"He proceeded in the following sense: The landing of the English troops would take place at the French coast in the vicinity of Dunkirk and Calais, so as to hasten their movements as much as possible. The entry of the English into Belgium would take place only after the violation of our neutrality by Germany. A landing in Antwerp would take much more time, because larger transports would be needed, and because, on the other hand, the safety would be less complete.
"This admitted, there would be several other points to consider, such as railway transportation, the question of requisitions which the English army could make, the question concerning the chief command of the allied forces.
"He inquired whether our preparations were sufficient to secure the defense of the country during the crossing and the transportation of the English troops—which he estimated to last about ten days.
"I answered him that the places Namur and Liege were protected from a coup de main and that our field army of 100,000 men would be capable of intervention within four days.
"After having expressed his full satisfaction with my explanations, my visitor laid emphasis on the following facts: (1) That our conversation was entirely confidential; (2) that it was not binding on his Government; (3) that his Minister, the English General Staff, he and I were, up to the present, the only ones informed about the matter; (4) that he did not know whether the opinion of his sovereign had been consulted....
[Footnote 1: This is similar to the manner in which the English entente with France was arranged. The British Parliament and the British Cabinet were kept in ignorance of the fact that English and French naval experts were consulting together. The British Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sir Edward Grey, repeatedly assured the country that Great Britain's hands were free. Yet, when the crisis came, this quite unofficial exchange of military views and plans, this mere gentleman's agreement, revealed itself, of course, as a binding obligation. Nations do not reveal their military secrets to each other except on the clear understanding that an alliance is in force.]
"In a following discussion Lieut. Col. Barnardiston assured me that he had never received confidential reports of the other Military Attaches about our army. He then gave the exact numerical data of the English forces; we could depend on it, that in twelve or thirteen days two army corps, four cavalry brigades, and two brigades of horse infantry would be landed.
"He asked me to study the question of the transport of these forces to that part of the country where they would be useful, and he promised to give me for this purpose details about the composition of the landing army.
"He reverted to the question concerning the effective strength of our field army, and he emphasized that no detachments should be sent from this army to Namur and Liege, because these places were provided with garrisons of sufficient strength.
"He asked me to direct my attention to the necessity of granting the English Army the advantages which the regulations concerning the military requisitions provided for. Finally he insisted upon the question of the chief command.
"I answered him that I could say nothing with reference to this last point and promised him that I would study the other questions carefully....
"Later on the English Military Attache confirmed his former calculations: twelve days would at least be necessary to carry out the landing at the French coast. It would take a considerably longer time (1 to 2-1/2 months) to land 100,000 men in Antwerp.
"Upon my objection that it would be unnecessary to await the end of the landing in order to begin with the railway transportations, and that it would be better to proceed with these when the troops arrived at the coast, Lieut. Col. Barnardiston promised to give me exact data as to the number of troops that could be landed daily.
"As regards the military requisitions, I told my visitor that this question could be easily regulated....
"The further the plans of the English General Staff progressed, the clearer became the details of the problem. The Colonel assured me that one-half of the English Army could be landed within eight days; the rest at the conclusion of the twelfth or thirteenth day, with the exception of the horse infantry, which could not be counted upon until later.
"In spite of this I thought I had to insist again upon the necessity of knowing the exact number of the daily shipments, in order to regulate the railway transportation for every day.
"The English Military Attache conversed with me about several other questions, namely:
"(1) The necessity of keeping the operations secret and of demanding strict secrecy from the press;
"(2) The advantages which would accrue from giving one Belgian officer to each English General Staff, one interpreter to each commanding officer, and gendarmes to each unit of troops, in order to assist the British police troops....
"In the course of another interview Lieut. Col. Barnardiston and I studied the combined operations to take place in the event of a German offensive with Antwerp as its object and under the hypothesis of the German troops marching through our country in order to reach the French Ardennes.
"In this question, the Colonel said he quite agreed with the plan which I had submitted to him, and he assured me also of the approval of Gen. Grierson, Chief of the English General Staff.
"Other secondary questions which were likewise settled had particular reference to intermediary officers, interpreters, gendarmes, maps, photographs of the uniforms, special copies, translated into English, of some Belgian regulations, the regulations concerning the import duties on English provisions, to the accommodation of the wounded of the allied armies, &c. Nothing was resolved on as regards the activity which the Government or the military authorities might exert on the press....
"During the final meetings which I had with the British Attache, he informed me about the numbers of troops which would be daily disembarked at Boulogne, Calais, and Cherbourg. The distance of the last place, which is necessary for technical considerations, will involve a certain delay. The first corps would be disembarked on the tenth day, and the second on the fifteenth day. Our railways would carry out the transportation so that the arrival of the first corps, either in the direction of Brussels-Louvain or of Namur-Dinant, would be assured on the eleventh day, and that of the second on the sixteenth day.
"I again, for a last time, and as emphatically as I could, insisted on the necessity of hastening the sea transports so that the English troops could be with us between the eleventh and twelfth day. The happiest and most favorable results can be reached by a convergent and simultaneous action of the allied forces. But if that co-operation should not take place, the failure would be most serious. Col. Barnardiston assured me that everything serving to this end would be done....
"In the course of our conversations, I had occasion to convince the British Military Attache that we were willing, so far as possible, to thwart the movements of the enemy and not to take refuge in Antwerp from the beginning.
"Lieut. Col. Barnardiston on his part told me that, at the time, he had little hope for any support or intervention on the part of Holland. At the same time he informed me that his Government intended to transfer the basis of the British commissariat from the French coast to Antwerp as soon as all German ships were swept off the North Sea....
"In all our conversations the Colonel regularly informed me about the secret news which he had concerning the military circumstances and the situation of our eastern neighbors, &c. At the same time he emphasized that Belgium was under the imperative necessity to keep herself constantly informed of the happenings in the adjoining Rhinelands. I had to admit that with us the surveillance service abroad was, in times of peace, not directly in the hands of the General Staff, as our legations had no Military Attaches. But I was careful not to admit that I did not know whether the espionage service which is prescribed in our regulations was in working order or not. But I consider it my duty to point out this position which places us in a state of evident inferiority to our neighbors, our presumable enemies.
"Major General, Chief of the General Staff. (Initials of Gen. Ducarme.)
