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kindled that can never cool and despairs engendered from which there can be no recovery, hopes of peace and of the willing concert of free peoples will be rendered vain and idle.”
"The life of the entire world has been profoundly affected. Every part of the great family of mankind has felt the burden and terror of this unprecedented contest of arms. No nation in the civilized world can be said in truth to stand outside its influence or to be safe against its disturbing effects. And yet the concrete objects for which it is being waged have never been definitely stated.
"The leaders of the several belligerents have, as has been said, stated those objects in general terms. But, stated in general terms, they seem the same on both sides. Never yet have the authoritative spokesmen of either side avowed the precise objects which would, if attained, satisfy them and their people that the war had been fought out. The world has been left to conjecture what definitive results, what actual exchange of guaranties, what politi
cal or territorial changes or readjustments, what stage of military success even, would bring the war to an end.
“It may be that peace is nearer than we know; that the terms which the belligerents on the one side and on the other would deem it necessary to insist upon are not so irreconcilable as some have feared; that an interchange of views would clear the way at least for conference and make the permanent concord of the nations a hope of the immediate future, a concert of nations immediately practicable.
"The President is not proposing peace; he is not even offering mediation. He is merely proposing that soundings be taken in order that we may learn, the neutral nations with the belligerents, how near the haven of peace may be for which all mankind longs with an intense and increasing longing. He believes that the spirit in which he 'speaks and the objects which he seeks will be understood by all concerned, and he confidently hopes for a response which will bring a new light into the affairs of the world.”
CENTRAL POWERS REPLY
Note from Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey, presented to United States Ambassador, James W. Gerard at Berlin, December 26:
“The high-minded suggestion made by the President of the United States of America in order to create a basis for the establishment of a lasting peace has been received and considered by the Imperial Government in the friendly spirit which was expressed in the President's communication,
The President points out that which he has at heart and leaves open the choice of road. To the Imperial Government an immediate exchange of views seems to be the
most appropriate road in order to reach the desired result. It begs, therefore, in the sense of the declaration made on Dec. 12, which offered a hand for peace negotiations, to propose an immediate meeting of delegates of the belligerent States at a neutral place.
“The Imperial Government is also of the opinion that the great work of preventing future wars can be begun only after the end of the present struggle of the nations. It will, when this moment shall have come, be ready with pleasure to collaborate entirely with the United States in this exalted task.”
ENTENTE ALLIES REPLY
The reply of the Entente Allies to President Wilson's note, translated from the French official text as cabled from Paris to Washington, date of January 10, reads as follows. The variations of translations as printed in the London press are of considerable importance to a clear understanding of the document. We give these in brackets where they occur.
"The Allied Governments have received
the note which was delivered to them in the name of the Government of the United States on the 19th of December, 1916. They have studied it with the care imposed upon them both by the exact realization which they have of the gravity of the hour and by the sincere friendship which attaches them to the American people.
"In a general way they wish to declare that they pay tribute to the elevation of the sentiment with which the American note is inspired, and that they associate them
selves, with all their hopes, with the project for the creation of a league of nations to insure peace and justice throughout the world. They recognize all the advantages for the cause of humanity and civilization which the institution of international agreements, destined to avoid violent conflicts between nations would prevent-agreements which must imply the sanctions necessary to insure their execution, and thus to prevent an apparent security from only facilitating new aggressions. (London version: “In a general way they desire to declare their respect for the lofty sentiments inspiring the American note, and their whole-hearted agreement with the proposal to create a league of nations which shall assure peace and justice throughout the world. They recognize all the benefits which will accrue to the cause of humanity and civilization from the institution of international arrangements designed to prevent violent conflicts between nations and so framed as to provide the sanctions necessary to their enforcement, lest an illusory security should serve merely to facilitate fresh acts of aggression.”)
“But a discussion of future arrangements destined to insure an enduring peace presupposes a satisfactory settlement of the actual conflict. (“But a discussion of future arrangements for assuring a durable peace presupposes a satisfactory settlement of the present conflict.”] The Allies have as profound a desire as the Government of the United States to terminate as soon as possible a war for which the Central Empires are responsible and which inflicts such cruel sufferings upon humanity. But they believe that it is impossible at the present moment to attain a peace which will assure them reparation, restitution, and such guarantees to which they are entitled by the aggression for which the responsibility rests with the Central Powers, and of which the principle itself tended to ruin the security of Europe-a peace which would, on the other hand, permit the establishment of the future of European nations on a solid basis. [“But in their judgment it is impossible to obtain at this moment such a peace as will not only secure to them the reparation, the restitution, and the guarantees justly due them by reason of the act of aggression, the guilt of which is fixed upon the Central Powers, while the very principle from which it sprang was undermining the safety of Europe: and at the same time such a peace as will enable future European nations to be established upon a sure foundation.”] The Allied nations are conscious that they are not fighting for selfish interests, but, above all, to safeguard the
independence of peoples, of right, and of humanity.
