Document 14: Emily Greene Balch, "Peace Delegates in Scandinavia and Russia," The Survey, 34 (4 September 1915), pp. 506-08.
In this article, Emily Greene Balch described the positive reception that she and the other delegates received on the peace tour in May and June of 1915. Balch conveys her sense of the importance of continuing the peace mission and her excitement about the possibility of peace. In the article Balch attempted to shape public opinion in favor of peace and distilled the experiences of the women's delegation.
Peace Delegates in Scandinavia
By Emily Greene Balch
"Sent by the International Congress of Women at The Hague to the governments of Europe and to the President of the United States." So, or in words to this effect, ran the credentials signed by the president of the congress, Jane Addams, with which we started on May 21 on our unexpected mission. Miss Addams herself had gone with others [see THE SURVEY for August 7] to The Hague, London, Berlin, Budapest, Vienna, Berne, Rome, Paris and Havre.[A] The second party of which I was a member, was dispatched to the Scandinavian countries and to Russia.
The delegation was made up of one from each of the belligerent sides and one from two neutral countries. It comprised Chrystal Macmillan, one of the two very able British delegates at the congress; Rosika Schwimmer, politically a Hungarian, but whom nothing human is alien; Madam Ramondt Hirschman, one of the most active of the hospitable and capable Dutch women who prepared the way for the congress; and myself, coming from the United States. Grace Wales, a Canadian, the author of the well-known pamphlet Continuous Mediation without Armistice, also went with us to the Scandinavian countries, nominally as our secretary.
The natural route from Amsterdam to Copenhagen is overland through Germany to Warnemunde. To be sure, under war conditions with night trains, it takes two days with an over-night stop at Hamburg; but this was the least of the difficulty. Our two British friends could not cross "enemy" territory, and to find a boat was not easy. When found, it was a little freighter, with no cabin, but the captain's, no woman on board, inconvenient in every way.
As only one passenger could go on the boat, it was decided Miss Wales should go ahead, this delay leaving Miss Macmillan a week more for work on the very difficult task of preparing our polyglot proceedings for a printer whose proof-setting and proof-reading customs were entirely strange to us.
The other three of us went by train through fields with thriving crops and few men-folk, over heaths where prisoners of war were at work converting the moor into ploughland, past station platforms where fathers and wives were bidding sad goodbyes to their soldier boys, and where girls with the red cross on their arms serving refreshments to passing troops.
In Copenhagen we were welcomed by our Hague friends, photographed, interviewed, feted. While all this has its value, it gives occasion for discussing peace issues and for cutting international ties, our mission was a formal one. We were accordingly very glad when arrangements were completed for an interview with Prime Minister Zahle, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Scavenius. Immediately afterward we left Norway.
In Christiania our program was even fuller. Our first interview was with King Haakon VII, who kept us so long that we began to fear that, in our ignorance of ceremonial, we had missed the signal which ends a royal reception. Only at the end of an hour and three quarters it came. The talk was wide ranging, yet it ever centered about the war. The King appeared to be deeply interested in our mediation plan. He spoke with an evident satisfaction of Norway's equal suffrage.
We went directly from the King to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ihlen, and later were given an appointment with Knudsen, the Prime Minister. We were also given what is, we were told, the most formal recognition that can be given to unofficial persons, being received in the Parliament House by the four presidents of the Storting or Parliament-- Mr. Castberg, president of the Odelsting (one of the two co-ordinate chambers), and a member of the Norwegian inter-parliamentary group; Mr. Jahren, president of the Storting when meeting at joint session; and Vice-President Lovland. We were interested in seeing on the walls the portrait of the first woman member of Parliament.
At a committee meeting at the Nobel Institute we had an opportunity to discuss peace programs with Christian Lange, secretary of the Interparliamentary Union.
In Stockholm, whither we proceeded at once, we had a very interesting interview with Wallenberg, the foreign minister. He is not only a statesman but a man of affairs and a great banker, and appears to be throwing all his weight on the side of peace.
Among distinguished Swedes who showed their sympathy and interest at one of the meetings, arranged for us, we were proud to number Selma Lagerlof.
We had already spent over a fortnight upon our way, when, on the evening of June 7, we started for Russia. At this point we had to make certain changes. Rosika Schwimmer, being technically an enemy, could not go to Russia, and in her stead our Scandinavian friends chose for us Baroness Ellen Palmstierna, a delightful addition to our group. Madam Schwimmer, returning, went first to Denmark, where she took part in the great procession with which the Danish women celebrated the signing of the new constitution securing equal suffrage to Denmark and Iceland.
The usual route from Stockholm to Petrograd is across the narrow seas to Abo in Finland. This passage is now closed to travelers, which means that one must make a railroad journey of three days and three nights round the head of the Gulf of Bothnia. We had been told this journey would be very hard traveling, but we did not find it so, although we were glad to reach the Hotel Astoria in Petrograd, a little before midnight on June 10. We stayed here an unexpectedly long time -- a fortnight, in fact -- and this gave us opportunity to see much of this fine and interesting capital, filled today with Red Cross "lazarets" and with wounded; a clean, orderly, and friendly city, as we observed it.
Our subject was an interview with Sazonoff, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and it was a memorable experience to sit for nearly an hour in conference with one who has so large a part in the making of history in this tragic crisis. He appeared to be already familiar with the Resolutions passed at The Hague, and interested to consider them with us.
Our return trip took us, on practically the longest day of the year, to the furthest point of our journey, well to the north of Archangel. Here, although in the vicissitudes of woods and hills we could not command the horizon, we had the pleasure of seeing the sun well risen before twelve minutes after midnight. It was probably below the horizon a scant twenty minutes.
