In the World War
by Count Ottokar Czernin
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"Furthermore: 'The German translation of the Russian original text of the communication received yesterday evening from Herr Joffe regarding the delegates of the Ukrainian Government at Kharkov and the two appendices thereto runs as follows:

"'To the President of the Austro-Hungarian Peace Delegation.

"'Sir,—In forwarding you herewith a copy of a declaration received by me from the delegates of the Workers' and Peasants' Government of the Ukrainian Republic, W.M. Schachrai and J.G. Medwjedew, and their mandates, I have the honour to inform you that the Russian Delegation, in full agreement with its frequently repeated acknowledgment of the right of self-determination among all peoples—including naturally the Ukrainian—sees nothing to hinder the participation of the representatives of the Workers' and Peasants' Government of the Ukrainian Republic in the peace negotiations, and receives them, according to their wish, among the personnel of the Russian Peace Delegation, as accredited representatives of the Workers' and Peasants' Government of the Ukrainian Republic. In bringing this to your knowledge, I beg you, sir, to accept the expression of my most sincere respect.—The President of the Russian Peace Delegation: A. JOFFE.'

"'Appendix 1. To the President of the Peace Delegation of the Russian Republic. Declaration.

"'We, the representatives of the Workers' and Peasants' Government of the Ukrainian Republic, People's Commissary for Military Affairs, W.M. Schachrai, and the President of the Pan-Ukrainian Central Executive Committee of the Council of the Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputation, J.G. Medwjedew, delegated to proceed to Brest-Litovsk for the purpose of conducting peace negotiations with the representatives of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Turkey, in full agreement with the representatives of the Workers' and Peasants' Government of the Russian Federative Republic, thereby understood the Council of People's Commissaries, hereby declare as follows: The General Secretariat of the Ukrainian Central Rada can in no case be acknowledged as representing the entire Ukrainian people. In the name of the Ukrainian workers, soldiers and peasants, we declare categorically that all resolutions formed by the General Secretariat without our assent will not be accepted by the Ukrainian people, cannot be carried out, and can in no case be realised.

"'In full agreement with the Council of People's Commissaries, and thus also with the Delegation of the Russian Workers' and Peasants' Government, we shall for the future undertake the conduct of the peace negotiations with the Delegation of the four Powers, together with the Russian Peace Delegation.

"'And we now bring to the knowledge of the President the following resolution, passed by the Central Executive Committee of the Pan-Ukrainian Council of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies, on the 30th December, 1917/12th January, 1918:

"'The Central Committee has decided: To delegate Comrade Medwjedew, President of the Central Executive Committee, and People's Secretary Satonski and Commissary Schachrai, to take part in the peace negotiations, instructing them at the same time to declare categorically that all attempts of the Ukrainian Central Rada to act in the name of the Ukrainian people are to be regarded as arbitrary steps on the part of the bourgeois group of the Ukrainian population, against the will and interests of the working classes of the Ukraine, and that no resolutions formed by the Central Rada will be acknowledged either by the Ukrainian Soviet Government or by the Ukrainian people; that the Ukrainian Workers' and Peasants' Government regards the Council of People's Commissaries as representatives of the Pan-Russian Soviet Government, and as accordingly entitled to act on behalf of the entire Russian Federation; and that the delegation of the Ukrainian Workers' and Peasants' Government, sent out for the purpose of exposing the arbitrary steps of the Ukrainian Central Rada, will act together with and in full agreement with the Pan-Russian Delegation.

"'Herewith: The mandate issued by the People's Secretariat of the Ukrainian Workers' and Peasants' Republic, 30th December, 1917.

"'Note: People's Secretary for Enlightenment of the People, Wladimir Petrowitch Satonski, was taken ill on the way, and did not therefore arrive with us.

"'January, 1918.

"'The President of the Central Executive Committee of the Ukrainian Council of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies, E. Medwjedew.

"'The People's Commissary for Military Affairs, Schachrai.

"'A true copy of the original.

"'The Secretary of the Peace Delegation, Leo Karachou.'

"Appendix 2.

"'On the resolution of the Central Executive Committee of the Council of Workers', Peasants' and Soldiers' Deputies of Ukraina, the People's Secretariat of the Ukrainian Republic hereby appoints, in the name of the Workers' and Peasants' Government of Ukraina, the President of the Central Executive Committee of the Council of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' Deputies of Ukraina, Jesim Gregoriewitch Medwjedew, the People's Secretary for Military Affairs, Wasili Matwjejewitch Schachrai, and the People's Secretary for Enlightenment of the People, Wladimir Petrowitch Satonski, in the name of the Ukrainian People's Republic, to take part in the negotiations with the Governments of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Turkey and Bulgaria as to the terms of peace between the mentioned states and the Russian Federative Republic. With this end in view the mentioned deputies, Jesim Gregoriewitch Medwjedew, Wasili Matwjejewitch Schachrai and Wladimir Petrowitch Satonski are empowered, in all cases where they deem it necessary, to issue declarations and to sign documents in the name of the Workers' and Peasants' Government of the Ukrainian Republic. The accredited representatives of the Ukrainian Workers' and Peasants' Government are bound to act throughout in accordance with the actions of the accredited representatives of the Workers' and Peasants' Government of the Russian Federative Republic, whereby is understood the Council of People's Commissaries.

"'In the name of the Workers' and Peasants' Government of the Ukrainian People's Republic, the People's Secretary for International Affairs, for Internal Affairs, Military Affairs, Justice, Works, Commissariat.

"'The Manager of the Secretariat.

"'Kharkov, 30th December, 1917/12th January, 1918.

"'In accordance with the copy.

"'The President of the Russian Peace Delegation, A. Joffe.'

"This is at any rate a new difficulty, since we cannot and will not interfere in the internal affairs of Russia.

"This once disposed of, however, there will be no further difficulties to encounter here; we shall, in agreement with the Ukrainian Republic determine that the old boundaries between Austria-Hungary and the former Russia will also be maintained as between ourselves and the Ukraine.


"As regards Poland, the frontiers of which, by the way, have not yet been exactly determined, we want nothing at all from this new state. Free and uninfluenced, the population of Poland shall choose its own fate. For my part I attach no great weight to the form of the people's vote in this respect; the more surely it expresses the general wish of the people, the better I shall be pleased. For I desire only the voluntary attachment of Poland; only in the express wish of Poland itself toward that end can I see any guarantee for lasting harmony. It is my unalterable conviction that the Polish question must not be allowed to delay the signing of peace by a single day. If, after peace is arrived at, Poland should wish to approach us, we will not reject its advances—the Polish question must not and shall not endanger the peace itself.

"I should have been glad if the Polish Government had been able to take part in the negotiations, since in my opinion Poland is an independent state. The Petersburg Government, however, takes the attitude that the present Polish Government is not entitled to speak in the name of the country, and does not acknowledge it as competent to represent the country, and we therefore gave way on this point in order to avoid possible conflict. The question is certainly one of importance, but it is more important still in my opinion to set aside all difficulties likely to delay the negotiations.

German-Russian Differences as to the Occupied Areas

"The second difficulty to be reckoned with, and one which has been most widely echoed in the Press, is the difference of opinion between our German allies and the Petersburg Government anent the interpretation of the right of self-determination among the Russian peoples; that is to say, in the areas occupied by German troops. Germany maintains that it does not aim at any annexation of territory by force from Russia, but, briefly stated, the difference of opinion is a double one.

"In the first place, Germany rightly maintains that the numerous expressions of desire for independence on the part of legislative corporations, communal representations, etc., in the occupied areas should be taken as the provisional basis for the will of the people, to be later tested by plebiscite on a broader foundation, a point of view which the Russian Government at first was indisposed to agree to, as it did not consider the existing administrations in Courland and Lithuania entitled to speak for those provinces any more than in the case of Poland.

