The Swiss Minister ( Sulzer ) to the Acting Secretary of State

Sir: By direction of my Government, I have the honor to transmit you the original text of a communication from the German Government to the Government of the United States:21

“Relying on the principles of a just peace announced by the President of the United States, the German people turned to President Wilson to procure an armistice. Instead of an armistice inspired, as expected, by principles of right, good will and a desire to promote the future reconciliation of the peoples we have an armistice of oppression and annihilation.

The terms of that armistice mean, in their execution, not a bridge leading to peace but the prosecution of the war by other means. The requirements of the armistice will not bring to the world the peace it longs for. They make it impossible to restore peaceful rest in Germany and to proceed with an orderly demobilization. They deliver up our sorely tried country to anarchy and chaos.

Our solemn protest against such treatment in defiance of humaneness fell on deaf ears. If the terms of the armistice were prompted by the necessity of depriving the German Empire of the means of resuming hostilities, our enemies must have clearly seen since that [Page 44] there is no longer any such ground. For the German people will not and cannot resume hostilities. The German Government sees in the maintenance of the harsh terms a criminal attempt on the principles of civilization and is forced to the conclusion that the Governments of the allied countries care for nothing but the oppression and annihilation of the German people.

After the negotiations for the armistice were concluded the German Government again applied to the President of the United States with a request to bring about the earliest possible negotiations for a preliminary peace. The German Government has not yet been told when the Governments of the allied countries will take up the work of peace. The German people are beginning to doubt whether the enemy is not using this deferment of the peace as a cloak for a design to put the driven and exhausted German troops in the wrong for nonexecution of armistice terms that cannot be executed and so afford the Allies a ground upon which to prosecute the war.

If peace is to be concluded as a just peace, the decisions of the Peace Conference on points debatable in law are not to be forestalled. The German Government must declare in the face of the principle laid down by the President that the measures taken by the French Government in Alsace-Lorraine, as well as the conduct of the Poles in the Eastern borderland of Germany and the several measures taken by the non-German constituent parts of the late Austria-Hungary against the Germans, are nothing but attempts to forestall by force the decisions of the Peace Conference.

Against those attempts, as against the delay in concluding peace, the German Government most sharply protests. The animus betokened by such proceedings cannot give birth to a lasting peace. The German nation (Volk) may be temporarily borne down. It will not cease to live and to demand its rights.”

Accept [etc.]

Hans Sulzer
  1. The following is a translation of the German text quoted by the Minister; the file translation has been revised. A translation was transmitted to the Commission to Negotiate Peace in telegram No. 38, Dec. 17, 1918, 6 p.m.