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3781 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

"Germany took up arms in defense of its

liberty and independence and for the integrity of its territories. The Reichstag labors

for peace and a mutual understanding and

lasting reconciliation among the nations.

Forced acquisitions of territory and political,

economic, and financial violations are incompatible with such a peace.

"The Reichstag rejects all plans aiming at

an economic blockade and the stirring up of

enmity among the peoples after the war. The

freedom of the seas must be assured. Only

an economic peace can prepare the ground

for the friendly association of the peoples.

"The Reichstag will energetically promote

the operation of international juridical organizations. So long, however, as the enemy

Governments do not accept such a peace, so

long as they threaten violation, the German

people will stand together as one man, hold

out unshaken, and fight until the rights of

itself and its allies to life and development

are secured. The German Nation united is

unconquerable.

"The Reichstag knows that in this announcement it is at one with the men who

are defending the Fatherland. In their heroic

struggles they are sure of the undying thanks

of the whole people."

On July 19, these resolutions were formally

adopted, and thus the Reichstag placed

itself on record as opposing annexations

and indemnities. The news was received

in the world outside as evidence of changing

German views regarding the war, but men

who understood German affairs were not

slow to point out that in the last analysis

the War Lords and not the Reichstag determined German policy. On the same day that

the Reichstag majority decided to support

the resolutions, the Kaiser issued a statement

vaguely promising franchise reforms. The

next day, Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg resigned, being forced out, according to

some accounts, by the influence of the Crown

Prince. He was succeeded by Dr. George

Michaelis, Prussian Under-Secretary of

Finance and Food Control. His advent to

power was regarded as a triumph of the military party headed by the Crown Prince.

In his first speech before the Reichstag,

Michaelis justified Germany's course in entering the war and declared that the submarines

were accomplishing all and more than all

that was expected of them. He deprecated

the idea that America would be able to play

any serious part in the war and said that

the Central Powers could look to the future

"with calm security." At the same time,

he expressed a willingness to make peace

but asserted that there must be guarantees

"of the existence of the German Empire upon

the continent and overseas."

Michaelis remained in power only a short

time. On October 24, he resigned and was

succeeded by Count von Hertling, an aged

statesman, who for over five years had been

Premier of Bavaria. Count von Hertling

had, for a time, been Professor of Philosophy

at the University of Bonn and subsequently

a member of the Reichstag. He was a Catholic in religion and a conservative in politics.

The causes of the change in government were

variously interpreted. It was charged that

von Hertling was opposed to broadened Parliamentary powers, that Michaelis was not

candid in his statements regarding the Reichstag peace proposals, and that he showed

partiality to extreme Pan-German annexationists.

During the spring, summer, and fall of

1917, the Italians continued their attacks

upon the Austrians. The difficulties were

enormous, for the country was mountainous

and easily defensible. In places the contending forces fought high above the clouds,

scaling the steep cliffs and even fighting

among glaciers and above the snow line.

Almost everywhere the transportation of

guns and supplies was accomplished only

after overcoming tremendous obstacles. In

such circumstances any speedy advance was

impossible, yet the Italians, by determined

efforts, made substantial gains.

In the second week of May, the Italians

began a three-day bombardment on a thirty mile front from Tolmino to the sea. On the

14th, in spite of strong Austrian counter-fire,

they assaulted the Austrian lines on a wide

front and captured numerous strong points

and over 6,000 prisoners.

Some days later, another attack on the

south of the Carso Plateau resulted in the

taking of 9,000 prisoners. Two weeks later,