"In the second place, Russia demands that this plebiscite shall take place after all German troops and officials have been withdrawn from the occupied provinces, while Germany, in reply to this, points out that if this principle were carried to its utmost limits it would create a vacuum, which could not fail to bring about at once a state of complete anarchy and the utmost misery. It should here be noted that everything in these provinces which to-day renders possible the life of a state at all is German property. Railways, posts and telegraphs, the entire industry, and moreover the entire administrative machinery, police, law courts, all are in German hands. The sudden withdrawal of all this apparatus would, in fact, create a condition of things which seems practically impossible to maintain.

"In both cases it is a question of finding a middle way, which moreover must be found.

"The differences between these two points of view are in my opinion not great enough to justify failure of the negotiations.

"But such negotiations cannot be settled from one day to another; they take time.

"If once we have attained peace with Russia, then in my opinion the general peace cannot be long delayed, despite all efforts on the part of the Western Entente statesmen. I have learned that some are unable to understand why I stated in my first speech after the resumption of negotiations that it was not now a question at Brest of a general peace, but of a separate peace with Russia. This was the necessary recognition of a plain fact, which Herr Trotski also has admitted without reserve, and it was necessary, since the negotiations would have been on a different footing—that is to say, in a more limited sphere—if treating with Russia alone than if it were a case of treating for a general peace.

"Though I have no illusions in the direction of expecting the fruit of general peace to ripen in a single night, I am nevertheless convinced that the fruit has begun to ripen, and that it is now only a question of holding out whether we are to obtain a general honourable peace or not.

Wilson's Message

"I have recently been confirmed in this view by the offer of peace put forward by the President of the United States of America to the whole world. This is an offer of peace, for in fourteen points Mr. Wilson sets forth the principles upon which he seeks to establish a general peace. Obviously, an offer of this nature cannot be expected to furnish a scheme acceptable in every detail. If that were the case, then negotiations would be superfluous altogether, and peace could be arrived at by a simple acceptance, a single assent. This, of course, is not so.

"But I have no hesitation in declaring that these last proposals on the part of President Wilson seem to me considerably nearer the Austro-Hungarian point of view, and that there are among his proposals some which we can even agree to with great pleasure.

"If I may now be allowed to go further into these proposals, I must, to begin with, point out two things:

"So far as the proposals are concerned with our Allies—mention is made of the German possession of Belgium and of the Turkish Empire—I declare that, in fulfilment of our duty to our Allies, I am firmly determined to hold out in defence of our Allies to the very last. The pre-war possessions of our Allies we will defend equally with our own. This standpoint is that of all four Allies in complete reciprocity with ourselves.

"In the second place, I have to point out that I must politely but definitely decline to consider the Point dealing with our internal Government. We have in Austria a parliament elected by general, equal, direct and secret ballot. There is not a more democratic parliament in the world, and this parliament, together with the other constitutionally admissible factors, has the sole right to decide upon matters of Austrian internal affairs. I speak of Austria only, because I do not refer to Hungarian internal affairs in the Austrian Delegation. I should not consider it constitutional to do so. And we do not interfere in American affairs; but, on the other hand, we do not wish for any foreign guidance from any state whatever. Having said this, I may be permitted, with regard to the remaining Points, to state as follows:

"As to the Point dealing with the abolition of 'secret diplomacy' and the introduction of full openness in the negotiations, I have nothing to say. From my point of view I have no objection to such public negotiations so long as full reciprocity is the basis of the same, though I do entertain considerable doubt as to whether, all things considered, it is the quickest and most practical method of arriving at a result. Diplomatic negotiations are simply a matter of business. But it might easily be imagined that in the case, for instance, of commercial treaties between one country and another it would not be advisable to publish incomplete results beforehand to the world. In such negotiations both parties naturally commence by setting their demands as high as possible in order to climb down gradually, using this or that expressed demand as matter for compensation in other ways until finally an equilibrium of the opposing interests is arrived at, a point which must necessarily be reached if agreement is to be come to at all. If such negotiations were to be carried on with full publicity, nothing could prevent the general public from passionately defending every separate clause involved, regarding any concession as a defeat, even when such clauses had only been advanced for tactical reasons. And when the public takes up any such point with particular fervour, ultimate agreement may be thereby rendered impossible or the final agreement may, if arrived at, be regarded as in itself a defeat, possibly by both sides. And this would not conduce to peaceable relations thereafter; it would, on the contrary, increase the friction between the states concerned. And as in the case of commercial treaties, so also with political negotiations, which deal with political matters.

"If the abolition of secret diplomacy is to mean that no secret compacts are to be made, that no agreements are to be entered upon without the public knowledge, then I have no objection to the introduction of this principle. As to how it is to be realised and adherence thereto ensured, I confess I have no idea at all. Granted that the governments of two countries are agreed, they will always be able to make a secret compact without the public being aware of the fact. These, however, are minor points. I am not one to stick by formalities, and a question of more or less formal nature will never prevent me from coming to a sensible arrangement.

"Point 1, then, is one that can be discussed.

"Point 2 is concerned with the freedom of the seas. In this postulate the President speaks from the hearts of all, and I can here fully and completely share America's desire, the more so as the President adds the words, 'outside territorial waters'—that is to say, we are to understand the freedom of the open sea, and there is thus, of course, no question of any interference by force in the sovereign rights of our faithful Turkish Allies. Their standpoint in this respect will be ours.

"Point 3, which is definitely directed against any future economic war, is so right, so sensible, and has so often been craved by ourselves that I have here again nothing to remark.

"Point 4, which demands general disarmament, sets forth in particularly clear and lucid form the necessity of reducing after this present war the free competition in armaments to a footing sufficient for the internal security of states. Mr. Wilson states this frankly and openly. In my speech at Budapest some months back I ventured to express the same idea; it forms part of my political creed, and I am most happy to find any other voice uttering the same thought.

"As regards the Russian clause, we are already showing in deeds that we are endeavouring to bring about friendly relations with our neighbours there.

"With regard to Italy, Serbia, Roumania and Montenegro, I can only repeat my statement already made in the Hungarian Delegation.

"I am not disposed to effect any insurance on the war ventures of our enemies.

"I am not disposed to make any one-sided concessions to our enemies, who still obstinately adhere to the standpoint of fighting on until the final victory; to prejudice permanently the Monarchy by such concessions, which would give the enemy the invaluable advantage of being able to carry on the war indefinitely without risk. (Applause.)

"Let Mr. Wilson use the great influence he undoubtedly possesses among his Allies to persuade them on their part to declare on what conditions they are willing to treat; he will then have rendered the enormous service of having set on foot the general peace negotiations. I am here replying openly and freely to Mr. Wilson, and I will speak as openly and freely to any who wish to speak for themselves, but it must necessarily be understood that time, and the continuation of the war, cannot but affect the situations here concerned.

"I have already said this once before; Italy is a striking example. Italy had the opportunity before the war of making great territorial acquisitions without firing a shot. It declined this and entered into the war; it has lost hundreds of thousands of lives, milliards in war expenses and values destroyed; it has brought want and misery upon its own population, and all this only to lose for ever an advantage which it might have won.

"Finally, as regards Point 13, it is an open secret that we are adherents to the idea of establishing 'an independent Polish State to include the areas undoubtedly occupied by Polish inhabitants.' On this point also we shall, I think, soon agree with Mr. Wilson. And if the President crowns his proposals with the idea of a universal League of Nations he will hardly meet with any opposition thereto on the part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

"As will be seen from this comparison of my views with those of Mr. Wilson, we are not only agreed in essentials as to the great principles for rearrangement of the world after this war, but our ideas as to several concrete questions bearing on the peace are closely allied.

"The differences remaining do not appear to me so great but that a discussion of these points might lead to a clearer understanding and bring us closer still.

"The situation, then, seems to be this: Austria-Hungary on the one hand, and the United States of America on the other, are the two Great Powers in the hostile groups of states whose interests are least opposed one to the other. It seems reasonable, then, to suppose that an exchange of opinion between these two Powers might form the natural starting point for a conciliatory discussion between all those states which have not yet entered upon peace negotiations. (Applause.) So much for Wilson's proposals.

