Primary Documents - German Reichstag Peace Resolution, 19 July 1917

Matthias Erzberger, who introduced the Peace Resolution With the effects of the war biting at home, and liberal members of the Reichstag uncomfortable with the Third Supreme Command's annexationist policies in eastern Europe, political sentiment geared towards a negotiated settlement gained in support.

Consequently on 19 July 1917 Matthias Erzberger introduced a peace resolution in the Reichstag, which was duly passed 212 votes to 126.  The resolution, which was non-binding, infuriated the military high command (led by Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff) and served to hasten the downfall of the long-suffering Chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, held responsible by the high command for allowing the resolution to pass.

Reproduced below is the text comprising Erzberger's peace resolution.

Text of the Peace Resolution

As on August 1, 1914, so also now on the verge of a fourth year of war, the words of the speech from the throne still hold: "We are not impelled by the lust of conquest."

Germany took up arms in defence of her freedom, her independence, and the integrity of her soil.  The Reichstag strives for a peace of understanding and a lasting reconciliation of peoples.  Any violations of territory, and political, economic, and financial persecutions are incompatible with such a peace.

The Reichstag rejects any plan which proposes the imposition of economic barriers or the solidification of national hatreds after the war.  The freedom of the seas must be maintained.  Economic peace alone will lead to the friendly association of peoples. The Reichstag will promote actively the creation of international organizations of justice.

However, as long as the enemy governments refuse to agree to such a peace, as long as they threaten Germany and her allies with conquest and domination, so long will the German people stand united and unshaken, and they will fight until their right and that of their allies are made secure.

Thus united, the German people remain unconquerable.  The Reichstag feels that in this sentiment it is united with the men who have fought with courage to protect the Fatherland.  The undying gratitude of our people goes out to them.

A respirator was a gas mask in which air was inhaled through a metal box of chemicals.

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