"Note.—When I met Gen. Grierson at Compiegne, during the manoeuvres of 1906, he assured me the result of the reorganization of the English Army would be that the landing of 150,000 would be assured and, that, moreover, they would stand ready for action in a shorter time than has been assumed above.
"Concluded September, 1906."
(Initials of Gen. Ducarme.)
DOCUMENT NO. 2
Minutes of a Conference Between the Belgian Chief of the General Staff, Gen. Jungbluth, and the British Military Attache Lieut. Col. Bridges
(Lieut. Col. Barnardiston, British Military Attache in Brussels, was succeeded in his office by Lieut. Col. Bridges. Likewise, Gen. Ducarme was succeeded, as Chief of the Belgian Staff, by Gen. Jungbluth. A conversation between Col. Bridges and Gen. Jungbluth was committed to writing, and that writing was also found at the Belgian Foreign Office. The document, which is dated April 23 and is presumed to belong to the year 1912, is marked "confidentielle" in the handwriting of Graf v.d. Straaten, the Belgian Foreign Secretary. This is the translation:)
"The British Military Attache asked to see Gen. Jungbluth. The two gentlemen met on April 23.
"Lieut. Col. Bridges told the General that England had at her disposal an army which could be sent to the Continent, composed of six divisions of infantry and eight brigades of cavalry—together 160,000 troops. She has also everything which is necessary for her to defend her insular territory. Everything is ready.
"At the time of the recent events the British Government would have immediately effected a disembarkment in Belgium (chez nous) even if we had not asked for assistance.
"The General objected that for that our consent was necessary.
"The Military Attache answered that he knew this, but that—since we were not able to prevent the Germans from passing through our country—England would have landed her troops in Belgium under all circumstances (en tout etat de cause).
"As for the place of landing, the Military Attache did not make a precise statement; he said that the coast was rather long, but the General knows that Mr. Bridges, during Easter, has paid daily visits to Zeebrugge from Ostend.
"The General added that we were, besides, perfectly able to prevent the Germans from passing through."
DOCUMENT NO. 3
Report of Baron Greindl, Belgian Minister in Berlin, to the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs
[On the 23d of December, 1911, Baron Greindl, then and for many years Belgian Minister in Berlin, made a report to the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs. There was found in Brussels a copy of this report. Although a copy, the official character of this third document found in Brussels is evident from the official imprint on the paper on which the copy stands. The first page reads:]
....... SECTION No. ........... ..... ENCLOSURE COPY
Reply to No. General department Office of ........
BERLIN, Dec. 23, 1911.
Belgian Legation, No. 3,022—1,626.
What is Belgium to do in case of war?
I have had the honor to receive the dispatch of the 27th November last, P without docket number, registration number 1,108....
[Baron Greindl's report is an extremely long one. Extracts from it were published in The North German Gazette of Oct. 13. A facsimile has been made of the first page only of the document, because of its great length.
The writer reveals with great astuteness the ulterior motives underlying the English proposal and draws attention to the danger of the situation in which Belgium had become involved by a one-sided partisanship in favor of the powers of the Entente. In this very detailed report, dated Dec. 23, 1911, Baron Greindl explains that the plan of the General Army Staff for the defense of Belgian neutrality in a Franco-German war as communicated to him only concerned the question as to what military measures should be adopted in case Germany violated Belgian neutrality. The hypothesis of a French attack on Germany through Belgium had, however, just as much probability in itself. The diplomat then goes on in the following manner:]
"From the French side danger threatens not only in the south of Luxemburg, it threatens us on our entire joint frontier. We are not reduced to conjectures for this assertion. We have positive evidence of it.
"Evidently the project of an outflanking movement from the north forms part of the scheme of the entente cordiale. If that were not the case, then the plan of fortifying Flushing would not have called forth such an outburst in Paris and London. The reason why they wished that the Scheldt should remain unfortified was hardly concealed by them. Their aim was to be able to transport an English garrison, unhindered, to Antwerp, which means to establish in our country a basis of operation for an offensive in the direction of the Lower Rhine and Westphalia, and then to make us throw our lot in with them, which would not be difficult, for, after the surrender of our national centre of refuge, we would, through our own fault, renounce every possibility of opposing the demands of our doubtful protectors after having been so unwise as to permit their entrance into our country. Col. Barnardiston's announcements at the time of the conclusion of the entente cordiale, which were just as perfidious as they were naive, have shown us plainly the true meaning of things. When it became evident that we would not allow ourselves to be frightened by the pretended danger of the closing of the Scheldt, the plan was not entirely abandoned, but modified in so far as the British Army was not to land on the Belgian coast, but at the nearest French harbors.
"The revelations of Capt. Faber, which were denied as little as the newspaper reports by which they were confirmed or completed in several respects, also testify to this. This British Army, at Calais and Dunkirk, would by no means march along our frontier to Longwy in order to reach Germany. It would directly invade Belgium from the northwest. That would give it the advantage of being able to begin operations immediately, to encounter the Belgian Army in a region where we could not depend on any fortress, in case we wanted to risk a battle. Moreover, that would make it possible for it to occupy provinces rich in all kinds of resources and, at any rate, to prevent our mobilization or only to permit it after we had formally pledged ourselves to carry on our mobilization to the exclusive advantage of England and her allies.
"It is therefore of necessity to prepare a plan of battle for the Belgian Army also for that possibility. This is necessary in the interest of our military defense as well as for the sake of the direction of our foreign policy, in case of war between Germany and France."
[The text of the documents presented above is not disputed by the Belgian Government. Instead it is made the basis of the Belgian reply, beginning on the next page.]
* * * * *
THE BELGIAN BATTLEGROUND
By the HON. WILLIAM H. TAFT.
[From King Albert's Book.]
The heart of the world should go out to the poor people of Belgium. Without being in any respect a party to the controversies of the war, their country has been made the battleground of the greatest and in some respects the most destructive war in history. Any movement to relieve their distress has my profound sympathy.
* * * * *
[The following letter from the Belgian Legation at Washington certifies the official character of the documents presented below.—EDITOR.]
LEGATION DE BELGIQUE,
Jan. 25, 1915.
To the Editor of The New York Times Current History:
In accordance with the request, in your letter of December 10th addressed to the Belgian Minister, for official documents published by the Legation, I have the pleasure of sending you, herewith, by the Minister's instructions, a copy of a pamphlet entitled "The Innocence of Belgium," dealing with the Military Documents published recently in THE NEW YORK TIMES.