Petersburg and the Ukraine

"And now, gentlemen, I hasten to conclude. But this conclusion is perhaps the most important of all I have to say; I am endeavouring to bring about peace between the Ukraine and Petersburg.

"The conclusion of peace with Petersburg alters nothing in our definitive situation. Austro-Hungarian troops are nowhere opposed to the Petersburg Government—we have the Ukrainian against us—and it is impossible to export anything from Petersburg, since they have nothing there themselves but revolution and anarchy, goods which the Bolshevists, no doubt, would be glad to export, but which I must politely decline to receive.

"In spite of this, I wish to make peace with Petersburg as well, since this, like any other cessation of hostilities, brings us nearer to the general peace.

"It is otherwise with Ukraine. For the Ukraine has supplies of provisions which they will export if we can agree on commercial terms. The question of food is to-day a matter of anxiety throughout the world; among our opponents, and also in the neutral countries, it is a burning question. I wish to profit by the conclusion of peace with those Russian states which have food to export, in order to help our own population. We could and would hold out without this assistance. But I know my duty, and my duty bids me do all that can be done to lighten the burden of our suffering people, and I will not, therefore, from any hysterical nervousness about getting to final peace a few days or a few weeks earlier, throw away this possible advantage to our people. Such a peace takes time and cannot be concluded in a day. For such a peace must definitely state whether, what and how the Russian party will deliver to us, for the reason that the Ukraine on its part wishes to close the business not after, but at the signing of peace.

"I have already mentioned that the unsettled conditions in this newly established state occasion great difficulty and naturally considerable delay in the negotiations.

Appeal to the Country

"If you fall on me from behind, if you force me to come to terms at once in headlong fashion, we shall gain no economic advantage at all, and our people will then be forced to renounce the alleviation which they should have gained from the peace.

"A surgeon conducting a difficult operation with a crowd behind him standing watch in hand may very likely complete the operation in record time, but in all probability the patient would not thank him for the manner in which it had been carried out.

"If you give our present opponents the impression that we must have peace at once, and at any price, we shall not get so much as a single measure of grain, and the result will be more or less platonic. It is no longer by any means a question principally of terminating the war on the Ukrainian front; neither we nor the Ukrainians themselves intend to continue the war now that we are agreed upon the no-annexation basis. It is a question—I repeat it once again—not of 'imperialistic' annexation plans and ideas, but of securing for our population at last the merited reward of their endurance, and procuring them those supplies of food for which they are waiting. Our partners in the deal are good business men and are closely watching to see whether you are forcing me to act or not.

"If you wish to ruin the peace, if you are anxious to renounce the supply of grain, then it would be logical enough to force my hand by speeches and resolutions, strikes and demonstrations, but not otherwise. And there is not an atom of truth in the idea that we are now at such a pass that we must prefer a bad peace without economic gain rather than a good peace with economic advantages to-morrow.

"The difficulties in the matter of food of late are not due solely to lack of actual provisions; it is the crises in coal, transport and organisation which are increasing. When you at home get up strikes you are moving in a vicious circle; the strikes increase and aggravate the crises concerned and hinder the supplies of food and coal. You are cutting your own throats in so doing, and all who believe that peace is accelerated thereby are terribly mistaken.

"It is believed that men in the country have been circulating rumours to the effect that the Government is instigating the strikes. I leave to these men themselves to choose whether they are to appear as criminal slanderers or as fools.

"If you had a Government desirous of concluding a peace different from that desired by the majority of the population, if you had a Government seeking to prolong the war for purposes of conquest, one might understand a conflict between the Government and the country. But since the Government desires precisely the same as the majority of the people—that is to say, the speedy settlement of an honourable peace without annexationist aims—then it is madness to attack that Government from behind, to interfere with its freedom of action and hamper its movements. Those who do so are fighting, not against the Government, they are fighting blindly against the people they pretend to serve and against themselves.

"As for yourselves, gentlemen, it is not only your right, but your duty, to choose between the following alternatives: either you trust me to proceed with the peace negotiations, and in that case you must help me, or you do not trust me, and in that case you must depose me. I am confident that I have the support of the majority of the Hungarian delegation. The Hungarian Committee has given me a vote of confidence. If there is any doubt as to the same here, then the matter is clear enough. The question of a vote of confidence must be brought up and put to the vote; if I then have the majority against me I shall at once take the consequences. No one of those who are anxious to secure my removal will be more pleased than myself; indeed far less so. Nothing induces me now to retain my office but the sense of duty, which constrains me to remain as long as I have the confidence of the Emperor and the majority of the delegations. A soldier with any sense of decency does not desert. But no Minister for Foreign Affairs could conduct negotiations of this importance unless he knows, and all the world as well, that he is endowed with the confidence of the majority among the constitutional representative bodies. There can be no half measures here. You have this confidence or you have not. You must assist me or depose me; there is no other way. I have no more to say."


Report of the Peace Negotiations at Brest-Litovsk

The Austro-Hungarian Government entered upon the peace negotiations at Brest-Litovsk with the object of arriving as quickly as possible at a peace compact which, if it did not, as we hoped, lead to a general peace, should at least secure order in the East. The draft of a preliminary peace was sent to Brest containing the following points:

1. Cessation of hostilities; if general peace should not be concluded, then neither of the present contracting parties to afford any support to the enemies of the other.

2. No surrender of territory; Poland, Lithuania and Courland retaining the right of determining their own destiny for the future.

3. No indemnity for costs of war or damages due to military operations.

4. Cessation of economic war and reparation of damages sustained by private persons through the economic war.

5. Resumption of commercial intercourse and the same provisionally on the basis of the old commercial treaty and twenty years' preference subject to restriction in respect of any Customs union with neighbouring countries.

6. Mutual assistance in raw materials and industrial articles.

A further point was contemplated, dealing with the evacuation of the occupied areas, but the formulation of this had to be postponed until after consultation with the German Supreme Military Command, whose co-operation was here required owing to the mingling of German and Austro-Hungarian troops on the Russian front. The Army Command has indicated a period of at least six months as necessary for the evacuation.

In discussing this draft with the German delegates two points in particular were found to present great difficulty. One was that of evacuation. The German Army Command declared categorically that no evacuation of the occupied districts could be thought of until after conclusion of the general peace. The second difficulty arose in connection with the question as to treatment of the occupied districts. Germany insisted that in the peace treaty with Russia it should be simply stated that Russia had conceded to the peoples within its territory the right of self-determination, and that the nations in question had already availed themselves of that right. The plain standpoint laid down in our draft we were unable to carry through, although it was shared by the other Allies. However, in formulating the answer sent on December 25, 1916, to the Russian peace proposals a compromise was, after persistent efforts on our part, ultimately arrived at which at least prevented the full adoption of the divergent German point of view on these two points. In the matter of evacuation the Germans agreed that the withdrawal of certain bodies of troops before the general peace might be discussed.

In the matter of annexations a satisfactory manner of formulating this was found, making it applicable only in the event of general peace. Had the Entente then been disposed to make peace the principle of "no annexations" would have succeeded throughout.

Even allowing for the conciliatory form given through our endeavours to this answer by the four Powers to the Russian proposals, the German Headquarters evinced extreme indignation. Several highly outspoken telegrams from the German Supreme Command to the German delegates prove this. The head of the German Delegation came near to being recalled on this account, and if this had been done it is likely that German foreign policy would have been placed in the hands of a firm adherent of the sternest military views. As this, however, could only have had an unfavourable effect on the further progress of the negotiations, we were obliged to do all in our power to retain Herr Kuehlmann. With this end in view he was informed and invited to advise Berlin that if Germany persisted in its harsh policy Austria-Hungary would be compelled to conclude a separate peace with Russia. This declaration on the part of the Minister for Foreign Affairs did not fail to create a certain impression in Berlin, and was largely responsible for the fact that Kuehlmann was able to remain.

