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 HERTLING ON PEACE TERMS AND THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS1
June 25, 1918

I originally had no intention of taking part in this debate. The reasons for my contemplated reserve are obvious, namely, the experiences I have had, together with my predecessor's remarks in previous speeches.

If we spoke our willingness for peace, that was regarded as a symptom of weakness and of our immediately impending collapse. By others it was interpreted as a crafty trap.

Did we speak on the other hand, of our unshakable will to defend ourselves in a war of conquest so criminally thrust upon us, it was said that it was the voice of German militarism, to which even the leading statesmen must submit willy-nilly.

I went a step further on February 24 and expressly stated my attitude toward the message of President Wilson, in which he discussed his four points, and gave, in principle, my assent to them. I said that these four points of President Wilson might possibly form the basis of a general world peace. No utterance of President Wilson whatever followed this, so that there is no object in spinning any further the threads there started.

There is still less object after statements which have since reached us, especially from America. These statements, indeed, made it really clear what is to be understood from a peace league or a league of peoples for the maintenance of freedom and justice.

Our opponents made it clear that they would be the kernel of this league of peoples, and that it would in this way not be difficult to isolate the uncomfortable upward strivings of Germany and by economic strangulation to extinguish her vital breath.

I consider it, as against this, quite proper that the Foreign Secretary make a statement on the details of our political position in the East, from Finland to the Black Sea, and, in my opinion, he fulfilled the task thoroughly. On the other hand, some of his statements were given a more or less unfriendly reception in wide circles.

. . . . . . . . . . . .

____________________
1

Text in The New York Times, June 27, 1918, p. 1.

-348-

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