I also take this opportunity to transmit you a copy of a pamphlet entitled "Why Belgium Was Devastated," containing translations of the German Proclamations issued in Belgium.
I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
JAMES GUSTAVUS WHITELEY.
[BELGIAN LEGATION ARTICLE NO. 1.]
"INNOCENCE OF BELGIUM"
"Reply to Publication of Military Documents by Germany"
The German Government has at last decided to publish the documents which it says were found in Brussels, and which it claims prove that Belgium violated her neutrality.
As a matter of fact these documents are the clearest proof of the innocence of Belgium.
Document No. 1 refers to a conversation between Major Gen. Ducarme and the English Military Attache, Lieut. Col. Barnardiston.
The English Military Attache went to call on the Belgian General and told him of the anxiety on the part of the English General Staff in regard to the general political situation and the possibility of war. "In case Belgium should be attacked, the sending of about 100,000 troops was provided for."
He (the British Military Attache) proceeded in the following terms:
"The landing of the British troops would take place on the French coast.... The entry of the English into Belgium would take place only after the violation of our (Belgian) neutrality by Germany."
It almost seems as if Col. Barnardiston had foreseen the future.
The document continues as follows: "My visitor laid emphasis on the following fact: that it (the conversation) was not binding on his Government ... and that he did not know whether the opinion of his Sovereign had been consulted." It was thus clearly shown by the British Military Attache that his communication was simply a conversation; it is, moreover, perfectly well known that Military Attaches have no power to make conventional agreements.
The document further continues: "In the course of another interview, Lieut. Col. Barnardiston and I studied the combined operations to take place in the event of a German offensive, with Antwerp as its object, and under the hypothesis of the German troops marching through our (Belgian) country, in order to reach the French Ardennes"—an additional proof that the object of the conversation was solely to prevent a violation of Belgian neutrality.
Document No. 2 refers to a conversation between the British Military Attache and Gen. Jungbluth, in which the former said that the British troops would effect a landing "even if we (the Belgians) did not ask for assistance." This is an additional proof that no agreement or convention had been made.
To this the Belgian General replied that "our (Belgium's) consent was necessary," and he added that "we (the Belgians) were, moreover, perfectly able to prevent the Germans from passing through Belgium," thus showing his anxiety to preserve the neutrality of Belgium.
Dr. B. Dernburg claims that England would have sent troops into Belgium in any event, even if Germany had not invaded Belgium. Affirmations which are not based upon any evidence cannot destroy the text itself of the documents.
In a letter of Sir Edward Grey, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of England, addressed to the British Minister to Belgium, on the 7th of April, 1913, the British statesman declares in the most formal way, that: "As long as Belgium's neutrality was not violated by any other power, we (the British) should certainly not send troops ourselves into their territory."
The full text of this important letter is as follows:
In speaking to the Belgian Minister today I said, speaking unofficially, that it had been brought to my knowledge that there was apprehension in Belgium lest we should be the first to violate Belgian neutrality. I did not think that apprehension could have come from a British source.
The Belgian Minister informed me that there had been talk, from a British source which he could not name, of the landing of troops in Belgium by Great Britain, in order to anticipate a possible dispatch of German troops through Belgium to France.
I said that I was sure that this Government would not be the first to violate the neutrality of Belgium, and I did not believe that any British Government would be the first to do so, nor would public opinion here ever approve of it. What we had to consider, and it was a somewhat embarrassing question, was what it would be desirable and necessary for us, as one of the guarantors of Belgian neutrality, to do if Belgian neutrality was violated by any power. For us to be the first to violate it and to send troops into Belgium would be to give Germany, for instance, justification for sending troops into Belgium also. What we desired in the case of Belgium, as in that of other neutral countries, was that their neutrality should be respected, and, as long as it was not violated by any other power, we would certainly not send troops ourselves into their territory. I am, &c.,
(Signed) E. GREY.
Document No. 3 contains, according to Dr. B. Dernburg, the personal views of the Belgian Minister in Berlin, but it does not, in any way, indicate the existence of an agreement between Belgium and England against Germany.
It is impossible to say that these documents constitute a proof of an agreement between England and Belgium against Germany, unless one accepts the idea that Germany had a right to violate Belgium's neutrality and that all measures taken as a precaution against violation of neutrality must therefore have been taken against Germany.
The documents contain merely conversations between military officers in regard to a possible future co-operation of their armies in the event of violation of Belgian territory by Germany. They never even resulted in an agreement between those Governments; Military Attaches have no authority to make such agreements.
The events that happened last August and the sudden invasion of Belgium by Germany show that the British Government was fully justified in fearing the violation of Belgian territory by Germany. It seems incredible, after what has passed, that the German Government should denounce the British Government for approaching Belgian military officers and taking precautions against the very thing which eventually happened.
If further proof should be necessary, the documents published in the "Gray Book" show as clearly as possible that, when the war broke out, Belgium had no such agreement with any of the powers.
On July 24 the following letter was sent by the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs to the various Belgian Legations concerned, with instructions to communicate the same to the powers as soon as said Legations should have received telegraphic orders to do so:
The international situation is serious; the eventuality of a conflict between several powers cannot be set aside from the anxieties of the Government of the King.
Belgium has observed with the most scrupulous exactness the duties of a neutral State which are imposed on her by the Treaties of April 19, 1839. These duties, whatever the circumstances may be, will be resolutely fulfilled by her.
The friendly disposition of the powers toward her has been so often affirmed that Belgium has the confidence that her territory will be untouched by any attack if hostilities should break out on her frontiers.
All the necessary measures have nevertheless been taken, in order to assure the observance of her neutrality.... It is scarcely necessary to insist upon their character.... These measures are not and can not have been inspired by a design to participate in an armed struggle of the powers, nor by any sentiment of defiance toward any one of them.
Belgium declared that she would not fail to fulfill all of her duties, that she had not a single agreement of alliance with any one, and that she wanted to remain absolutely neutral.
Seven days later the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs communicated to the Belgian Legations his answer to the question which Sir Edward Grey had asked Belgium in the name of England:
"The British Minister requested to see me very urgently and communicated to me the following:
"'Sir Edward Grey has asked the French and German Governments, separately, whether each of them was prepared to respect the neutrality of Belgium.
"'In view of the existing treaties, I am also instructed to inform the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium that Sir Edward Grey presumes that Belgium will do her utmost to maintain her neutrality.'
