Document 6: Translation of Letter to Prime Minister of Denmark, from the Women's Delegation, Copenhagen, Denmark, May 1915, Library of Congress, Ford Peace Plan Papers (Jane Addams Papers microfilm, reel 8, #985).
One of the most important responsibilities of the peace delegation was to communicate in writing with the officials they were scheduled to meet. This letter to the Danish Prime Minister appealed to him as a leader of a neutral country to join a peace initiative sponsored by neutral nations. Noting that Denmark recognized "the political equality of all men and women," the letter contrasted "the idea and practice" of human rights with the "dreadful impact of the force-idea," which the war exemplified. Speaking as women with "responsibilities for the fate of our sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers," and for the "unutterable sorrow of the wives, daughters, sisters and mothers," the letter made its requests "in the name of the International Congress of Women."
Translation of Letter Presented to Danish Government by Women's Delegation
To His Excellency the Prime Minister
Hern C. Th. Zahle
Bowed by unending grief and animated by the highest hopes for peace, women from twelve countries gathered together in the midst of this thunderbolt to raise up the voices of mothers, in a holy plea for peace.
With clear insight and actuated by the deepest sympathy for all the sacrifices of this world-tragedy, the International Congress of Women treated those questions which appeared necessary to its far-reaching and much desired end. In the resolutions which we have the honor to bring before you are gathered together the results of the Congress.
In accordance with one of these decisions the delegation of the Congress is now on its way to express to the governments of the warring and neutral European countries as well as to the President of the United States the special plea which the International Congress of Women has concluded in a solemn manner to direct to them.
Filled with a sense of our womanly responsibilities for the fate of our sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers we went with steady confidence to the execution of our task, and the receptions which have been accorded our delegation on its way up to this time, in Holland, England, and Germany, have completely justified our expectations.
Yet we come with the particular confidence to your government, Prime Minister, which precisely during this dreadful impact of the force-idea which persists in all countries has advanced by a great step through the political equality of all men and women of your land, the idea and practice of their rights.
We know, Prime Minister, that the neutral countries contributed not only material generosity to soften the misery and the pains of the unhappy sacrifices of the world war, but also that united efforts were made to hasten the end of this murderous bloodshed of whole races.
The International Congress of Women felt the duty to peace, the desire for peace of the women and mothers in the service of the search for mediation. It needs no special study to ascertain that the people of all lands which are to be found in the war, believe that they are fighting not an offensive war, but that they are fighting in self-defense and for their threatened national existence. For this reason, no absolute or irreconcilable oppositions can stand between them.
On the basis of this knowledge the International Congress of Women lay down in its conclusions principles on which not only a generous and just peace, but also a lasting one may be established.
Since the experiences of our delegations with the governments of those warring countries which have hitherto been visited, confirmed our supposition, the supposition that expediently organized intervention for peace, would nowhere be undesired, we direct through you, Prime Minister, to the king and the government of Denmark the well considered plea to take active part in the endeavors not only to localize the world-fire, but in the interests of the whole of mankind, suffering and threatened by further horrors, to extinguish the fire.
The sublime mission to give back freedom to the world, lies only in the hands of those few neutral countries which through their distinguished culture and civilization as through their sincere neutral position have assured themselves of the respect of the whole world. We ask therefore also of the government of Denmark in the most solemn manner that it join itself to the group of neutral countries which through the convocation of a neutral intervention conference can hasten the beginning of the consideration of peace and thereby the end of the bloodshed.
In order to endanger the neutrality of none of the participating countries through the convocation of this conference, the invitation would have to proceed from the President of the United States or from a group of neutral European countries which in our opinion, in addition to Denmark, must comprise also Holland, Switzerland, Sweden, and Norway.
This conference should summon the warring powers to give impetus to the accommodation of their differences and should on the other hand also on their part seek through demands both reasonable and just to all, to make possible the reconciliation of the opposing sides.
These discussed proposals would have to be changed continually until all parties concerned find them completely acceptable.
We are certain, Prime Minister, that such a congress cannot harm in the slightest the neutrality of the participating countries, and that of the blessing of all those millions whose desire for peace is stifled in blood and tears, will rest on the sublime mission in which we ask you for participation in the name of the International Congress of Women.
In the face of the oceans of blood and misery which today submerge the world, deeply filled by the unutterable sorrow of the wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers, and racked by pain in the suffering and afflictions for the sake of our sacrificed friends as relatives, and in desperate hope for those who still live, but who would also be condemned to unutterable sorrow and death, in the hand of the neutrals, full of blessings, should not intervene, we trust that you, most honored Prime Minister, the king, the government, and the people of your noble land will answer our plea.
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