3/4/1917 Austria-Hungary puts the case for peace

Austria-Hungary’s current situation is paradoxical. Internally the empire is suffering terribly, with food shortages, increasing social unrest and mounting tensions between the regions and peoples. But its military situation is good, largely thanks to German support. The Italians are being held back along the Isonzo, Serbia has been crushed (Austria-Hungary’s main goal at the start of the war), the impertinent Romanians have largely been overrun and now Russia is showing signs of war weariness.

For the Austro-Hungarians therefore it would be ideal if the war could be ended now. Emperor Karl and Czernin, his foreign minister, today visit Berlin to put this point to the Kaiser. They warn that Austria-Hungary is in danger of disintegrating into revolution if the war is prolonged.

But the Germans will not accept any kind of peace without victory. The Kaiser follows Ludendorff‘s line that any peace must be a German peace, one that sees the Reich retain its gains and which sees Europe reordered to its advantage. This kind of peace will only be accepted by the Allies when they have been bludgeoned into submission. So the war will go on. Karl and Czernin return home empty-handed.

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