July 21, 1917 - Kaiser Wilhelm Rejects Reichstag Peace Resolution, Promises “Second Punic War” Against England
Pictured - The Kaiser hands out Iron Crosses to troops on the Eastern Front, July 1917. By this point of the war he had become a “shadow-Kaiser,” powerless to his generals. He had never believed in representative government, however. His meeting with Reichstag representatives in July was the first time he had done so in two decades.
Peacemaking efforts took some degree of precedence in the summer of 1917 as all sides began to fret that more harm was staring to come of this war than good. While the British tried to bribe Enver Pasha, the socialist-dominated German Reichstag finally abandoned its truce with the Kaiser and passed a resolution calling for peace. The motion passed by 212 votes to 126. It asked for a “peace by agreement and a permanent reconciliation.”
Germany’s new chancellor, Dr. Michaelis, who had succeeded Bethmann-Hollweg a week before, vowed that he would never seek peace. “I do not consider that a body like the German Reichstag is a fit one to decide about peace and war on its own initiative during the war.” The Kaiser agreed, and remarkably visited Reichstag representatives to tell them in person. It was the first time the monarch had deigned to meet his representative government in two decades.
The Kaiser made a relentless speech calling for a “Second Punic War.” Once England, that modern Carthage, had been defeated, Germany would rise to its place in the sun. Wilhelm called attention to German’s recent great victory on the Eastern Front, but he made his biggest impact when he commented that “When my guards appear, there is no room for democracy.”