"I immediately thanked Sir Francis Villiers for this communication, which the Belgian Government appreciates very highly, and I added that Great Britain and the other nations, guarantors of our independence, might be sure that we would neglect no effort to maintain our neutrality, and that we were convinced that the other powers, in view of the excellent relations of friendship and confidence which we have always enjoyed with them, would observe and maintain this neutrality."
At the decisive moment, the attitude of Belgium was thus irreproachable. She was not bound to any other nation; she had her hands free. She declared that she was ready to make the necessary sacrifices to defend her neutrality and to resist any aggression from whatever source, and she added that, trusting in her friendly relations with the powers, she was unwilling to believe that any of them would violate her neutrality.
On Aug. 3, at 7 A.M., after having received the ultimatum from Germany, Belgium declared that she refused to repudiate her engagements.
The next day, the 4th of August, at 3 P.M., the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs received from Sir F. Villiers, Minister of England in Brussels, the following note:
BRUSSELS, Aug. 4, 1914.
I am instructed to inform the Belgian Government that if Germany exercises pressure for the purpose of compelling Belgium to abandon her position of a neutral country, the Government of his Britannic Majesty expects Belgium to resist by every possible means. The Government of his Britannic Majesty is ready, in that event, to join with Russia and France, if desired by Belgium, to offer to the Belgian Government, at once, common action for the purpose of resisting the use of force by Germany against Belgium, and at the same time to offer a guarantee to maintain the independence and the integrity of Belgium in the future.
England offered her help but did not impose it. She did not intend to send troops into Belgian territory as a preventive measure. She expressly subordinated her assistance to the desire of Belgium.
It was only on the 4th of August, during the evening, after having vainly hoped and waited for a change in the attitude of Germany, that Belgium called England, France, and Russia to co-operate, as guarantor powers, in the defense of her territory.
In the preface published by Dr. B. Dernburg, with the documents, it is said that "only the prompt action at Liege that put this important railway centre, commanding the railway connections to France and Germany, into German hands, prevented the English landing and invading Belgium."
It is impossible to conceive how the taking of Liege prevented the English from landing and invading Belgium. That statement is hardly a compliment to the intelligence or the geographical knowledge of the American people. The fact is that Liege was taken a long time before the British troops landed at Calais, and it is still today in the hands of the Germans without in the least interfering with the arrival of British reinforcements in France and in the territory still left in the possession of Belgium. The fact is that Liege was not taken to prevent the British from entering Belgium, but because it was part of the plan of the German General Staff to invade Belgium at once, to march across her territory, to crush the army of France as soon as possible, and then to turn and attack the Russians on the east.
It is interesting to recall here the famous conversation held between the British Ambassador in Berlin, on one side, and the Chancellor of the Empire, Mr. Bethmann-Hollweg, and the German Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr. von Jagow, on the other side, at the time of the invasion of Belgium by the German troops. These conversations prove, indisputably, the premeditated intention of Germany to violate Belgium's neutrality:
To the request of Sir Edward Goschen, the English Ambassador in Berlin, to be allowed to know if Germany would pledge herself to respect the neutrality of Belgium, the German Secretary of State replied that "this neutrality had already been violated by Germany." Herr von Jagow went again into the "reasons why the Imperial Government had been obliged to take this step, namely, that they had to advance into France by the quickest and easiest way so as to be able to get well ahead with their operations and endeavor to strike some decisive blow as early as possible. It was a matter of life and death to them, for, if they had gone by the more southern route, they could not have hoped, in view of the paucity of the roads and the strength of the fortresses, to have got through without formidable opposition entailing great loss of time. This loss of time would mean time gained by the Russians for the bringing up of their troops to the German frontier. Rapidity of action was the great German asset, while that of Russia was the inexhaustible supply of troops." (Official report of the British Ambassador in Berlin to the British Government.)
This conversation preceded by a few minutes that in which the German Chancellor, giddy at the sight of the abyss into which Germany was falling, uttered these celebrated words: "Just for a word, NEUTRALITY, a word which in war times has been so often disregarded; just for A SCRAP OF PAPER, Great Britain is going to make war on a kindred nation. At what price would that compact (neutrality) have been kept? Has the British Government thought of that?" Sir Edward Goschen replied that fear of consequences would hardly be regarded as an excuse for breaking a solemn engagement. (Official report of the British Ambassador in Berlin to his Government.)
Finally, the solemn avowal of the German Chancellor, during the sitting of the Reichstag on Aug. 4, 1914, settles this question definitely: "We are in a state of legitimate defense. NECESSITY KNOWS NO LAW. Our troops have occupied Luxemburg and have perhaps already penetrated into Belgium. This is against the law of nations."
The truth is that every step taken by Germany was a clear indication of her intentions against Belgium. Her strategic railroads are concentrated on the Belgian frontier, and her military writers, von Bernhardi, von Schliefenbach, and von der Goltz, made no secret of her plan to carry on her war by means of an invasion of Belgium's neutral country. Events have shown how, long before the war, preparations had been made to carry this plan into effect.
Dr. B. Dernburg says that the one-sidedness of the Belgian inclination is indicated by the placing of all Belgian fortresses on the eastern frontier. The distinguished statesman (apparently confused by the ardor of discussion) has already in another article, published in The Independent of Dec. 7, 1914, placed Antwerp at the mouth of the Rhine; today he places Namur on the German frontier, whereas that fortress is situated near the frontier of France. There are three fortresses in Belgium—Antwerp, Liege, and Namur. Antwerp is in the north, Liege in the east, and Namur in the south. Namur, being near the French frontier, could menace Germany only in case the Germans should have penetrated about one-third of Belgium. It is, in fact, a fortress against France.
Nothing has been brought forward to show that, if Germany had not invaded Belgium, France or England would have done so. The exact contrary is clearly indicated by the documents.
Dr. B. Dernburg cites a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States and attempts to apply it to the case of Germany's violation of Belgian neutrality and to justify Germany by the law of necessity. The example chosen (the Chinese question) does not involve massacres, bombardments, nor the burning of towns. It is not an analogous case. The following would be a closer analogy to Germany's action in regard to Belgium: A man pretending that he has been attacked in the street by a powerful enemy, claims that he is justified in killing an innocent person, if by doing so he can gain an advantage over his adversary.
It would be difficult for any one to produce a decision of the Supreme Court justifying a crime on the plea that the perpetration of the crime was advantageous to the culprit who committed it.
