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

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

In this spirit we beg that the Almighty may bless the work of peace begun by your Holiness.


REPLY OF GERMANY TO THE PAPAL PEACE PROPOSAL1
September 21, 1917

HERR CARDINAL: Your Eminence has been good enough together with your letter of August 2, to transmit to the Emperor and King, my Most Gracious Master, the note of his Holiness the Pope in which his Holiness, filled with grief at the devastation of the world war, makes an emphatic peace appeal to the heads of the belligerent peoples. The Emperor has deigned to acquaint me with your Eminence's letter and to entrust the reply to me.

His Majesty has been following for a considerable time with high respect and sincere gratitude his Holiness' efforts in a spirit of true impartiality to alleviate as far as possible the sufferings of the war and to hasten the end of hostilities. The Emperor sees in the latest step of his Holiness fresh proof of his noble and humane feelings, and cherishes a lively desire that, for the benefit of the entire world, the Papal appeal may meet with success.

The effort of Pope Benedict is to pave the way to an understanding among all peoples and might more surely reckon on a sympathetic reception and the whole-hearted support from his Majesty, seeing that the Emperor since taking over the government has regarded it as his principal and most sacred task to preserve the blessings of peace for the German people and the world.

In his first speech from the Throne at the opening of the German Reichstag on June 25, 1888, the Emperor promised that his love of the German army and his position toward it should never lead him into temptation to cut short the benefits of peace unless war were a necessity, forced upon us by an attack on the Empire or its allies. The German army should safeguard peace for us and should peace, nevertheless, be broken, it would be in a position to win it with honor. The Emperor has, by his acts, fulfilled the promise he then made in twenty- six years of happy rule, despite provocations and temptations.

In the crisis which led to the present world conflagration his Majesty's efforts were up to the last moment directed toward settling

____________________
1
Text in The New York Times, September 23, 1917, p. 2.

-139-

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