File No. 763.72119/1293
The Minister in the Netherlands ( Garrett) to the Secretary of State
[Received February 15, 5.45 a.m.]
2031. German press comment.
Tageblatt, 13th: Wilson makes distinction between speeches of Hertling and Czernin. Difference did not pass unnoticed by German press at time, some papers favoring Hertling’s language, others Czernin’s. Hertling’s speech did not entirely satisfy anybody. Wilson compliments Czernin’s but does not take up suggestion which made his speech particularly noteworthy, namely, exchange of opinion between two countries. Perhaps Wilson replied indirectly by saying that peace problems concerned all mankind, but all Wilson’s fine words cannot make us forget decision of Versailles conference to continue war with utmost vigor until Allies’ terms are accepted. Although United States was not represented at conference by delegate, Wilson must know there is no consequence [consonance?] between his message and Versailles declaration. President mentions Reichstag peace resolution which he thinks Hertling disregarded, but it must be remembered that resolution was not answered at time by any similar manifesto by Entente. It is true resolution lost much of its effect by Pan-German agitation against it, but that very agitation was encouraged by Entente’s continuance of “might policy,” Clemenceau’s elevation to power in France, and repudiation Lansdowne’s letter in England. Wilson’s speech is such in words and thoughts with which we can declare agreement forthwith; but very perspicacity with which [he] determines the difference between Berlin and Vienna utterances, Hertling’s speech and Reichstag peace resolution, must reveal the differences between his words and Versailles declaration. He considers German Military and Annexationist Party sole obstacle to peace, but forgets that Clemenceau, the English times [sic] politicians and even Italian super-annexationists are still very influential. This new message shows Wilson’s inclination to continue peace discussion and four principles which he [lays] [Page 117] down afford opportunity for serious reply as did his former fourteen points, but all this can have no practical value until whole policy of Entente decides in favor of general peace.
Vorwärts, 13th: Message brings us back to fundamental question, peace by force or peace by accommodation. American troops may appear in Europe but fact remains we cannot force America to peace nor can she force us. We are reminded of the words that Wilson said when still at peace with Germany, words that found readier echo in Germany than anything else he said: “If one side cannot overcome the other an understanding must be found.” Question is whether new message can contribute to this understanding. In form it is undoubtedly highly peaceable and moderate, but leaves open the possibility that war must be pursued with all energy. Like so many speeches it is peace instrument and war means at same time. As war means it endeavours separate Germany and Austria and accentuate conflicts in Germany. It is fact that there are differences between German and Austrian policy and differences in Germany, that unity of military front is not equalled by unity of political front. There is unity in idea of defense alone. Hertling’s speech was much criticized in Germany also, but it is not thinkable that Czernin’s offer of Austro-American mediation will be made against wishes of German Government. On contrary it must be assumed Germany agreed. Undeniable there is close connection between German Government which Wilson treats so curtly and Austrian Government of which he speaks in such friendly manner. Germany cannot be completely alien to Austria’s peace endeavors any more than Austria can be mere German satrap. Preliminary negotiations between Austria and America may initiate general peace. They might remove sharp conflict of views between Hertling and Wilson regarding method of negotiation. We cannot repeat too often that nothing stands in way of general conferences since whole German people is ready to reject with all means at its disposal claims of enemy imperialism to German possessions, and gratification of annexationist wishes is not will of German people, and cannot justify prolongation of war. German people stand united in defense against foreign annexationism, resisting in its overwhelming majority annexationism at home and waits impatiently for Government which will lead it to general peace. Wilson’s four principles can be generally accepted in their general wording, but attempt to carry them out will immediately disclose antagonism of imperialism combating imperialism. Each side accepts general principles, but with ulterior [motives], and it is the hidden thoughts which must be given up before peace can be arranged. It remains to be seen whether Pan-Germans are obstacles to just peace as Wilson [Page 118] maintains or whether Pan-English, Pan-French or perhaps Pan-Poles, whom Wilson is favoring in remarkable manner, stand in way. The main point remains that both sides must recognize that an understanding is absolutely necessary to peace for this reason. Appropriate action must be taken by Germany to ascertain whether Wilson’s statement that nothing stands in way of immediate peace discussion is mere diplomatic move or in reality the work for mankind. The German reply can only be that we too are immediately ready for peace discussions.
Vossische, 13th: Noteworthy that Wilson almost entirely approves Czernin’s speech while he treats Hertling’s speech with little approbation. It is plain from Wilson rejection of separate negotiations insisted on by Hertling that America wants presiding seat in international tribunal in order to realize America’s real war aims which include prevention German-Russian-Japanese alliance which would defeat Anglo-Saxon world supremacy plans. Gerard endeavored to induce Bethmann Hollweg to annex in east, likewise aimed at permanent hostility between Russia and Germany who are natural allies. Wilson’s insinuation that Czernin favors uniting all territory inhabited by Poles in new Poland is part of deep plan to perpetuate animosity in the east, and can only tend to encourage advocates of wrong Polish policy. Wilson’s friendliness is far more dangerous than Lloyd George’s fulminations and Germany must recognize reality of that in order to avert it.
Lokal-Anzeiger, 13th: Wilson’s plain intention is to drive wedge between Austria and Germany. His principles of peace might be discussed if he had not declared the tribunal of mankind solely competent to apply them, for such tribunal would simply mean that Anglo-Saxons and their serfs would vote down Centrals at conference table.
Magdeburgische Zeitung, 13th: Analysis of speech shows nothing but heap of elastic phrases and hopeless attempt to postpone for time discussion of reasonable peace terms by sowing discord in central Europe; Czernin’s bashful offer of negotiations is complete failure.
Berliner Neueste Nachrichten, 13th: It is not devoid of interest to observe how wily America tries to catch Hertling by his inheritance from Bethmann Hollweg, the Reichstag resolution. We should recognize from this again how much damage that resolution has done us; it not only fills enemy with new courage, but gives them opportunity to trap any government that does not openly repudiate it.
Tageszeitung: Wilson attempts to incite Austria against Germany and German Reichstag Majority against supreme military command, this again illustrates what valuable weapon was furnished Wilson in Reichstag peace resolution.[Page 119]
Tägliche Rundschau: Wilson cannot conceal his main object of establishing Anglo-American supremacy under name of society of nations. The unfortunate Reichstag peace resolution which Wilson delights in repeating is really only thing he likes in Germany, gives him courage to make his maximum demands. We must stand by the facts of our victories and our invincible military situation.
Frankfurter Zeitung: Message seems [less] favorable to peace than last-speech; its warlike tones are only intended to make clear the powers of invincible America and weight of her Wilson’s voice. Wilson’s four principles are so abstract that nobody can say anything against them. We agree with him that general peace could be arranged on such basis, but we do not agree that spokesmen of Military and Annexationist Parties in Germany are sole obstacle. Versailles declaration and Lloyd George’s latest speech plainly show that Entente has not courage to decide for peace of accomodation and understanding.