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
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
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
"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
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."