In Stockholm we found that during our absence arrangements had been completed by the Swedish women for a wonderful set of simultaneous peace meetings. In three hundred places, some five hundred meetings were held on Sunday, June 27; at each the same speech -- a very able one -- was delivered and the same resolution was passed. In spite of the fact of its being a season when people are scattered and meetings are thought to be impracticable, the demonstration which we attended gathered perhaps two thousand people, besides and overflow of some twelve hundred, while eight hundred could not get in at all. Yet, this was only one of five meetings in Stockholm alone. The resolution affirmed the main resolutions of our Hague congress, and called for mediation.
In the Scandinavian countries we saw ministers again on our return journey, and in Holland we had further interviews with Minister of Foreign Affairs Loudon and the Prime Minister. It seemed best for Rosika Schwimmer to go again to Berlin, and for Chrystal Macmillan and me to visit London before I should return to America and report all this to Miss Addams and to President Wilson, as has now been done.
Our London fortnight was in some ways the most absorbing of all. Besides our private interviews with official persons -- Lord Crewe, then acting head of the Foreign Office, and later for a few minutes with Sir Edward Grey -- we met many interesting people. These included some of the women of our own British Committee -- Kathleen Courtney, one of the two British women who succeeded in getting to The Hague: Mrs Hubbard-Ellis, known for her work as an explorer in Canada; Isabella Ford; Catherine Marshall; Sophie Sturge of the Society of Friends; Emily Hobhouse, a well-known for her work in connection with the Boer War; Margaret Bondfield, a delegate to the Women's International Council at Berne.
We saw, too, Carl Heath of the National Peace Council; Edward G. Smith of the League of Peace and Freedom; Miss C.E. Playne, chairman of the conference upon the Pacifist Philosophy of Life held in London in July; Marian E. Ellis of the Fellowship of Reconciliation; Allen Baker, M.P., of the executive committee of the Representative Peace Conference convened by the Society of Friends; and various members of the Union of Democratic Control, including H.N. Brailsford, author of that brilliant book, The War of Steel and Gold; John A. Hobson; "Vernon Lee" (Violet Paget); Ramsey MacDonald. M.P.: Arthur Ponsoby M.P.; and Bertrand Russell. Yet others whom we met were Joel Barlow of the Society of Friends: Roden Buxton, authority on the Balkans; Mr. and Mrs. Stanton Coit; Lord Courtney: Lowes Dickinson: A.G. Gardiner, editor of the Daily Mail: Felix Moscheles, artist and pacifist; Sylvia Pankhurst; Mr. and Mrs. Pethick Lawrence; S.K. Ratcliffe; Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Shaw; Ethel Sidgwick, the novelist and Graham Wallas.
All were eager to hear of our undertaking and, with one or two marked exceptions, all were in their own way more or less distinctly pacifist in their outlook. I was conscious that they were far from being average samples of English feeling; yet, even so, what a testimony to the genuineness of English liberty of thought and the breadth of English humanism were their keen and generous views.
Two groups with whom I did not come into contact were the Stop the War Committee and the No Conscription Fellowship .
What was accomplished by the Hague congress and the resulting undertakings, what their significance, is something that we do not yet fully know, ourselves: and much of what we do know we may not tell. Five things stand out in my estimate of it all:
- The noble humanity of the women who gathered at The Hague, all finding firm and common ground under their feet even in the midst of the water;
- The well wrought-out platform.
- The permanent international pacifist organization of women, now effected;
- A plan already under way for calling a congress of these women at the time and place where peace terms are being agreed on, when that time comes;
- The mission to the governments, in its immediate and remoter bearings.
I want to say a few words more regarding these last three points. And first as to permanent organization of women's work for durable peace. The new international headquarters at 467 Keizersgracht, Amsterdam, are but the symbol of the organization which women are eagerly forming everywhere. In all countries national groups of the International Women's Committee for Permanent Peace are being organized -- in France, (where are first there was considerable misunderstanding about the movement), in Germany, in Hungary, in England, in the Scandinavian countries, and we hope, in Russia. The American office is the national headquarters of the Women's Peace Party in Chicago.
Money and workers are needed and America, unstricken by war, must do more than its share. It's fair share, even, is a large one. The work already done has cost considerable sums, although many of the delegates, including those from the United States, paid the equivalent of all their own traveling expenses. The future offers opportunity for still larger investments.
The coming peace congress of women must be planned and financed. This is my second point. Peace negotiations may come early and unexpectedly or, alas, they may be delayed for years; but sometime, come they must. And then the women must gather to note, to discuss and to urge terms of peace as contrasted with terms of a shortsighted armistice based on log-rolling politics. Professor LaFontaine of Belgium said to me recently that he considered the preparations for this future congress which were laid at The Hague, as the most important part of our work there.
Of my last point, the mission to the governments, it is too early to speak, both because the work is confidential and cannot be reported and because it is still in process. However, I may say that what was planned as a comparatively formal presentation of the resolutions of our congress developed into something more than this. Never again must women dare to believe that they are without responsibility because they are without power. Public opinion is power; strong and reasonable feeling is power; determination which is a twin sister of faith or vision, is power. When our unaccustomed representatives knocked at the doors of the Chancelleries of Europe there was not one but opened. We were received gravely, kindly, perhaps gladly, by twenty-one ministers, the presidents of two republics, a king and the Pope. All, apparently, recognized without argument that an expression of the public opinion of a large body of women had every claim to consideration in questions of war and peace.
A. Alice Hamilton published a version of "At the War Capitals," in the August 7, 1915 issue of The Survey.
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