Talk of peace in January 1917 raises hopes, proves deceptive

Published by carolyn on Wed, 2019-05-22 12:17

The "Peace Dove" of the Entente -This caricature was originally published in the 28 January 1917 issue of the satirical German journal Kladderadatsch. The “peace dove” of the Entente is portrayed as a vulture carrying a map of Europe showing the areas to be "severed from the German Reich."

FOLLOWING PRESIDENT WILSON'S "SERMON ON THE MOUNT," as it was dubbed by The Fatherland Editor George Sylvester Viereck—that is, his speech to the Senate on Jan. 22 laying out his ideas for peace—the talk in Washington and in the country was of a positive nature. It was felt that the position of Germany was strengthening and that that nation was gaining in good will. The belief in a coming peace was palpable. This turned out to be deceptive, or at least, not to last. Below is some of what was published in that upbeat tone in the next to the last issue that was to be published under the name of THE FATHERLAND. -cy

Vol 5 no 26 Jan. 31, 1917 Page 6


AMID tremendous enthusiasm, 5,000 American Poles assembled in the Hippodrome on Jan. 21, endorsed the new Polish Kingdom and demanded that it be recognized by the United States as a free and independent nation. With a mighty roar the huge audience carried the following resolution:

We deem the recognition of the independence of the Kingdom of Poland by the Central Empires, after their victory over Russia, to be the initial and decisive step toward a final solution of the Polish question. We express our conviction that an independent Polish state, embracing all Polish territories, governed on the basis of its own Constitution and guarded by its own army, will be the cornerstone of a lasting peace in Europe.

We protest against the provision contained in the note of the Allied Powers of Jan.10, by the terms of which Poland would revert to Russia and her future be made dependent upon the whims of the same Czar Nicholas who a few years ago dotted Poland with gallows and exiled tens of thousands of her people to Siberia.

Remember the lofty example set by France, who did not wait for the result of the unequal struggle between the weak American Revolutionaries and mighty Great Britain, but recognized the independence of the United States by accrediting a representative to this country, we are sure that in our day the great American Commonwealth will yet recognize the independence of the Kingdom of Poland before the end of the war.

Recognizing the momentous service rendered by the President of the United States, Mr. Woodrow Wilson, to the cause of a lasting peace to war-torn Europe, we are respectfully transmitting to him a request that, true to American tradition, he take immediate steps for the recognition by the United States of the Government of the Kingdom of Poland, which, in accordance with the international law and on territory liberated from occupation by the Russian military, has already begun its work for the welfare and happiness of the Polish nation.

Page 8

Behind the Scenes at the Capitol

(Special Correspondent of THE FATHERLAND)

WASHNGTON, D. C., January 23—The President took good care that not even his immediate entourage got wind of his intention to address the Senate on the American policy in connection with the European war and after. The announcement of his intention to do so took everybody by surprise, and the address created one of the most profound impressions of which there is any record in the annals of Congress.

The direct and impartial character of the address is widely commented on. It is singularly neutral, but significantly forceful and objective. Heretofore the President has addressed Congress under circumstances which suggested a studied departure from practice for the sake of emphasizing individuality, or from an impulse of anger, if not resentment. Both betrayed some sort of pose; but his address of Monday was marked by a degree of sincerity that was not lost upon the Senate and evoked applause in the galleries.

Even a few Republicans, not under the sinister influence of Lodge, joined in the hand clapping. The old Guard alone reserved the right to hold aloof until its members had time to study the speech closely and determine from the cabled British press consensus whether it favored England or Germany. The Lodge Republicans are now arrayed loyally on the side of “the mother country,” and Lodge's intimacy with the British Ambassador will have much to do with the attitude of the minority in any discussions or policies growing out of the President's address. Generally speaking, the opinion voiced in this quarter is one of disappointment.

In its broad outlines it stands for principles which have been indicated to be those which the Central Powers are quite ready to embrace. The essential points, the deliverance of Poland, the freedom of the seas, the insistence of a peace that will insure the world against a recurrence of another great war, the observance of national lines, a league to enforce peace and the recommendation of a universal Monroe Doctrine, are all doctrines likely to prove more acceptable to the Central Powers, fighting for their existence, than to comport with the recently announced programme of conquest of the Allies. Germany has even indicated that it was ready to use its influence with Turkey to make the Dardanelles an international highway to give Russia access to the sea, upon which the President lays some stress, whereas the announced programme of the Entente would completely deprive Austria-Hungary of her only harbors.

While some of the contentions may be Utopian, the general principles laid down will probably be considered as offering a basis of practical procedure, and if the pacifist element here does not misread the address, it has brought peace perceptibly nearer. The conservative element will await the best opinion of the London press to clear its mind on the hypothesis that the President is really acting in the interest of the Allies in this staying the hand of conquest, or helping them out of the serious dilemma into which their recent joint note has placed them.

