Russian semi-official Statement regarding the German Peace Proposals, December 14, 1916

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WWI Document Archive > 1916 Documents > Official Communications and Speeches Relating to Peace Proposals 1916-1917 > Russian semi-official Statement regarding the German Peace Proposals, December 14, 1916


Russian semi-official Statement regarding the German Peace Proposals, December 14, 19161

     The new appeal of our enemies is not their first attempt to throw
the responsibilities of the war, which they have let loose, upon the
Entente Powers. In order to obtain the support of the German people,
who are tired of the war, the Berlin Government has many times had
recourse to fallacious words of peace, and has frequently, in order to
animate its troops, offered prospects of early peace. It had already
promised peace when Warsaw was taken and Serbia was conquered,
forgetting that such promises, if unfulfilled, would create profound
distrust.
     In its further efforts, which were similar and due to the same inter-
ested considerations, the German Government was obliged to carry
this question outside Germany, and all the world recalls these attempts,
notably its ballons d'essai which were sent up in neutral countries, par-
ticularly the United States. Seeing the inanity of such methods, which
deceived no one, Germany attempted to create a peace atmosphere
which would allow her to consolidate her aggressive and Imperialist
tendencies, while sowing discord between the Allies, by seeking to
make public opinion believe that separate pourparlers were in progress
between her and the Entente Powers.
     That was the period of the persistent reports of a separate peace.
Seeing, however, that the Allies rejected with strong unanimity all
these attempts, our enemies had to think of a more serious plan. They
are to-day making, in spite of their confidence in their military and
economic power, an appeal to the United States, Spain, and Switzer-
land, announcing their anxiety to enter into negotiations for peace.
     The lack of sincerity and the object of the German proposal are
evident. The enemy Governments have need of heroic measures to
complete the gaps in their armies. The German Government, in order
to lift up the hearts of its people and to prepare it for fresh sacri-
fices, is striving to create a favourable atmosphere with the following
thesis: — "We are struggling for our existence. We are proposing
peace. It is refused us. Therefore, the responsibility for the continu-
ation of the war falls upon our enemies."
     The object pursued by Germany is, however, clear. She speaks of
respect for the rights of other nations, but at the same time she has
already introduced in Belgium, Serbia, Montenegro, and Poland a
regime of terror and violence. As for the future, Germany has pro-
claimed the illusory independence of Poland, she proposes to divide
Serbia between Bulgaria and Austria, economically to subjugate Bel-
gium, and to cede to Bulgaria part of Roumanian territory. Every-
where the idea of the hegemony of Germany predominates, and the
latest speeches of Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg show up the true aspi-
rations of the German Government.
     But to-day, when the Entente Powers have proclaimed their un-
shakable determination to continue the war to a successful end and
to prevent Germany from establishing her hegemony, no favourable
ground exists for peace negotiations. Our enemies knew of the
speeches of Mr. Lloyd George, M. Briand, Signor Boselli, and the
statement of M. Trepoff. They were therefore sure that their proposal
was unacceptable. It is so not because the Entente Powers, the friends
of peace, are not inclined that way, but because the peace offered by
Germany is a snare for public opinion. That is why the enemy Gov-
ernments carefully avoid mentioning the conditions of peace.
     We are sure that this new enterprise of the disturbers of the peace
will lead no one astray, and that it is condemned to failure like
previous efforts. The Entente Powers would assume a terrible re-
sponsibility before their peoples, before all humanity, if they sus-
pended the struggle against Germany's latest attempt to profit by
the present situation to implant her hegemony in Europe. All the
innumerable sacrifices of the Allies would be nullified by a premature
peace with an enemy who is exhausted but not yet brought down.
     The firm determination of the Entente Powers to continue the
war to final triumph can be weakened by no illusory proposals of the
enemy.


1The Times, London, December 15, 1916.