Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Circular Letter to Members of the Executive Committee, etc., February 9, 1921



Circular letter to members of the Executive [Committee] Consultative Members (A) and to Secretaries of National Sections (B)

Series of 1921
Circular letter A 3
Circular letter B 3
6, rue du Vieux Collège,
Geneva, February 9, 1921.


Our third International Congress is to be held in Vienna, July tenth to sixteenth. Arrangements for it are already in full swing. The meeting of the Executive Committee to transact preliminary business will begin on the preceding Monday (July fourth): Members of the Committee and Consultative Members are asked to note the date and hold themselves in readiness.

A Summer School on the subject of Education for Internationalism will be held at Salzburg during the first two weeks of August, and will be open to both men and women. We hope that this opportunity to hear distinguished lecturers and to get into touch with people from all countries will especially appeal to teachers and students and that the time, place and money arrangements will prove convenient to them. For particulars apply to Miss K. Royds, 14 Bedford Row, London W.C. 1.


By vote of our least Congress the MEMBERS OF THE CONGRESS are the members of the Executive Committee and of the Consultative Committee together with the Delegates of the National Sections -- not over twenty Delegates and ten Alternates from each. Associates are entitled to attend without vote. Rules as to visitors will be reported later.


The Secretary ventures to suggest that it is desirable that delegations should, in an informal way, be selected in the spirit of proportional representation and that truly pacifist and international-minded women of different types, classes and politics and of national or racial minorities where there are such, should be drawn in.

Above all we want the young people.

We old stagers are too apt to turn only to the experienced women of our own age, but the future is theirs! Each National Section is begged to try to secure an adequate representation of younger women in its delegation and to make them understand that their full and free cooperation is needed.

The question of whether the expenses of delegates are paid for them or not is left to the Sections; each plan has its advantages and disadvantages.


should present their request to the Secretary in good season and if practicable send someone to report personally to the Executive Committee at its meeting the week before the Congress opens. It is also desirable that they should send to the Congress persons entitled to sit as delegates in case they are admitted as a New Section.


Any requests to send fraternal delegates should be submitted promptly to Headquarters as the question whether or not to accept such would have to be submitted to vote. As regards the affiliation of other [organizations] to our League our Constitution is silent: the Executive Committee at its last session voted to [favor] affiliation in principle but to leave the question to the Congress to decide. Any Society desiring affiliation is asked to write to Headquarters as early as possible. [page 2]


It is proposed to give the mornings to plenary sessions and in the afternoons to have only committee meetings so that members may have opportunity for making acquaintance with one another and for those more intimate talks which are often more fruitful than the sessions themselves. Evenings will be reserved for public meetings.


covering the period since the Zurich Congress are wanted not later than APRIL FIRST secretaries are asked to be prompt in sending these in to Headquarters.


It was agreed at the last meeting of the Executive Committee that it is more worthwhile to discuss how to work for the realization of our already formulated aims than to elaborate a mass of new resolutions, but of course this does not mean that Sections are not perfectly free to present resolutions as they may wish. National Sections are asked to send in to the International Secretary by April FIRST all resolutions, and other proposals as to Congress business, to be included in the official agenda: this does not mean that emergency proposals and resolutions will not be received later but in the interests of a [well-organized] and satisfactory Congress Sections are asked to try to notify Headquarters of their wishes by the beginning of April.

In this connection members are asked to go carefully through the Minutes of the June Meeting of the Executive Committee (Extra copies can be supplied, at one franc --or crowns or marks -- a piece). Over nineteen crowded hours were occupied in discussing the subjects there listed and yet there were present only nine persons entitled to vote, and there were no addresses, no greetings to be read nor notices to be given, no translating of the discussions, none of the misunderstanding, confusion and delay, which are more or less inevitable in a big international gathering. At Vienna, with mornings only for the general sessions, we shall have for them only eighteen hours at most. It is clear that we must economize our time to the utmost and devote our discussion to the subjects that we have most at heart.


(The following is not a proposal for an Agenda but a listing of topics for consideration by the Sections, mainly of topics that have already come up at the June Executive Committee meeting. This list suggests the necessity of concentration. It is obvious that we can discuss only a part of the subjects here named.)





