763.72119/9126a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Special Representative ( House )

38. For Colonel House to be laid before the Supreme War Council.

The following messages have been received by wireless from Doctor Solf, addressed to the Secretary of State:

November 15. “The German Government and the German people have thankfully heard that the President of the United States is disposed to take into favorable consideration the question of shipping food products to Germany. But quick action is most imperative. The acceptance of the hard terms of the armistice, and in particular the necessity of providing for the food of the returning army out of our scanty stores, the stagnation of ocean traffic in the North and Baltic Seas through the continuation of the blockade, the danger to our supplies from the unsettled conditions in the East, all this makes our situation daily more unbearable. The danger of anarchy can only be averted by the speediest grant of relief. I, therefore, believe that my appeal to the President’s humane sentiments will not be in vain, if I lay before him an entreaty to save the German people from destruction by starvation and anarchy in sending as soon as possible to The Hague or any other place plenipotentiaries who would there discuss with plenipotentiaries of the German people the details of the plan for [Page 19] the timely saving of our Fatherland through the magnanimous help of America. The matter might perhaps be put in the tried hands of Mr. Hoover who has rendered grand service in Belgium.”

November 15. “According to the nineteenth article of the Anglo-Turkish armistice4 all civilians of German nationality should leave the Ottoman Empire immediately. The literal fulfillment of this clause which would cause severe hardship especially to the poor people, must appear unreasonable after conclusion of a universal armistice. The German hospitals and asylums for the blind and orphans, the latter of which principally take care of Armenian children, would be compelled to close, thereby causing new sufferings to the Christian populations of the Ottoman Empire. The German Government requests that the President should intervene in favour of these German civilians being permitted to remain in Turkey.”

November 11. “The armistice being now concluded the German Government requests the President of the United States to arrange for the opening of peace negotiations. For the purpose of their acceleration the German Government proposes first of all to take in view the conclusion of a preliminary peace and asks for a communication at which place and what time negotiations might begin. As there is pressing danger of a famine the German Government is particularly anxious for negotiations to begin immediately.”

November 10. “Mr. Secretary, Convinced of the common aims and ideals of democracy the German Government has addressed itself to the President of the United States with the request to reestablish peace.

This peace was meant to correspond with the principles which the President has always maintained. Its aim was to be a just solution of all questions in dispute followed by a permanent reconciliation of all nations.

Furthermore the President has declared that he did not wish to make war on the German people and that he did not wish to impede with its peaceful development.

The German Government has received the conditions of the armistice.

After a blockade of fifty months these conditions, especially the surrender of the means of transport and the sustenance of the troops of occupation would make it impossible to provide Germany with food and would cause the starvation of millions of men, women and children, all the more as the blockade is to continue.

We had to accept the conditions.

But we feel it our duty to draw President Wilson’s attention most solemnly and with all earnestness to the fact that the enforcement of these conditions must produce amongst the German people feelings contrary to those upon which alone the reconstruction of the community of Nations can rest, guaranteeing a just and durable peace.

The German people therefore, in this fateful hour, address themselves again to the President with the request to use his influence with the Allied Powers in order to mitigate those fearful conditions.”

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I have today transmitted the following note to the Swiss Minister, copies of which have been officially transmitted to the French and Italian Ambassadors and the British Chargé d’Affaires:

[Here follows the text of the note of November 15, 1918, to the Swiss Minister, printed supra.]

  1. For provisions of the Anglo-Turkish armistice, see Foreign Relations, 1918, supp. 1, vol. i, p. 441.