Emily Greene Balch to Louis Paul Lochner, June 1, 1915




CHRISTIANIA, June 1st, 1915.

Dear Mr. Lochner:

I have been trying for days for a lucid interval in which to write you. Our interview in Copenhagen with the Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and here with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and later a group of Peace members of the [Storting] -- Mr. [Årstad] (president of the whole [Storting]), Mr. Løvland (president of the Nobel Committee and former prime minister), Mr. [Jahren] (president of one of the two divisions of the [Storting]), and Mr. Castberg (president of the other, and also member of the Interparliamentary Peace Union of the [Storting]) -- all had a mainly formal though friendly character. On the other hand, the King of Norway talked with us for 1-3.4 hours, most informally but to no great purpose, though he seemed really interested in the Wisconsin plan as explained by us. We met Christian Lange also, together with prominent women here, besides receptions, etc., all of it propaganda, but nothing very marked.

On the other hand, I especially want to most indiscreetly report to you a talk Mme. Schwimmer had with the German Ambassador in Copenhagen. He talked very frankly and was quite international-minded. He thought that President Wilson of the U.S.A. had behaved very badly. Now why, do you suppose? Ammunition and so forth? No. It was etwas unerhört that a great neutral country like the U.S. had not come forward in such a world war. 

I had a long talk with our Minister in Copenhagen, Mr. Egan, and had something of the impression that you had of Mr. Gerard in at least so far that the diplomatic world seems so far away and so incredulous to all that does not answer to preconceived notions -- everything really different from the past is [page 2] impossible, inconceivable. Yet it is so obvious if anyone will think with any freshness that such an unprecedented war coming at such a stage of social-economic development with so much explosive industrial social material ready to hand [illegible] in every country is bound to have unprecedented consequences.

I talked in Hague with Troelstra, the leader of the Social Democrats in the Netherlands parliament. I said "Will there be revolutions as a consequence of the war?" His answer was "If the war closes soon there will not be revolts, but if it goes on long there will be not revolutions, but absolute anarchy. Then governments will turn to the social democrats as the constructive party to try to create order. I find here in the highest quarters the conviction that there will be revolutions everywhere, that Norway itself will have a revolution." I repeat this as it is a reason the more, as we all know, why the governments can well afford to make peace before too late.

Now, what we are asking the Scandinavian government is "Would you three with Switzerland and Holland send out an invitation to a neutral conference if you knew that the United States would be glad to respond?" This on the supposition that the present state of public opinion in Germany excludes the United States as the first mover.* Of course people say "Wilson has already offered mediation." Is it not important that Wilson should make it clear that he has not taken a position such that it would be a discourtesy to the United States if some other neutral nation or nations acted?

You probably know at least as much of the fortunes of Miss Addams' party as we do, namely: (1) that in Berlin they were received by von [Jagow] and Jane Addams by Bethmann-Hollweg -- that Miss Addams was very well satisfied with the [page 3] interview, and that the Germans said the same thing that the English had, but I think with reference as regards the U.S. export of munitions.

Since then they have been received by [Stürgkh], Burián and Berchtold, and at Budapest, as we understand, by Tisza. Our last news was that they were en route to Berne, Rome, etc., as per program.

After all this, the two delegations are to rendezvous and compare notes at Amsterdam. Miss Manus' address serves as address for all of us. I am going on to Stockholm with our present group (Rosika Schwimmer, Mme. [Ramondt], Miss Wales and [Chrystal] Macmillan) and to Petrograd with Miss Macmillan, Mrs. [Ramondt] and a Swedish delegate, [Palmstierna]. Miss Wales will probably sail for the United States from Copenhagen after our Stockholm visit. I hope to return with the others to Amsterdam.

One other thing I mean to say apropos of Egan is that he got word from Gerard that he should keep Americans out of Germany as much as possible, that if they went they must be prepared for all sorts of insolence, etc. Everything calculated to increase the idea of enmity and to make the tension greater. Mrs. Gerard was saying to people when our friends were in Berlin that one couldn't tell what would happen, and that she was all packed up ready to go. Is this not criminal under the circumstances? We in our brief passage through Germany found people so friendly, so conversable, so eager for peace. "Of course there was no idea of holding Belgium." On the other hand they believe England is of course going to insist on holding Calais, that she is putting up buildings there and preparing for a permanent possession.

Please use this if you can at the White House or elsewhere in your discretion.

Yours in great haste,

(Signed) E. G. Balch

P.S.: Have seen Knudsen (Prime Minister) at his request. Friendly and gave most serious attention. Argued with us, and promised to have it considered.

*I am not at all sure that this is true.
According to Google Translate, "etwas unerhört" (page 1) is German for "something outrageous".