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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box6/Fold1/July-Dec1915/20
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date10 September 1915
Address FromTrevaldwyn, Llandrindod Wells, Wales
Address ToGordon's Bay, Western Cape
Who ToBetty Molteno
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to Manuscripts and Archives, University of Cape Town, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscripts and Archives Collections. The date has been written on this note in an unknown hand. Schreiner was resident at Llandrindod Wells between late July and late October 1915. The note has been written onto a typed letter from Catherine Marshall to Olive Schreiner; there is also an attached draft Manifesto, which Schreiner has signed, with the attached envelope providing the address it was sent to.
1Dear Betty,
3Perhaps this may interest you. Emily Hobhouse who is now quite strong
4& well is working in Holland with Dr Jacobs &c at the permanent peace
5committee But perhaps you have got war fever now!!
Marshall’s letter to Schreiner is as follows:

180 St. Stephen’s House
Westminster, S.W.
^Hawse End, Keswick Cumberland ^
^31 August 1915^

Dear ^Mrs Schreiner^

Enclosed herewith is the draft of a Manifesto in reply to that issued by the Executive of the German Social Democratic Party on June 23rd, a copy of which is also enclosed.

This draft has been prepared by the Executive Committee appointed at the Representative Peace Conference convened by the Society of Friends on June 24th.

We shall be glad to know whether you are willing to sign the manifesto, which will be published if a sufficient number of influential signatures are obtained. We do not propose to collect names indiscriminately. We are of course anxious to avoid delay.

Yours ^very truly^
^Catherine E. Marshall^
^On behalf of the Executive Committee^

Among the members of the Come are included:
Mr Carl ?Heaton
Mr Lowes Dickinson
Mr ?Henderson Baum
Miss Marion Ellis
Mr J. Allen ?Raber M.P.
Miss I.O. Ford
Mr C.R. Buxton
Mr Arthur Ponsonby
Mr Clifford Allen
Miss Sheepshanks


The Manifesto dated June 23rd issued by the National Executive of the German Social Democratic Party, and calling for an early and honourable peace, awakens a cordial response in Great Britain. The subjoined signatories hasten to assure the friends of peace in Germany that not only Socialists but men and women representative of many different sections of opinion in this country are as earnestly desirous as they of re-establishing friendly relations between the warring peoples.

In this country as in Germany there are large bodies of people who, revolted by the horrors now being perpetrated in the name of civilisation and freedom, are anxious to give practical expression to their longing for peace and their determination to work for its establishment at the earliest possible moment on a basis which shall give promise of real permanence. We are convinced that the publication of the above-named manifesto in Germany makes it incumbent upon the peoples of Allied Nations to discuss publicly the terms on which they would welcome peace, and to urge those terms upon their Governments. The German Socialists find the opportunity for their action in the demonstration which they claim to have been made that Germany "has victoriously resisted all enemies up to the present … and has proved that she cannot be defeated." We not desire to enter upon any examination of this claim which might embitter rather than assuage the tempers of men inclining towards peace and we would be content for ourselves to find our opportunity in the recognition which might be made by both sets of belligerents that each is unconquered and unconquerable, and that a prolongation of war after this has been made manifest involves a responsibility on nations and governments from which they must all desire to be emancipated. We arrive at the same conclusion from whichever standpoint we travel, that the belligerent Governments should now be urged to peace. In this regard we look forward with great hopefulness to the assistance of the Governments of the neutral countries of Europe and America. The proposal that these countries acting as friendly intermediaries should offer continuous mediation between the belligerents seems to us to demand support from men and women of good will in all nations.

We agree with the German Social Democratic Party that a durable peace must be a peace based on the consent of all peoples and not a peace dictated by conquest. We agree with them and with the French Socialists’ Resolution of July 15th that in the final arrangements national and racial feelings must be fully consulted; and we hold that reparation must be made for the destruction of private and public property.

We heartily endorse Herr Ebert’s declaration on behalf of the Social Democratic Party in the Reichstag on May 29th (after the intervention of Italy), as quoted and approved in the manifesto:

"The desire is felt everywhere and more and more finds expression that an end should be made at last to the horror of the war. Despite the more difficult situation … we believe we ought to voice this longing for peace. In taking this stand we know ourselves to be in agreement with powerful sections of all the nations which are at war with us, who desire with us a peace without violation of the independence of other nations, a peace which makes possible again a lasting co-operation between civilised peoples. Therefore we protest energetically against the attempts which are being made to make peace dependent upon all kinds of conquests. From the beginning we have made it clear that we condemn every war of conquest, and we stand firmly by this."

We look for a peace on these terms, and we will reciprocate to the best of our power and strength the efforts of the German Social Democrats to bring our Governments together in this spirit.

In the end the nations must come together. Shall it be after many more days of suffering and grief, or shall it be today, while there still remain the foundations of national happiness and welfare on which to base our hopes for the future?

Every day the war lasts fresh multitudes of human beings are mutilated and slain. Every day the war lasts hundreds of fresh homes in Belgium, Poland and elsewhere are shattered and destroyed. Every day the war lasts the sum of bitter hatred, frenzied deeds, inhuman degradation, mounts up. Every additional day of war means deeper poverty, greater suffering, more intolerable burdens for the people who remain. Victor, vanquished, neutral – all must suffer.

For the sake of our fellow-countrymen, for the sake of Europe, we welcome the call which has come from Germany.


^Olive Schreiner^

Schreiner has signed in the space provided at the end, thus the final insertion above. However, although it is not clear whether another copy of the manifesto signed by her was returned to Catherine Marshall, Schreiner was a supporter of the more absolutist No-Conscription Fellowship and Marshall’s role in the NCF makes Schreiner’s support likely.