Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Woodrow Wilson

Contents:
Author: Woodrow Wilson

ARMISTICE NEGOTIATIONS OF THE GREAT WAR.

On September 15, 1918, Austria-Hungary addressed to President Wilson a request for a conference to discuss peace. The Central Powers were to direct to President Wilson their communications referring to an armistice because the lofty and thorough character of the American President’s pronouncements on the question of war aims and peace terms had made him the unofficial diplomatic leader of the Allies. He had also convinced the Central Powers that his purposes and the purposes of his country were freer from self-seeking and the spirit of revenge, and were more fully directed toward realizing a better world-order in the future instead of perpetuating the hatreds of the past, than were the purposes of the other Allied leaders and countries. The Austro-Hungarian note was merely an indefinite request for a conference, with nothing to indicate that such a conference would be binding.

The answer of the President was as incisive as it was curt, and was dispatched immediately upon the receipt of the Austrian note on September 16:

The Government of the United States feels that there is only one reply which it can make to the suggestion of the Imperial Austro-Hungarian Government. It has repeatedly and with entire candor stated the terms upon which the United States would consider peace, and can and will entertain no proposal for a conference upon a matter concerning which it has made its position and purpose so plain.

Contemporaneously with the Austro-Hungarian peace offer, the German Government officially offered peace to Belgium, with certain concessions, but met with no better success than its ally.

After the end of September, even the official propaganda of the Imperial German Government could no longer restrain the German people from the conviction that their cause was lost. For Bulgaria unconditionally surrendered to the Entente Allies on September 30, and the most docile German "patient Michel" could realize that at last the German war machine had cracked. On this same day, the German Government of Chancellor von Herding and Foreign Secretary von Hintze resigned, and was succeeded by a Government formed by Prince Max of Baden, with Doctor Solf as the new foreign secretary. At the same time, revolutionary democratizing changes were made in the constitution of the German Empire, with the result that for the first time the Majority or pro-war Socialists officially entered the Government. The Majority Socialist leader, Scheidemann, joined the cabinet, as did the leader of the Catholic Centrists, Erzberger, whose influence for many months had been exerted in favor of moderation and understanding with the Allies.

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It was evident that the new Government had taken office only with the understanding that it would enter upon peace negotiations at once, since Austria-Hungary had signally failed in her assignment of opening peace discussions. The world was not surprised, therefore, when on October 5 the German Government of Prince Max addressed the following note (received in Washington on October 6) to President Wilson:

The German Government requests the President of the United States of America to take steps for the restoration of peace; to notify all belligerents of this request, and to invite them to delegate plenipotentiaries for the purpose of taking up negotiations. The German Government accepts, as a basis for the peace negotiations, the program laid down by the President of the United States in his message to Congress of January 8, 1918, and in his subsequent pronouncements, particularly in his address of September 27, 1918. In order to avoid further bloodshed, the German Government requests you to bring about the immediate conclusion of a general armistice on land, on water, and in the air.

On the same day, the Austro-Hungarian Government joined with its ally in asking peace, in the following note (received in Washington on October 7):

The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, which has waged war always and solely as a defensive war and repeatedly given documentary evidence of its readiness to stop the shedding of blood and to arrive at a just and honorable peace, hereby addresses itself to His Lordship the President of the United States of America and offers to conclude with him and his allies an armistice on every front on land, at sea, and in the air, and to enter immediately upon negotiations for a peace for which the fourteen points in the Message of President Wilson to Congress of January 8, 1918, and the four points contained in President Wilson’s address of February 12, 1918, should serve as a foundation and in which the viewpoints declared by President Wilson in his address of September 27, 1918, will also be taken into account.

Before replying directly to the German note, the American Government addressed the following query to the German:

Before making a reply to the request of the Imperial German Government, and in order that that reply shall be as candid and straightforward as the momentous interests involved require, the President of the United States deems it necessary to assure himself of the exact meaning of the note of the Imperial Chancellor. Does the Imperial Chancellor mean that the Imperial German Government accepts the terms laid down by the President in his address to the Congress of the United States on the 8th of January last and in subsequent addresses, and that its object in entering into discussions would be only to agree upon the practical details of their application?

The President feels bound to say with regard to the suggestion of an armistice that he would not feel at liberty to propose a cessation of arms to the Governments with which the Government of the United States is associated against the Central Powers so long as the armies of those Powers are upon their soil. The good faith of any discussion, would manifestly depend upon the consent of the Central Powers immediately to withdraw their forces everywhere from invaded territory.

The President also feels that he is justified in asking whether the Imperial Chancellor is speaking merely for the constituted authorities of the Empire who have so far conducted the war. He deems the answer to these questions vital from every point of view.

The above note was more than a query. It was a subtle but transparent suggestion to the German people as to the requirements which would have to be met by Germany itself before peace should be possible.

The reply of the German Government to the American query was as follows:

In reply to the question of the President of the United States of America the German Government hereby declares

The German Government has accepted the terms laid down by President Wilson in his address of January the eighth and in subsequent addresses as the foundations of a permanent peace of justice. Consequently, its object in entering into discussions would be only to agree upon practical details of the application of these terms.