When a nation has to resort to such arguments to defend its actions it must realize that its case is desperate.
Germany has converted smiling and peaceful Belgium into a land of sorrow, of mourning, and of ruins. There is not a family that does not mourn one of its dear ones. In the face of the indignation which has aroused the world, Germany, today, endeavors to refute the accusation which rises against her from so many tombs, and she endeavors to throw upon the innocent the terrible responsibility of her own crimes.
It is not probable that this course of action will win back to Germany the sympathy which she has lost throughout the world.
The foregoing documents show clearly that Belgium had made no agreement with England for attacking Germany, nor even an agreement for British military defense of Belgian neutrality.
[Having replied to the representations made in the German indictment drawn by Dr. Dernburg, the Belgian authorities proceeded to compile a pamphlet, the contents of which are reproduced on the following pages, purporting to show from original documents the manner of the German violation of Belgium's neutralized territory.]
* * * * *
THE BIG AND THE GREAT
By WILLIAM ARCHER.
[From King Albert's Book.]
The Big and the Great When they to History's judgment seat shall come, Which will shine glorious in the eyes of men, Huge Germany or heroic BELGIUM? Which will be hailed Great, Wilhelm or ALBERT, then?
* * * * *
[The following title and article are reproduced from the second pamphlet referred to in the letter from the Belgian Legation at Washington to THE NEW YORK TIMES CURRENT HISTORY, appearing on Page 1110.—EDITOR.]
[BELGIAN LEGATION ARTICLE NO. 2.]
"Why Belgium Was Devastated"
"As Recorded in Proclamations of the German Commanders in Belgium"
"Necessity knows no law."
"The wrong that we are committing we will endeavor to repair as soon as our military goal has been reached."
EXTRACT FROM A PROCLAMATION TO THE MUNICIPAL AUTHORITIES OF THE CITY OF LIEGE.
Aug. 22, 1914.
The inhabitants of the town of Andenne, after having declared their peaceful intentions, have made a surprise attack on our troops.
It is with my consent that the Commander in Chief has ordered the whole town to be burned and that about one hundred people have been shot.
I bring this fact to the knowledge of the City of Liege, so that citizens of Liege may realize the fate with which they are menaced if they adopt a similar attitude.
The General Commanding in Chief. (Signed) VON BUELOW.
NOTICE POSTED AT NAMUR, AUGUST THE 25TH, 1914.
(1) French and Belgian soldiers must be surrendered as prisoners of war at the prison before 4 o'clock. Citizens who do not obey will be condemned to enforced labor for life in Germany.
A rigorous inspection of houses will begin at 4 o'clock. Every soldier found will be immediately shot.
(2) Arms, powder, dynamite, must be surrendered at 4 o'clock. Penalty: death by shooting.
The citizens who know where a store of arms is located must inform the Burgomaster, under penalty of enforced labor for life.
(3) Each street will be occupied by a German guard who will take ten hostages in each street, whom they will keep in custody.
If any outrage is committed in the street, the ten hostages will be shot.
(4) Doors must not be locked, and at night after 8 o'clock three windows must be lighted in each house.
(5) It is forbidden to remain in the street after 8 o'clock. The people of Namur must understand that there is no greater nor more horrible crime than to endanger the existence of the city and the life of its inhabitants by attacks upon the German Army.
The Commandant of the City. (Signed) VON BUELOW.
Namur, 25th of August, 1914. (Imprimerie Chantraine.)
LETTER ADDRESSED ON AUG. 27, 1914, BY LIEUT. GEN. VON NIEBER TO THE BURGOMASTER OF WAVRE.
On Aug. 22, 1914, the General commanding the Second Army, Herr von Buelow, imposed upon the City of Wavre a war levy of three million francs, to be paid before Sept. 1, as expiation for its unqualifiable behavior (contrary to the law of nations and the usages of war) in making a surprise attack on the German troops.
The General in command of the Second Army has just given to the General commanding this station of the Second Army the order to send in without delay, this contribution which it should pay on account of its conduct.
I order and command you to give to the bearer of the present letter the two first installments, that is to say, two million francs in gold.
Furthermore, I require that you give the bearer a letter, duly sealed with the seal of the city, stating that the balance, that is to say, one million francs, will be paid, without fail, on the 1st of September.
I draw the attention of the city to the fact that in no case can it count on further delay, as the civil population of the city has put itself outside the law of nations by firing on the German soldiers.
The City of Wavre will be burned and destroyed if the levy is not paid in due time, without regard for any one; the innocent will suffer with the guilty.
PROCLAMATION POSTED AT GRIVEGNEE, Sept. 8, 1914.
Commune of Grivegnee. Very Important Notice.
The Major Commandant Dieckmann, at the Chateau des Bruyeres, requests me to bring the following statement to the knowledge of the inhabitants:
Dieckmann Battalion, Chateau des Bruyeres, Sept. 6, 1914.
Present at the discussion:
(1) The Cure Fryns of Bois de Breux. (2) The Cure Franssen of Beyne. (3) The Cure Lepropres of Heusay. (4) The Cure Paquay of Grivegnee. (5) The Burgomaster Dejardin of Beyne. (6) The Burgomaster Hodeige of Grivegnee. (7) Major Dieckmann. (8) Lieut. R. Reil.
Major Dieckmann brought to the knowledge of the persons present the following orders:
"(1) Before the 6th of September, 1914, at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, all arms, munitions, explosives, and fireworks which are still in the hands of the citizens must be surrendered at the Chateau des Bruyeres. Those who do not obey will render themselves liable to the death penalty. They will be shot on the spot, or given military execution, unless they can prove their innocence.
"(2) All inhabitants of houses in Beyne-Heusay, Grivegnee, Bois de Greux, and Fleron must remain at home after sunset, (at present 7 o'clock P.M., German time.) The aforesaid houses must be lighted as long as any one remains up. The entrance door must be shut. Those who do not conform to the regulations expose themselves to severe penalties. Any resistance to these orders will be followed by sentence of death.
"(3) The Commandant should meet no opposition whatever in these domiciliary visits. Each inhabitant must open all the rooms of his house without even a summons. Whoever makes any opposition will be severely punished.
"(4) Beginning Sept. 7, at 9 o'clock in the morning, I will permit the houses of Beyne-Heusay, Grivegnee, Bois de Breux, to be occupied by persons formerly dwelling in them as long as no formal prohibition to frequent these places shall have been issued against the inhabitants above referred to.
