Note of the German Government to the Vatican regarding then Peace Proposals, December 12, 1916

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WWI Document Archive > 1916 Documents > Official Communications and Speeches Relating to Peace Proposals 1916-1917 > Note of the German Government to the Vatican regarding the Peace Proposals, December 12, 1916


Note of the German Government to the Vatican regarding the Peace Proposals, December 12, 19161

     According to instructions received, I have the honor to send to your
Eminence a copy of the declaration of the Imperial Government to-day,
which, by the good offices of the powers intrusted with the protection
of German interests in the countries with which the German Empire
is in a state of war, transmits to these States, and in which the Imperial
Government declares itself ready to enter into peace negotiations. The
Austro-Hungarian, Turkish, and Bulgarian Governments also have
sent similar notes.
     The reasons which prompted Germany and her allies to take this
step are manifest. For two years and a half a terrible war has been
devastating the European Continent. Unlimited treasures of civiliza-
tion have been destroyed. Extensive areas have been soaked with
blood, Millions of brave soldiers have fallen in battle and millions
have returned home as invalids. Grief and sorrow fill almost every
house.
     Not only upon the belligerent nations, but also upon neutrals, the
destructive consequences of the gigantic struggle weigh heavily. Trade
and commerce, carefully built up in years of peace, 'have been de-
pressed. The best horses of the nation have been withdrawn from
the production of useful objects. Europe, which formerly was devoted
to the propagation of religion and civilization, which was trying to
find solutions for social problems, and was the home of science and
art and all peaceful labor, now resembles an immense war camp, in
which the achievements and works of many decades are doomed to
annihilation.
     Germany is carrying on a war of defence against her enemies, which
aim at her destruction. She fights to assure the integrity of her fron-
tiers and the liberty of the German Nation, for the right which she
claims to develop freely her intellectual and economic energies in peace-
ful competition and on an equal footing with other nations. All the
efforts of their enemies are unable to shatter the heroic armies of the
(Teutonic) allies, which protect the frontiers of their countries,
strengthened by the certainty that the enemy shall never pierce the iron
wall.
     Those fighting on the front know that they are supported by the
whole nation, which is inspired by love for its country and is ready
for the greatest sacrifices and determined to defend to the last extremity
the inherited treasure of intellectual and economic work and the social
organization and sacred soil of the country.
     Certain of our own strength, but realizing Europe's sad future if
the war continues; seized with pity in the face of the unspeakable
misery of humanity, the German Empire, in accord with her allies,
solemnly repeats what the Chancellor already has declared, a year ago,
that Germany is ready to give peace to the world by setting before the
whole world the question whether or not it is possible to find a basis
for an understanding.
     Since the first day of the Pontifical reign his Holiness the Pope has
unswervingly demonstrated, in the most generous fashion, his solicitude
for the innumerable victims of this war. He has alleviated the suffer-
ings and ameliorated the fate of thousands of men injured by this
catastrophe. Inspired by the exalted ideas of his ministry, his Holiness
has seized every opportunity in the interests of humanity to end so
sanguinary a war.
     The Imperial Government is firmly confident that the iniative of the
four powers will find friendly welcome on the part of his Holiness,
and that the work of peace can count upon the precious support of the
Holy See.


1The New York Times, December 13, 1916