Part 3: Setting the Stage for Peace
|Christmas Army Occupies Strasbourg, January 1915|
RUSSIA CALLS FOR PEACE! OTTOMANS MAY FOLLOW
LONDON, JAN 11 - The Foreign Ministry is reporting that Tsar Nicholas II has issued a full ceasefire on all fronts. Just one day after Germany declared a ceasefire in the West, it seems that the Russians did not want to face the entire German army on one front, since the war in the West has collapsed due to the Christmas Truce. With this latest announcement, it seems that this Great War that had seemed poised to turn into a multi-year conflict is now all but over. With Germany’s announcement on January 9 for a ceasefire in the West, and Austro-Hungaria announcing the same thing the following day, the only major power that has yet to declare an end to hostilities is the Ottoman Empire. Sources in the government have stated that it seems likely that the Ottomans will declare a ceasefire within a few days as well.
-”Russia Calls for Peace! Ottomans May Follow.” The Times (London). January 11, 1915.
CHRISTMAS FIGHTERS OCCUPY ALSACE-LORRAINE
PARIS, JAN 12 - The French and German governments have both confirmed that the bulk of the Christmas Army that did not go to occupy Paris has taken over the city of Strasbourg, relieving the local German authorities of command. It is reported that many German military units joined the ranks of the Christmas Army as the troops approached the city. Consul Dumont, one of the three Consuls who are in charge of the so-called, “Christmas Republic,” has since left Paris to join up with his fellow leaders. Before he left he stated that the occupation of Alsace-Lorraine is “instrumental in the type of peace we hope to establish in Europe in the wake of this horrid war.” It appears that, as part of the peace deal they wish to see implemented, the leaders of the Christmas fighters hope to create an independent nation out of Alsace-Lorraine, creating a buffer state between the rivals of France and Germany. It is unclear whether this plan has any support from the newly forming French government of Jean Juares and his fellow socialists, but it hasn’t been rejected either.
- “Christmas Fighters Occupy Alsace-Lorraine,” The New York Times, January 13, 1915.
As the Great War of 1914 quickly wrapped up in the early days of January, 1915, a new conflict began to stir. Although the citizens of Paris, for the most part, welcomed the new government of Jean Juares and the French socialists, this was not a universal acceptance. Famous conservative statesman George Clemenceau, a former French Prime Minister, had fled Paris prior to the arrival of the Christmas Army, and upon the declaration of the People’s Socialist Republic of France on January 8, began to move quickly into action. On January 15, just days before the Three Consuls of the Christmas Republic would call for a formal Peace Congress to be moderated by the Pope and held in Strasbourg, Clemenceau and a cadre of men who opposed the socialists gathered in Lyons, France, and voted to declare Clemenceau as “Acting President of the Fourth French Republic.” The so-called “Republicans” announced that as soon as Paris was “liberated from the anarchist movement that has attempted to destroy France” a new constitution would be adopted and the nation would be reborn as a stronger Republic. Clemenceau called on all members of the military loyal to the “true France” to head to Lyons to help organize resistance to the socialist revolution. While the rest of Europe celebrated an end to war, France found itself falling into a new one. The French Civil War was here.
-Nelson, Dr. Henry. Vive la Revolution 1915! Birth of the French socialist state. New York: Colombia University Press, 1980.
CALL FOR PEACE CONGRESS GOES OUT
LONDON, JAN 17 - The leaders of the Christmas Republic, who’s army occupied the contested German territory of Alsace-Lorraine, has called for a Peace Congress to be held in Strasbourg, mediated by Pope Benedict XV, to start on January 25, marking the one month anniversary of the start of the truce that has brought the Great European War to a standstill. The Pope stated from Rome that he would gladly travel to Strasbourg to help oversee the peace process and plans to attend. Jean Juares, the leader of the new French socialist government, stated that his country would attend as well. Invites went out to England, Germany, Russia, and Austro-Hungaria as well, though no response from those countries has been forth-coming at the time this issue went to press. There is some worry in the Foreign Ministry and from the War Office about the legitimacy of Juares’ government in Paris, with the former French Prime Minister George Clemenceau organizing a formal resistance to the socialist revolution that was declared in Paris. There are some who fear that the Germans, seeing the French in disarray, may attempt to take advantage of the situation. Still others question whether this country should recognize Juares as the leader of France at all, fearing that it could embolden socialist revolutionaries at home to try and do the same thing.
-”Call for Peace Congress Goes Out,” The Times (London), January 18, 1915.
ENGLAND RECOGNIZES FRENCH SOCIALISTS, WILL ATTEND CONGRESS IN STRASBOURG
LONDON, JAN 19 - The British Government today announced that they were formally recognizing the leaders of the self-proclaimed People’s Socialist Republic of France (PSRF) as the “legitimate government of all of France, with the provisional mandate to rule,” and that they would not support George Clemenceau (a former French Prime Minister and ardent anti-socialist) and his “Fourth French Republic.” In addition, Prime Minister Asquith announced that Foreign Minister Edward Grey will attend the Peace Congress, and there is a rumor going around that King George V may also make an appearance in Strasbourg, but this has not been confirmed. This puts to rest the debate in Britain as to whether or not they should recognize the socialist government forming in Paris, or back Clemenceau’s conservatives currently operating out of Lyons. Britain is now the second nation promising to attend the Peace Congress that is set for the 25th of this month. It was announced yesterday as well that Pope Benedict XV will be in Strasbourg the day before the start of the Congress to hold a special service at the Strasbourg Cathedral to mark the one month anniversary of the beginning of the Truce.
-”England Recognizes French Socialists, Will Attend Congress in Strasbourg,” The Washington Post, January 20, 1915.
GERMANY WILL ATTEND, AUSTRIANS EXPECTED AS WELL!
BERLIN, JAN 20 - The German Kaiser announced this morning that Germany will attend the Peace Congress in Strasbourg on January 25. It is expected that Germany is following the example made earlier this week by Great Britain, which announced it’s intent to attend on the 19th, and also extended diplomatic recognition to the true French government in Paris, stating that they would not assist the rebels and counterrevolutionaries in Lyons. Germany has not gone quite as far, stating that they would not, at the present time, extend formal diplomatic recognition to either faction in the power struggle occurring in France. Many in Paris are disappointed to hear this, though senior officials in the new Juares government have stated to the press that this is better than expected, with one official in the Foreign Office stating that “with Germany being known for being especially reactionary and anti-socialist, I will breath a sigh of relief just knowing that they chose not to back the counterrevolutionaries in Lyons. With Britain’s recognition of Comrade Juares’ legitimacy as leader of France, had Germany backed the Lyon Council it could have reignited the Great War that we have just brought to a close.”
In addition, although it has yet to be announced, it is expected that the Austro-Hungarian Empire will send representatives to Strasbourg as well. With such a showing, Comrade Juares has stated that he is hopeful that the peace process that is set to begin will be met with real success, and that we may have seen the last real war on this continent.
-”Germany Will Attend, Austrians Expected as Well!” Le Mond, January 21, 1915.
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