Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

able victims of this war. He has alleviated the sufferings 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 initiative 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.

AUSTRIA'S SEPARATE STATEMENT.

An official Austrian statement, referring to the peace offer, says:

When in the summer of 1914 the patience of Austria-Hungary was exhausted by a series of systematically continued and ever increasing provocations and menaces, and the monarchy, after almost fifty years of unbroken peace, found itself compelled to draw the sword, this weighty decision was animated neither by aggressive purposes nor by designs of conquest, but solely by the bitter necessity of self-defense, to defend its existence and safeguard itself for the future against similar treacherous plots of hostile neighbors.

That was the task and aim of the monarchy in the present war. In combination with its allies, well tried in loyal comradeship in arms, the Austro-Hungarian Army and Fleet, fighting, bleeding, but also assailing and conquering, gained such successes that they frustrated the intentions of the enemy. The quadruple alliance not only has won an immense series of victories, but also holds in its power extensive hostile territories. Unbroken is its strength, as our latest treacherous enemy has just experienced.

Can our enemies hope to conquer or shatter this alliance of powers? They will never succeed in breaking it by blockade and starvation measures. Their war aims, to the attainment of which they have come no nearer in the third year of .the war, will in the future be proved to have been completely unattainable. Useless and unavailing, therefore, is the prosecution of the fighting on the part of the

enemy.

The powers of the Quadruple Alliance, on the other hand, have effectively pursued their aims, namely, defense against attacks on their existence and integrity, which were planned in concert long since, and the achievement of real guarantees, and they will never allow themselves to be deprived of the basis of their existence, which they have secured by advantages won.

The continuation of the murderous war, in which the enemy can destroy much, but cannot-as the Quadruple Alliance is firmly confident-alter fate, is ever more seen to be an aimless destruction of human lives and property, an act of inhumanity justified by no necessity and a crime against civilization.

This conviction, and the hope that similar views may also be begun to be entertained in the enemy camp, has caused the idea to ripen in the Vienna Cabinet-in full agreement with the Governments of the allied [Teutonic] powers of making a candid and loyal endeavor to come to a discussion with their enemies for the purpose of paving a way for peace.

The Governments of Austria-Hungary, Germany, Turkey, and Bulgaria have addressed today identical notes to the diplomatic representatives in the capitals concerned who are intrusted with the promotion of enemy nationals, expressing an inclination to enter into peace negotiations and requesting them to transmit this overture to enemy States. This step was simultaneously brought to the knowledge of the representatives of the Holy See in a special note, and the active interest of the Pope for this offer of peace was solicited. Likewise the accredited representatives of the remaining neutral States in the tour capitals were acquainted with this proceeding for the purpose of informing their Governments.

Austria and her allies by this step have given new and decisive proof of their love of peace. It is now for their enemies to make known their views before the world.

Whatever the result of its proposal may be, no responsibility can fall on the Quadruple Alliance, even before the judgment seat of its own peoples, if it is eventually obliged to continue the war.

PEACE NOTE TO THE BELLIGERENT NATIONS

DEPARTMENT OF STATE,

WASHINGTON, D. C., December 18, 1916.

The Secretary of State to the American Ambassadors at the Capitals of the Belligerent Powers:

The President directs me to send you the following communication to be presented immediately to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Government to which you are accredited:

The President of the United States has instructed me to suggest to the [here is inserted a designation of the Government addressed] a course of action with regard to the present war, which he hopes that the Government will take under consideration as suggested in the most friendly spirit, and as coming not only from a friend but also as coming from the representative of a neutral nation whose interests have been most seriously affected by the war and whose concern for its early conclusion arises out of a manifest necessity to determine how best to safeguard those interests if the war is to continue.

[The third paragraph of the note as sent to the four Central Powers— Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria—is as follows:]

The suggestion which I am instructed to make the President has long had it in mind to offer. He is somewhat embarrassed to offer it at this particular time, because it may now seem to have been prompted by a desire to play a part in connection with the recent overtures of the Central Powers. It has, in fact, been in no way suggested by them in its origin, and the President would have delayed offering it until those overtures had been independently answered but for the fact that it also concerns the question of peace and may best be considered in connection with other proposals which have the same end in view. The President can only beg that his suggestion be considered entirely on its own merits and as if it had been made in other circumstances.

[The third paragraph of the note as sent to the ten Entente AlliesGreat Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, Belgium, Montenegro, Portugal, Rumania, and Serbia-is as follows:]

The suggestion which I am instructed to make the President has long had it in mind to offer. He is somewhat embarrassed to offer it at this particular time, because it may now seem to have been prompted by the recent overtures of the Central Powers. It is, in fact, in no way associated with them in its origin, and the President would have delayed offering it until those overtures had been answered but for the fact that it also concerns the question of peace and may best be considered in connection with other proposals which have the same end in view. The President can only beg that his suggestion be considered entirely on its own merits and as if it had been made in other circumstances.

