Lodge Warns against Pacifist Sentimentality in Making Peace Terms


Lodge Warns against Pacifist Sentimentality in Making Peace Terms


Boston Evening Transcript
Lodge, Henry Cabot, 1850-1924




1918 November


Library of Congress, Woodrow Wilson Papers


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum


World War, 1914-1918--Armistices


Mark Edwin Peterson






Document scan was taken from Library of Congress microfilm reel of the Wilson Papers. WWPL volunteers transcribed the text.


Siimilar Measure Should Be Meted to Germany That She Gave to France in 1871 --- Outlines Conditions to Be Imposed by the Allies After "Greatest Victory for Righteousness Ever Achieved" --- Restoration of Alsace-Lorraine, Reconstruction of Belgium and France, Redemption of Italian Territory, Independence for Poland, and Slavic Nations --- Imperative Demand for Liberal Indemnities as Partial Reparation for Wrongs Committed Against Allied Nations and Neutrals

Address of Henry Cabot Lodge at Boston City Club, November 12
The greatest war that the world has ever known has been fought to a finish, and the greatest victory for righteousness that has ever been achieved has been won. The German armies are defeated. Last October, in the week elapsing between the seventh and the fourteenth, it was made clear that the American people demanded an unconditional surrender from Germany and the unconditional surrender has come. They also demanded and made it clear that they wanted that armistice, whenever it did come, to be the work of Marshal Foch and the generals who were with him. They drew the armistice, General Foch presented it to Germany, and Germany has accepted. 

It is a great triumph, worthy of the mightiest rejoicing of all the men who have struggled for four years that freedom and civilization may not perish from the earth. But although we write of an armistice as the end of the war, an armistice is not a peace. An armistice is a suspension of hostilities. The peace is yet to come, when the terms of the armistice have been fulfilled.
What Sort of Peace?

What sort of a peace it is to be is the question now of the greatest moment, and the American people can have the right peace just as they obtained the unconditional surrender. The influence of the people of the United States upon the approaching settlement of peace will be commanding, because we go to that settlement without one single selfish object. We do not seek a foot of territory anywhere. We ask only that the peace, by its terms, shall justify the sacrifices that have been made. We have the right to insist, and the American people can through public opinion insist, that the terms shall be conclusive, that the world shall be relieved once for all from the danger of another war by Germay -- that that cloud shall pass away from our children and our children's children.

You all remember the famous and familiar lines of Lowell at the end of the Civil War: 

Come, Peace! not like a mourner bowed
For honor lost an' dear ones wasted,
But proud, to meet a people proud,
With eyes that tell o' triumph tasted!
Come, with han' grippin' on the hilt,
An' step thet proves ye Victory's daughter!
Longin' for you, our sperits wilt
Like shipwrecked men's on raf's for water.

Come, while our country feels the lift
Of a gret instinct shoutin' "Forwards!"
An' knows thet freedom ain't a gift
Thet tarries long in han's o' cowards!
Come sech ez mothers prayed for, when
They kissed their cross with lips thet quivered,
An' bring fair wages for brave men.
A nation saved, a race delivered!

Now Freeing Many Nations

In that war we did save a nation, this nation of ours, and we delivered a race, a race from slavery and now we are to have a dominant voice in the freeing of many nations, in saving many nations and in freeing more than one race from oppression and slavery. It is a great task and a great reward. How are we going to get it? On the 27th of September the President of the United States said:
"We are all agreed that there can be no peace by any kind of bargain or compromise with the governments of the Central Empires, because we have dealt with them already, and have seen them deal with other governments that were parties to this struggle in the Brest-Litovsk and Bucharest Treaties. They have convinced us that they are without honor and do not intend justice. They observe no covenants and accept no principles so far as their own interests are concerned. We cannot come to terms with them. They have made it impossible. The German people must by this time be fully aware that we cannot accept the word of those who forced this war upon us. We do not think the same thoughts or speak the same language.

