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

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

SPEECH OF NICOLAS POKROVSKY, RUSSIAN MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, IN THE DUMA1
December 15, 1916

I am addressing you immediately on having been appointed to the post of Minister for Foreign Affairs, and am, naturally, not in a position to give you a detailed statement on the political situation of the day. But I feel constrained to inform you without delay and with the supreme authorization of his Imperial Majesty of the attitude of the Russian Government with regard to the application of our enemies, of which you heard yesterday through the telegrams of the news agencies.

Words of peace coming from the side which bears the whole burden of responsibility for the world conflagration, which it started, and which is unparalleled in the annals of history, however far back one may go, were no surprise to the Allies. In the course of the two and a half years that the war has lasted Germany has more than once mentioned peace. She spoke of it to her armies and to her people each time she entered upon a military operation which was to prove "decisive." After each military success, calculated with a view to creating an impression, she put out feelers for a separate peace on one side and another and conducted an active propaganda in the neutral press. All these German efforts met with the calm and determined resistance of the Allied Powers.

Now, seeing that she is powerless to make a breach in our unshakable alliance, Germany makes an official proposal to open peace negotiations. In order properly to appreciate the meaning of this proposal one must consider its intrinsic worth and the circumstances in which it was made. In substance the German proposal contains no tangible indications regarding the nature of the peace which is desired. It repeats the antiquated legend that the war was forced upon the Central Powers, it speaks of the victorious Austro-German armies, and the irresistibility of their defense, and then, proposing the opening of peace negotiations, the Central Powers express the conviction that the offers which they have to make will guarantee the existence, honor, and free development of their own peoples, and are calculated to establish a lasting peace. That is all the communication contains, except a threat to continue the war to a victor

____________________
1
The Times, London, December 16, 1916.

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