The German Government believes that the governments of the Powers associated with the United States also accept the position taken by President Wilson in his addresses.

The German Government, in accordance with the Austro-Hungarian Government, for the purpose of bringing about an armistice declares itself ready to comply with the propositions of the President in regard to evacuation.

The German Government suggests that the President may occasion the meeting of a mixed commission for making the necessary arrangements concerning the evacuation.

The present German Government which has undertaken the responsibility for this step towards peace has been formed by conferences and in agreement with the great majority of the Reichstag. The chancellor, supported in all of his actions by the will of this majority, speaks in the name of the German Government and of the German people.

On October 14, therefore, the following statement was issued by the American Government concerning the German note of October 5:

The unqualified acceptance by the present German Government and by a large majority of the German Reichstag of the terms laid down by the President of the United States of America in his address to the Congress of the United States on the 8th of January, 1918, and in his subsequent addresses justifies the President in making a frank and direct statement of his decision with regard to the communications of the German Government of the 8th and lath of October, 1918.

It must be clearly understood that the process of evacuation and the conditions of an armistice are matters which must be left to the judgment and advice of the military advisers of the Government of the United States and the Allied Governments, and the President feels it his duty to say that no arrangement can be accepted by the Government of the United States which does not provide absolutely satisfactory safeguards and guarantees of the maintenance of the present military supremacy of the armies of the United States and of the Allies in the field. He feels confident that he can safely assume that this will also be the judgment and decision of the Allied Governments

The President feels that it is also his duty to add that neither the Government of the United States nor, he is quite sure, the Govern menu with which the Government of the United States is associates as a belligerent will consent to consider an armistice so long as the armed forces of Germany continue the illegal and inhumane practice: which they still persist in. At the very time that the German Government approaches the Government of the United States with proposal: of peace its submarines are engaged in sinking passenger ships at sea and not the ships alone, but the very boats in which their passenger: and crews seek to make their way to safety; and in their present enforced withdrawal from Flanders and France the German armies arc pursuing a course of wanton destruction which has always been regarded as in direct violation of the rules and practices of civilizes warfare. Cities and villages, if not destroyed, are being stripped of al they contain not only, but often of their very inhabitants. The nation; associated against Germany can not be expected to agree to a cessation of arms while acts of inhumanity, spoliation, and desolation are being continued which they, justly look upon with horror and with burning hearts.

It is necessary also, in order that there may be no possibility of misunderstanding, that the President should very solemnly call the attention of the Government of Germany to the language and plain intent of one of the terms of peace which the German Government has now accepted. It is contained in the address of the President delivered at Mount Vernon on the Fourth of July last. It is as follows: "The destruction of every arbitrary power anywhere that can separately, secretly, and of its single choice disturb the peace of the world; or, if it can not be presently destroyed, at least its reduction to virtual impotency." The power which has hitherto controlled the German nation is of the sort here described. It is within the choice of the German nation to alter it. The President’s words just quoted naturally constitute a condition precedent to peace, if peace is to come by the action of the German people themselves. The President feels bound to say that the whole process of peace will, in his judgment, depend upon the definiteness and the satisfactory character of the guarantees which can be given in this fundamental matter. It is indispensable that the Governments associated against Germany should know beyond it peradventure with whom they are dealing.

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The President will make a separate reply to the Royal and Imperial Government of Austria-Hungary.

The United States was naturally fully aware that Austria-Hungary was under the complete domination of Germany, and therefore the negotiations with the Austro-Hungarian Government assumed a position secondary to the negotiations with Germany. It was not until October 18 that the following reply was made to the Austro-Hungarian note of October 5:

The President deems it his duty to say to the Austro-Hungarian
Government that he can not entertain the present suggestions of that Government because of certain events of utmost importance which, occurring since the delivery of his address of the 8th of January last, have necessarily altered the attitude and responsibility of the Government of the United States. Among the fourteen terms of peace which the President formulated at that time occurred the following:

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

Since that sentence was written and uttered to the Congress of the United States, the Government of the United States has recognized that a state of belligerency exists between the Czecho-Slovaks and the German and Austro-Hungarian Empires and that the Czecho-Slovak National Council is a de facto belligerent government clothed with proper authority to direct the military and political affairs of the Czecho-Slovaks. It has also recognized in the fullest manner the justice of the nationalistic aspirations of the Jugo-Slavs for freedom.

The President is, therefore, no longer at liberty to accept the mere "autonomy" of these peoples as a basis of peace, but is obliged to insist that they, and not he, shall be the judges of what action on the part of the Austro-Hungarian Government will satisfy their aspirations and their conception of their rights and destiny as members of the family of nations.

Under date of October 20, 1918, the German Government, in the following communication, answered the points raised in the American statement of October 14:

In accepting the proposal for an evacuation of the occupied territories, the German Government has started from the assumption that the procedure of this evacuation and of the conditions of an armistice should be left to the judgment of the military advisers, and that the actual standard of power on both sides in the field has to form the basis for arrangements safeguarding and guaranteeing the standard. The German Government suggests to the President to bring about an opportunity for fixing the details. It trusts that the President of the United States will approve of no demand which would be irreconcilable with the honor of the German people, and with opening a way to a peace of justice.