In Accord with Wilson's Statement

With that clear and excellent statement, I was in the fullest accord when it was uttered, and I have been in accord with it ever since, without shifting ground in any respect. Yesterday the President, after reading to Congress the terms of the armistice--and here I ought to say that the Government he referred to there was the Imperial Government, and the Imperial Government has fallen and the Kaiser is a fugitive and an exile --said:
For with the fall of the ancient governments which rested like an incubus on the peoples of the Central Empire has come political changes 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 misgivings. When peace is made, upon whose promises and engagements beside 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 heart 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. 

Points to Real Difficulty

The President pointed out in his speech of Sept. 27 the impossibility of dealing with a Government which had declared all treaties to be scraps of paper. That Government has fallen, and he now points out the real difficulty of finding any Government with which we can make an effective peace. It is a serious condition. How are we to meet it? Attempts have been made at various times to draw a broad distinction between the imperial Government and the German people. Burke said you could not bring an indictment against a whole people, and of course you cannot, but there never has been one moment from the beginning of the war until this time when the German army and the German people could not have brought the war to an end. They adhered to the imperial Government and the Kaiser until his armies were beaten in the field. They cannot excuse their responsibility. They backed the war.

All Germany Responsible

Germany is responsible. We know now, by irrefutable testimony, who brought on the war. It was the German Government. It was brought on deliberately. We had abundant evidence in the official correspondence, but the organized lying of the Germans--as well organized as anything else that is German--attempted to show that the French airplanes over Nuremburg had invaded Belgium before Germany struck. All those falsities have disappeared under the revelations of Prince Lichnowsky, who was German ambassador in London, and if you have read his volume published by Herr Muehlon, one of the Krupp directors--he who issued a statement at the time the prince's pamphlet came out -- if you have read his book, which is a diary of the first weeks of the war, you will find there that he says he stood utterly alone in his opposition to the war. He said in that book that everybody was for it, high and low, rich and poor. The Germans had been brought up to it for forty years. They looked on it as an industry. The toast that was common to all Germany was "the day"--the day when they were to strike, the day when they were to destroy the British fleet, which stood between us and Germany for three long years. They boasted the day and they toasted the day and now the day has come.

Seared Hearts of French in 1871

Let me go back a moment to February, 1871. The Germans were at Versailles. They dictated to poor, stricken, bleeding France, their own terms and they insisted on marching 20,000 of their men through Paris in order to sear the hearts of the French people with the knowledge that the Germans had won. They took from them two provinces with the mailed hand, Alsace-Lorraine. They imposed upon them an indemnity of one billon dollars. We have go so in the habit of playing with billions that it doesn't seem to count. But a billion dollars was an enormous indemnity in 1871. They held provinces of France for more than two years until that indemnity was paid. They took them as cautionary securities. I here repeat from the Sermon on the Mount the words your chairman has already quoted: 
"Judge not, that ye be not judged, for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged, and what measure ye mete shall be measured unto you again."

Same Measure Meted to France

They are entitled to have the same measure meted out to them that they meted out to them that they meted out to France. No one could wonder if the Belgians and the French, who have seen their lands depopulated, their houses and cities destroyed, their cathedrals crushed into ruins, everything they held most sacred overthrown, their towns depopulated and their people carried away into slavery--we cannot wonder if there is a cry for vengeance in their hearts. Let us apprach it, we who have suffered so much less, let us approach it in the spirit of justice. Let us do justice, and if justice is done, the penalty will be sufficiently severe.

What Germans Have Done

I might here read to you and recall to you, lest you forget, some of the things that the Germans have done. It would take me a long time. I have here a condensed list, published in the record. I will not even read it, but I will mention one or two things that they did:
They sank the steamer Lusitania with 1906 souls on board, of whom 1130 perished, including hundreds of women and children. They struck a medal to commemorate that, and I have seen the medal. They sank the Sussex, channel steamer; only the other day they sank the Leinster, which was a ferryboat plying between England and Ireland, and there were 750 on board, of whom only fifty were saved. The victims were mostly Irish, for whose welfare the Germans have been so solicitous. 

