The United States in the World War

By John Bach McMaster | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
THE PEACE NOTES

TUESDAY, the twelfth of December, 1916, was a day long to be remembered in Berlin, for on that day the Reichstag had assembled in special session to hear peace proposals, made by the Emperor to the Allies. Every member of that body, those at home and those in the trenches, had been summoned, for the meeting, it was said, would be "the most remarkable since the outbreak of the war and of world-wide historical importance."

The Chancellor began his speech in a boastful vein, telling how Roumania had entered the war to roll up the German army in the east; how the Allies on the Somme had sought to pierce the German line; how the Italians had attempted to crush Austria-Hungary; how, with God's help, the western front still stood, and in spite of the Roumanian campaign was stronger in men and material than ever before; how, "while on the Somme and on the Corso the drumfire resounded, while the Russians launched troops against the eastern frontier of Transylvania," von Hindenburg captured the whole of western Wallachia and the capital of Bucharest; and how great stores of grain, food, oil, had fallen into German hands in Roumania and had put the abundance of their own supplies beyond question.

He told how on the sea the submarine had brought to the Allies the specter of famine they had intended should appear before Germany; and how the Reichstag by "the national auxiliary war service law" had built up "a new offensive and defensive bulwark in the midst of the great struggle." Behind the fighting army stood the nation at work. The Empire was not, as its enemies fondly imagined, a besieged fortress, but "one gigantic and firmly disciplined camp with inexhaustible resources."

The enemies of Germany, he said, had accused her of seek-

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