The German Government protests against the reproach of illegal and inhuman actions made against the German land and sea forces, and thereby against the German people. For the covering of a retreat, destruction will always be necessary, and are, in so far, permitted by international law. The German troops are under the strictest instructions to spare private property and to exercise care for the population to the best of their ability. Where transgressions occur in spite of these instructions, the guilty are being punished.

The German Government further denies that the German navy in sinking ships has ever purposely destroyed lifeboats with their passengers. The German Government purposes with regard to all these charges that the facts be cleared up by neutral commissions. In order to avoid anything that might hamper the work of peace the German Government has caused orders to be dispatched to all submarine commanders precluding the torpedoing of passenger ships, without, however, for technical reasons, being able to guarantee that these orders will reach every single submarine at sea before its return.

As the fundamental conditions for peace the President characterizes the destruction of every arbitrary power that can separately, secretly and of its own single choice disturb the peace of the world.

To this the German Government replies: Hitherto the representation of the people in the German Empire has not been endowed with an influence on the formation of the government. The constitution did not provide for a concurrence of the representation of the people in decisions on peace and war. These conditions have just now undergone a fundamental change. The new Government has been formed in complete accord with the wishes of the representation of the people, based on the equal, universal, secret, direct franchise. The leaders of the great parties of the Reichstag are members of this Government.

In the future no government can take or continue in office without possessing the confidence of the majority of the Reichstag. The responsibility of the Chancellor of the empire to the representation of the people is being legally developed and safeguarded.

The first act of the new Government has been to lay before the Reichstag a bill to alter the constitution of the empire so that the consent of the representation of the people is required for decisions on war and peace. The permanence of the new system is, however, guaranteed not only by constitutional safeguards, but also by the unshakable determination of the German people, whose vast majority stands behind these reforms and demands their energetic continuance.

The question of the President, With whom he and the Governments associated against Germany are dealing? is therefore answered in a clear and unequivocal manner by the statement that the offer of peace and an armistice has come from a Government which, free from arbitrary and irresponsible influence, is supported by the approval of the overwhelming majority of the German people.

On October 23, therefore, the following reply to the original German note on the question of peace was dispatched:

Having received the solemn and explicit assurance of the German Government that it unreservedly accepts the terms of peace laid down in his address to the Congress of the United States on the eighth of [p.8609] January, 1918, and the principles of settlement enunciated in his subsequent addresses, particularly the address of the twenty-seventh of September, and that it desires to discuss the details of their application, and that this wish and purpose emanate, not from those . who have hitherto dictated German policy and conducted the present war on Germany’s behalf, but from ministers who speak for the majority of the Reichstag and for an overwhelming majority of the German people; and having received also the explicit promise of the present German Government that the humane rules of civilized warfare will be observed both on land and sea by the German armed forces, the President of the United States feels that he can not decline to take ,up with the Governments with which the Government of the United States is associated the question of an armistice.

He deems it his duty to say again, however, that the only armistice he would feel justified in submitting for consideration would be one which should leave the United States and the powers associated with her in a position to enforce any arrangements that may be entered into and to make a renewal of hostilities on the part of Germany impossible. The President has, therefore, transmitted his correspondence with the present German authorities to the Governments with which the Government of the United States is associated as a belligerent, with the suggestion that, if those Governments are disposed to effect peace upon the terms and principles indicated, their military advisers and the military advisers of the United States be asked to submit to the Governments associated against Germany the necessary terms of such an armistice as will fully protect the interests of the people involved and ensure to the associated Governments the unrestricted power to safeguard and enforce the details of the peace to which the German Government has agreed, provided they deem such an armistice possible from the military point of view. Should such terms of armistice be suggested, their acceptance by Germany will afford the best concrete evidence of her unequivocal acceptance of the terms and principles of peace from which the whole action proceeds.

The President would deem himself lacking in candor did he not point out in the frankest possible terms the reason why extraordinary safeguards must be demanded. Significant and important as the constitutional changes seem to be which are spoken of by the German Foreign Secretary in his note of the 20th of October, it does not appear that the principle of a Government responsible to the German people has yet been fully worked out or that any guarantees either exist or are in contemplation that the alterations of principle and of practice now partially agreed upon will be permanent. Moreover, it does not appear that the heart of the present difficulty has been reached. It may be that future years have been brought under the control of the [p.8610] German people, but the present war has not been; and it is with, the present war that we are dealing. It is evident that the German people have no means of commanding the acquiescence of the military authorities of the Empire in the popular will; that the power of the King of Prussia to control the policy of the Empire is unimpaired; that the determining initiative still remains with those who have hitherto been the masters of Germany.

Feeling that the whole peace of the world depends now on plain speaking and straightforward action, the President deems it his duty to say, without any attempt to soften what may, seem harsh words, that the nations of the world do not and can not trust the word of those who have hitherto been the masters of German policy; and to point out once more that in concluding peace and attempting to undo the infinite injuries and injustices of this war the Government of the United States can not deal with any but veritable representatives of the German people who have been assured of a genuine constitutional standing as the real rulers of Germany. If it must deal with the military masters and the monarchical autocrats of Germany now, or if it is likely to have to deal with them later in regard to the international obligations of the German Empire, it must demand, not peace negotiations, but surrender. Nothing can be gained by leaving this essential thing unsaid.