I have here also a list of some of the executions of civilians, and all these things are backed up by the best evidence. If human evidence is good for anything whatever, these are true facts. For instance, there was a massacre of about 400 civilians at Ardennes, Belgium. The evidence is in the Bryce report. There were fifty innocent priests and thousands of Catholics massacred. They tortured and shot a priest, aged seventy-seven. They murdered 4500 non-combatants in Serbia in August, 1914. Some were buried alive and many were tortured. This is the testimony, and I have seen the report of Professor H. A. Rice of the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, a neutral, and that report is an appalling one.

Those things were done by Austrians. I might go on with this list, but those are indications of what they have done. If it were to exact an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, any vengeance in that way would appall the world. But the people of the United States, of England, Italy, France, Belgium, Serbia and our other Allies have no intention, and no desire, to desolate the German towns. Nothing could induce them--any of our soldiers or the soldiers of our Allies--to drag women away as they were dragged from France and from Belgium. But we must have the security that it shall not happen again.

Must Take Physical Guarantees

Now that can be done by taking physical guarantees, so that it makes no difference whether the signature to the treaty is valuable or not, or whether the Government that signs it is permanent or not. We can take such physical guarantees that Germany won't be able to break out again on the world. I do not mean by that that we are to interfere with the German people, or try to arrange a government for them. We did not go to war for that purpose. We went into the war to make the world safe against a German war of conquest.

Here I will ask your indulgence for a few moments while I tell you the principal things necessary for that end. And with one explanation, for you will see that I suggest the taking of no German territory inhabited by Germans. In the first place, Belgium must be restored absolutely. That is done under the armistice. Next, Alsace-Lorraine must go back to France, without debate, without condition, without restriction. Nor is that only eternal justice and right sentiment, but it will do more toward keeping Germany within bounds than anything else we can do.

Germany took Lorraine. A part of Lorraine, she has had--the other part of Lorraine, known as French Lorraine--for four years. From German Lorraine, the part she took in 1871, she has taken 21,000,000 tons of iron, and from French Lorraine, 18,000,000 tons of iron--39,000,000 tons in all. She got more from Belgium, and some she got from Sweden. She produced herself, 7,500,000 tons. When France takes back Alsace-Lorraine, she will be left with her 7,500,000 tons, and that will reduce the output of Krupp guns. 

Restoration to Italy

Then there is the Italia Irredenta. That includes the territories within the borders set forth in the armistice with Austria. They took in the territory known as the Trentino, along the Carnic Alps, and from that the territory curves back, coming down and taking in Trieste and going down to Fiume, then passing on along the mountains near the sea, and taking practically the whole of Dalmatia. That restores to Italy the unredeemed part of Italian territory and also gives Italy control of the Adriatic, and that Adriatic can never again be used by Germany, through her vassal State of Austria, to destroy shipping in the Mediterranean.

Put an End to Turkey

Montenegro must be restored, Serbia must be restored, Greece must be made secure. That brings us to Turkey. When we went to war with Austria, I and some others in the Senate felt very strongly that we ought to declare war against Bulgaria and Turkey. But it was deemed best not to do it, so that we approach Turkish and Bulgarian questions only in the attitude of a friend and advisor. But I think our friendly advice, if rightly directed, will go a long way.

