But there is more. Within the last few days, one of the German princes, the King of Bavaria, demanded, during a speech in Fürth, the extension of our boundaries in the west, “which would secure for south and west Germany more favorable access to the sea.”
German Social Democracy must ask itself whether it can reconcile all these public statements with the principles and obligations that devolve upon it as the custodian of the material and moral interests of the German working classes – whether, when it comes to continuing the war, it can stand on the side of those whose views are in sharpest contradiction to the principles that our parliamentary group enunciated on August 4, 1914, when, citing the Socialist International, it condemned all wars of conquest. This principle would be branded a lie were German Social Democracy to respond to these declarations from those in power simply by mouthing pieties about its desire for peace. We have learned only too well that such pronouncements receive not the slightest attention.
What many among us have feared is becoming increasingly evident: German Social Democracy is being permitted to vote for war appropriations, but it is being coldly ignored as decisions are being made that have tremendous consequences for the future of our people.
Dare we permit this state of affairs to continue, which deprives us of the possibility of asserting the power of the German working class on behalf of a policy that, as we are fervently convinced on the basis of historical experience, the interest of the German nation, and, along with it, the interest of all the warring nations demands?
Enormous are the sacrifices that this war has already brought to the nations that have been swept into it – sacrifices that multiply daily. History has never seen a war that has remotely had such murderous effects. The cruelty of barbaric ages, coupled with the most refined means that civilization offers, is snatching away the flower of the nations. No less unprecedented are material sacrifices that the war is snatching away. Large areas are being devastated, and sums of money that would not have been spent in a year for cultural purposes are being expended weekly during this war on the killing of human beings and the annihilation of the foundations of future welfare. All warring countries face bankruptcy if the war is prolonged.
An ever-growing longing for peace is asserting itself among broad sectors of our population and among the peoples with which the German Empire is at war. While rulers are afraid to respond to this longing for peace, thousands and thousands look to Social Democracy, which they were accustomed to regard as the party of peace, and they expect from it now the liberating word and corresponding action.