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Suppression of Anti-War Sentiment (November 1915)

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On the other hand, one must vigorously counteract all this activity. It is thus necessary to make unambiguously clear to the people who stand out in the peace movement in an undesirable way that their activity is dangerous, and to put this communication somehow in writing. Should they prove unwilling to listen to reason, they can be forbidden all further public activity on the basis of the Law of Siege. Should they defy such a ban, they will have made themselves liable to prosecution, even if an offence as defined in §89 of the Penal Code cannot be demonstrated. The necessary controls can be exercised by surveillance of the mails; by withholding their passports and forbidding them to cross the border, their activity abroad can be prevented.

Favorable references and discussions in the press of the efforts of the pacifists and their writings must be prevented. Attacks in the press on them are not desired either and would in the future become objectively unnecessary as well. The publication and distribution of pacifist writings and pamphlets may not be tolerated. Sending of these materials to foreign countries or to the front is to be prevented. Writings of this sort that arrive from abroad, as well as private letters whose purpose is to promote international pacifist goals, are to be confiscated.

A survey of activities of the peace movement that have become known to us is in the attachment.

Source: Geheimer Erlaß des preußischen Kriegsministeriums vom 7. November 1915 über verschärfte Maßnahmen zur Unterdrückung der bürgerlich-pazifistischen Antikriegsbewegung [Secret Decree of the Prussian Ministry of War of November 7, 1915, on Intensified Measures to Suppress the Bourgeois-Pacifist Anti-War Movement], Bundesarchiv Lichterfeld, Rep. 30, Berlin C, Polizeipräsidium, Tit. 95, Section 7, No. 15854.

Original German text reprinted in Willibald Gutsche, Herrschaftsmethoden des deutschen Imperialismus 1897/8 bis 1917 [The Ruling Methods of German Imperialism, 1897/8 to 1917]. East Berlin, 1977, pp. 243-45.

Translation: Jeffrey Verhey and Roger Chickering

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