Now wholly apart from the fact that Turkey was a useful and serviceable ally of Germany--wholly apart from that--the has come--it really came long ago--but the time now is here, when we should put an end to Turkey in Europe. It has been a plague spot in Europe for centuries, a breeder of war, indulging in unheard-of cruelties, not for a brief time, but for scores of centuries. We should so arrange it that Constantinople should be an international city, a free port, and the Dardanelles made free to the commerce of the world for all time to come. We must--and when I say "We," I mean, of course, the United States and the Allies--we must take measures to protect the Christians of Asia Minor, the Armenians, of whom more than 1,000,000 have been massacred by the Turks, under German direction, in the last four years; the Syrians and the Greeks. There are over 1,000,000 Greeks in Asia Minor. There are regions where the population is almost wholly Turkish. If they want to erect a sultanate there, or something else, let them do it. Palestine has been completely taken by the British forces under General Allenby in one of the most brilliant campaigns seen in this war. Palestine must never return to the Ottoman Turk. Let it be placed in control of the Jewish people, who will hold it in trust for the whole world, for it contains the holy places of the both the Christian and the Jewish faith. Roumania must be restored and the Roumanians who are now under the House of Hapsburg or wherever they are ought to be joined to their own people.

Czecho-Slovaks and Jugo-Slavs

Now we come to the Czecho-Slovaks. There has been nothing more brilliant than the fighting of these people. Their march through Siberia can only find its parallel in Xenophon's "retreat of the ten thousand." A comparatively small body of men they made their way across Siberia overcoming all resistance and breaking up the Bolshevik governments wherever they passed. They have fought on the western front; they have fought in Italy. France and England recognized the Czecho-Slovaks who occupied Bohemia, Moravia and what is called Slovakia, a region extending from Moravia down to Galicia. They were recognized by France and England as a belligerent nation, and we wisely followed suit. They have declared their independence.

Then there are the Jugo-Slavs, whose occupation stretches from the Black Sea to the Adriatic. They must be made independent. We are practically committed to that. Do you realize that Austria-Hungary had 9,000,000 Germans, 14,000,000 Hungarians and 6,000,000 Slavs in its empire, and that those great Slavic populations have been forced to fight on the side of Germany for a cause they hated, and under a people and government they loathed?

They must be set free, and must help to form a great barrier to the plan of Germany for a route from Hamburg to the Persian Gulf. Then comes Poland.

The New Poland

The President in the twelfth of his fourteen points, made a most definite declaration about Poland. It must be a large Poland. It must take in all the Polish people in the regions where the Polish people are predominant. It must take in Austrian Poland, Russian Poland, and German Poland. It must have, the President says, an access to the sea. The great river Vistula is populated on both sides of Poles, until you reach the Baltic, and there you meet the city of Danzig, which is a German city, and that is the only piece of German territory that I would propose to take. I would take that city from Germany and build up a a great Polish State. That will be a barrier between Germany and Russia and will be a help and a protection to Russia. The Poles are a brilliant people, very gallant, great fighters and the feats they performed in past history, from the days when Sobieski threw back the Turks from the walls of Vienna, have made them celebrated. They will make a powerful State, and in so doing, will right one of the great wrongs of history--the partitioning of Poland.

The Baltic and Schleswig-Holstein

Now we come round to the Baltic. The Baltic must not be a German lake any more. Along the Baltic lie the Lithuanians, another fine people, a people of pure Aryan stock and north of them are the Letts and the Esthonians, and further up, the Finns. Those states, if we can possibly arrange it, must be helped to establish their independence, and in that way you control the eastern Baltic. Now we come to one of Germany's earlier pieces of robbery, Schleswig-Holstein. I do not say give back Schleswig-Holstein, but I do say that we should give back the Danish Schleswig, and with it the internationalized Kiel Canal. Let that be done.

Foch Demands Reparation

Do those things I have described, and the world will rest in ease of German attack for many a century to come. And yet, except Dansig, I have not proposed to take a foot of German territory. I am not of course speaking of the territories she has stolen, but I have left out one very important thing, and it does not occur in the fourteen points of the President, and that is, reparation.

