Document 13: Official Report from Emily Greene Balch to Jane Addams, 1 July 1915, Jane Addams Papers, Series I, Swarthmore College Peace Collection (Jane Addams Papers microfilm, reel 8, #1117).
In this official report to Jane Addams, Emily Balch described the positive reception the Women's Delegation received from the Scandinavian and Russian governments. Balch detailed the Scandinavians' responses of the possibility of a conference of neutrals. The neutrals wanted proof of the belligerent nations' desire for a conference. Balch recounted her interview with a Russian official to illustrate the difficulty of acquiring such proof.
Here follows the official part. Please read it all through before communicating any part of it to anyone.
In Copenhagen we found most markedly that fear of being committed to anything that had been shown by the Danish women at the Hague. We were received most formally by the prime minister Mr. Sahle and the minister of foreign affairs Mr. Scavenius. We were told that only two of us were expected to speak and that they would reply by handing to us a ready written response. This of course was in the most general terms.
Net result—we were officially recognized and our arguments may have created some sympathy with our ideas.
In Christiania the atmosphere was lighter. Norway is in a much easier position with no belligerent neighbor no Schleswig-Holstein difficulty and a safer situation as regards contraband traffic.
We were received in private audience by the king who talked much of the time and most informally for almost two hours. He seemed genuinely interested in our ideas especially in our plan of continuous mediation. After this we had a formal interview with the minister of foreign affairs Mr. Ihlen. It looked as if we should not be able to see Mr. Knudson the prime minister a well-know pacifist as his wife was very ill; nevertheless he made an opportunity and invited us to come and speak with him. He was very much in sympathy I think. He asked many questions and promised that the cabinet would consider our plan.
We were then most formally received by the four presidents of the Storthing which was an especial honor. As I understand it the Norwegian parliament has two coordinate branches a president and a vice president for the joint sessions.
In Stockholm we had only one official interview but that was worth all the others put together. The Swedish minister of foreign affairs is a powerful personality, an able man. The case appears to be that he desires to have the conference when peace comes to be made, held in Stockholm and that he would be glad to play a role in all this. We therefore played on this string.
What follows is very private and probably should not be confided to anyone but the president.
We brought Mr. Wallenberg to more and more concrete positions. He finally said that he would be willing to take the initiative in regard to a neutral conference if he had sufficient evidence that it would be "unacceptable" to the belligerents. We pressed the question of what would be sufficient evidence and got him to say that if a lady for instance brought a little billet from two chief representatives of both sides that would be enough.
In Petrograd we were advised to strike for M. Sazonow the minister of foreign affairs as the man of most power. The British ambassador was very helpful and after about a week we got our interview. We wasted a second week waiting to learn whether or not the Czar would also receive us. M. Sazonow very kindly made the request for us but it was a peculiarly difficult moment and our request was not granted.
The interview with Sazonow was deeply interesting. He talked with us quite freely for the greater part of an hour. He did not talk as an extremist but affected an entirely moderate tone about the war. Of course he said that the Germans caused it and blamed them for their way of conducting it. He spoke slurringly of the way the U. S. took Germany's behavior to her at which I fired up. but there was none of the sort of talk that we had been hearing from English and American reporters of the necessity of destroying Germany. He spoke of the inexhaustible numbers of the Russians and of their historical expansion but he said that Russia has now reached her natural boundaries and would "roll over "no further territory. As regards the Dardanelles russia only wants free passage assured her.
We pressed the point of continuous mediation by the neutral conference. He said he had read our resolutions and understood our idea. When we asked him if he would consider the calling such a conference an unfriendly act he smiled and said of course not, how so could it be? He himself used the phrase "not unacceptable." Mrs. Ramondt then asked if in order to be sure that we got his meaning correctly we might write down what he had said. He was quite willing provided we included his remark that he did not think that it would lead to any results at the present time. So we all wrote this down and he was so kind as to read it through and to state that it was correct. He asked us not to make it public.
Returning to Stockholm we again saw Hollenberg and told him all this. He said now that he had said he would be willing act if we brought evidence that the belligerents asked him to but on our stating our remembrance oft as given above I think he tacitly admitted our version. He seemed to think the attested transcript of a conversation such as we had brought adequate as to for but he claimed that the clause as to not expecting any results as making it valueless, He asked us to come back and tell him if we had anything further to report. If this sounds more negative than the first interview perhaps but I think he was taking the whole thing even more seriously.
In Christiania Miss Macmillan saw Ihlen again and in Copenhagen Mrs. Ramondt and I were received quite privately and with our best not to put it in the newspapers by Mr. Eduard Brandes the minister of finance. He was cynical or at least very skeptical but said he did not doubt that Denmark would join a neutral conference if Sweden and Norway did so. Doubtless Norway would say the same.
Here in Holland Mr. Cort van Linden seems to be in quite an oncoming mood. Dr. Jacobs and Madame Schwimmer have seen him and he asked to be informed if we had further news so we are to report our experiences to him on Wednesday. I think that Dr. Jacobs is very anxious to have Holland be the country to do this great thing so much so that that unconsciously makes her oppose our idea of going again to Berlin and London to try to get something like what we got from Sazinow. Our present plan is to try to do this unless Holland is so promising that it does not seem worth while. Accordingly, I have about given up the idea of trying to get off by the Rotterdam boat which sails overland on the seventh.
I wonder if my bad and laborious typewriting or my illegible penmanship seems to you the cosse. At any rate both carry too much love. There is a great deal more that is interesting that I so should like to tell you but I have not the time to write nor you to read it. Miss Manus is back and office and organization work is beginning again. The question of an office and secretary are under discussion. The organization of the committees in the various countries is going on finely notably in France and in Hungary.
Always affectionately and gratefully yours,
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