Kuehlmann's difficult position and his desire to strengthen it rendered the discussion of the territorial questions, which were first officially touched upon on December 27, but had been already taken up in private meetings with the Russian delegates, a particularly awkward matter. Germany insisted that the then Russian front was not to be evacuated until six months after the general peace. Russia was disposed to agree to this, but demanded on the other hand that the fate of Poland was not to be decided until after evacuation. Against this the Germans were inclined to give up its original standpoint to the effect that the populations of occupied territories had already availed themselves of the right of self-determination conceded, and allow a new inquiry to be made among the population, but insisted that this should be done during the occupation. No solution could be arrived at on this point, though Austria-Hungary made repeated efforts at mediation. The negotiations had arrived at this stage when they were first interrupted on December 29.

On resuming the negotiations on January 6 the situation was little changed. Kuehlmann's position was at any rate somewhat firmer than before, albeit only at the cost of some concessions to the German military party. In these circumstances the negotiations, in which Trotski now took part as spokesman for the Russians, led only to altogether fruitless theoretical discussions and the right of self-determination, which could not bring about any lessening of the distance between the two firmly maintained points of view. In order to get the proceedings out of this deadlock further endeavours were made on the part of Austria to arrive at a compromise between the German and Russian standpoints, the more so as it was generally, and especially in the case of Poland, desirable to solve the territorial question on the basis of complete self-determination. Our proposals to the German delegates were to the effect that the Russian standpoint should so far be met as to allow the plebiscite demanded by the Russians, this to be taken, as the Germans insisted should be the case, during the German occupation, but with extensive guarantees for free expression of the will of the people. On this point we had long discussions with the German delegates, based on detailed drafts prepared by us.

Our endeavours here, however, were again unsuccessful. Circumstances arising at the time in our own country were responsible for this, as also for the result of the negotiations which had in the meantime been commenced with the Ukrainian delegates. These last had, at the first discussion, declined to treat with any Polish representatives, and demanded the concession of the entire Cholm territory, and, in a more guarded fashion, the cession of Eastern Galicia and the Ukrainian part of North-Eastern Hungary, and in consequence of which the negotiations were on the point of being broken off. At this stage a food crisis broke out in Austria to an extent of which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was hitherto unaware, threatening Vienna in particular with the danger of being in a few days devoid of flour altogether. Almost immediately after this came a strike movement of threatening proportions. These events at home weakened the position of the Foreign Minister both as regards his attitude towards the German Allies and towards the opposing parties in the negotiations—with both of which he was then in conflict—and this, at a most critical moment, to a degree that can hardly be appreciated from a distance. He was required to exert pressure upon Germany, and was now forced, not merely to ask, but to entreat Germany's aid in sending supplies of food, or Vienna would within a few days be in the throes of a catastrophe. With the enemy, on the other hand, he was forced, owing to the situation at home, to strive for a settlement of peace that should be favourable to Austria, in spite of the fact that our food situation and our labour troubles were well known to that enemy.

This complete alteration of the position changed the whole basis and tactics of the Foreign Minister's proceedings. He had to obtain the supplies of grain asked for from Germany and thus to diminish political pressure on that country; but at the same time he had to persuade the Soviet delegates to continue negotiations, and finally to arrive at a settlement of peace under the most acceptable conditions possible with the Ukraine, which would put an end to the still serious difficulties of the food situation.

In these circumstances it was impossible now to work on the German delegates by talking of Austria-Hungary's concluding a separate peace with Russia, as this would have imperilled the chance of food supplies from Germany—the more so as the representative of the German Army Command had declared that it was immaterial whether Austria-Hungary made peace or not. Germany would in any case march on Petersburg if the Russian Government did not give way. On the other hand, however, the Foreign Minister prevailed on the leader of the Russian delegation to postpone the carrying out of the intentions of his Government—to the effect that the Russian delegation, owing to lack of good faith on the part of German-Austro-Hungarian negotiators, should be recalled.

At the same time the negotiations with the Ukrainian delegation were continued. By means of lengthy and wearisome conferences we succeeded in bringing their demands to a footing which might just possibly be acceptable, and gaining their agreement to a clause whereby Ukraine undertook to deliver at least 1,000,000 tons of grain by August, 1918. As to the demand for the Cholm territory, which we had wished to have relegated to the negotiations with Poland, the Ukrainian delegates refused to give way on this point, and were evidently supported by General Hoffmann. Altogether the German military party seemed much inclined to support Ukrainian demands and extremely indisposed to accede to Polish claims, so that we were unable to obtain the admission of Polish representatives to the proceedings, though we had frequently asked for this. A further difficulty in the way of this was the fact that Trotski himself was unwilling to recognise the Polish party as having equal rights here. The only result obtainable was that the Ukrainians should restrict their claims on the Cholm territory to those parts inhabited by Ukrainian majority and accept a revision of the frontier line, as yet only roughly laid down, according to the finding of a mixed commission and the wishes of the population, i.e. the principle of national boundaries under international protection. The Ukrainian delegates renounced all territorial claims against the Monarchy, but demanded from us on the other hand a guarantee as to the autonomous development of their co-nationals in Galicia. With regard to these two weighty concessions, the Foreign Minister declared that they could only be granted on the condition that the Ukraine fulfilled the obligation it had undertaken as to delivery of grain, the deliveries being made at the appointed times; he further demanded that the obligations on both sides should be reciprocal, i.e. that the failure of one party to comply therewith should release the other. The formulation of these points, which met with the greatest difficulties on the part of Ukraine, was postponed to a later date.

At this stage of the proceedings a new pause occurred to give the separate delegates time to advise their Governments as to the results hitherto attained and receive their final instructions. The Foreign Minister returned to Vienna and reported the state of the negotiations to the proper quarters. In the course of these deliberations his policy of concluding peace with Russia and Ukraine on the basis of the concessions proposed was agreed to. Another question dealt with at the same time was whether the Monarchy should, in case of extreme necessity, conclude a separate peace with Russia if the negotiations with that state should threaten to come to nothing on account of Germany's demands. This question was, after full consideration of all grounds to the contrary, answered in thesi in the affirmative, as the state of affairs at home apparently left no alternative.

On resuming the negotiations at Brest-Litovsk further endeavours were made to persuade Germany to give way somewhat by pointing out what would be the consequence of its obstinate attitude. In the course of the deliberations on this point with Herr Kuehlmann we succeeded after great difficulty in obtaining the agreement of the German delegates to a final attempt at compromise, to be undertaken by the Foreign Minister. The proposals for this compromise were based on the following considerations:

For months past conflicting views had been expressed as to:

1. Whether in the territories where constitutional alterations were to be made owing to the war the right of self-determination should be taken as already exercised, or whether a plebiscite should be taken first;

2. Whether such plebiscite, if taken, should be addressed to a constituent body or in the form of a referendum to the people direct;

3. Whether this should be done before or after evacuation; and

4. In what manner it was to be organised (by general franchise, by a vote of the nobles, etc.). It would be advisable, and would also be in accordance with the principles adopted by Russia, to leave the decision on all these points to the people themselves, and deliver them over to the "temporary self-administrative body," which should, also according to the Russian proposal (Kameneff), be introduced at once. The whole of the peace negotiations could then be concentrated upon a single point: the question as to the composition of this temporary body. Here, however, a compromise could be arrived at, as Russia could agree that the already existent bodies set in the foreground by Germany should be allowed to express a part of the will of the people, Germany agreeing that these bodies should, during the occupation, be supplemented by elements appointed, according to the Russian principles, by free election.