“The Allies are fully aware of the losses and suffering which the war causes to neutrals as well as to belligerents, and they deplore them, but they do not hold themselves responsible for them, having in no way either willed or provoked this war; and they strive to reduce these damages in their measure compatible with the inexorable exigencies of their defence against the violence and the wiles of the enemy.
“It is with satisfaction, therefore, that they take note of the declaration that the American communication is in nowise associated in its origin with that of the Central Powers transmitted on the 18th of December by the Government of the United States. They did not doubt, moreover, the resolution of that Government to avoid even the appearance of a support, even moral, of the authors responsible for the war.
"The Allied Governments believe that they must protest in the most friendly but in the most specific manner against the assimilation, established in the American note, between the two groups of belligerents; this assimilation, based upon public declarations by the Central Powers, is in direct opposition to the evidence, both as regards responsibility for the past and as concerns guarantees for the future; President Wilson, in mentioning it, certainly had no intention of associating himself with it. ("The allied Governments feel it their duty to challenge in the most friendly, but also in the clearest way the analogy drawn between the two groups of belligerents. This analogy, based on public declarations of the Central Powers, is in direct conflict with the evidence, both as regards responsibility for the past and guarantees for the future. President Wilson in alluding to this analogy did not, of course, intend to adopt it as his own."]
“If there is a historical fact established at the present date, it is the wilful aggression of Germany and Austria-Hungary to insure their hegemony over Europe and their economic domination over the world. Germany proved by her declaration of war, by the immediate violation of Belgium and Luxemburg, and by her manner of conducting the war her simulating contempt for all principles of humanity and all respect for small states. As the conflict developed, the attitude of the Central Powers and their allies has been a continual defiance of humanity and civilization. (“By her declaration of war, by the instant violation of Belgium and Luxemburg, and by her methods of warfare, Germany has proved that she systematically scorns every principle of humanity and all respect due to small states. More and more, as the struggle has progressed, has the attitude of the Central Powers and their allies been a constant challenge to humanity and civilization."
"Is it necessary to recall the horrors which accompanied marked the invasion of Belgium and of servia, the atrocious res gime imposed upon the invaded countries, the massacre of hundreds of thousands of inoffensive Armenians, the barbarities perpetrated against the populations of Syria, the raids of Zeppelins on open towns, the destruction by submarines of passenger steamers and of merchantmen even under neutral flags, the cruel treatment inflicted upon prisoners of war, the juridical murder of Miss Cavell, of Capt. Fryatt, the deportation and the reduction to slavery of civil populations, et cetera? The execution of such a series of crimes, perpetrated without any regard for universal reprobation, fully explains to President Wilson the protest of the Allies.
"They consider that the note which they sent to the United States in reply to the German note will be a response to the questions put by the American Government, and, according to the exact words of the latter, 'constitute a public declaration as to the conditions upon which the war could be terminated.'
"President Wilson desires more: he desires that the belligerent Powers openly affirm the objects which they seek by continuing the war; the Allies experience no difficulty in replying to this request. Their objects in the war are well known; they have been formulated on many occasions by the chiefs of their divers Governments. Their objects will not be made known in detail with all the equitable compensation and indemnities for damages suffered until the hour of negotiations. But the civilized world knows that they imply, in all necessity and in the first instance, the restoration of Belgium, of Servia, and of Montenegro, and the indemnities which are due them; the evacuation of the invaded territories of France, of Russia, and of Rumania, with just reparation; the reorganization of Europe, guaranteed by a stable régime and founded as much upon respect of nationalities and full security and liberty of economic development, which all nations, great or small, possess, as upon territorial conventions and international agreements, suitable to guarantee territo
pe territo. rial and maritime frontiers against unjustified attacks; (“The reorganization of Europe, guaranteed by a stable settlement, based alike upon the principle of nationalities, on the right which all peoples, whether small or great, have to the enjoy
ment of full security and free economic development, and also upon territorial agreements and international arrangements 80 framed as to guarantee land and sea frontiers against un just attacks."] the restitution of provinces or territories wrested in the past from the Allies by force or against the will of their populations; the liberation of Italians, of Slavs, of Rumanians, and of Tcheco-Slovaques from foreign domination; the enfranchisement of populations subject to the bloody tyranny of the Turks; the expulsion from Europe of the Ottoman Empire, decidedly alien to Western civilization. The intentions of his Majesty, the Emperor of Russia, regarding Poland have been clearly indicated in the proclamation which he has just addressed to his armies.