With all the preliminaries to an armistice thus removed, on October 27 the German Government made the following request for the cessation of hostilities

The German Government has taken cognizance of the answer of the President of the United States.

The President is aware of the far-reaching changes which have been carried out and are being carried out in the German constitutional structure, and that peace negotiations are being conducted by a people’s Government, in whose hands rests, both actually and constitutionally, the power to make the deciding conclusions. The military powers are also subject to it.

The German Government now awaits proposals for an armistice, which shall be the first step toward a just peace, as the President has described it in his proclamation.

On October 28, the following communication was received from the Austro-Hungarian Government in reply to the American note of October 18:

In reply to the note of President Wilson of the nineteenth of this month, addressed to the Austro-Hungarian Government on the question of an armistice and of peace, the Austro-Hungarian Government has the honor to declare that equally with the preceding proclamations of the President, it adheres also to the same point of view contained in the last note upon the rights of the Austro-Hungarian peoples, especially those of the Czecho-Slovaks and the Jugo-Slavs.

Consequently, Austria-Hungary accepting all the conditions the Presi dent has laid down for the entry into negotiations for an armistice and peace, no obstacle exists, according to the judgment of the Austro-Hungarian Government, to the beginning of those negotiations.

The Austro-Hungarian Government declares itself ready, in consequence, without awaiting the result of other negotiations, to enter into negotiations upon peace between Austria-Hungary and the States in the opposing group and for an immediate armistice upon all Austro-Hungarian fronts.

It asks President Wilson to be so kind as to begin overtures on this subject.

On October 31, the Secretary of State of the United States dispatched the following note to the Turkish Government:

I did not fail to lay before the President the note which you addressed to him on the 14th instant, and handed to me on that date.

Acting under the instructions of your Government, you enclosed with that note the text of a communication received by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain, from the Charge d’Affaires of Turkey at Madrid, on October 12, in which the good offices of the Government of Spain were sought to bring to the attention of the President the request of the Imperial Ottoman Government that he take upon himself the task of the reestablishment of peace, and that he notify all belligerent states of the request and invite them to delegate plenipotentiaries to initiate negotiations; the Imperial Ottoman Government accepting as a basis for the negotiations the programme laid down by the President in his message to Congress of January 8, 1918, and in his subsequent declarations, especially his speech of September 27. It is further requested by the Imperial Ottoman Government that steps be taken for the immediate conclusion of a general armistice on land, on sea, and in the air.

By direction of the President, I have the honor to inform your Excellency that the Government of the United States will bring the communication of the Turkish Charge d’Affaires to the knowledge of the Governments at war with Turkey.

On October 30, a further statement was received from the German Government, describing in detail the steps which Germany had taken toward democratizing its form of government, but this statement the Government of the United States refused to make public.

On November 4, the following reply to the German request for an armistice was transmitted

In my note of October 23, 1918, I advised you that the President had transmitted his correspondence with the German authorities to the Governments with which the Government of the United States is associated as a belligerent with the suggestion that;. if those Govern ments were disposed to accept peace upon the terms and principles indicated, their military advisers and the military advisers of the United States be asked to submit to the Governments associated against Germany the necessary terms of such an armistice as would fully protect the interests of the peoples involved and insure the associated Governments the unrestricted power to safeguard and enforce the details of the peace to which the German Government has agreed, provided they deem such an armistice possible from the military point of view.

The President is now in receipt of a memorandum of observations by the Allied Governments on this correspondence, which is as follows

The Allied Governments have given careful consideration to the correspondence which has passed between the President of the United States and the German Government. Subject to the qualifications which follow, they declare their willingness to make peace with the Government of Germany on the terms of peace laid down in the President’s address to Congress of January 8, 1918, and the principles of settlement enunciated in his subsequent addresses.

They must point out, however, that Clause a, relating to what is usually described as the freedom of the seas, is open to various interpretations, some of which they could not accept. They must, therefore, reserve to themselves complete freedom on this subject when they enter the peace conference.

Further, in the conditions of peace, laid down in his address to Congress of January 8, 1918, the President declared that invaded territories must be restored as well as evacuated and freed. The Allied Governments feel that no doubt ought to be allowed to exist as to what this provision implies. By it they understand that compensation will be made by Germany for all damage done to the civilian population of the Allies and their property by the aggression of Germany by land, by sea, and from the air.

I am instructed by the President to say that he is in agreement with the interpretation set forth in the last paragraph of the memorandum above quoted. I am further instructed by the President to request you to notify the German Government that Marshal Foch has been authorized by the Government of the United States and the Allied Governments to receive properly accredited representatives of the German Government and to communicate to them terms of an armistice.

ROBERT LANSING,

Secretary of State.

