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German Chancellor calls for peace
Cambrai as the Germans retreated - Canadian troops among the blazing buildings in Cambrai, France. Photo: Illustrated London News [London, England] 19 October 1918

German Chancellor calls for peace

Washington DC, 14 October 1918 - There will be no cessation of hostilities while German forces continue to sink passenger liners and destroy towns and villages. Furthermore, the question of an armistice is one that will be decided upon by the Allies’ military commander, General Foch.

That is the message from the American President, Woodrow Wilson, who has responded to an appeal from the new German Chancellor, Prince Max of Baden, urging the immediate agreement on terms for an armistice as a way of avoiding further bloodshed.

Left: General Foch, the Allies' military commander will who deal with the question of armistice. Right: Prince Max of Baden, the German Chancellor. (Images: Illustrated London News, 5 Oct 1918 and Imperial War Museum)

In his first speech to the Reichstag, on 11 October, the Chancellor announced that a note had been sent to the American President requesting that they enter discussions on the question of peace. He indicated that Germany accepts the 14 points for peace set out by Mr Wilson in his message to the US Congress and in subsequent pronouncements.

The points, issued on 8 January this year, stated, amongst other things, that there should be: no secret diplomacy, free seas, no trade barriers, a reduction in armaments, a restored Belgium, an evacuated Russia, home rule for Austrian peoples, an independent Poland, and the establishment of a League of Nations.

The following month, on 12 February, Wilson further outlined the principles to be observed in any peace settlement which ruled out any bartering of peoples and provinces and established that ‘well-defined national aspirations’ be ‘satisfied so far as does not create fresh discord’.

In response to Prince Max’s suggestion, the U.S. have sought clarification as to whose behalf the Chancellor speaks on and have also looked for confirmation of his acceptance of American terms.

Despite the fact that the conversation, and the fighting, is ongoing, this interaction underlines a new reality, according to the Cork Examiner, which is this: we are now approaching the end of the current war and the Germans have effectively relinquished any hope of emerging victorious.

‘In a word’, the paper’s editorial reads, ‘Germany is hoisting the white flag and is willing to make terms’.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.