Marshal Foch, who is evidently a man of excellent memory, has not wholly forgotten reparation. He has provided in the armistice for the return to Belgium of the money they took from the Belgium banks, also, for the gold they stole from Russia and Roumania. But we must go further than that. We must have reparation. We must have indemnities. There is some indemnity coming to us, but nothing like what is due to the others. But there must be indemnity for the Lusitania and for our ships that have been torpedoed.

But we need not be uneasy about indemnity to the United States. We have got all the German ships and we have got $700,000,000 worth of German property in our keeping at this moment, and I have an impression that our claims will all be paid. But our sufferings are trivial compared with those of Belgium and of France.

To Whom Indemnities Must Be Given

Those great wrongs must, so far as  money can do it, be repaid. It will take a great deal of money, and they say that Germany is bankrupt, but I think that is a debt that she can pay. She herself has suggested the method. Take some cautionary towns. Take, if necessary, some cautionary territory. I see Marshal Foch has taken forty kilometres on the right bank of the Rhine, the eastern bank, and will hold them until the indemnity is paid. There is indemnity due not only to Belgium and France--there is indemnity due to England, who has suffered so enormously in her shipping, 18 per cent of it destroyed by torpedoes. There is indemnity due to some of the neutrals. Are you aware that they have destroyed 46 per cent. of Norwegian shipping, paying no attention whatever to international law? Of that country, a neutral country, small but with a splendid people, they have taken nearly half of their tonnage by the submarine campaign. It must be paid for. The ships can be paid for, the lives cannot. Arrangements must be made for a suitable indemnity.

Keep German Colonies

And the colonies had better not go back to Germany. If you would read, as I have read, an account given by the Bishop of Zanzibar of the way in which the Germans have treated the native population of East Africa, it would make you shudder. Nothing in the days of slavery could possibly have been worse. Those helpless people ought not to be returned to Germany. Moreover, I see no reason why she should have the help to rebuild her shipping. Let it go where the Allies and the United States desire.

Now I have passed over the ground briefly. A New York newspaper not very long ago--not a newspaper, but a weekly--referred to me and one or two other people as persons whose hearts were corroded with hate. I have not looked at my heart to see whether it is corroded or not, but I do not think that I am corroded with hate. I do think that my sympathies go out to the people who have been wronged, carried into slavery, robbed and treated with every sort of cruelty. My sympathies go out to them. I want justice done to them.

Pacifists and Sentimentality

I am not so much disturbed--my sympathies are not so much aroused in regard to the Germans. We are going to have in this country and in England, too--I do not think you will find much of it in France and Belgium--a pacifist movement, a pro-German movement, to try and modify and make easy the terms. Now sentiment is one of the noblest of humans emotions, but sentimentality is sentiment degenerated. Sentiment is what will lead a man to love his home and defend his country. Sentimentality sends flowers to convicted murderers. It is all very weel to be soft-hearted, but in being soft-hearted, let us take care not to be soft-headed. I think the American people as a whole are probably the kindliest people and the tenderest in their affections perhaps of any in the world. I want to tell you what I was told by an officer who had returned from the front, had been twice gassed and was invalided home. I asked him about his men and how they felt about the Germans.

"Why," he said, "I would see the change come over them. It began when they met with some of the women and children who had been in towns occupied by the Germans." He said: "I could see it come when those men looked into those women's faces."

Now those are the men who are really tender-hearted.  But when they had seen those stricken people, who had been for three or four years under the iron heel, their tender-heartedness took the form of the desire to kill Germans. There are no braver or more tender-hearted men in the world than our soldiers, and that is the way it impressed them. Tender-heartedness toward Germans, who only turned the Kaiser out day before yesterday, who wanted to win this war just as much as he did! I am not trying to lay the ultimate blame, but the German people for forty years have been educated for this. It is in the books which are put into the hands of German children. When they are asked what Germany is, the answer is: "An empire of Central Europe, surrounded by enemies."