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On November 7, the German representatives empowered to sign an armistice left for the headquarters of Marshal Foch, where they were received and were given the armistice terms on the following day. The German Government and the German people complained long and bitterly at what they termed the unnecessary and brutal harshness of the armistice terms, so that a delay of a few days ensued before the terms were finally signed. But Germany was helpless, and on November 11, at 5 A. M. French time (11 A. M. Washington time) the document ending the major hostilities of the war was signed. Previously, military defeats had compelled Germany’s allies to accept armistice terms amounting to surrender, as follows:-Bulgaria, on September 29; Turkey, on October 31; Austria-Hungary, on November 4.

On November 11, 1918, at one o’clock in the afternoon, the President of the United States announced to Congress and through Congress to the entire country, the official end of the actual major hostilities of the Great War:

Gentlemen o f the Congress:

In these anxious times of rapid and stupendous change it will in some degree lighten my sense of responsibility to perform in person the duty of communicating to you some of the larger circumstances of the situation with which it is necessary to deal.

The German authorities who have, at the invitation of the Supreme War Council, been in communication with Marshal Foch have accepted and signed the terms of armistice which he was authorized and instructed to communicate to them. Those terms are as follows: * [* See page 8620]

One-Cessation of operations by land and in the air six hours after the signature of the armistice.

Two-Immediate evacuation of invaded countries-Belgium, France, Alsace-Lorraine, Luxemburg, so ordered as to be completed within fourteen days from the signature of the armistice. German troops which have not left the above mentioned territories within the period fixed will become prisoners of war. Occupation by the Allied and United States forces jointly will keep pace with evacuation in these areas. All movements of evacuation and occupation will be regulated in accordance with a note annexed to the stated terms.

Three-Repatriation beginning at once and to be completed within fourteen days of all inhabitants of the countries above mentioned, including hostages and persons under trial or convicted.

Four-Surrender in good condition by the German armies of the following equipment: Five thousand guns (two thousand five hundred heavy, two thousand five hundred field). Thirty thousand machine guns. Three thousand minenwerfer. Two thousand aeroplanes (fighters, bombers-firstly D. Seventy-threes and night bombing machines). The above to be delivered in situ to the Allies and United States troops in accordance with the detailed conditions laid down in the annexed note.

Five-Evacuation by the German armies of the countries on the left bank of the Rhine. These countries on the left bank of the Rhine shall be administered by the local authorities under the control of the Allied and United States armies of occupation. The occupation of these territories will be determined by Allied and United States garrisons holding the principal crossings of the Rhine, Mayence, Coblenz, Cologne, together with bridgeheads at these points in ’a thirty kilometer radius on the right bank and by garrisons similarly holding the strategic points of the regions. A neutral zone shall be reserved on the right of the Rhine between the stream and a line drawn parallel to it forty kilometers to the east from the frontier of Holland to the parallel of Gernsheim and as far as practicable a distance of thirty kilometers from the east of stream from this parallel upon Swiss frontier. Evacuation by the enemy of the Rhine lands shall be so ordered as to be completed within a further period of eleven days, in all nineteen days after the signature of the armistice. All movements of evacuation and occupation will be regulated according to the note annexed.

Six-In all territory evacuated by the enemy there shall be no evacuation of inhabitants; no damage or harm shall be done to the persons or property of the inhabitants. No destruction of any kind to be committed. Military establishments of all kinds shall be delivered intact as well as military stores of food, munitions, equipment not removed during the periods fixed for evacuation. Stores of food of all kinds for the civil population, cattle, etc., shall be left in situ. Industrial establishments shall not be impaired in any way and their personnel shall not be removed. Roads and means of communication of every kind, railroad, waterways, main roads, bridges, telegraphs, telephones, shall be in no manner impaired.

Seven-All civil and military personnel at present employed on them shall remain. Five thousand locomotives, fifty thousand wagons and ten thousand motor lorries in good working order with all necessary spare parts and fittings shall be delivered to the Associated Powers within the period fixed for the evacuation of Belgium and Luxemburg. The railways of Alsace-Lorraine shall be handed over within the same period, together with all pre-war personnel and material. Further material necessary for the working of railways in the country on the left bank of the Rhine shall be left in situ. All stores of coal and material for the up-keep of permanent ways, signals and repair shops to be left entire in situ and kept in an efficient state by Germany during the whole period of armistice. All barges taken from the Allies shall be restored to them. A note appended regulates the details of these measures.

Eight-The German command shall be responsible for revealing all mines or delayed-acting fuses disposed on territory evacuated by the German troops and shall assist in their discovery and destruction. The [p.8615] German command shall also reveal all destructive measures that may have been taken (such as poisoning or polluting of springs, wells, etc.) under penalty of reprisals.

Nine-The right of requisition shall be exercised by the Allied and the United States armies in all occupied territory. The up-keep of the troops of occupation in the Rhine land (excluding Alsace-Lorraine) shall be charged to the German Government.

Ten-An immediate repatriation without reciprocity, according to detailed conditions which shall be fixed, of all Allied and United States prisoners of war. The Allied Powers and the United States shall be able to dispose of these prisoners as they wish.

Eleven-Sick and wounded who cannot be removed from evacuated territory will be cared for by German personnel who will be left on the spot with the medical material required.

Twelve-All German troops at present in any territory which before the war belonged to Russia, Roumania or Turkey shall withdraw within the frontiers of Germany as they existed on August first, 1914.