* * * *

Meanwhile members of Congress are watching with lively interest the progress and development of the German high-sea campaign against Allied shipping with an increasing admiration for the aggressive spirit and resourcefulness of the German raiders under and above the surface of the ocean.

It is no exaggeration to say that this is doing more to make friends for Germany than all the attempts so far made to persuade the American people by speeches and pamphlets that the Central Powers have a justifiable cause. Every man in Congress has a fond memory of Paul Jones, who in English history is superficially mentioned as “a pirate,” and makes due allowance for British indignation expressing itself in violent denunciations of the German raider in the South Atlantic and the daily torpedoing of Allied ships.

* * * *

There is no evading the conclusion that there is an increasing sentiment for neutrality, based largely upon admiration for German achievements. And this in spite of the fact that the Allied propaganda was never so active as at present, backed as it is by plenty of Wall Street money and French “bonds de publicité, not to mention English subsidies.

Most of the members confess their amazement at the efficiency of the U-boat campaign. They have been fully disillusioned regarding the pretense of the British admiralty that the aggregate losses to British shipping is negligible. From the blithe manner in which the admiralty used to announce the daily “arrival and departure” of ships in English ports, followed by the boastful statement that “the submarine problem has been satisfactorily solved,” the truth has impressed every man that the U-boat terror is real, and that the favorite English process of “slow attrition” is being turned against the Allies in such efficient manner that by the middle of February England will probably be face to face with starvation, France and Italy will be no better off, and Russia possibly on the verge of physical collapse.

It is certain that there is a stronger feeling now than ever before, in Congressional circles, that Americans have no business on belligerent ships and are not entitled to sympathy of protection. One of the leading Republicans in the Senate, a pronounced pro-Ally, emphasized his words strongly in saying, “It seems to me, under the circumstances, any person taking passage on an armed merchantman must do so at his own peril.”

* * * *

On Saturday the German Ambassador handed the State Department a note from his government setting forth its reasons for deporting those Belgians […]

The note disposes summarily of the pathetic version of the Allied presses that men are torn from the bosom of their families and carried into German slavery. Not only is England responsible for the idleness of 1,560,000 Belgians because of her refusal to admit raw material into this most highly industrialized country in Europe, but she is insidiously promoting her own commercial interests by destroying the army of trained factory operatives which has enabled Belgium to develop her industries to the eminent degree reached before the war.

The note confirms statements from other sources that thousands of Belgians were glad to go to Germany and accept work, and that the measures adopted by General Bissing were taken on the advice and in co-operation with prominent Belgians.

The men so employed are at liberty to take their families with them or to visit them at intervals, as well as to correspond with their friends and relatives. It is to be regretted that the German Government did not call attention to the fact that the Federal Government during the Civil War deported the population of three whole counties in Missouri because of military expediency without any guaranty of high wages elsewhere, or to the appalling order of England which scattered thousands of Acadian peace-loving peasants to the four winds of heaven, as graphically related in Longfellow's “Evangeline.”


[Arthur James (Lord) Balfour, left, became Britain's Foreign Minister in Dec. 1916, succeeding Sir Earl Grey, under Prime Minister David Lloyd George. He remained in that office until October 1919. -cy]

Page 10


Editorial, Jan. 31, 1917

GREAT BRITAIN'S postscript to the Allied note, signed by Mr. Balfour, was timed to appear simultaneously with the announcement of the new British loan. We must read it in the light of a prospectus written by an exuberant promoter. Mr. Balfour knows that the terms he outlines in order to befuddle the American investor could not be discussed seriously outside of Bedlam, but he nevertheless hopes to enrope the innocent lambs gamboling in Wall Street with the kind assistance of Mr. J. Pierpont Morgan. We have no sympathy for the American who comes to harm in the Allied loan. For, as Mr. Ernst Hans Neufeld, writing in our sprightly contemporary, The Irish World, points out, the investment in which England invites our participation is an investment in slaughter.

The fact that Great Britain, with free access to all the markets of the world, must pay over six per cent for her loans, even if secured by collateral, whereas Germany, borrowing without security except the general credit of the German Empire, pays only a shade more than five per cent, clearly proves that the British Empire is insolvent. [...]

Mr. Balfour's note […] was addressed to all other innocents abroad and at home who believe that the cause of the Allies is just. We could agree with many of his abstractly noble contentions, if we could only forget our elementary course in British history. […] England has always been, and still is, a criminal nation. She wastes the substance and the blood of others. She violates every treaty under the sun. She treads underfoot, not one, but all smaller nations. We who have seen her maltreatment of Ireland and India, not to speak of the more recent violation of Greece and Persia, refuse to swallow sanctimonious phrases addressed by the British Government to the President of the United States.


In view of the military situation, in view of the fact that the Allies have lost every battle on every front, in view of the German raiders over and under the sea, who are at last giving the vampire of the world a dose of her own medicine, the conditions laid down by Mr. Balfour are childish, if intended to deceive the world; mad, if the author, contrary to the dictates of common sense and the evidence of events is actually deceiving himself.