763.72119/2807: Telegram

The Chargé in Denmark ( Grant-Smith ) to the Secretary of State

3204. Supplementary to my 3190, November 24, 11 p.m. Abrahamson, British Red Cross delegate, also had interviews with Solf, Eckhardt and Schlesinger, the latter representative of Workmens and Soldiers Council. Solf and Schlesinger spoke of demobilization problem as reported in my 3182, November 23, 8 p.m. The latter stated that there were 120,000 Russian prisoners to be removed from the left bank of the Rhine which is especially interesting in view of the reports communicated to you in my 2872, October 7, 11 a.m.,13 of the German intention to fortify the frontier for a last stand on which work they were presumably engaged.

Erzberger speaking to Abrahamson as plenipotentiary of the Armistice Commission said there was no intention to avoid the fulfillment of the armistice conditions. He claims to have full authority to carry them out being entirely independent of other authorities and Workmens and Soldiers Councils. He said that it was possible for the conditions to be fulfilled but that the cost would be terrible, probably anarchy. He begged for postponement of the date of delivery the rolling stock until after the full demobilization of the troops in order to avoid massing them in the cities. The troops would be beyond the Rhine bridgeheads on December 12th and the neutral zone December 25th. If the concession asked for were made he said it would be possible to distribute the soldiers over the country and to deliver the rolling stock before January. As an earnestness of good faith he offered the immediate delivery of the 250 million in gold proposing Warnemünde as the place for the transfer. He was ready to give figures to prove that the amount of rolling stock seized in Belgium and France was less than that demanded in the armistice conditions. He asked what more Germany could do to dissipate the distrust on the part of the Entente from which the severity of the armistice conditions arose. Abrahamson suggested that Germany herself immediately institute an inquiry relative to the treatment of prisoners which had caused such indignation in England and that Allied or neutral delegates should be invited to participate. Erzberger accepted unconditionally saying that he would endeavor at once to put such a plan into effect. He asked no reciprocity but stated that [Page 32] the principle of full justice which the new German Government had adopted would be followed.

He expressed the opinion that the solution of the transport question would lessen the danger of anarchy but not eliminate it. In order to avoid it entirely the Entente should declare itself ready to conclude a preliminary peace Germany, to supply provisions and to raise the blockade. Elected national assembly should be called within three weeks and that the above-mentioned measures should not go into effect until such assembly had accepted the terms of peace. In such a preliminary peace the most important questions should be immediately and finally settled, the others might go over to a commission which would settle them on fixed principles. Abrahamson inquired whether a commission consisting of the military attachés of the Allied Powers in Copenhagen would be permitted to enter Germany and pursue their investigations unhindered should they so desire in order to gain a first-hand impression of the conditions of transport and similar questions. Erzberger declared his full agreement and gave assurances that he would do everything possible towards the introduction of such a commission and its work. On his return here Abrahamson submitted his notes to the German Red Cross representative who had them telegraphed through the German Legation to Berlin. The reply was received that they were correct and that Erzberger’s interview could be considered as binding on the German Government. I understand Abrahamson has no instructions to occupy himself with anything but succor and repatriation of women and children. Interviews appear to have been sought by the Germans mentioned.

Copy to London.

  1. Not printed.