"(5) In order to be sure that this permission is not abused, the Burgomasters of Beyne-Heusay and of Grivegnee shall immediately draw up a list of persons who shall be held as hostages, at the fort of Fleron, in twenty-four-hour shifts; on Sept. 6, for the first time, from 6 o'clock in the evening until midday, Sept. 7.
"The life of these hostages will depend upon the population of the aforesaid communes remaining pacific under all circumstances.
"During the night it is strictly prohibited to make any luminous signal whatever. The circulation of bicycles is only allowed from 7 A.M. until 5 P.M., German time.
"(6) I will designate from the lists submitted to me the persons who will be detained as hostages from noon of one day to noon of the next day. If the substitute does not arrive in time, the hostage will remain another twenty-four hours. After this second period of twenty-four hours, the hostage incurs the penalty of death if the substitution is not made.
"(7) Hostages will be chosen, primarily, from among priests, Burgomasters, and other members of the civic administration.
"(8) I demand that all civilians living in the vicinity, especially in Beyne-Heusay, Fleron, Bois de Breux, and Grivegnee, shall show deference toward the German officers by taking off their hats and by carrying the hand to the head in military salute. In case of doubt, every German soldier must be saluted. If any one refuses to do so, he must expect the German soldiers to make themselves respected by any means they may select.
"(9) The German soldiers have the right to visit any wagon or package belonging to the inhabitants of the surrounding country. Any opposition will be severely punished.
"(10) Any one knowing of the location of a store of more than one hundred litres of petroleum, benzine, benzol, or other similar liquids in the aforesaid communes, and who does not report same to the military commander on the spot, incurs the penalty of death, provided there is no doubt about the quantity and the location of the store. Quantities of 100 litres are alone referred to.
"(11) Any one who does not instantly obey the command of 'hands up' becomes guilty (sic) of the death penalty.
"(12) The entrance to the Chateau des Bruyeres and to the park is prohibited under the penalty of death from dark till dawn, (6 P.M. to 6 A.M., German time,) to all who are not soldiers of the German Army.
"(13) During daytime entrance to the Chateau des Bruyeres is allowed only by the northeast entrance, where there is a guard, and only to the people to whom cards of admission have been given. Any gathering near the guard is prohibited in the interest of the population.
"(14) Any one who by spreading false news prejudicial to the morale of the German troops or who by any means tries to take measures against the German Army renders himself a suspect and incurs the risk of being shot immediately.
"(15) Whereas by the above regulations the inhabitants in the vicinity of the fortress are threatened with severe penalties if they violate these regulations in any way, on the other hand these same inhabitants, if they remain peaceful, may rely upon the most benevolent protection and help on all occasions when wrong is done them.
"(16) The requisition of cattle in specified quantities will take place daily from 10 A.M. until noon and from 2 P.M. to 3 P.M. at the Chateau des Bruyeres before the Cattle Commission.
"(17) Any one who under the protection of the insignia of the Swiss (Red Cross) Convention harms, or even tries to harm, the German Army and is discovered shall be hung."
(Signed) DIECKMANN, Major in Command.
Grivegnee, Sept. 8, 1914.
For certified copy: The Burgomaster, (Signed) VICTOR HODEIGE.
SUMMONS TO CAPITULATE.
Sept. 4, 1914.
To the Commander of Termonde and, at the same time, to the Burgomaster of Termonde:
The Germans have taken Termonde. We have placed the heaviest siege artillery all around the town. Still, at the present time, one dares shoot from houses upon German soldiers. The town and the fortress are summoned to hoist immediately the white flag and to stop fighting. If you do not yield to this summons immediately the town will be razed to the ground within a quarter of an hour by a heavy bombardment. All the armed forces of Termonde will immediately lay down their arms at the Porte de Bruxelles (Brussels Gate) at the south exit from Termonde. Arms held by the inhabitants will be deposited at the same time and at the same place.
The General Commanding the German Forces Before Termonde, (Signed) VON BOEHN.
PROCLAMATION POSTED IN BRUSSELS SEPT. 25, 1914.
General Government in Belgium.
It has happened recently in some places which are not at the present time occupied by strong forces of German troops, military convoys or patrolling parties have been attacked by surprise by the inhabitants.
I draw the attention of the public to the fact that a record is kept of the towns and villages in the vicinity in which such attacks have taken place and that they must expect their punishment as soon as German troops pass near by.
The Governor General of Belgium, (Signed) BARON VON DER GOLTZ, Field Marshal.
Brussels, 25th September.
NOTICE POSTED AT BRUSSELS OCT. 5, 1914, AND PRESUMABLY IN MOST OF THE COMMUNES IN THE COUNTRY.
On the evening of Sept. 25 the railway and telegraph lines were destroyed on the Lovenjoul-Vertryck line.
Consequently the two above-mentioned places on the morning of Sept. 30 had to give an account and to furnish hostages.
In the future the communities in the vicinity of a place where such things happen (no matter whether or not they are accomplices) will be punished without mercy.
To this end hostages have been taken from all places in the vicinity of railroad lines menaced by such attacks, and at the first attempt to destroy the railroad tracks or the telegraph or telephone wires they will be immediately shot.
Furthermore, all troops in charge of the protection of the railroad lines have received orders to shoot any person approaching in a suspicious manner the railroad tracks or the telegraph or telephone lines.
The Governor General of Belgium, (Signed) BARON VON DER GOLTZ, Field Marshal.
NOTICE POSTED AT BRUSSELS, NOV. 1, 1914.
A legally constituted court-martial has pronounced, the 28th of October, 1914, the following condemnations:
"(1) Upon Policeman de Ryckere for attacking, in the exercise of his legal functions, an agent vested with German authority, for willfully inflicting bodily injury on two occasions in concert with other persons, for facilitating the escape of a prisoner on one occasion, and for attacking a German soldier—Five years' imprisonment.
"(2) Upon Policeman Seghers for attacking, in the exercise of his legal functions, an agent vested with German authority, for willfully inflicting bodily injury upon said German agent, and for facilitating the escape of a prisoner (all these offenses constituting a single act)—Three years' imprisonment."
These sentences have been confirmed by Gov. Gen. Baron von der Goltz on Oct. 31, 1914.