On February 7, immediately after Herr Kuehlmann had agreed to mediation on this basis, the Foreign Minister saw the leader of the Russian delegation, Trotski, and had a series of conversations with him. The idea of compromise on the lines just set forth was little to Trotski's taste, and he declared that he would in any case protest against the handling of the self-determination question by the Four Powers. On the other hand, the discussion did lead to some result, in that a new basis for disposing of the difficulties which had arisen was now found. There was to be no further continuance of the conflict as to whether the territorial alterations involved by the peace should be termed "annexations," as the Russian delegates wished, or "exercise of the right of self-determination," as Germany wished; the territorial alterations were to be simply noted in the peace treaty ("Russia notes that ..."). Trotski, however, made his acquiescence to the conclusion of such a compact subject to two conditions: one being that the Moon Sound Islands and the Baltic ports should remain with Russia; the other that Germany and Austria-Hungary should not conclude any separate peace with the Ukrainian People's Republic, whose Government was then seriously threatened by the Bolsheviks and, according to some reports, already overthrown by them. The Foreign Minister was now anxious to arrive at a compromise on this question also, in which he had to a certain degree the support of Herr von Kuehlmann, while General Hoffmann most vehemently opposed any further concession.

All these negotiations for a compromise failed to achieve their end owing to the fact that Herr Kuehlmann was forced by the German Supreme Army Command to act promptly. Ludendorff declared that the negotiations with Russia must be concluded within three days, and when a telegram from Petersburg was picked up in Berlin calling on the German Army to rise in revolt Herr von Kuehlmann was strictly ordered not to be content with the cessions already agreed to, but to demand the further cession of the unoccupied territories of Livonia and Esthonia. Under such pressure the leader of the German delegation had not the power to compromise. We then arrived at the signing of the treaty with Ukraine, which had, after much trouble, been brought to an end meanwhile. It thus appeared as if the efforts of the Foreign Minister had proved fruitless. Nevertheless he continued his discussions with Trotski, but these still led to no result, owing to the fact that Trotski, despite repeated questioning, persisted in leaving everything vague till the last moment as to whether he would, in the present circumstances, conclude any peace with the Four Powers at all or not. Not until the plenary session of February 10 was this cleared up; Russia declared for a cessation of hostilities, but signed no treaty of peace.

The situation created by this declaration offered no occasion for further taking up the idea of a separate peace with Russia, since peace seemed to have come via facta already. At a meeting on February 10 of the diplomatic and military delegates of Germany and Austria-Hungary to discuss the question of what was now to be done it was agreed unanimously, save for a single dissentient, that the situation arising out of Trotski's declarations must be accepted. The one dissentient vote—that of General Hoffmann—was to the effect that Trotski's statement should be answered by declaring the Armistice at an end, marching on Petersburg, and supporting the Ukraine openly against Russia. In the ceremonial final sitting, on February 11, Herr von Kuehlmann adopted the attitude expressed by the majority of the peace delegations, and set forth the same in a most impressive speech. Nevertheless, a few days later, as General Hoffmann had said, Germany declared the Armistice at an end, ordered the German troops to march on Petersburg, and brought about the situation which led to the signing of the peace treaty. Austria-Hungary declared that we took no part in this action.


Report of the Peace Negotiations at Bucharest

The possibility of entering upon peace negotiations with Roumania was considered as soon as negotiations with the Russian delegations at Brest-Litovsk had commenced. In order to prevent Roumania itself from taking part in these negotiations Germany gave the Roumanian Government to understand that it would not treat with the present King and the present Government at all. This step, however, was only intended to enable separate negotiations to be entered upon with Roumania, as Germany feared that the participation of Roumania in the Brest negotiations would imperil the chances of peace. Roumania's idea seemed then to be to carry on the war and gain the upper hand. At the end of January, therefore, Austria-Hungary took the initiative in order to bring about negotiations with Roumania. The Emperor sent Colonel Randa, the former Military Attache to the Roumanian Government, to the King of Roumania, assuring him of his willingness to grant Roumania honourable terms of peace.

In connection with the peace negotiations a demand was raised in Hungarian quarters for a rectification of the frontier line, so as to prevent, or at any rate render difficult, any repetition of the invasion by Roumania in 1916 over the Siebenbuergen, despite opposition on the part of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The strategical frontier drawn up by the Army Command, which, by the way, was influenced by considerations not conducive to peace, followed a line involving the cession to Hungary of Turnu-Severin, Sinaia and several valuable petroleum districts in Moldavia. Public opinion in Hungary voiced even further demands. The Hungarian Government was of opinion that the Parliament would offer the greatest hindrances to any peace not complying with the general desire in this respect, and leading Hungarian statesmen, even some among the Opposition parties, declared the rectification of the frontier to be a condition of peace sine qua non. Wekerle and Tisza in particular took this view. Despite this serious difference of opinion, the Foreign Minister, in entire agreement with the Emperor, even before the commencement of the negotiations in the middle of February, took up the position that demands connected with the frontier line should not offer any obstacle to the conclusion of peace. The rectification of the frontier should only seriously be insisted on as far as could be done on the basis of a loyal and, for the future, amicable relations with Roumania. Hungary regarded this lenient attitude on the part of the Foreign Minister with increasing disapproval. We pointed out that a frontier line conceding cities and petroleum districts to Hungary would be unfortunate in every respect. From the point of view of internal politics, because the number of non-Hungarian inhabitants would be thereby increased; from the military point of view, because it would give rise to frontier conflicts with unreliable Roumanian factions; and, finally, from the point of view of foreign policy, because it would mean annexations and the transference of population this way and that, rendering friendly relations with Roumania an impossibility. Nevertheless, it would be necessary for a time to hold fast by the frontier line as originally conceived, so that the point could be used to bring about the establishment in Roumania of a regime amicably disposed toward the Central Powers. The Foreign Minister was particularly anxious to see a Marghiloman Cabinet formed, inaugurating a policy friendly to ourselves. He believed that with such a Cabinet it would be easier to arrive at a peace of mutual understanding, and was also resolved to render possible such a peace by extensive concessions, especially by giving his diplomatic support in the Bessarabian question. He informed Marghiloman also in writing that he would be prepared to grant important concessions to a Cabinet of which he, Marghiloman, was the head, in particular as regards the cession of inhabited places such as Turnu-Severin and Ocna, on which points he was willing to give way. When the Marghiloman Cabinet was formed the Austro-Hungarian demands in respect of the frontier line would, despite active opposition on the part of the Hungarian Government, be reduced almost by half. The negotiations with Roumania were particularly difficult in regard to the question of two places, Azuga and Busteni. On March 24 Count Czernin prepared to terminate these negotiations, declaring that he was ready to renounce all claim to Azuga and Busteni and halve his demands as to the much-debated Lotru district, provided Marghiloman were willing to arrange the frontier question on this basis. Marghiloman declared himself satisfied with this compromise. On the next day, however, it was nevertheless rejected by the Hungarian Government, and not until after further telegraphic communication with the Emperor and Wekerle was the assent of all competent authorities obtained. This had, indeed, been widely considered in Hungarian circles as an impossibility.

Another Austro-Hungarian demand which played some part in the Bucharest negotiations was in connection with the plan of an economical alliance between Austria-Hungary and Roumania. This was of especial interest to the Austrian Government, whereas the frontier question, albeit in some degree affecting Austria as well, was a matter of indifference to this Government, which, as a matter of fact, did not sympathise with the demands at all. The plan for an economical alliance, however, met with opposition in Hungary. Immediately before the commencement of the Bucharest negotiations an attempt was made to overcome this opposition on the part of the Hungarian Government and secure its adherence to the idea of an economical alliance with Roumania—at any rate, conditionally upon the conclusion of a customs alliance with Germany as planned. It proved impossible, however, at the time to obtain this assent. The Hungarian Government reserved the right of considering the question later on, and on March 8 instructed their representatives at Bucharest that they must dissent from the plan, as the future economical alliance with Germany was a matter beyond present consideration. Consequently this question could play no part at first in the peace negotiations, and all that could be done was to sound the leading Roumanian personages in a purely private manner as to the attitude they would adopt towards such a proposal. The idea was, generally speaking, well received by Roumania, and the prevalent opinion was that such an alliance would be distinctly advisable from Roumania's point of view. A further attempt was therefore made, during the pause in the peace negotiations in the East, to overcome the opposition of the Hungarian Government; these deliberations were, however, not concluded when the Minister for Foreign Affairs resigned his office.

