Statement of Emile Vandervelde, Belgian Minister of State, on the Peace Proposals

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WWI Document Archive > 1916 Documents > Official Communications and Speeches Relating to Peace Proposals 1916-1917 > Statement of Emile Vandervelde, Belgian Minister of State, on the Peace Proposals


Statement of Emile Vandervelde, Belgian Minister of State, on the Peace Proposals1

     From clandestine inquiries which I have been able to make among
the popular leaders in the occupied part of Belgium since the pub-
lication of the German peace proposals I believe that the Belgian
people are in complete accord with their Government in the atti-
tude it has assumed towards the Chancellor's note. There must be
no annexation if the peace following this war is to prevent other
wars. That is one of the reasons why it would be futile even to
comment upon the suggestion from German sources that the Germans
are willing to abandon Belgium in exchange for the Belgian Congo.

                         *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
     There is no complaint of your President's action among the Bel-
gian people. We believe that Mr. Wilson acted wholly in the spirit
of humanitarianism, and that the steps he has taken will help rather
than harm our cause. A comparison of the Allies' expression of
views and our enemies' will suffice, I think, to convince the United
States of the insincerity of Germany's attitude and the impossibility
of discussing her present proposals.
     It is very possible, however, that as her need for peace, which I
believe to be very great, grows more pronounced, Germany will come
forward with more reasonable proposals. It would then become
necessary for us to scrutinize such future offers as closely as we
have those already formulated and declined.

                         *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *
     The incredible, brutal slave traffic in which the Germans are now
engaged in Belgium, against which your Government has raised its
voice, has only served to increase my compatriots' horror of a peace
imposed by Berlin.


1The Times, London, January 9th, 1917.