862.00/390: Telegram

The Minister in the Netherlands ( Garrett ) to the Acting Secretary of State

5421. The tentative fixing of February 16th as date for general elections seems to have strengthened the position of the temporary Central Government at Berlin, the Independent Socialists having acquiesced, on condition that certain socialist reforms shall be enforced before that date. The date of elections will be finally fixed by the National Soviet Congress meeting on the 16th instant. The opposition [Page 112] of the old clerical party to the temporary Government calls for attention. It appears to have been caused principally by the announced policy of the Prussian Government to enact the separation of State and Church as soon as due preparations can be made. The great Roman Catholic party will fight tooth and nail any attempt to abridge the long-established privileges of the Church. The most striking means of agitation adopted by the clerical party is the threat to organize an independent secessionist Rhineland republic. This agitation is not countenanced by the Socialists or the middle classes, and the evident support of reactionary industrial circles in the Rhineland does not tend to improve its prospects. It is significant in this connection that the agitation of the radical socialist element has become particularly intensive in the Rhineland. It is difficult to estimate the strength of the radical element, which is in strongest opposition to the temporary government. Liebknecht himself boasts that he has the soldiers with him, controls Berlin, and will astound the country with the force of his “continuation” of the revolution. The radical agitators are openly advocating strikes and an armed uprising to overthrow the temporary government. It is asserted that Liebknecht numbers among his following 100,000 armed deserters at Berlin. On the other hand, the soldiers’ councils of the troops returning from the front uniformly announce that they support Ebert’s government and will oppose Bolshevikism. The regiment of the Prussian Guard likewise announce their support. Friction has occurred everywhere in Western Germany, however, between the armies coming from the front and the local Soviets, without assuming general proportions or [and?], to judge from the press, the idea of a Royalist counter revolution at this time can be dismissed. Prince Henry’s manifesto is caustically criticized and great vigilance seems to be exercised by the temporary government to uncover any reactionary counter revolutionary plans.

The old National Liberal party has joined the democratic party, but this self-effacement of pan-Germans of the Stresemann type cannot be accepted as a change of spirit. Conjecture as to the composition of the National Assembly to be elected varies greatly. The Majority Socialists affect to believe that if the Independent Socialists make common cause with them, an absolute Socialist majority is assured and negotiations with the Independent Socialists are in progress. All parties claim the female vote. Elections are to be held in Baden January 5th, and in Württemberg, January 16th, which will enable some forecast of the general election to be made.

The Prussian Minister of Education has made the important announcement that all chauvinistical and militaristic instruction will be eradicated from the public schools.