Page 3818

3818 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

as spokesman of the Central Powers and

made a statement intended as a basis upon

which the Entente Allies were to join in the

negotiations. His proposals were somewhat

vague, but he disclaimed intention to exact

forcible annexation of territories seized

during the war or to deprive of political

independence those nations which had lost

it during the war. Germany's colonies must

be returned, and the suggestion was made

that both sides might renounce not only

indemnifications for war costs but also

indemnifications for war damages.

But the Allied world realized that to

negotiate on any such basis would be equivalent to an admission of Teutonic victory.

As was often pointed out, Czernin's proposals were full of loopholes, and almost any

scheme of conquest and annexation could be

perpetrated within the limitations of his

pronouncements.

In all the chief Allied countries replies

were made to the proposal. Of these the

most important were those of Premier Lloyd

George and President Wilson. Their statements of war aims were in some respects so

similar that it is evident that there was

previous consultation between them. Indemnification for Belgium, the restoration

of Alsace-Lorraine to France, and the

evacuation by the Teutons of all occupied

territory were among the chief requirements

laid down by each. Both disclaimed any

desire to destroy either Germany or Austria-Hungary. Wilson drew up his program

under fourteen points, and, in view of the

importance these points subsequently assumed, they will be given in full in a later

chapter.

Both Count Hertling, the German Imperial Chancellor, and Count Czernin replied

to the Allied pronouncements. The burden

of Hertling's speech was, "If the leaders of

the enemy powers really are inclined toward

peace let them revise their program once

again." Count Czemin was willing to

accept some of Wilson's points but would

reject others. These speeches drew replies

from both Wilson and Lloyd George-replies that attracted much attention at the

time but proved of little ultimate importance.

The debate continued, in fact, for weeks.

In Washington these long-range peace

discussions were taken very seriously. In

high circles a belief developed that peace

might actually be brought about without

further fighting. A corps of scholars were

set hastily to work collecting diplomatic data

for use in a possible peace conference. But

all such hopes were premature. The Central

Powers were playing a deep game designed

to demoralize and divide their enemies.

Not by the speeches of politicians but by

blows struck by soldiers was the door to

peace to be opened.

The War Lords were preparing one more

vast effort. In a speech (December 22,

1917) to the German Second Army on the

French Front Kaiser Wilhelm had already

said: "The year 1917, with its great

battles, has proved that the German people

has in the Lord of Creation above an unconditional and avowed ally on whom it

can absolutely rely. . . . From this we

can gain firm confidence that the Lord will

be with us in the future also. . . . If

the enemy does not want peace, then

we must bring peace to the world by

battering in with the iron fist and shining

sword the doors of those who will not have

peace."

"The German people in arms has thus

everywhere, on land and sea, achieved great

deeds," he said in a New Year's order.

"But our enemies still hope, with the assistance of new Allies, to defeat you and then

to destroy forever the world position won by

Germany in hard endeavor. They will not

succeed. Trusting in our righteous cause

and in our strength, we face the year 1918

with firm confidence and iron will. Therefore, forward with God to fresh deeds and

fresh victories!"

It will be noted that in this, as in many

other pronouncements, the Kaiser assumed

that he and his people were in close alliance

with the Almighty. Another year, fraught

with tremendous events, was to show the

world and the Kaiser whether or not this

assumption was well founded.

"Though the mills of God grind slowly,

Yet they grind exceeding small.

Though with patience He stands waiting,

With exactness grinds He all."