[Thenceforward the note proceeds identically to all the powers, as follows:]

The President suggests that an early occasion be sought to call out from all the nations now at war such an avowal of their respective views as to the terms upon which the war might be concluded and the arrangements which would be deemed satisfactory as a guaranty against its renewal or the kindling of arfy similar conflict in the future as would make it possible frankly to compare them. He is indifferent as to the means taken to accomplish this. He would be happy himself to serve, or even to take the initiative in its accomplishment, in any way that might prove acceptable, but he has no desire to determine the method. or the instrumentality. One way will be as acceptable to him as another, if only the great object he has in mind be attained.

He takes the liberty of calling attention to the fact that the objects, which the statesmen of the belligerents on both sides have in mind in this war, are virtually the same, as stated in general terms to their own. people and to the world. Each side desires to make the rights and privileges of weak peoples and small States as secure against aggression or denial in the future as the rights and privileges of the great and powerful States now at war. Each wishes itself to be made secure in the future, along with all other nations and peoples, against the recurrence of wars like this and against aggression or selfish interference of any kind. Each would be jealous of the formation of any more rival leagues to preserve an uncertain balance of power amid multiplying suspicions; but each is ready to consider the formation of a league of nations to insure peace and justice throughout the world. Before that final step can be taken, however, each deems it necessary first to settle the issues of the present war upon terms which will certainly safeguard the independence, the territorial integrity, and the political and commercial freedom of the nations involved.

In the measures to be taken to secure the future peace of the world the people and Government of the United States are as vitally and as directly interested as the Governments now at war. Their interest, moreover, in the means to be adopted to relieve the smaller and weaker peoples of the world of the peril of wrong and violence is as quick and ardent as that of any other people or Government. They stand ready, and even eager, to co-operate in the accomplishment of these ends, when the war is over, with every influence and resource at their command. But the war must first be concluded. The terms upon which it is to be concluded they are not at liberty to suggest; but the President does feel that it is his right and his duty to point out their intimate interest in its conclusion, lest it should presently be too late to accomplish the greater things which lie beyond its conclusion, lest the situation of neutral nations, now exceedingly hard to endure, be rendered altogether

intolerable, and lest, more than all, an injury be done civilization itself which can never be atoned for or repaired.

The President therefore feels altogether justified in suggesting an immediate opportunity for a comparison of views as to the terms which must precede those ultimate arrangements for the peace of the world, which all desire and in which the neutral nations as well as those at war are ready to play their full responsible part. If the contest must continue to proceed toward undefined ends by slow attrition until the one group of belligerents or the other is exhausted; if million after million of human lives must continue to be offered up until on the one side or the other there are no more to offer; if resentments must be 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 definitively 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 political 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 belligerent, 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. LANSING.

[Copies of the above will be delivered to all neutral Governments for their information.]

TEXT OF GERMANY'S NOTE TO PRESIDENT WILSON, PROPOSING PEACE CONFERENCE OF BELLIGERENTS.

BERLIN, December 26, 1916.

Germany and her allies, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey, replied today to the note of President Wilson in which he asked that the belligerent nations state the aims for which they were fighting. The text of the reply, which was handed to James W. Gerard, the American Ambassador, says:

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.

The answer of the Central Powers concludes with the usual diplomatic terms of politeness.

REPLY OF THE ENTENTE ALLIES TO THE CENTRAL POWERS' OFFER TO OPEN PEACE NEGOTIATIONS.

PARIS, December 30, 1916.

The allied Governments of Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Portugal, Rumania, Russia, and Serbia, united for the defense of the liberty of their peoples and faithful to engagements taken not to lay down their arms separately, have resolved to reply collectively to the pretended propositions of peace which were addressed to them on behalf of the enemy Governments through the intermediary of the United States, Spain, Switzerland, and Holland.

Before making any reply, the allied powers desire particularly to protest against the two essential assertions of the notes of the enemy powers that pretend to throw upon the Allies responsibility for the war and proclaim the victory of the Central Powers. The allied Governments cannot admit an affirmation doubly inexact and which suffices to render sterile all tentative negotiations. The allied nations have sustained for thirty months a war they did everything to avoid. They have shown by their acts their attachment to peace. That attachment is as strong today as it was in 1914. But it is not upon the word of Germany, after the violation of its engagements, that the peace broken by her may be based.

A mere suggestion without a statement of terms, that negotiations should be opened, is not an offer of peace. The putting forward by the Imperial Government of a sham proposal acking all substance and precision would appear to be less an offer of peace than a war manoeuvre. It is founded on calculated misinterpretation of the character of the struggle in the past, the present, and the future.

As for the past, the German note takes no account of the facts, dates, and figures, which establish that the war was desired, provoked, and declared by Germany and Austria-Hungary.

At The Hague Conference it was a German delegate who refused all proposals for disarmament. In July, 1914, it was Austria-Hungary, who, after having addressed to Serbia an unprecedented ultimatum, declared war upon her in spite of the satisfaction which had at once been accorded.

The Central Empires then rejected all attempts made by the Entente to bring about a pacific solution of a purely local conflict. Great Britain suggested a conference; France proposed an international commission; the Emperor of Russia asked the German Emperor to go to arbitration, and Russia and AustriaHungary came to an understanding on the eve of the conflict. But to all these efforts Germany gave neither answer nor effect.

Belgium was invaded by an empire which had guaranteed her neutrality and which had the assurance to proclaim that treaties were "scraps of paper," and that "necessity knows no law."

« AnteriorContinuar »