“It goes without saying that if the Allies wish to liberate Europe from the brutal covetousness of Prussian militarism it never has been their design, as has been alleged, to encompass the extermination of the German peoples and their political disappearance. That which they desire above all is to insure a peace upon the principles of liberty and justice, upon the inviolable fidelity to international obligations with which the Government of the United States has never ceased to be inspired.
“United in the pursuit of this supreme object, the Allies are determined, individually and collectively, to act with all their power and to consent to all sacrifices to bring to a victorious close a conflict upon which, they are convinced, not only their own safety and prosperity depend, but also the future of civilization itself.”
BELGIUM MAKES SEPARATE
REPLY Note from Belgian Government appended to note from Entente Allies, Paris, January 10:
“The Government of the King, which has associated itself with the answer handed by the President of the French Council to the American Ambassador on behalf of all, is particularly desirous of paying tribute to the sentiment of humanity which prompted the President of the United States to send his note to the belligerent Powers, and it highly esteems the friendship expressed for Belgium through his kindly intermediation. It desires as much as Mr. Woodrow Wilson to see the present war ended as early as possible.
“But the President seems to believe that the statesmen of the two opposing camps pursue the same object of war. The example of Belgium unfortunately demonstrates that this is in no wise the fact. Belgium has never, like the Central Powers, aimed at conquest. The barbarous fashion in which the German Government has treated and is still treating, the Belgian nation does not permit the supposition that Germany will preoccupy herself with guaranteeing in the future the rights of the weak nations, which she has not ceased to trample under foot since the war, let loose by her, began to desolate Europe.
"On the other hand, the Government of the King has noted with pleasure and with confidence the assurances that the United States is impatient to cooperate in the measures which will be taken after the conclusion of peace to protect and guarantee the small nations against violence and oppression. * “Previous to the German ultimatum, Belgium only aspired to live upon good terms with all her neighbors. She practiced with scrupulous loyalty toward each one of them the duties imposed by her neutrality. In the same manner she has been rewarded by Germany for the confidence she placed in her, through which, from one day to the other, without any plausible reason, her neutrality was violated, and the Chancellor of the Empire, when announcing to the Reichstag this violation of right and of treaties, was obliged to recognize the iniquity of such an act and predetermine that it would be repaired.
But the Germans, after the occupation of Belgian territory, have displayed no better observance of the rules of international law or the stipulations of The Hague Convention. They have, by taxation as heavy as it is arbitrary, drained the resources of the country; they have intentionally ruined its industries, destroyed whole cities, put to death and imprisoned a considerable number of inhabitants. Even now, while they are loudly proclaiming their desire to put an end to the
horrors of war, they increase the rigors of the occupation by deporting into servitude Belgian workers by the thousands.
“If there is a country which has the right to say that it has taken up arms right to say that it has take to defend its existence, it is assuredly Belgium. Compelled to fight or to submit to shame, she passionately desires that an end be brought to the unprecedented sufferings of her population. But she could only accept a peace which would assure her, as well as equitable reparation, security and guarantees for the future.
"The American people, since the beginning of the war, has manifested for the oppressed Belgian nation most ardent sympathy. It is an American committee, the Commission for Relief in Belgium, which, in close union with the Government of the King and the National Committee, displays an untiring devotion and marvellous activity in revictualing Belgium. The Government of the King is happy to avail itself of this opportunity to express its profound gratitude to the Commission for Relief as well as to the generous Americans eager to relieve the misery of the Belgian population. Finally, nowhere more than in the United States have the abductions and deportations of Belgian civilians provoked such a spontaneous movement of protestations and indignant reproof.
“These facts, entirely to the honor of the American nation, allow the Government of the King to entertain the legitimate hope that at the time of the definitive settlement of this long war the voice of the Entente Power will find in the United States a unanimous echo to claim in favor of the Belgian nation, innocent victim of German ambition and covetousness, the rank and the place which its irreproachable past, the valor of its soldiers, its fidelity to honor, and its remarkable faculties for work assign to it among the civilized nations."
