Leeds nostalgia: The day Germany sued for peace in WW1... and Allies rejected the bid

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One hundred years ago, according to a report in the Yorkshire Evening Post (and most other papers), the Allies were chewing over a peace proposal from the Germans which could have ended the First World War.

The peace offer came from the The Central Powers, lead by Germany, but was firmly rejected by the Allies. It is tempting to consider the ramifications of that decision and how history might have played out differently had the Allies decided an alternative route.

The reason they rejected the proposal was because of two key assertions in the German plan: firstly, that the Allies admit to causing the way and secondly, that they proclaim The Central Powers victors.

Neither demand could be acceded to. Indeed, the Allies were of the view that, based on the results of the Somme (a view which would most certainly be questioned were it made today), they were now in a position to press for victory and therefore did not need to concede defeat.

Instead, the peace offer was widely derided and dubbed “illusory” and “less an offer of peace than a war manoeuvre”.

The Allies pointed out numerous attempts by England, France and other countries to attempt to resolve what had been a local disagreement between the Autro-Hungarian Empire and Serbia.

A report noted: “In reality these overtures made by the Central Powers are nothing more than a calculated attempt to influence the course of the war.”

The report went on to point out how Germany had reneged on previous treaties, calling them “scraps of paper”, adding “necessity knows no law.”

Furthermore, they pointed out that the Central Powers had gone on to invade Belgium, whose neutrality had been previously agreed.

For better or for worse, the Allies, therefore, flatly rejected the approach and the war rattled on for two more years.

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