Official Statements of War Aims and Peace Proposals, December 1916 to November 1918

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

STATEMENT OF CHANCELLOR VON BETHMANN-HOLLWEG IN THE REICHSTAG1
December 12, 1916

. . . . . . . . . .

Our strength has not made our ears deaf to our responsibility before God, before our own nation, and before humanity. The declarations formerly made by us concerning our readiness for peace were evaded by our adversaries. Now we have advanced one step further in this direction. On August 1, 1914, the Emperor had personally to take the gravest decision which ever fell to the lot of a German--the order for mobilization--which he was compelled to give as a result of the Russian mobilization. During these long and earnest years of the war the Emperor has been moved by a single thought: how peace could be restored to safeguard Germany after the struggle in which she has fought victoriously.

Nobody can testify better to this than I who bear the responsibility for all actions of the Government. In a deep moral and religious sense of duty toward his nation and, beyond it, toward humanity, the Emperor now considers that the moment has come for official action toward peace. His Majesty, therefore, in complete harmony and in common with our allies, decided to propose to the hostile Powers to enter peace negotiations. This morning I transmitted a note to this effect to all the hostile Powers through the representatives of those Powers which are watching over our interests and rights in the hostile States. I asked the representatives of Spain, the United States, and Switzerland to forward that note.

The same procedure has been adopted today in Vienna, Constantinople, and Sofia. Other neutral States and his Holiness the Pope have been similarly informed.

Gentlemen, in August, 1914, our enemies challenged the superiority of power in the world war. Today we raise the question of peace, which is a question of humanity. We await the answer of our enemies with that sereneness of mind which is guaranteed to us by our exterior

____________________
1
The New York Times, December 13, 1916.

-1-

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