in which your denial plays a large part.

  1. Not printed; see telegram No. 2261, Dec. 19, 1917, from the Chargé in Switzerland, Foreign Relations, 1917, Supplement 2, vol. I, pp. 478482.