Peace Feelers In Europe
The prolonged fighting intensified economic and political divisions within all belligerent countries, but particularly in Russia and the Central Powers. Growing discontent in Russia with the failure of the military effort, food shortages, and social inequality would soon escalate into full-scale revolutionary activity by early 1917. On the opposite side, government authorities in the Austro-Hungarian Empire struggled against declining food supplies, war weariness, and centrifugal pressures of dissident nationalist elements. In Germany, despite the government’s severe constraints on their activities, pacifists tried to nourish public interest in a negotiated peace. They were particularly encouraged by the women pacifists’ activities and the members of the Central Organization for a Durable Peace, both of which in their separate endeavors were developing new international networks to promote common internationalist principles that might eventually
guide political leaders toward a just peace settlement. Many nonpacifists among the German middle class shared this disenchantment with the continuing war and opposed expansionist war aims, and even after the suppression of the Bund Neues Vaterland, moderate views found some expression politically among liberal parties in the Reichstag.