As it did on August 4, 1914, the word uttered from the throne still holds true for the German people at the threshold of the war’s fourth year: “We seek no conquest.” Germany resorted to arms in order to protect its freedom and independence, to defend its territorial integrity.
The Reichstag strives for a peace of understanding, for durable reconciliation among the peoples of the world. Territorial acquisitions achieved by force and violations of political, economic, or financial integrity are incompatible with such a peace.
The Reichstag furthermore rejects all plans that envisage economic exclusion or continuing enmity among nations after the war. The freedom of the seas must be guaranteed. Only economic peace will lay the groundwork for amicable coexistence among the peoples of the world.
The Reichstag will actively promote the creation of international legal organizations. As long, however, as enemy governments do not agree to such a peace, as long as they threaten Germany and its allies with territorial conquests and violations, the German people will stand together as one man, persevere unshakably, and fight on until its right and the right of its allies to life and free development is guaranteed.
United, the German people is unconquerable. In its determination, the Reichstag stands united with the men who are protecting the Fatherland in heroic combat. They can be certain of the never-ending gratitude of the entire nation.
Source: Friedensresolution des Reichstages vom 19. Juli 1917 [The Peace Resolution of the Reichstag of July 19, 1917], Stenographische Berichte über die Verhandlungen des Reichstages [Stenographic Reports on the Proceedings of the Reichstag], XIII LP, II Sess., Anlagen, vol. 321, p. 1747.
Reprinted in Ernst Rudolf Huber, Dokumente zur deutschen Verfassungsgeschichte [Documents on German Constitutional History]. 2 volumes. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer Verlag, 1961, Vol. 2, p. 471.
Translation: Jeffrey Verhey and Roger Chickering