File No. 763.72/12032

The Minister in Switzerland ( Stovall ) to the Secretary of State


5513. German political: As understood in Switzerland, general proposal for armistice was initiated by Ludendorff in hope to obtain respite in fighting on western front to recuperate German forces. Movement was taken seriously by German people and began to get out [of hand], whereupon Ludendorff hurried to Berlin to [Page 444] demand that negotiations be broken. Although Chancellor was ill, a council in presence of Kaiser resulted in defeat of Ludendorff’s plan and he resigned. Thus Germany has abandoned idea, of last concerted struggle against Allied armies. His resignation appears acceptable to press.

Growing ascendency of the civil authorities over military is evidenced by constitutional changes passed by Reichstag and Federal Council as follows:

Power to declare war even if Germany attacked now in; hands of Federal Council and Reichstag. Peace treaties must be sanctioned by same bodies.
Appointment, transfer, promotion and dismissal of officers of Army and Navy requires countersigning by Chancellor, and in federal states Minister of War is responsible to Reichstag for similar action in local contingents. Thus influence of military authorities inside the Army is limited.
A provision making Chancellor responsible for political acts of Emperor and requiring that he in turn have confidence of Reichstag.

Austrian proposal for separate peace has produced some bitter comment in German press, and Vorwärts states that further resistance on the part of Germany is now hopeless.

Reichstag debates concerning Alsace-Lorraine and Poland have been heated and Solf has stated that President Wilson’s program did not provide for cession to Poland of [solidly] German territory of which Danzig is example. Government is using the French anti-Catholicism as appeal to Catholicism of Alsace-Lorraine.

Abdication of Emperor has been demanded in Reichstag by Independent Socialists. Agitation against him is increasing.

A manifesto by radical group of Independent Socialists calling for Bolshevik institutions caused meeting 6,000 radical Socialists who cheered Bolshevik Minister. As yet movement is not widespread.

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