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Thank you also for the kind personal words
you wrote to me about my “Times” interview of November, even if
I know quite well that I have been bitterly attacked for what I said honestly and frankly,
not just in England and France, but even more so in
Germany while my statements
have earned me much approval here, and even
Dernburg came over right away in order to tell me how much he
understood and appreciated my position and that he almost
completely agreed with what I said, even if he was only able to say so as a private
person and not in his capacity as a representative of Germany.
My intention was and must continue to be to
try to make both sides aware of where their respective
positions are wrong and how essential it is for the nations or governments at war
to learn to realize that a war
„à outrance“ excessive would be the most terrible outcome
possible; that a lasting peace can never be won
in this way and that both sides have to revisit those
conditions existing prior to the outbreak of the war which
caused it with an irresistible force in order to
make a joint attempt at permanently eliminating
these causes by means of mutual concessions.
I know quite well that he who tries to take on the role of peacemaker
where fervor has been unleashed as terribly as is the case in Europe
today must necessarily be
misjudged and exposes himself to the worst
attacks, nevertheless I and others will unflinchingly
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continue to work in this direction, because I am convinced
that it is my duty.
Just as all my correspondents in Germany write with
the greatest bitterness about the enemies opposing Germany
and tell me that Germany must be victorious and
would never agree to a peace which
would not grant it everything it went to war for –
my friends on the other side write to me no less harshly and unbendingly,
believing just as the Germans do to be fighting only for
their legitimate rights, as do the English
and the French. This means that a decision could only
be reached through brute force and superiority, which
creates conditions like those existing in Mexico, which
have civilized countries and people outraged.
For this is what is so terrible, that the war and current
circumstances are already beginning to become the order of the day and
people become accustomed to them, and in this way the moral value of nations and their
civilization are pushed down to a lower level.
I considered it appropriate to write to you in detail
about how I feel the same way as many others in this country, and I honestly hope
that you, despite your martial sentiment, as you called it,
will receive what I said as the frank words of a friend;
of this I am sure, by the way!
Letter from Jacob H. Schiff (New York) to Max Warburg (Hamburg), January 28, 1915 (translated by Insa Kummer), edited in: Key Documents of German-Jewish History, <https://dx.doi.org/10.23691/jgo:source-84.en.v1> [February 25, 2024].