Thirteen-Evacuation by German troops to begin at once and all German instructors, prisoners, and civilian as well as military agents, now on the territory of Russia (as defined before 1914) to be recalled.

Fourteen-German troops to cease at once all requisitions and seizures and any other undertaking with a view to obtaining supplies intended for Germany in Roumania and Russia (as defined on August first, 1914).

Fifteen-Abandonment of the treaties of Bucharest and BrestLitovsk and of the supplementary treaties.

Sixteen-The Allies shall have free access to the territories evacuated by the Germans on their eastern frontier either through Danzig or by the Vistula in order to convey supplies to the populations of those territories or for any other purpose.

Seventeen-Unconditional capitulation of all German forces operating in East Africa within one month.

Eighteen-Repatriation, without reciprocity, within a maximum period of one month, in accordance with detailed conditions hereafter to be fixed, of all civilians interned or deported who may be citizens of other Allied or Associated States than those mentioned in clause three, paragraph nineteen, with the reservation that any future claims and demands of the Allies and the United States of America remain unaffected.

Nineteen-The following financial conditions are required: Reparation for damage done. While such armistice lasts no public securities shall be removed by the enemy which can serve as a pledge to the Allies for the recovery or repatriation for war losses. Immediate restitution of the cash deposit in the National Bank of Belgium, and in general immediate return of all documents, specie, stocks, shares, paper money together with plant for the issue thereof, touching public or private interests in the invaded countries. Restitution of the Russian and Roumanian gold yielded to Germany or taken by that Power. This gold to be delivered in trust to the Allies until the signature of peace.

Twenty-Immediate cessation of all hostilities at sea and definite information to be given as to the location and movements of all German ships. Notification to be given to neutrals that freedom of navigation in all territorial waters is given to the naval and mercantile marines of the Allied and Associated, Powers, all questions of neutrality being waived.

Twenty-one-All naval and mercantile marine prisoners of war of the Allied and Associated Powers in German hands to be returned without reciprocity.

Twenty-two-Surrender to the Allies and the United States of America of one hundred and sixty German submarines (including all submarine cruisers and , mine-laying submarines) with their complete armament and equipment in ports which will be specified by the Allies and the United States of America. All other submarines to be paid off and completely disarmed and placed under the supervision of the Allied Powers and the United States of America.

Twenty-three-The following German surface warships, which shall be designated by the Allies and the United States of America, shall forthwith be disarmed and thereafter interned in neutral ports, or, for the want of them, in Allied ports, to be designated by the Allies and the United States of America and placed under the surveillance of the Allies and the United States of America, only caretakers being left on board, namely: Six battle cruisers, ten battleships, eight light cruisers, including two mine layers, fifty destroyers of the most modern type. All other surface warships (including river craft) are to be concentrated in German naval bases to be designated by the Allies and the United States of America, and are to be paid off and completely disarmed and placed under the supervision of the Allies and the United States of America. All vessels of the auxiliary fleet (trawlers, motor vessels, etc.) are to be disarmed.

Twenty-four-The Allies and the United States of America shall have the right to sweep up all mine fields and obstructions laid by Germany outside German territorial waters, and the positions of these are to be indicated.

Twenty-five-Freedom of access to and from the Baltic to be given to the naval and mercantile marines of the Allied and Associated Powers. To secure this the Allies and the United States of America shall be empowered to occupy all German forts, fortifications, batteries and defense works of all kinds in all the entrances from the Categat into the Baltic, and to sweep up all mines and obstructions within and without German territorial waters without any question of neutrality being raised, and the positions of all such mines and obstructions are to be indicated.

Twenty-six-The existing blockade conditions set up by the Allies and Associated Powers are to remain unchanged and all German merchant ships found at sea are to remain liable to capture.

Twenty-seven-All naval aircraft are to be concentrated and immobilized in German bases to be specified by the Allies and the United States of America.

Twenty-eight-In evacuating the Belgian coasts and ports, Germany shall abandon all merchant ships, tugs, lighters, cranes and all other harbor materials, all materials for inland navigation, all aircraft and all materials and stores, all arms and armaments, and all stores and apparatus of all kinds.

Twenty-nine-All Black Sea ports are to be evacuated by Germany; all Russian war vessels of all descriptions seized by Germany in the Black Sea are to be handed over to the Allies and the United States of America; all neutral merchant vessels seized are to be released; all.

warlike and other materials of all kinds seized in those ports are to be returned and German materials as specified in clause twenty-eight are to be abandoned.

Thirty-All merchant vessels in German hands belonging to the Allied and Associated Powers are to be restored in ports to be specified by the Allies and the United States of America without reciprocity.

Thirty-one-No destruction of ships or of materials to be permitted before evacuation, surrender or restoration.

Thirty-two-The German Government shall formally notify the neutral Governments of the world, and particularly the Governments of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Holland, that all restrictions placed on the trading of their vessels with the Allied and Associated countries, whether by the German Government or by private German interests, and whether in return for specific concessions such as the ex, port of shipbuilding materials or not, are immediately canceled.

Thirty-three-No transfers of German merchant shipping of any description to any neutral flag are to take place after signature of the armistice.