The City of Brussels, excluding suburbs, has been punished for the crime committed by its policeman de Ryckere against a German soldier by an additional fine of 5,000,000 francs.
The Governor of Brussels, (Signed) BARON VON LUETTWITZ, General.
Brussels, Nov. 1, 1914.
EXTRACT FROM THE SIXTH REPORT OF THE BELGIUM COMMISSION OF INQUIRY.
After such proclamations, who will be surprised at the murders, burnings, pillage, and destruction committed by the German Army wherever they have met with resistance?
If a German corps or patrolling party is received at the entrance to a village by a volley from soldiers of the regular troops who are afterward forced to retire the whole population is held responsible. The civilians are accused of having fired or having co-operated in the defense and, without inquiry, the place is given over to pillage and flames, and a part of the inhabitants are massacred.
The Commission of Inquiry has already mentioned these facts in its report of Sept. 10, (third report.)
The facts which have been gathered since then have confirmed its conclusions.
The odious acts which have been committed in all parts of the country have a general character, throwing the responsibility upon the whole German Army. It is simply the application of a preconceived system—the carrying out of instructions—which has made of the enemy's troops in Belgium "a horde of barbarians and a band of incendiaries."
The reports which the commission has had the honor of submitting to you up to the present, Mr. Minister, concern especially events of which the towns of Aerschot and Louvain and the communes in the Provinces of Antwerp and Brabant have been the theatre. New reports will be sent you shortly which will permit you to take cognizance of the gravity of acts committed by the invaders in other parts of the country, notably in the Provinces of Liege, Namur, Hainault, and Flanders.
The President, (Signed) COOREMAN.
The Vice President, (Signed) COUNT GOBLET D'ALVIELLA.
The Secretaries, (Signed) CHEVALIER ERNEST DE BUNSWYCK, (Signed) ORTS.
"FROM THE BODY OF THIS DEATH"
By SIDNEY LOW.
[From King Albert's Book.]
She is not dead! Although the spoiler's hand Lies heavy as death upon her; though the smart Of his accursed steel is at her heart, And scarred upon her breast his shameful brand; Though yet the torches of the vandal band Smoke on her ruined fields, her trampled bones, Her ravaged homes and desolated fanes, She is not dead but sleeping, that wronged land.
O little nation, valorous and free, Thou shalt o'erlive the terror and the pain; Call back thy scattered children unto thee, Strong with the memory of their brothers slain, And rise from out thy charnel-house, to be Thine own immortal, radiant self again.
"A Scrap of Paper"
Recent Versions of the German Chancellor's Reference to the Belgian Treaty of Neutrality
By Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg and Sir Edward Grey.
[Footnote 2: The report of Sir Edward Goschen, British Ambassador to Berlin, on the severance of diplomatic connections between England and Germany, was published by the British Foreign Office as a "White Paper" on Aug. 27, 1914. Sir Edward said that in pursuance of instructions from Downing Street, he went on Aug. 3 to see Gottlieb von Jagow, the German Foreign Minister, and asked if Germany would promise to respect Belgian neutrality. Herr von Jagow replied that it was too late, as German troops had already crossed the Belgian border, and explained the military necessity of this step.
After remonstrance, Sir Edward withdrew, but made another visit the same afternoon and warned von Jagow that unless the German Government at once withdrew its troops from Belgian soil he must demand his passports. Herr von Jagow repeated that withdrawal was impossible; and, seeing that war was now certain, expressed his deep regret at the failure of the policy by which he and the Chancellor, Dr. von Bethmann-Hollweg, had been trying to get into more friendly relations with England and through her with France.
The Ambassador, after mutual expressions of personal regard, withdrew and visited the Imperial Chancellor, who, according to Sir Edward's story, "began a harangue, which lasted about twenty minutes. Just for a word, 'neutrality'—a word which in war was so often disregarded—just for a scrap of paper, Great Britain was going to make war on a kindred nation. The policy to which he had devoted himself had tumbled like a house of cards. What Great Britain had done was unthinkable—it was like striking a man in the back when he was fighting for his life against two assailants."
Sir Edward said that he protested strongly against this and told the Chancellor that, while an advance through Belgium might be a matter of life and death for Germany, the defense of Belgian neutrality, in compliance with her solemn engagement, was a matter of life and death for the honor of Great Britain.
"The Chancellor said," Sir Edward continued: "'But at what a price will that compact have been kept! Has the British Government thought of that?' I hinted to his Excellency as plainly as I could that fear of consequences could hardly be regarded as an excuse for breaking a solemn engagement. But his Excellency was so excited, so little disposed to hear reason, so evidently overcome by the news of our action, that I refrained from adding fuel to the flame by further argument."]
General Field Headquarters of the German Armies in France, via Berlin and London, Jan. 24.—"I am surprised to learn that my phrase, 'a scrap of paper,' which I used in my last conversation with the British Ambassador in reference to the Belgian neutrality treaty, should have caused such an unfavorable impression in the United States. The expression was used in quite another connection and the meaning implied in Sir Edward Goschen's report and the turn given to it in the biased comment of our enemies are undoubtedly responsible for this impression."
The speaker was Dr. Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, the German Imperial Chancellor, and the conversation with a representative of The Associated Press occurred at the German Army Field Headquarters, in a town of Northern France, and in a villa serving as the office and dwelling for the Imperial Chancellor, for the Foreign Minister, Gottlieb von Jagow, and for the members of the diplomatic suite accompanying Emperor William afield.
The Chancellor apparently had not relished the subject until his attention was called to the extent to which the phrase had been used in discussion on the responsibility of the war. He then volunteered to give an explanation of his meaning, which in substance was that he had spoken of the treaty not as "a scrap of paper" for Germany, but as an instrument which had become obsolete through Belgium's forfeiture of its neutrality, and that Great Britain had quite other reasons for entering into the war, compared with which the neutrality treaty appeared to have only the value of a scrap of paper.
"My conversation with Sir Edward Goschen," said the Chancellor, "occurred Aug. 4. I had just declared in the Reichstag that only dire necessity and only the struggle for existence compelled Germany to march through Belgium, but that Germany was ready to make compensation for the wrong committed.
"When I spoke I already had certain indications, but no absolute proof upon which to base a public accusation, that Belgium long before had abandoned its neutrality in its relations with England. Nevertheless, I took Germany's responsibilities toward the neutral State so seriously that I spoke frankly of the wrong committed by Germany.
