Armistice Signing

EDITORIAL: Germany’s Punishment

(Frank Leslies Weekly for November 16, 1918) – When Germany is decisively defeated or surrenders unconditionally to what extent shall she be punished? Wide difference of opinion upon this point is developed in connection with the discussion of the fourteen paragraphs of the President’s speech of January 8 last as the basis for peace. Criticism is most acute of the famous third paragraph, which would remove as far as possible all economic barriers and establish an equality of trade relations among all nations.

Secretary of the Navy Daniels is quoted as saying that if we do not stand unitedly on these fourteen principles which our allies have accepted, the sincerity and good faith of America will be questioned. We cannot agree with Secretary Daniels, nor does the President, himself. In one of his recent notes to Austria Mr, Wilson said that conditions had so changed since last January that the pronouncement then made concerning Austria’s subject races no longer held. Professor George Trumbull Ladd of Yale, in an analysis of the fourteen points, argues that they are so vague and indefinite that a “complete acceptance would only be a bid for further parleying,” and that in such an event it would not be Germany but the United States that would have “to eat her own words.” In England special concern is shown regarding the President’s phrase “the freedom of the seas,” and the British Navy League has called a meeting to protest against making this a principle to be discussed at the peace conference.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, published from 1855 to 1922, was an American illustrated news publication started by publisher and illustrator Frank Leslie. While only 30 copies of the first edition were printed, by 1897 its circulation had grown to an estimated 65,000 copies.
It is the third of Mr. Wilson’s fourteen points, the one looking to the removal of all economic barriers against Germany, which has aroused greatest objection both here and abroad. The British National Seamen’s Union has stood for a boycott of Germany for the murder of British sailors on the high seas, and Joseph Havelock Wilson, their general secretary and leader, has just been elected on this issue, unopposed, to the House of Commons. The present temper of the American people concerning trade with Germany is revealed in the universal protest against receiving a shipment of German-made toys from Rotterdam, and the resolution of the toy manufacturers of the United States that Congress pass a law prohibiting the entry of any German-made goods into this country until the Central Empires have submitted to an Allied peace. The President’s third point has seemed to many to favor free trade. This view was strengthened by the President’s speech of September 27, in which he said that “special alliances and economic rivalries” had been the prolific cause of wars, and no peace would be sincere or secure which did not exclude them.

The temper of America and the Allies is that Germany should be punished for her crimes. Just how long this economic punishment should last will depend upon the German people. So far as America is concerned, unlike Germany, we are singing no “hymns of hate.” If Germany shows repentance, if she repudiates the false leadership of the Hohenzollerns, the Junkers, and the militarists, if with a chastened spirit she creates a government genuinely responsible to the people and shows a desire to make amends for the past, she will the sooner be received back into the family of nations.

Germany began this war and has waged it contrary to all the acknowledged laws of warfare. She is even now planning a trade war, after the fighting is over, in which she will use all the ruthless methods she has used in a military way. Had Germany fought fair in her trade methods before 1914, if she had been an honest and clean fighter in the war, and if there were reasons to believe she intends to be fair in trying to get back her former world trade, it might then be safe to treat her as President Wilson suggests in his third paragraph. Andre Cheradame, in the Wall Street Journal, out of a close study of Germany since 1895, says that the German people share equally with their Kaiser the guilt of German plotting and outrages, and that the elimination of the Kaiser would not relieve them from responsibility. It is with the German people we shall have eventually to deal, and it may be years before they reach the stage where they can be trusted.

One of the best-informed business men in this country writes to LESLIE’S urging that in view of the depravity of the German people, our Government should seriously consider the question of refusing naturalization “for a period of twenty-five years or until the coming generation of German youth can be made more civilized.” He adds that many interned Germans in this country, some of whom have destroyed our factories and sought to destroy German ships before their surrender in our waters, will apply for citizenship rather than return to a bankrupt Germany. Now is the time, by necessary legislation, to prevent, them from carrying this plan into execution. Congress should consider this matter most seriously.

Source: Frank Leslies Weekly – November 26, 1918

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