Germany had, even before the commencement of negotiations in Bucharest, considered the question of imposing on Roumania, when treating for peace, a series of obligations especially in connection with the economical relations amounting to a kind of indirect war indemnity. It was also contemplated that the occupation of Wallachia should be maintained for five or six years after the conclusion of peace. Roumania should then give up its petroleum districts, its railways, harbours and domains to German companies as their property, and submit itself to a permanent financial control. Austria-Hungary opposed these demands from the first on the grounds that no friendly relations could ever be expected to exist with a Roumania which had been economically plundered to such a complete extent; and Austria-Hungary was obliged to maintain amicable relations with Roumania.

This standpoint was most emphatically set forth, and not without some success, on February 5 at a conference with the Reichskansler. In the middle of February the Emperor sent a personal message to the German Emperor cautioning him against this plan, which might prove an obstacle in the way of peace. Roumania was not advised of these demands until comparatively late in the negotiations, after the appointment of Marghiloman. Until then the questions involved gave rise to constant discussion between Germany and Austria-Hungary, the latter throughout endeavouring to reduce the German demands, not only with a view to arriving at a peace of mutual understanding, but also because, if Germany gained a footing in Roumania on the terms originally contemplated, Austro-Hungarian economical interests must inevitably suffer thereby. The demands originally formulated with regard to the Roumanian railways and domains were then relinquished by Germany, and the plan of a cession of the Roumanian harbours was altered so as to amount to the establishment of a Roumanian-German-Austro-Hungarian harbour company, which, however, eventually came to nothing. The petroleum question, too, was reduced from a cession to a ninety years' tenure of the state petroleum districts and the formation of a monopoly trading company for petroleum under German management. Finally, an economic arrangement was prepared which should secure the agricultural products of Roumania to the Central Powers for a series of years. The idea of a permanent German control of the Roumanian finances was also relinquished owing to Austro-Hungarian opposition. The negotiations with Marghiloman and his representatives on these questions made a very lengthy business. In the economic questions especially there was great difference of opinion on the subject of prices, which was not disposed of until the last moment before the drawing up of the treaty on March 28, and then only by adopting the Roumanian standpoint. On the petroleum question, where the differences were particularly acute, agreement was finally arrived at, in face of the extreme views of the German economical representative on the one hand and the Roumanian Foreign Minister, Arion, on the other, by a compromise, according to which further negotiations were to be held in particular with regard to the trade monopoly for petroleum, and the original draft was only to apply when such negotiations failed to lead to any result.

The German demands as to extension of the period of occupation for five to six years after the general peace likewise played a great part at several stages of the negotiations, and were from the first stoutly opposed by Austria-Hungary. We endeavoured to bring about an arrangement by which, on the conclusion of peace, Roumania should have all legislative and executive power restored, being subject only to a certain right of control in respect of a limited number of points, but not beyond the general peace. In support of this proposal the Foreign Minister pointed out in particular that the establishment of a Roumanian Ministry amicably disposed towards ourselves would be an impossibility (the Averescu Ministry was then still in power) if we were to hold Roumania permanently under our yoke. We should far rather use every endeavour to obtain what could be obtained from Roumania through the medium of such politicians in that country as were disposed to follow a policy of friendly relations with the Central Powers. The main object of our policy to get such men into power in Roumania, and enable them to remain in the Government, would be rendered unattainable if too severe measures were adopted. We might gain something thereby for a few years, but it would mean losing everything in the future. And we succeeded also in convincing the German Secretary of State, Kuehlmann, of the inadvisability of the demands in respect of occupation, which were particularly voiced by the German Army Council. As a matter of fact, after the retirement of Averescu, Marghiloman declared that these demands would make it impossible for him to form a Cabinet at all. And when he had been informed, from German sources, that the German Supreme Army Command insisted on these terms, he only agreed to form a Cabinet on the assurance of the Austrian Foreign Minister that a solution of the occupation problem would be found. In this question also we did ultimately succeed in coming to agreement with Roumania.

One of the decisive points in the conclusion of peace with Roumania was, finally, the cession of the Dobrudsha, on which Bulgaria insisted with such violence that it was impossible to avoid it. The ultimatum which preceded the preliminary Treaty of Buftea had also to be altered chiefly on the Dobrudsha question, as Bulgaria was already talking of the ingratitude of the Central Powers, of how Bulgaria had been disillusioned, and of the evil effects this disillusionment would have on the subsequent conduct of the war. All that Count Czernin could do was to obtain a guarantee that Roumania, in case of cession of the Dobrudsha, should at least be granted a sure way to the harbour of Kustendje. In the main the Dobrudsha question was decided at Buftea. When, later, Bulgaria expressed a desire to interpret the wording of the preliminary treaty by which the Dobrudsha "as far as the Danube" was to be given up in such a sense as to embrace the whole of the territory up to the northernmost branch (the Kilia branch) of the Danube, this demand was most emphatically opposed both by Germany and Austria-Hungary, and it was distinctly laid down in the peace treaty that only the Dobrudsha as far as the St. George's branch was to be ceded. This decision again led to bad feeling in Bulgaria, but was unavoidable, as further demands here would probably have upset the preliminary peace again.

The proceedings had reached this stage when Count Czernin resigned his office.


Wilson's Fourteen Points

I. Open covenants of peace openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind, but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.

II. Absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas outside territorial waters alike in peace and in war except as the seas may be closed in whole or in part by international action for the enforcement of international covenants.

III. The removal, so far as possible, of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace and associating themselves for its maintenance.

IV. Adequate guarantees given and taken that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.

V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the Government whose title is to be determined.

VI. The evacuation of all Russian territory, and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest co-operation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her an unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy, and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing; and more than a welcome assistance also of every kind that she may need and may herself desire. The treatment accorded Russia by her sister nations in the months to come will be the acid test of their good will, of their comprehension of her needs as distinguished from their own interests, and of their intelligent and unselfish sympathy.

VII. Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is for ever impaired.

VIII. All French territory should be freed, and the invaded portions restored, and the wrong done to France by Prussia in 1871 in the matter of Alsace-Lorraine, which has unsettled the peace of the world for nearly 50 years, should be righted in order that peace may once more be made secure in the interests of all.

IX. A readjustment of the frontiers of Italy should be effected along clearly recognisable lines of nationality.

X. The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the first opportunity of autonomous development.

XI. Roumania, Serbia, and Montenegro should be evacuated, occupied territories restored, Serbia accorded free and secure access to the sea, and the relations of the several Balkan States to one another determined by friendly counsel along historically established lines of allegiance and nationality, and international guarantees of the political and economic independence and territorial integrity of the several Balkan States should be entered into.

XII. The Turkish portions of the present Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty, but the other nationalities which are now under Turkish rule should be assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development, and the Dardanelles should be permanently opened as a free passage to the ships and commerce of all nations under international guarantees.

XIII. An independent Polish State should be erected which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by international covenant.

XIV. A general association of nations must be formed under specific covenants for the purpose of affording mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small States alike.


Ottokar Czernin on Austria's Policy During the War

Speech delivered December 11, 1918

GENTLEMEN,—In rising now to speak of our policy during the war it is my hope that I may thereby help to bring the truth to light. We are living in a time of excitement. After four years of war, the bloodiest and most determined war the world has ever seen, and in the midst of the greatest revolution ever known, this excitement is only too easily understood. But the result of this excitement is that all those rumours which go flying about, mingling truth and falsehood together, end by misleading the public. It is unquestionably necessary to arrive at a clear understanding. The public has a right to know what has really happened, it has the right to know why we did not succeed in attaining the peace we had so longed for, it has a right to know whether, and if so where, any neglect can be pointed out, or whether it was the overwhelming power of circumstances which has led our policy to take the course it did. The new arrangement of relations between ourselves and Germany will make an end of all secret proceedings. The day will come then when, fortunately, all that has hitherto been hidden will be made clear. As, however, I do not know when all this will be made public, I am grateful for the opportunity of lifting the veil to-day from certain hitherto unknown events. In treating of this theme I will refrain from touching upon those constitutional factors which once counted for so much, but which do so no longer. I do so because it seems to me unfair to import into the discussion persons who are now paying heavily for what they may have done and who are unable to defend themselves. And I must pay this honourable tribute to the Austro-Hungarian Press, that it has on the whole sought to spare the former Emperor as far as possible. There are, of course, exceptions—exceptiones firmant regulam. There are in Vienna, as everywhere else, men who find it more agreeable to attack, the less if those whom they are attacking are able to defend themselves. But, believe me, gentlemen, those who think thus are not the bravest, not the best, nor the most reliable; and we may be glad that they form so insignificant a minority.