Thirty-four-The duration of the armistice is to be thirty days, with option to extend. During this period, on failure of execution of any of the above clauses, the armistice may be denounced by one of the contracting parties on forty-eight hours’ previous notice.

Thirty-five-This armistice to be accepted or refused by Germany within seventy-two hours of notification.

[p.8618]

The war thus comes to an end; for, having accepted these terms of armistice, it will be impossible for the German command to renew it.

It is not now possible to assess the consequences of this great consummation. We know only that this tragical war, whose consuming flames swept from one nation to another until all the world was on fire, is at an end and that it was the privilege of our people to enter it at its most critical juncture in such fashion and in such force as to contribute in a way of which we are all deeply proud to the great result. We know, too, that the object of the war is attained, the object upon which all free men had set their hearts; and attained with a sweeping completeness which even now we do not realize. Armed imperialism such as the men conceived who were but yesterday the masters of German is at an end, its illicit ambitions engulfed in black disaster. Who will now seek to revive it? The arbitrary power of the military caste of Germany which once could secretly and of its own single choice disturb the peace of the world is discredited and destroyed. And more than that-much more than that-has been accomplished. The great nations which associated themselves to destroy it have now definitely united in the common purpose to set up ’such a peace as will satisfy the longing of the whole world for disinterested justice, embodied in settlements which are based upon something much better and much more lasting than the selfish competitive interests of powerful states. There is no longer conjecture as to the objects the victors have in mind. They have a mind in the matter not only, but a heart also. Their avowed and concerted purpose is to satisfy and protect the weak as well as to accord their just rights to the strong.

The humane temper and intention of the victorious Governments has already been manifested in a very practical way. Their representatives in the Supreme War Council at Versailles have by unanimous resolution assured the peoples of the Central Empires that everything that is possible in the circumstances will be done to supply them with food and relieve the distressing want that is in so many places threatening their very lives; and steps are to be taken immediately to organize these efforts at relief in the same systematic manner that they were organized in the case of Belgium. By the use of the idle tonnage of the Central Empires it ought presently to be possible to lift the fear of utter misery from their oppressed populations and set their minds and energies free for the great and hazardous tasks of political reconstruction which now face them on every hand. Hunger does not breed reform; it breeds madness and all the ugly distempers that make an ordered life impossible.

For with the fall of the ancient governments which rested like an incubus upon the peoples of the Central Empires has come political change not merely, but revolution; and revolution which seems as yet to assume no final and ordered form but to run from one fluid change to another, until thoughtful men are forced to ask themselves, With what governments,, and of what sort, are we about to deal in the making of the covenants of peace? With what authority ’will they meet us, and with what assurance that their authority will abide and sustain securely the international arrangements into which we are about to enter? There is here matter for no small anxiety and misgiving. When peace is made, upon whose promises and engagements besides our own is it to rest?

Let us be perfectly frank with ourselves and admit that these questions cannot be satisfactorily answered now or at once. But the moral is not that there is little hope of an early answer that will suffice. It is only that we must be patient and helpful and mindful above all of the great hope and confidence that lie at the head of what is taking place. Excesses accomplish nothing. Unhappy Russia has furnished abundant recent proof of that. Disorder immediately defeats itself. If excesses should occur, if disorder should for a time raise its head, a sober second thought will follow and a day of constructive action, if we help and do not hinder.

The present and all that it holds belong to the nations and the peoples who preserve their self-control and the orderly processes of their governments; the future to those who prove themselves the true friends of mankind. To conquer with arms is to make only a temporary conquest; to, conquer the world by earning its esteem is to make permanent conquest. I am confident that the nations that have learned the discipline of freedom and that have settled with self-possession to its ordered practice are now about to, make conquest of the world by the sheer power of example and of friendly helpfulness.

The peoples who have but just come out from under the yoke of arbitrary government and who are now coming at last into their freedom will never find the treasures of liberty they are in search of if they look for them by the light of the torch. They will find that every pathway that is stained with the blood of their own brothers leads to the wilderness, not to the seat of their hope. They are now face to face with their initial test. We must hold the light steady until they find themselves. And in the meantime, if it be possible, we must establish a peace that will justly define their place among the nations, remove all fear of their neighbors and of their former masters, and enable them to live in security and contentment when they have set their own affairs in order. I, for one, do not doubt their purpose or their capacity. There are some happy signs that they know and will choose the way of self-control and peaceful accommodation. If they do, we shall put our aid at their disposal in every way that we can.

[p.8620]

If they do not, we must await with patience and sympathy the awakening and recovery that will assuredly come at last.

After the President had delivered the above address, it was announced that the terms of the armistice as given him had ’been changed immediately before signing, and too late to be transmitted to him before he addressed Congress. The significance of the changes is noted below.

Article Three, fifteen days instead of fourteen are allowed for the repatriation, beginning at once, of all the inhabitants removed from invaded countries, including hostages and persons under trial or convicted.

Article Four, providing for the surrender of munitions and equipment, reduces the number of machine guns to be delivered from 30,000 to 25,000, the number of aeroplanes from 2,000 to 1,700.