"Maison Internationale", report and discussion;

Executive Committee; election of

Secretary-Treasurer; Appointment of

Statement of the Objects of the Womens International League for Peace and Freedom; wording of

New Sections; admission of

Affiliation of other bodies to the Womens International League for Peace and Freedom;

Reports of the National Sections;

Reports of the Secretary-Treasurer;

[Organization] and expansion: international lectures, journeys, press, establishment of new Sections, building up and strengthening of existing Sections, representation at Congresses.

Relation of our League with other international [organizations]:

other pacifist [organizations];

womens international [organizations];

[Labor] and socialist [organizations];

League of Nations Unions in different countries. [page 3]


It was voted at the June Executive Meeting to give three of the six days of the Congress to this subject. Since then two things have occurred which might affect this decision -- the postponement of the arrangements that Dr. Arnesen was making for a general international congress on education, and the decision, as the result of a referendum, to devote the summer school to EDUCATION FOR INTERNATIONALISM. The Executive Committee are being consulted as to whether they still wish to alter the June decision to devote half of the time of the Congress to Education.


Question of Revision of Peace Treaties;

Protection of Minorities;

Freedom of trade, transit and communication;

Right of Asylum,

Passport regime,


World Postage condition,

Free trade.


Report of Catherine Marshall

(In general our resolutions on this subject passed at Zurich The Hague have stood the test of time well, although some are expressed in such general language that they need to be more defined to be of much use. Among the questions that in the experience of the first Assembly appear to be of special interest to us are the following.)

1. Admission of all States;

2. Amendments to the Covenant; especially provision to make it easier to amend the Covenant by making unanimous consent of the Council unnecessary.

3. Specific recognition by the League of Nations of the right of self-determination so defined as to include the right to combine as well as the right to separate.

(It is to be noted that it is very hard to find a practicable general criterion for the realization of this right and make a rule as to how small a group can be allowed to separate itself at will from the rest of the population.)

4. Disarmament and abolition of conscription;

5. Question of Mandates and especially

Protection of women and children;

Conscription of "natives" and use of colonial troops, conscripted or not, for military purposes;

In case of blockade measures to secure necessities of life to the populations concerned;

6. Creation of Organs dealing with production, distribution and financial exchanges.

7. Women and the League of Nations

as members of national delegations

on Commissions and notably on the Mandates Commission

in the Secretariat. [page 4]


Amnesty for war-time offenses: Right of Asylum.

Agitation against hatred and war passion:

military toys.

A World Peace Day.

Pacifism in time of revolution.

(The Executive Committee were of opinion that this subject should be put before the next Congress. In the meantime Sections in countries where revolutions have occurred are requested to send to Headquarters before April First a report on what pacifists and especially pacifist women have done or attempted to do in such times).

Refusal of War.

Any group which has circulated a pledge to take no part in war is earnestly asked to report to Headquarters by June First.

Any person knowing of other groups or individuals that have circulated similar pledges or appeals are asked to put Headquarters in touch with these.

Proposal of Swiss Section that civilian service should be allowed as an alternative to compulsory military service.

(When this proposal was discussed at the last Executive Committee meeting it was pointed out that many of our members are working for abolition of all compulsory military service)

Proposed by International Secretary for discussion.

How can a population that feels that it is suffering from political injustice strive to right its wrongs without violence?


Nationality of Married Women.

Victims of war:

Repatriation of prisoners


Women in captivity in Asia Minor and elsewhere.

International language. "Last but not least" in this list of possible topics! The [Executive] Committee voted to put on the Agenda the following proposal of our Danish Section: "That the International League urges the National Sections to consider the question of an international language, and to press the idea on the attention of their respective governments and the League of Nations, with the object of forming an International Committee appointed for the purpose of agreeing on a Common International Language." The Executive Committee further voted to [favor] the suggested Commission but to recommend that in considering the proposal at our Congress all discussion of the relative merits of different languages be excluded.


Our Zurich Congress cost 22,000 Swiss Francs and it was economically arranged at a time when price levels were much lower than they are now. While we hope that the Summer School may pay for itself this is, in the nature of things not certain, and we must be prepared to meet a deficit if there is one. So far Headquarters has had to undertake an advance of about [12000] francs. If the [organizer] that the Executive Committee proposed should be engaged three months beforehand to help prepare the Vienna Congress is paid, this is an additional expense.