But, to come to the point. Before passing on to a consideration of the various phases of the work for peace, I should like to point out two things: firstly, that since the entry of Italy and Roumania into the war, and especially since the entry of America, a "victorious peace" on our part has been a Utopian idea, a Utopia which, unfortunately, was throughout cherished by the German military party; and, secondly, that we have never received any offer of peace from the Entente. On several occasions peace feelers were put forward between representatives of the Entente and our own; unfortunately, however, these never led to any concrete conditions. We often had the impression that we might conclude a separate peace without Germany, but we were never told the concrete conditions upon which Germany, on its part, could make peace; and, in particular, we were never informed that Germany would be allowed to retain its possessions as before the war, in consequence of which we were left in the position of having to fight a war of defence for Germany. We were compelled by our treaty to a common defence of the pre-war possessions, and since the Entente never declared its willingness to treat with a Germany which wished for no annexations, since the Entente constantly declared its intention of annihilating Germany, we were forced to defend Germany, and our position in Berlin was rendered unspeakably more difficult. We ourselves, also, were never given any assurance that we should be allowed to retain our former possessions; but in our case the desire for peace was so strong that we would have made territorial concessions if we had been able thereby to secure general peace. This, however, was not the case. Take Italy, for instance, which was primarily at war with ourselves and not with Germany. If we had offered Italy concessions however great, if we had offered all that Italy has now taken possession of, even then it could not have made peace, being bound by duty to its Allies and by circumstances not to make peace until England and France made peace with Germany.

When, then, peace by sacrifice was the only peace attainable, obviously, as a matter of principle, there were two ways of reaching that end. One, a general peace, i.e. including Germany, and the other, a separate peace. Of the overwhelming difficulties attending the former course I will speak later; at present a few words on the question of separate peace.

I myself would never have made a separate peace. I have never, not even in the hour of disillusionment—I may say of despair at my inability to lead the policy of Berlin into wiser channels—even in such hours, I say, I have never forgotten that our alliance with the German Empire was no ordinary alliance, no such alliance as may be contracted by two Emperors or two Governments, and can easily be broken, but an alliance of blood, a blood-brotherhood between the ten million Austro-Germans and the seventy million of the Empire, which could not be broken. And I have never forgotten that the military party in power at that time in Germany were not the German people, and that we had allied ourselves with the German people, and not with a few leading men. But I will not deny that in the moments when I saw my policy could not be realised I did ventilate the idea of suggesting to the Emperor the appointment, in my stead, of one of those men who saw salvation in a separation from Germany. But again and again I relinquished this idea, being firmly convinced that separate peace was a sheer impossibility. The Monarchy lay like a great block between Germany and the Balkans. Germany had great masses of troops there from which it could not be cut off, it was procuring oil and grain from the Balkans; if we were to interpose between it and the Balkans we should be striking at its most sensitive vital nerve. Moreover, the Entente would naturally have demanded first of all that we joined in the blockade, and finally our secession would automatically have involved also that of Bulgaria and Turkey. Had we withdrawn, Germany would have been unable to carry on the war. In such a situation there can be no possibility of doubt but that the German Army Command would have flung several divisions against Bohemia and the Tyrol, meting out to us the same fate which had previously befallen Roumania. The Monarchy, Bohemia in particular, would at once have become a scene of war. But even this is not all. Internally, such a step would at once have led to civil war. The Germans of Austria would never have turned against their brothers, and the Hungarians—Tisza's Hungarians—would never have lent their aid to such a policy. We had begun the war in common, and we could not end it save in common. For us there was no way out of the war; we could only choose between fighting with Germany against the Entente, or fighting with the Entente against Germany until Germany herself gave way. A slight foretaste of what would have happened was given us through the separatist steps taken by Andrassy at the last moment. This utterly defeated, already annihilated and prostrate Germany had yet the power to fling troops toward the Tyrol, and had not the revolution overwhelmed all Germany like a conflagration, smothering the war itself, I am not sure but that the Tyrol might at the last moment have been harried by war. And, gentlemen, I have more to say. The experiment of separate peace would not only have involved us in a civil war, not only brought the war into our own country, but even then the final outcome would have been much the same. The dissolution of the Monarchy into its component national parts was postulated throughout by the Entente. I need only refer to the Conference of London. But whether the State be dissolved by way of reward to the people or by way of punishment to the State makes little difference; the effect is the same. In this case also a "German Austria" would have arisen, and in such a development it would have been hard for the German-Austrian people to take up an attitude which rendered them allies of the Entente. In my own case, as Minister of the Imperial and Royal Government, it was my duty also to consider dynastic interests, and I never lost sight of that obligation. But I believe that in this respect also the end would have been the same. In particular the dissolution of the Monarchy into its national elements by legal means, against the opposition of the Germans and Hungarians, would have been a complete impossibility. And the Germans in Austria would never have forgiven the Crown if it had entered upon a war with Germany; the Emperor would have been constantly encountering the powerful Republican tendencies of the Czechs, and he would have been in constant conflict with the King of Serbia over the South-Slav question, an ally being naturally nearer to the Entente than the Habsburgers. And, finally, the Hungarians would never have forgiven the Emperor if he had freely conceded extensive territories to Bohemia and to the South-Slav state; I believe, then, that in this confusion the Crown would have fallen, as it has done in fact. A separate peace was a sheer impossibility. There remained the second way: to make peace jointly with Germany. Before going into the difficulties which rendered this way impossible I must briefly point out wherein lay our great dependence upon Germany. First of all, in military respects. Again and again we were forced to rely on aid from Germany. In Roumania, in Italy, in Serbia, and in Russia we were victorious with the Germans beside us. We were in the position of a poor relation living by the grace of a rich kinsman. But it is impossible to play the mendicant and the political adviser at the same time, particularly when the other party is a Prussian officer. In the second place, we were dependent upon Germany owing to the state of our food supply. Again and again we were here also forced to beg for help from Germany, because the complete disorganisation of our own administration had brought us to the most desperate straits. We were forced to this by the hunger blockade established, on the one hand, by Hungary, and on the other by the official authorities and their central depots. I remember how, when I myself was in the midst of a violent conflict with the German delegates at Brest-Litovsk, I received orders from Vienna to bow the knee to Berlin and beg for food. You can imagine, gentlemen, for yourselves how such a state of things must weaken a Minister's hands. And, thirdly, our dependence was due to the state of our finances. In order to keep up our credit we were drawing a hundred million marks a month from Germany, a sum which during the course of the war has grown to over four milliards; and this money was as urgently needed as were the German divisions and the German bread. And, despite this position of dependence, the only way to arrive at peace was by leading Germany into our own political course; that is to say, persuading Germany to conclude a peace involving sacrifice. The situation all through was simply this: that any momentary military success might enable us to propose terms of peace which, while entailing considerable loss to ourselves, had just a chance of being accepted by the enemy. The German military party, on the other hand, increased their demands with every victory, and it was more hopeless than ever, after their great successes, to persuade them to adopt a policy of renunciation. I think, by the way, that there was a single moment in the history of this war when such an action would have had some prospect of success. I refer to the famous battle of Goerlitz. Then, with the Russian army in flight, the Russian forts falling like houses of cards, many among our enemies changed their point of view. I was at that time still our representative in Roumania. Majorescu was then not disinclined to side with us actively, and the Roumanian army moved forward toward Bessarabia, could have been hot on the heels of the flying Russians, and might, according to all human calculations, have brought about a complete debacle. It is not unlikely that the collapse which later took place in Russia might have come about then, and after a success of that nature, with no "America" as yet on the horizon, we might perhaps have brought the war to an end. Two things, however, were required: in the first place, the Roumanians demanded, as the price of their co-operation, a rectification of the Hungarian frontier, and this first condition was flatly refused by Hungary; the second condition, which naturally then did not come into question at all, would have been that we should even then, after such a success, have proved strong enough to bear a peace with sacrifice. We were not called upon to agree to this, but the second requirement would undoubtedly have been refused by Germany, just as the first had been by Hungary. I do not positively assert that peace would have been possible in this or any other case, but I do positively maintain that during my period of office such a peace by sacrifice was the utmost we and Germany could have attained. The future will show what superhuman efforts we have made to induce Germany to give way. That all proved fruitless was not the fault of the German people, nor was it, in my opinion, the fault of the German Emperor, but that of the leaders of the German military party, which had attained such enormous power in the country. Everyone in Wilhelmstrasse, from Bethmann to Kuehlmann, wanted peace; but they could not get it simply because the military party got rid of everyone who ventured to act otherwise than as they wished. This also applies to Bethmann and Kuehlmann. The Pan-Germanists, under the leadership of the military party, could not understand that it was possible to die through being victorious, that victories are worthless when they do not lead to peace, that territories held in an iron grasp as "security" are valueless securities as long as the opposing party cannot be forced to redeem them. There were various shades of this Pan-Germanism. One section demanded the annexation of parts of Belgium and France, with an indemnity of milliards; others were less exorbitant, but all were agreed that peace could only be concluded with an extension of German possessions. It was the easiest thing in the world to get on well with the German military party so long as one believed in their fantastic ideas and took a victorious peace for granted, dividing up the world thereafter at will. But if anyone attempted to look at things from the point of view of the real situation, and ventured to reckon with the possibility of a less satisfactory termination of the war, the obstacles then encountered were not easily surmounted. We all of us remember those speeches in which constant reference was always made to a "stern peace," a "German peace," a "victorious peace." For us, then, the possibility of a more favourable peace—I mean a peace based on mutual understanding—I have never believed in the possibility of a victorious peace—would only have been acute in the case of Poland and the Austro-Polish question. But I cannot sufficiently emphasise the fact that the Austro-Polish solution never was an obstacle in the way of peace and could never have been so. There was only the idea that Austrian Poland and the former Russian Poland might be united and attached to the Monarchy. It was never suggested that such a step should be enforced against the will of Poland itself or against the will of the Entente. There was a time when it looked as if not only Poland but also certain sections among the Entente were not disinclined to agree to such a solution.

