Karl Liebknecht
The Future Belongs to the People

Liebknecht's Comments on the Imperial Chancellor's Speech

Reichstag Meeting, April 5, 1916

ON April 5, 1916, Karl Liebknecht made some sharp comments on certain passages of the Imperial Chancellor's speech. Asserting that Germany's aims were peaceful, the Chancellor said that Germany wanted the "strength of quiet development" before the war. "We could have had all we wanted by peaceful labor. Our enemies chose war." Liebknecht retorted: "Lies, it was you who chose war." (Uproar followed, with cries of "Scoundrel!" "Blackguard!" "Out with him!" The President at once called Liebknecht to order.)

Later Bethman-Hollweg made reference to the necessity of guarantees against Belgium becoming again a vassal of France and England. "Here also Germany cannot give over to Latinization the long-oppressed Flemish race." Liebknecht interjected, "Hypocrisy!" "We desire to have neighbors who will not again unite against us in order to throttle us, but with whom we can work to our mutual advantage," said the Chancellor. "Whereupon you suddenly fall upon them and strangle them – the invasion of Belgium," said Liebknecht coolly. This sally caused another uproar, Liebknecht shouting out "Invasion" whenever he got the chance.

Towards the close of his speech the Imperial Chancellor declared that the peace which ends this war must be a lasting peace. It must not contain in it the seeds of new wars, but the seeds of a final peaceful regulation of European affairs. "Begin by making the German people free!" shouted Liebknecht. "Germany is only fighting in self-defense," remarked the Chancellor. "Can any one believe that Germany is thirsting for territory?" "Yes, certainly," roared Liebknecht as loudly as possible. Thereupon the uproar redoubled. The President had to call the Reichstag to order to prevent personal violence to Liebknecht.

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