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Reichstag Hearing on the London Demands (March 4, 1921)

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75th Session.
Friday, March 4, 1921.

President: The session is declared open. ,p> The minutes of the previous session are available for inspection on the bureau.

Ladies and gentlemen! Before turning to the order of business, I would like to take this opportunity to pass on the following information. With regard to the matter that is currently of utmost concern to us all, namely, the London negotiations, I have asked the Reich government whether it is in a position to inform the Reichstag about the current state of affairs. The government has responded that it is unable to do so because it has not yet received all the necessary information from London and because the text of the speech by the English prime minister is still being examined. I should add that I am in constant and close contact with the cabinet and that, based on the information that has just arrived, I will very shortly be able to inform you of the decisive sentences contained in the English prime minister’s speech.

We will now move to the order of business.

(Representative Ledebour: A word on procedure!)

With regard to procedure, Representative Ledebour has the floor.

Ledebour, Representative: I regret having to contradict the President, but in our opinion it is absolutely necessary that the Reichstag immediately becomes involved in negotiations of the London demands. We cannot wait until the wording of all the statements from the London meetings is available or until the government is in a position to review all this material. The facts that should prompt the Reichstag to present its views on this matter are already clearly in evidence.

(Independent Social Democrats: Hear, hear!)

The speech by the English Prime Minister Lloyd George is also already available in English. Without wanting to criticize the conduct of the government or the opinions it has expressed, based on what we have hitherto experienced we regard it as necessary that the views of the different parties in this house be heard as soon as possible. We see these views as having a far greater effect than statements by government representatives alone. The deadline for the decision expires on Monday, which leaves so little time that if we to wait until the government has completed its deliberations and its representatives have spoken in the Reichstag, any views expressed by this house will come too late.

(From the far left: Hear, hear!)

We must above all endeavor to ensure that the negotiations do not collapse. During the initial phase of negotiations, I described it as highly questionable for one side to portray the proposals of the other as unworthy of discussion. Our side must desist from making such declarations, since they only provide the other side with a pretext for striking back with an even more draconian proposal than the one we are condemning.

For all these reasons, gentlemen, it is in the interest of the entire German people—and particularly of the working classes, who are currently facing a very difficult decision—that we immediately enter into negotiations and place on today’s agenda the debate on the Entente’s demands and the German government’s counter-proposals.

(Applause from the far left.)

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