Th. Rothstein 1919

A Bandit’s Peace


Pseudonym: W.A. M.M.
Source: The Call, 15 May 1919, p. 1 (889 words)
Transcribed: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.


Severe but just, stern but not vindictive—such was to be the peace which the victorious Allies were to impose upon the defeated enemy. It was to be a peace which the German people could accept. It was not to be a punishment of the German people, once it had freed itself from Kaiserism, but one which should secure, apart from the requisite reparations, its own welfare in a family of free nations. Now we have this peace of Justice and of Right. After starving the German people for six months, in spite of the overthrow of Kaiserism and of complete disarmament, the victorious Allies have presented a bill, the terms of which leave to it “nothing but eyes to weep with.”

Large tracts of territory inhabited by mixed populations are to be annexed to Poland, with Dantzig, a great German Hanseatic city, constituted as a “free” port under the Polish flag, on the ostensible ground of nationality, but really with a view to constituting a strong reactionary bulwark of Poland to hem Germany in from the East. In the West, Alsace-Lorraine, German by race and language to the extent of 85 per cent, is to revert to France without further ado, lock, stock, and barrel, but without its debts, and including even all private property without a penny to compensate the owners except by Germany herself. In addition, the coal mines of the Saar Valley are to become the property of France, free, gratis, and for nothing. The district itself, with its exclusively German population, now to be disfranchised, is to be separated from Germany and placed under an international—that is, in reality French—administration for a period of 15 years, during which the population is to be reduced practically to economic and political slavery. It will, no doubt, be subjected to artificial and forcible changes in its composition by means of “plantations” from France and expulsions of Germans in execution of longstanding pre-war schemes of French financiers and capitalists, finally embodied in the secret Tsar-Doumergue treaty of March, 1917. In addition, Germany loses all her colonies, with the public and private properties contained therein, without a penny compensation. Talk of Bolshevism! When the Soviet Government nationalises Russian industries for the benefit of the overwhelming majority of the people, it is, of course, robbery; but when the Allies confiscate all the private and public property of the Germans for the benefit of their capitalists, then it is “just reparation”!

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By these provisions Germany is deprived of the greater part of her coal and iron and other means of livelihood. She also loses a large, if not the greater, part of her mercantile marine, of her railway stock, of her agricultural machinery, a portion of her live stock (including milch cows!), and of her Rhine fleet; her chief rivers and canals are to “be internationalised; Hamburg and Stettin are to become free ports for the Czecho-Slovaks, and, after all that, and after the terribly exhaustive war, she is to pay an indefinitely large indemnity, of which the first instalment is to be the bagatelle of 1,000 millions, within the next two years! And lest she might wish to resist these and the other demands, she is to be completely disarmed, she is to have no army (except for browbeating her own proletariat), no navy, no military schools, no General Staff, and but a limited number of guns and machine guns. A peace on Wilsonian principles, indeed!

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Of course, we are not disappointed a bit. We knew it was a war of bandits. We fully anticipated that the peace would likewise be a piece of international banditism. We even confess to no particular indignation such as these friends of ours now exhibit. Rather are we indignant with these same friends for having so foolishly and criminally misled themselves and the masses by sloppy sentimentalities, their puerile faith in “Western Democracy,” and their Utopian worship of Wilsonian humbug into believing that this bandits’ war could ever produce a “People’s” peace. Dupe’s of their own imagination and sentimentality, they unwittingly became the tools of the Imperialist phrase-mongers and their helpers in keeping the internal front intact. Why, even to this day these same “idealists” are appealing to Wilson to help the Germans in their fight against the proposed treaty, and are finding excuses for him in his position as that of only one among many! Verily, they are as mischievous as the Imperialists themselves.

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No, virtuous indignation, even if coupled with resolutions of protest, will neither redeem the past nor avert the future. Already one can observe the effect of the argument (so widely used also in Germany in the days of Brest) that a hostile attitude towards the proposed terms of peace will only encourage the Germans in refusing to sign them, which circumstance will mean a renewal of the justly hated war. The remedy lies in arousing the active opposition of the masses against this predatory, capitalist-made peace, in turning the never-ending war into a class war by proclaiming the national and international sovereignty of the working class, and by carrying through the dispossession of the capitalist classes as the sole means of putting an end to all menace of war, to all exploitation, and to all brigandage!

W.A. M.M.