But to return to the German military party. This had attained a degree of power in the State rarely equalled in history, and the rarity of the phenomenon was only exceeded by the suddenness of its terrible collapse. The most striking personality in this group was General Ludendorff. Ludendorff was a great man, a man of genius, in conception, a man of indomitable energy and great gifts. But this man required a political brake, so to speak, a political element in the Wilhelmstrasse capable of balancing his influence, and this was never found. It must fairly be admitted that the German generals achieved the gigantic, and there was a time when they were looked up to by the people almost as gods. It may be true that all great strategists are much alike; they look to victory always and to nothing else. Moltke himself, perhaps, was nothing more, but he had a Bismarck to maintain equilibrium. We had no such Bismarck, and when all is said and done it was not the fault of Ludendorff, or it is at any rate an excuse for him, that he was the only supremely powerful character in the whole of Germany, and that in consequence the entire policy of the country was directed into military channels. Ludendorff was a great patriot, desiring nothing for himself, but seeking only the happiness of his country; a military genius, a hard man, utterly fearless—and for all that a misfortune in that he looked at the whole world through Potsdam glasses, with an altogether erroneous judgment, wrecking every attempt at peace which was not a peace by victory. Those very people who worshipped Ludendorff when he spoke of a victorious peace stone him now for that very thing; Ludendorff was exactly like the statesmen of England and France, who all rejected compromise and declared for victory alone; in this respect there was no difference between them. The peace of mutual understanding which I wished for was rejected on the Thames and on the Seine just as by Ludendorff himself. I have said this already. According to the treaty it was our undoubted duty to carry on a defensive war to the utmost and reciprocally to defend the integrity of the State. It is therefore perfectly obvious that I could never publicly express any other view, that I was throughout forced to declare that we were fighting for Alsace-Lorraine just as we were for Trentino, that I could not relinquish German territory to the Entente so long as I lacked the power to persuade Germany herself to such a step. But, as I will show, the most strenuous endeavours were made in this latter direction. And I may here in parenthesis remark that our military men throughout refrained from committing the error of the German generals, and interfering in politics themselves. It is undoubtedly to the credit of our Emperor that whenever any tendency to such interference appeared he quashed it at once. But in particular I should point out that the Archduke Frederick confined his activity solely to the task of bringing about peace. He has rendered most valuable service in this, as also in his endeavours to arrive at favourable relations with Germany.

Very shortly after taking up office I had some discussions with the German Government which left those gentlemen perfectly aware of the serious nature of the situation. In April, 1917—eighteen months ago—I sent the following report to the Emperor Charles, which he forwarded to the Emperor William with the remark that he was entirely of my opinion.

[This report is already printed in these pages. See p. 146.]

This led to a reply from the German Government, dated May 9, again expressing the utmost confidence in the success of the submarine campaign, declaring, it is true, their willingness in principle to take steps towards peace, but reprehending any such steps as might be calculated to give an impression of weakness.

As to any territorial sacrifice on the part of Germany, this was not to be thought of.

As will be seen from this report, however, we did not confine ourselves to words alone. In 1917 we declared in Berlin that the Emperor Charles was prepared to permit the union of Galicia with Poland, and to do all that could be done to attach that State to Germany in the event of Germany making any sacrifices in the West in order to secure peace. But we were met with a non possumus and the German answer that territorial concessions to France were out of the question.

The whole of Galicia was here involved, but I was firmly assured that if the plan succeeded Germany would protect the rights of the Ukraine; and consideration for the Ukrainians would certainly not have restrained me had it been a question of the highest value—of peace itself.

When I perceived that the likelihood of converting Berlin to our views steadily diminished I had recourse to other means. The journey of the Socialist leaders to Stockholm will be remembered. It is true that the Socialists were not "sent" by me; they went to Stockholm of their own initiative and on their own responsibility, but it is none the less true that I could have refused them their passes if I had shared the views of the Entente Governments and of numerous gentlemen in our own country. Certainly, I was at the time very sceptical as to the outcome, as I already saw that the Entente would refuse passes to their Socialists, and consequently there could be nothing but a "rump" parliament in the end. But despite all the reproaches which I had to bear, and the argument that the peace-bringing Socialists would have an enormous power in the State to the detriment of the monarchical principle itself, I never for a moment hesitated to take that step, and I have never regretted it in itself, only that it did not succeed. It is encouraging to me now to read again many of the letters then received criticising most brutally my so-called "Socialistic proceedings" and to find that the same gentlemen who were then so incensed at my policy are now adherents of a line of criticism which maintains that I am too "narrow-minded" in my choice of new means towards peace.

It will be remembered how, in the early autumn of 1917, the majority of the German Reichstag had a hard fight against the numerically weaker but, from their relation to the German Army Command, extremely powerful minority on the question of the reply to the Papal Note. Here again I was no idle spectator. One of my friends, at my instigation, had several conversations with Suedekum and Erzberger, and encouraged them, by my description of our own position, to pass the well known peace resolution. It was owing to this description of the state of affairs here that the two gentlemen mentioned were enabled to carry the Reichstag's resolution in favour of a peace by mutual understanding—the resolution which met with such disdain and scorn from the Pan-Germans and other elements. I hoped then, for a moment, to have gained a lasting and powerful alliance in the German Reichstag against the German military plans of conquest.

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