That is the way the child's educations begins. He is brought up to regard war as an industy, to look upon it as something from which Germans get great profit and it is well that that particular form of education should cease from the earth.

Can Have Kind of Peace We Demand

Now I have spoken about what seems to me the proper terms. I have spoken about what will be the terms if the American people and the American press, expressing the views of the American people, demand them. They are terms which I know will not excite hostility in the hearts of our Allies. Speaking here of something a little personal, I may say that on Aug. 23 I made a brief speech in the Senate in which I set out the terms about as I have outlined them here--in substance the same. That speech had a good deal of circulation. I had a cable about it from what we should call the Secretary of the Treasury in the Italian ministry. It was printed in the Italian papers and commented upon favorably. It was printed in the French papers and I know they liked it. It was printed in the English papers in the same way. It caused no disturbance in the minds of our Allies, but the German papers all criticized it in an unfriendly spirit. They all took a dark view of it and of me. Therefore, if the American people show what they want, and demand it, they can have it. They demanded an unconditionaly surrender, and they had it. Now if they show they want a complete peace which will make the world safe against Germany, they will get it.

Mark you, there are dangers ahead, to which the President alluded in his message yesterday, when he spoke about Russia. It is all very well to say "make the world safe for democracy." When we say that, we mean democracy as we understand it. But the Bolsheviki call their hideous travesty of government, democracy. Their government is one which walks hand in hand with murder and famine. It is a curse to the people among whom it has arisen. It is bloodthirsty anarchy. It is just as hostile to our democracy, or almost as hostile, as the Hohenzollern. We have a great problem, and so have the Allies, in Russia, to try and bring back that great country so that a sane and decent and respectable and liberty-loving people there, may have a government which is a real democracy, and not one headed by German agents. 

Those difficulties are some that confront us in the immediate future. They will require the best ability and the moste entire patriotism that Congress and the Administration can bring to their solution. And I think I may say now, without its being suggessted that I am speaking politically, that both the great parties will have responsibility and will take part in the making of peace.

Problem of Caring for Soldiers

Moreover, behind this, though I am not going to enter into this great field, come the questions of reconstruction. The war has been a convulsion which has shaken the whole world. It has shaken us. We have gone outside the limits of our ordinary constitutional government. We must return--if we are to prosper in the future as in the past--we must return, in my judgment, to the wise limits of the constitution made by Washington and his associates. Every part of the government should exercise the proper function attributed to it by the constitution. We shall have many difficult questions to deal with. I will mention only one--the first, the most important--and that is, to care for our soldiers, to care for the maimed and wounded, to care for the families of those who have given their lives, for those who are wounded and return in safety--to see to it that the opportunities for business and for labor are thrown wide open to them. They have earned the right to preference. The American people have been backing them up with a loyalty and an enthusiasm and a generosity which will always be one of the greatest sources of pride to us. But after all, they are the men who have bared their breast to the storm, who have offered and often given their lives on the field of battle. It was owing to the appearance of the American troops, joined with that even more important thing, unit of command, which turned the scale.

As soon as Foch began his command at the Marne salient, as soon as the American troops began to pour in with ever-increasing numbers, filling the hearts of the French and the British and Italians with hopes and confidence, we had won. Now the men who did that were the soldiers in the field, backed by the sailrs on the ships which convoyed them across the ocean. All honor is due to them--not only all honor, but all gratitude, and the first business, when peace comes, of a grateful people, is to care for them, to give them in the largest measure the opportunities which they ought to have.

There are other things on which I will not touch. It is an hour of great rejoicing--rightly an hour of great rejoicing. The principle of right has triumphed over the principle of evil, but much remains to be done, and it is the American people who have done so much to solve the coming questions, as they have helped to solve the war.

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Boston Evening Transcript and Lodge, Henry Cabot, 1850-1924, “Lodge Warns against Pacifist Sentimentality in Making Peace Terms,” 1918 November, WWP25488, World War I Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.