Article Five, providing for the evacuation by the Germans of the countries on the left bank of the Rhine, stipulates that these countries shall be administered by "the local troops of occupation," instead of by the local authorities under the control of the Allied and United States armies, and the occupation is to be "carried out by" instead of "determined by" Allied and United States garrisons holding strategic points and the principal crossings of the Rhine. Thirteen days instead of twenty-five are allowed for completion of the evacuation.

Article Six, providing that no damage or harm shall be done to persons and property in territory exacuated by the Germans, has a sentence added specifically stipulating that "no person shall be prosecuted for offences of participation in war measures prior to the signing of the armistice."

Article Seven, providing for the abandonment or delivery in good order to the Associated Powers of all roads and means of communication and transportation in evacuated territory, calls for 150,000 wagons (railroad cars), instead of 50,000; 5,000 motor lorries, instead of 10,000, and requires that all civil and military personnel at present employed on such means of communication and transportation, including waterways, shall remain. Thirty-one, instead of twenty-five, days are allowed for handing over the material. Thirty-six days are allowed for the handing over of the railways of Alsace-Lorraine, together with the pre-war personnel.

Article Eight, forty-eight hours is given the German command to reveal destructive measures, such as polluted springs and wells, and to reveal and assist in discovering and destroying mines or delayed action fuses on evacuated territory. No time limit was fixed originally.

Article Nine, providing for the right of requisition by the United States and Allied armies in occupied territory, has the clause added: "Subject to regulation of accounts with those whom it may concern.",

Article Ten, providing for the repatriation without reciprocity of all Allied and United States prisoners of war, including persons under trial or convicted, has the following added: "This condition annuls the previous conventions on the subject of the exchange of prisoners of war, including the one of July, 1918, in course of ratification. However, the repatriation of German prisoners of war interned in Holland and in Switzerland shall continue as before. The repatriation of German prisoners of war shall be regulated at the conclusion of the preliminaries of peace:’

Article Twelve, providing for the withdrawal of German troops from territory which belonged before the war to Russia, Roumania and Turkey, is rewritten. Territory which belonged to Austria-Hungary is added to that from which the Germans must withdraw immediately, and as to territory which belonged to Russia, it is provided that the German troops now there shall withdraw within the frontiers of Germany "as soon as the Allies, taking into account the internal situation of those territories, shall decide that the time for this has come."

Article Fifteen, "renunciation" is substituted for "abandonment" in stipulating that the treaties of Bucharest and Brest-Litovsk are nullified.

Article Sixteen, providing free access for the Allies into territory evacuated through the German Eastern frontier, is changed so as to declare such access is for the purpose of conveying supplies to the populations "and for the purpose of maintaining order," instead of "or for any other purpose."

Article Seventeen, originally providing for the "unconditional capitulation within one month of all German forces operating in East Africa, is replaced by a clause requiring only "evacuation by all German forces operating in East Africa within a period to be fixed by the Allies:"

Article Eighteen, providing for the repatriation of all . civilians belonging to the Allies or Associated Powers other than those enumerated in Article Three, is amended to eliminate a reservation that any future claims or demands by the Allies and the United States shall remain unaffected.

Article Twenty-two, providing for the surrender of 160 German submarines, is changed to read "all submarines now existing," with the added stipulation that "those which cannot take the sea shall be disarmed of material and personnel, and shall remain under the supervision of the Allies and the United States:" Further provisions are added requiring that all the conditions of the article shall be carried into effect within fourteen days; that submarines ready for sea shall be prepared to leave German ports immediately upon orders by wireless, and the remainder at the earliest possible moment.

Article Twenty-three, providing for the disposition of German surface warships, has additional clauses requiring that vessels designated for internment shall be ready to leave German ports within seven days, upon directions by wireless, and that the military armament of all vessels of the auxiliary fleet shall be put on shore.

Article Twenty-six, providing that the Allied blockade remains unchanged, has this sentence added: "The Allies and the United States should give consideration to the provisioning of Germany during the armistice to the extent recognized as necessary."

Article Twenty-eight, providing conditions of evacuation of the Belgian coast (from which the Germans actually had been driven before the armistice was signed), was changed in minor particulars.

Article Thirty-four, providing that the duration of the armistice shall be thirty days, and that if its clauses are not carried into execution it may be renounced upon forty-eight hours’ warning, has the following added:

[p.8622]

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Chicago: Woodrow Wilson, "ARMISTICE NEGOTIATIONS OF THE GREAT WAR.," Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Woodrow Wilson, ed. and trans. James D. Richardson in Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Woodrow Wilson Original Sources, accessed October 4, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L1PFX6FYD54XK2C.

MLA: Wilson, Woodrow. "ARMISTICE NEGOTIATIONS OF THE GREAT WAR." Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Woodrow Wilson, edited and translated by James D. Richardson, in Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Woodrow Wilson, Original Sources. 4 Oct. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L1PFX6FYD54XK2C.

Harvard: Wilson, W, 'ARMISTICE NEGOTIATIONS OF THE GREAT WAR.' in Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Woodrow Wilson, ed. and trans. . cited in , Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Woodrow Wilson. Original Sources, retrieved 4 October 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=L1PFX6FYD54XK2C.