Foreign Relations of the United States : 1918 The Conclusion of the Peace of Brest Litovsk
The Ambassador in Great Britian (Page) to the Secretary of State

File No. 763.72119/15T2

The Ambassador in Great Britian (Page) to the Secretary of State

No. 8633

LONDON, March 25, 1918.

[Received April 8]

SIR: With reference to my telegram, No. 9157 of March 21,(1) regarding the statement concerning Russia and the German peace made public by the Supreme War Council held in London last week, I have the honor to transmit herewith the text of the statement referred to.

I have [etc.]



PRESS BUREAU, March 18, 1918, 10.10 p.m.

The following statement has been issued by the Foreign Office:

The Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers of the Entente, assembled in London, feel it to be their bounden duty to take note of the political crimes which, under the name of a German peace, have been committed against the Russian people.

Russia was unarmed. Forgetting that for four years Germany had been fighting against the independence of the nations and the rights of mankind, the Russian government, in a mood of singular credulity, expected to obtain by persuasion that " democratic peace " which it had failed to obtain by war.

The results were immediate. The armistice had not expired before the German command, though pledged not to alter the disposition of its troops, transferred them en masse to the western front: and so weak did Russia find herself that she dared raise no protest against this flagrant violation of Germany's plighted word.

What followed was of like character. When the "German peace" was translated into action, it was found to involve the invasion of Russian territory, the destruction or capture of all Russia's means of defence, and the organization of Russian lands for Germany's profit-a proceeding which did not differ from " annexation" because the word itself was carefully avoided.

Meanwhile those very Russians who had made military operations impossible found diplomacy impotent. Their representatives were compelled to proclaim that, while they refused to read the treaty presented to them, they had no choice but to sign it: so they signed it, not knowing whether, in its true significance, it meant peace or war, nor measuring the degree to which Russian national life was reduced by it to a shadow.

For us of the Entente Governments the Judgment which the free peoples of the world will pass on these transactions could never be in doubt. Why waste time over German pledges, when we see that at no period in her history of conquest-not when she overran Silesia, not when she partitioned Poland- has she exhibited herself so cynically as the destroyer of national independence, the implacable enemy of the rights of man and the dignity of civilized nations.

Poland, whose heroic spirit has survived the cruelest of national tragedies is threatened with a fourth partition: and to aggravate her wrongs the devices by which the last trace of her independence is to be crushed are based on fraudulent promises of freedom

What is true of Russia and Poland is not less true of Rumania, overwhelmed line them in the flood of a merciless passion for domination

Peace is loudly advertised, but under the thin disguise of verbal professions lurk the brutal realities of war the untempered rule of lawless force.

Peace treaties such as these we do not, and cannot, acknowledge. Our own ends are very different; we are fighting, and mean to continue fighting, in order to finish once for all with this policy of plunder, and to establish in its place the peaceful reign of organized justice.

As the incidents of this long war unroll themselves before our eyes, more and more clearly do we perceive that the battles for freedom are everywhere interdependent; that no separate enumeration of them is needed, that in every case the single but all sufficient appeal is to justice and right.

Are justice and right going to win ? In so far as the issue depends on littler yet to come, the nations whose fate is in the balance may surely put their trust in armies which, even under conditions more difficult than the present, showed themselves more than equal to the great cause entrusted to their valour.

(1) Not printed. Back

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