Some of our Sections have already made generous response and others are doubtless at work raising the money necessary to our joint undertaking.

All our friends [organized] and [unorganized] are asked to do their best not only to give what they can afford themselves but to secure generous subscriptions to the fund. Please send donations and pledge either direct to Headquarters or to the nearest National Secretary. [page 5]


We especially hope that the choice of Austria as a meeting place will enable large numbers of modern-minded women to come from the countries round about where our League is as yet represented weakly or not at all.

What would it not mean for the happiness of the next generation and the peace of the world if a goodly number of Italians, Croatians, Slovenes and Serbs, Albanians, Greeks, Armenians, Turkish women, [Bulgarians, Romanians], Ukrainians, Poles, Russians, Magyars, Czecho-Slovaks and Austrians came together determined to find a way to make an end to the wrongs and feuds of the past, to educate children in the spirit of universal good will, tolerance and desire for justice, and to do everything possible to help one another.

We are also eager to welcome women from China, Japan and India, from Africa, from South America and Mexico and from other countries where till now our movement has not taken root. We should especially welcome women from colonial dependencies and those regions which will come under the operation of the mandate clauses of the Covenant to help us to think out the problems these involved and for which women ought to take their share of responsibility.

We look forward with great happiness to seeing old friends again and all will be delighted to learn that Jane Addams fully expects to be present.


Once more, the above is not submitted as a proposed [program] of the Congress but merely as a classified list of points that are more or less before us, and to serve as a guide in making proposals for the Congress Agenda, and as a warning of the need of centralizing our attention, economizing our time and sacrificing much that we should like to bring up for discussion.

Lida Gustava Heymann [wrote] in a letter just received "It is of the first importance to have only a few points on the [program] and those important ones. We cannot make this too clear, for the whole success of a Congress depends on how its Agenda is made up. All international Congresses suffer from overloading their [program]. We want to get rid of this mistake once for all, so we must show [self-control]. We must remember that we have, as a matter of fact, other ways of keeping in touch with one another as regards our ideas and practical work."

I as Secretary desire emphatically to endorse this opinion. After hearing from the Sections I will submit a proposal for an Agenda.

To save time, each Secretary of a National Section is supplied with two copies of this letter one of which can then be returned with comments.

(signed) Emily G. Balch,



This is the title of an article in the London Nation of January 29, which begins "A German comic paper published the other day a cartoon which depicted the ceremonial entry of Austria into the League of Nations. Two British and two Italian soldiers carried the coffin. A coroners jury in England has just classified a case of sheer starvation as 'death from natural causes'. That will not be the verdict of history on the ruin of Vienna. This slow death has been a deliberate political murder and some, if not all, of the Allied statesmen know very well what they were doing."

We are sending herewith to all our sections one copy of Klein's pamphlet on the Treaty of Saint Germain and ask you to consider what we can do toward creating an intelligent public opinion on this subject and how to make the best use of this pamphlet which our Austrian Section has had prepared. Copies can be supplied in English or German at the following prices:

Österreich (Deutsch) Kr. 30.--

[Österreich] (Englisch) [Kr.] 34.--

Deutschland Mk. 4.--

Ungarn Kr. 30.--

Czecho-Slovakia [Kr.] 5.--

Yugoslavia Dinar 5.--

Schweiz Fr. 2.25

Italien Lire 2.--

Dänemark Krono 1.--

Schweden Krono 1.--

Norwegen [Krono] 1.--

Frankreich Franc 1.--

Polen [Franc] 1.--

Holland Gulden 0.50

Ukraine Franc 1.--

Russland [Franc] 1.--

Balkan [Franc] 1.--

England Schilling 2.--

Amerika Dollar 0.25 cent. [page 6]


Signor Bignami, Coenobium, Lugano, is preparing an [anthology] of prose and verse published during the war, in any language, expressing the anti-war spirit and would be glad to receive contributions or suggestions.


Annie Furuhjelm writes to us to correct the statement sent us from Germany and printed in our Bulletin of December that Finland has arranged a division of its budget so that pacifist tax payers can direct their taxes to non-military uses. She says she has never heard such a plan mentioned.

(signed) Emily G. Balch,