New York Times

“Conference on Democracy” Wants It when Germany Ends U-Boat Warfare.”
Victor Berger, Without Passport, Says He Expects to Go to Stockholm, and Hints at Food Riots.

A separate peace between the United States and Germany, when Germany stops he present submarine warfare, and an immediate declaration on the part of the United States to support the war program of the Workmen’s and Soldiers’ Council of Russia, were demanded yesterday by the so-called First Conference on Democracy and the Terms of Peace being held in the Garden Theatre, Madison Avenue and Twenty-seventh Street, and attended by delegates from those sections of the country where the Hillquit-Beyer Socialists have some voting strength. It was denied that the conference is a pro-German affair, although the most of the speakers uttered sentiments which it is generally understood have the approval of the German Government in its present world wide propaganda to bring about a German made peace.

Morris Hillquit, one of the three American delegates to the Socialist Conference at Stockholm, who could not obtain a passport from the State Department, presented a resolution adopted by an overwhelming majority, which among other things demanded that the Government agree to a peace in which neither territory nor indemnities for any of the belligerents shall figure. That the United States should make peace with Germany when Germany ceases her submarine warfare was a sentiment that evoked applause every time it was uttered. Nearly all the speakers asserted that none of the people of the United States knows why the country went to war against Germany, and were much applauded therefor.

There were about 400 delegates in the theatre when the conference was called to order by the Rev. Dr. Judah L. Magnes. Some of those present were Victor L. Berger, former Congressman from Wisconsin, and Algernon Lee, who, with Mr. Hillquit, were to have been the American delegates to the Stockholm Conference; Professor Scott Nearing, the Rev. Jenkin Lloyd Jones, who went to Europe on the Ford peace ship; Professor Emily Greene Balch of Massachusetts, Norman M. Thomas, Assemblyman Shiplacoff of Brooklyn, Louis P. Lochner, another of the Ford Crusaders; Harry Weinberger, Mrs. Florence Kelly, James H. Maurer, the Pennsylvania labor leader; William I. Hull, John Reed, and Lindley M. Keasbey. In his opening address Dr. Magnes said the conference was called on the assumption that the Government is anxious to hear what the citizens have to say about the present war. Another purpose, he added, was to urge President Wilson to make an immediate public announcement of the war and peace aims of the United States.

What Are America’s Terms

“Our young men,” he declared, “are about to be drafted into military service and our soldiers are about to be sent across the seas. What, in concrete terms that every man can understand, are they to fight for and upon what terms will America be ready to end the war and make peace ? We urge further that when such concrete aims shall have been formulated, the President declare as a standing peace offer to Germany that whenever these specified aims shall have been achieved we are ready to end the war. The President and Congress have said that we have gone to wary because of Germany’s illegal and brutal submarine warfare. Will we be ready to end the war and make peace if this ruthless submarine warfare be ended? This question should be answered clearly because as to it there is confusion in the minds of the public.

Dr. Magnes said that the Russian Government had been denounced as blundering and unscrupulous because of its “eminently, humane, just, clear-sighted policy,” Russia’s one great aim, he added, is to save “the new democracy and the new republic.” The peace program of the Russians, which asks neither indemnities nor territory, offers a possible basis for a speedy democratic peace.

Mr. Berger in his speech referred to the refusal of the Government to give him a passport to attend the Stockholm conference. He said he still expects to go, but did not say how he would get there. He asked his audience to overlook his German accent, but the war, he added, also has a German accent. The present war, he said is a morganatic marriage between Lombard Street, London and Wall Street, New York. “Every time anybody mentions peace,” said Berger, “a war baby dies.”

“This war,” he continued, “is exceedingly unpopular in the Middle West. People are lukewarm about it in the South and if the Far West is prepared to fight anybody it is Japan and not Germany. The real trouble with our country at this time is that we have a rubber-stamp Congress. It has abdicated its powers. Nothing could afford more convincing proof of this than that a so-called Democratic Congress allowed Elihu Root to teach Russia democracy. As a matter of fact, no country in the world has a Chief Executive with as much power as that possessed by the President at this moment. He is chief administrator, lord executioner, and chief legislator. Indeed this is the only autocracy left in the world.

“In fact we are going to shoot democracy into Germany until non is left here. We want to know why we are in this war. We are paying the price in blood and money and we have a right to know. If we get no answer, and if we have food riots in New York, Chicago, and Milwaukee, then the people of this country will rise as their comrades in Russia did and establish a true social democracy and republic.

Says Germans Will Not Control.

Algernon Lee, the third of the Stockholm delegates, said:

“The charge that the Stockholm conference was engineered by the German Government or even by the German Socialists has not the slightest foundation in fact. Arrangements for the conference are in the hands of the International Socialist Bureau, consisting of Socialist Party representatives of all countries, the practical work being done by the bureau’s Executive Committee, composed of the members from Belgium and Holland. These are Emile Vandervelde, Camille Huysmans, Edouard Anseele, P. J. Troelstra, and Henri Van Kol, and since the conference is to take place in Stockholm the committee is assisted by the Socialist Party of Sweden, under the leadership of Hjalmar Branting.

“At the proposed conference, as at all international Socialist gatherings, the vote is by nationalities, each country having votes proportionate to its importance and the strength of its Socialist and Labor movement. Upon the established basis, the voting strength of the different national groups at the Stockholm conference will be 50 for the Central Powers, 123 for the Allied countries, and 48 for the neutral countries.”

Other speakers were Alexander Trachtenberg, Louis P. Lochner, and Ludwig Lore, editor of the New Yorker Volks-Zeitung. Various committees were announced at the evening sessions, among the persons appointed to one or more of them being Miss Jane Addams, Randolph Bourne, Messrs. Hillquit, Berger, and Lee, Professor Dana of Columbia University, Winter Russell, Alfred J. Boulton, Harry Weinberger, Joseph Schlossberg, Max Eastman, Max Pine, Rose Scheidermann, Job Hariman, and Leonora O’Reilly. There will be two day sessions today and a mass meeting in Madison Square Garden tonight.


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