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

By James Brown Scott | Go to book overview

STATEMENT OF FOREIGN MINISTER VON KÜHLMANN TO THE MAIN COMMITTEE OF THE REICHSTAG ON THE GERMAN REPLY TO THE POPE AND IN REPLY TO MR. ASQUITH1
September 28, 1917

Following the Chancellor's statement, I should like to be allowed to elucidate some points in the European situation. In the first place, I will say a few words regarding the report which appeared in this morning's newspapers that a German note existed regarding Belgium. It is one of the most impudent inventions that has ever come before me in my political experience, and is probably of French origin. There is not a word of truth in the whole thing.

The telegraph brought us last evening and early this morning through Reuter, extracts from a speech by Mr. Asquith, leader of the Opposition in the British Lower House. A fellow-countryman of Mr. Asquith's, a distinguished political writer, once characterized presentday European diplomacy as consisting of leading statesmen of different nations screaming at one another from public platforms. If the Reuter extract gives a true picture of what Mr. Asquith said, I believe I can assert at least that he has not taken a step farther forward on that road on which it is necessary for Europe to go.

I come now to the note of his Holiness the Pope. Whatever may be the immediate result of the Papal peace step this one thing may be said at once without hesitation, that this courageous initiative of the Pope, who, standing on a watch tower supported by the most revered tradition of more than one thousand years of priestly office, felt himself especially called to the function of intermediary, signifies a stage in the history of this frightful conflict of nations which will appear as the imperishable page of glory in the annals of Papal diplomacy. It was a great act when the Pope threw the word of peace into the turmoil of conflict which threatened to convert Europe into a blooddrenched place of ruin. It was precisely the German people and the German government, for whom, in the consciousness of their strength and internal security, it was always easy to emphasize the readiness for an honorable peace. We have every reason thankfully to greet the initiative of the Curia which has made it possible to expound the national German policy again in a clear and unambiguous manner. I say intentionally "national policy," because I hope and believe that the

____________________
1

Text in The Times, London, October 1, 1917, p. 9.

-148-

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