Germany tames Russia and turns West
London, 26 February 1918 - Are the Germans preparing for a big push on the Western Front?
The signs certainly point that way as trainloads of troops are being moved to France by the Central Powers since reaching an armistice with Russia.
The Irish Independent is not impressed with the terms that Russia has secured for itself. An editorial today states: ‘At one stroke of the pen she [Russia] surrenders one quarter of the extent and one-third of the population of Russia in Europe.’ Finland, the Baltic provinces, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine comprise some 435,000 square miles, which is almost as much as the landmass of Germany and Austria-Hungary combined.
The blame for Russia’s loss is Russia’s alone, the article continues: ‘Had they remained faithful to the Allies no such humiliating terms could have been imposed upon them. But they preferred to break away from their negotiations.’
Speaking at a luncheon in London this week, Andrew Bonar Law, Chancellor of the Exchequer, observed that the resolution of affairs between Germany and Russia – and on such terms – was not without value to the Allied cause. He said that it held out a very clear lesson to their peoples as to how Germany did its business.
Bonar Law referenced Trotsky’s plaintive remark that Germany’s ‘knees are on our chests’. ‘Please God’, Bonar Law intoned, ‘their knees would never be on our chests’, because for all the talk of a League of Nations, of no annexations, of the self-determination of peoples, the aims of Germans remained as they were when they entered the war and ‘she could only be prevented from carrying them out by being beaten’.
[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.]