zimmerwald

August 13, 1917 - British Government Stops Labour Delegates from Attending Stockholm Peace Conference

Pictured - Pax im Weltkrieg - a poster advertising the socialist peace conference in neutral Stockholm in September 1917. Both Britain and France stopped their own socialists from attending.

Socialism and social democracy were popular platforms across Europe before the Great War - Germany’s Social Democrats were the largest political party. Yet when the war broke out, the respective socialist parties supported their governments and the conflict. But that consensus broke down as the war dragged on and especially after Russia’s February Revolution.

Inspired by the success of a moderate socialist revolution in Russia, socialist parties agreed to gather in Stockholm in September 1917 to discuss peace and the future of Europe. It was the third such meeting during the war, but the first with real optimism about a united front of workers in Europe. Socialist parties in Britain, France, the US, and in Germany and Austria-Hungary, were eager to attend.

The warring governments were cooler to the idea, however. French Premier Georges Clemenceau barred France’s socialists from attending. British Prime Minister David Lloyd George had at first been friendly to the conference, but worried about the attendance of delegates from the Labour Party. Some of the conference members were too radical for Britain and France’s liking - there would be both Bolsheviks and members of the Zimmerwald Movement there, a pro-peace group that included Vladimir Lenin. On August 13 the British government pulled passports from the British delegates who had planned to intend.