NEUTRAL GOVERNMENTS REPLY TO PRESIDENT
SWITZERLAND Note from the Swiss Federal Council, December 24.
“The President of the United States of America, with whom the Swiss Federal Council, guided by its warm desire that the hostilities may soon come to an end, has for a considerable time been in touch, had the kindness to apprise the Federal Council of the peace note sent to the Governments of the Central and Entente Powers. In that note President Wilson discusses the
great desirability of international agreements for the purpose of avoiding more effectively and permanently the occurrence of catastrophes such as the one under which the peoples are suffering today. In this connection he lays particular stress on the necessity for bringing about the end of the present war. Without making peace proposals himself or offering mediation, he confines himself to sounding as to whether mankind may hope to have approached the haven of peace.
“The most meritorious personal initiative of President Wilson will find a mighty echo in Switzerland. True to the obligations arising from observing the strictest neutrality, united by the same friendship with the States of both warring groups of powers, situated like an island amidst the seething waves of the terrible world war, with its ideal and material interests most sensibly jeopardized and violated, our country is filled with a deep longing for peace, and ready to assist by its small means to stop the endless sufferings caused by the war and brought before its eyes by daily contact with the interned, the severely wounded, and those expelled, and to establish the foundations for a beneficial cooperation of the peoples.
"The Swiss Federal Council is therefore glad to seize the opportunity to support the efforts of the President of the United States. It would consider itself happy if it could act in any, no matter how modest a way, for the rapprochement of the peoples now engaged in the struggle, and for reaching a lasting peace.”
the attitude by the Government of the United States.
“The Spanish Government, in answer to the initiative of the President of the United States, knowing the various impressions produced, believes that the action in which Spain is invited to participate will be inefficacious, especially as the central empires have expressed their intention that the peace conditions shall be arranged exclusively among the belligerents.
“Nevertheless, the Spanish government, having in consideration the noble desires of the American Government, which are worthy the praise of all peoples, is disposed to associate itself with every negotiation which has for its object the facilitating of the humanitarian work of ending the present war.
“Spain, however, will suspend all action until the time when her efforts and work in favor of peace can be more useful and efficacious than at the present time. Until then the Spanish Government believes that it would be opportune to declare, with regard to an entente of the neutral powers for the defense of their interests, that it is disposed now, as it was at the beginning of the war, to commence negotiations which might lead to an accord capable of uniting the non-belligerent powers."
NORWAY, SWEDEN AND DENMARK
Ministers from the three Scandinavian governments at Washington presented identic notes to Secretary Lansing, December 29. The text of the note from Norway reads:
"It is with the liveliest interest that the Norwegian Government has learned of the proposals which the President of the United States has just made with the purpose of facilitating measures looking toward the establishment of a durable peace, while at the same time seeking to avoid any interference which could cause offense to legitimate sentiments.
"The Norwegian Government would consider itself failing in its duties toward its own people and toward humanity if it did not express its deepest sympathy with all efforts which would contribute to put an end to the ever-increasing suffering and the moral and material losses. It has every hope that the initiative of President Wilson will arrive at a result worthy of the high purpose which inspires it.”
SPAIN Text of the note from Spain under date of January 2, Madrid:
"The Spanish Government has received from the Ambassador of the United States the note by the President of the United States to the belligerent nations and another communication in which it is said that the moment is opportune for action by the Government of His Majesty in support of
CHINA Note from the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wu Ting-Fang, published under date of January 11, 1916, Pekin:
“I have examined, with the care which the gravity of the questions raised demands, the note concerning peace which President Wilson has addressed to the governments of the Allies and the Central Powers now at war and the text of which Your Excellency has been good enough to transmit to me under instructions of your Government.
“China, a nation traditionally pacific, recently has again manifested her sentiments in concluding treaties concerning the pacific settlement of international disputes, responding thus to the wishes (word supplied by Chinese legation) of the peace conference held at The Hague.
“On the other hand, the present war, by its prolongation, has seriously affected the interests of China, more so perhaps than those of other powers which have remained neutral. She is at present at a time of reorganization which demands economically and industrially the cooperation of foreign countries, cooperation which a large number of them are unable to accord on account of the war in which they are engaged.
“In manifesting her sympathy for the spirit of the President's note, having in