File No. 763.72119/1334

The Chargé in Switzerland ( Wilson) to the Secretary of State


2664. Haussmann of Liberal Populist Party and important leader in Reichstag (see my 2460, January 19, 10 [8] p.m.2) requested George D. Herron to grant him interview. At meeting he stated to Herron that Reichstag Majority able to pass resolution accepting [Page 123] four principles President’s message as base of peace discussion. He asked whether to strengthen his hand with Reichstag, President would not give him private assurance that message was sincere and that President would welcome such a resolution. Herron replied he was ready to wager his life on sincerity of every word President spoke and that he felt it would be an impertinence for such a message to be sent.

Haussmann finally dropped this question and inquired whether, if resolution were passed, it would imply that Alsace-Lorraine had to be brought into discussion. Herron replied it was impossible for Germany to both accept and reject the propositions. They must be accepted in their entirety or not at all. During the conversation Haussmann first declared German people would never consent to discuss Alsace-Lorraine but later admitted that if the question were raised and the working people began to feel that these provinces were stumbling block there might be revolution and people would not consent to continue sacrificing themselves for them.

Haussmann then said that if Parliament passed this resolution on eve of great offensive they might weaken themselves and would be running great risk. Herron pointed out the greater risk they ran in aligning America against them and allowing the war to go on until America was fully prepared. Herron pointed out that America was daily consecrating herself to this great task and that even if the worst should happen and Germany should dominate the continent they would then have to face an interminable war with America and eternal ostracism in our countries.

Unquestionably Haussmann has no conception of the meaning of the President’s proposals, and he and his friends desire to play the same game with America as they played with Russia at Brest-Litovsk, to accept in principle and in every underhand way to dodge in practice. They probably hope to raise expectation of peace in America and thus weaken intensity of our preparation.

It is, however, encouraging to note from this interview that Haussmann who claims to be representing the Reichstag Majority is nervous about situation and is afraid that the laboring classes may no longer submit to their present leaders. They conceive that if they accept President’s principles in appearance they can hold their people and have time to play dubious games of negotiation.

From his conversation Herron gained impression that German political leaders are nervous about the attitude of their allies. The tone of the German press and Haussmann’s evident desire to converse with America show that they are by no means sure that Austria will hold on.

  1. Not printed.