"What was the British attitude on the same question?" continued the Chancellor. "The day before my conversation with Ambassador Goschen, Sir Edward Grey had delivered his well-known speech in Parliament, in which, while he had not stated expressly that England would take part in the war, he had left the matter in little doubt.
"One needs only to read this speech through carefully to learn the reason for England's intervention in the war. Amid all his beautiful phrases about England's honor and England's obligations we find it over and over again expressed that England's interests—its own interests—call for participation in the war, for it is not in England's interests that a victorious and therefore stronger Germany should emerge from the war.
"This old principle of England policy—to take as the sole criterion of its actions its private interests regardless of right, reason, or considerations of humanity—is expressed in that speech of Gladstone's in 1870 on Belgian neutrality, from which Sir Edward quoted.
"Mr. Gladstone then declared that he was unable to subscribe to the doctrine that the simple fact of the existence of a guarantee is binding on every party thereto, irrespective altogether of the particular position in which it may find itself at a time when the occasion for action on the guarantee arrives; and he referred to such English statesmen as Aberdeen and Palmerston as supporters of his views.
"England drew the sword," continued the Chancellor, "only because it believed its own interests demanded it. Just for Belgian neutrality it would never have entered the war.
"That is what I meant when I told Sir Edward Goschen in that last interview, when we sat down to talk the matter over privately as man to man, that among the reasons which had impelled England to go into the war the Belgian neutrality treaty had for her only the value of a scrap of paper.
"I may have been a bit excited and aroused," said the Chancellor. "Who would not have been at seeing the hopes and the work of the whole period of my Chancellorship going for nought? I recalled to the Ambassador my efforts for years to bring about an understanding between England and Germany; an understanding which, I reminded him, would have made a general European war impossible, and which absolutely would have guaranteed the peace of Europe.
"Such an understanding," the Chancellor interjected parenthetically, "would have formed the basis on which we could have approached the United States as a third partner; but England had not taken up this plan, and through its entry into the war had destroyed forever the hope of its fulfillment.
"In comparison with such momentous consequences was the treaty not a scrap of paper? England ought really to cease harping on this theme of Belgian neutrality," said the Chancellor. "Documents on the Anglo-Belgian military agreement which we have found in the meantime show plainly enough how England regarded this neutrality. As you know, we found in the archives of the Belgian Foreign Office documents which showed that England in 1911 was determined to throw troops into Belgium without the assent of the Belgian Government if war had then broken out—in other words, to do exactly the same thing for which, with all the pathos of virtuous indignation, it now reproaches Germany.
"In some later dispatch Sir Edward Grey, I believe, informed Belgium that he did not believe England would take such a step because he did not think English public opinion would justify that action. And still people in the United States wonder that I characterized as a scrap of paper the treaty whose observance, according to responsible British statesmen, should be dependent on the pleasure of British public opinion—a treaty which England itself had long since undermined with its military agreements with Belgium!
"Remember, too, that Sir Edward Grey expressly refused to assure us of England's neutrality even in the event that Germany respected Belgian neutrality.
"I can understand, therefore, the English displeasure at my characterization of the Treaty of 1839 as a scrap of paper, for this scrap of paper was for England extremely valuable, furnishing an excuse before the world for embarking in the war.
"I hope, however, that in the United States you will see clearly enough that England in this matter, too, acted solely on the principle of 'right or wrong, my interest.'"
The Chancellor during the conversation had twice risen to take a few impatient steps about the room. He spoke calmly enough, but with an undercurrent of deep feeling, particularly when he mentioned his efforts for an understanding with England and the world peace which he had hoped would come from them based on an agreement between Great Britain, Germany, and the United States, and with a note of thorough conviction as to the justice of the German position toward Belgium.
SIR EDWARD GREY'S REPLY.
London, Jan. 26.—Sir Edward Grey, the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, today authorized the following statement in reply to an interview obtained with Dr. von Bethmann-Hollweg, the German Imperial Chancellor, by a representative of The Associated Press and published in London on Jan. 26 and in the United States on Jan. 25:
"The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs authorizes the publication of the following observations upon the report of an interview recently granted by the German Chancellor to an American correspondent. It is not surprising that the German Chancellor should show anxiety to explain away his now historic phrase about a treaty being a mere 'scrap of paper.'
"The phrase has made a deep impression because the progress of the world largely depends upon the sanctity of agreements between individuals and between nations, and the policy disclosed in Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg's phrase tends to debase the legal and moral currency of civilization.
"What the German Chancellor said was that Great Britain in requiring Germany to respect the neutrality of Belgium 'was going to make war just for a word, just for a scrap of paper'—that is, that Great Britain was making a mountain out of a molehill. He now asks the American public to believe that he meant the exact opposite of what he said; that it was Great Britain who really regarded the neutrality of Belgium as a mere trifle, and that it was Germany who 'took her responsibilities toward the neutral States so seriously.'
"The arguments by which Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg seeks to establish the two sides of this case are in flat contradiction of the plain facts.
"First, the German Chancellor alleges that 'England in 1911 was determined to throw troops into Belgium without the assent of the Belgian Government.' This allegation is absolutely false. It is based upon certain documents found in Brussels which record conversations between British and Belgian officers in 1906, and again in 1911.
"The fact that there is no note of these conversations at the British War Office or the Foreign Office shows that they were of a purely informal character and that no military agreement of any sort was at either time made between the two Governments. Before any conversations took place between the British and the Belgian officers it was expressly laid down on the British side that discussion of the military possibilities was to be addressed to the manner in which, in case of need, British assistance could be most effectually afforded to Belgium for the defense of her neutrality, and on the Belgian side a marginal note upon the record explains that 'the entry of the English into Belgium would only take place after the violation of our (Belgium's) neutrality by Germany.'
"As regards the conversation of 1911, the Belgian officer said to the British officer: 'You could only land in our country with our consent'; and in 1913 Sir Edward Grey gave the Belgian Government a categorical assurance that no British Government would violate the neutrality of Belgium and that 'so long as it was not violated by any other power we should certainly not send troops ourselves into their territory.'
"The Chancellor's method of misusing documents may be illustrated in this connection. He represents Sir Edward Grey as saying, 'he did not believe England would take such a step because he did not think English public opinion would justify such action.'
"What Sir Edward Grey actually wrote was: 'I said that I was sure that this Government would not be the first to violate the neutrality of Belgium, and I did not believe that any British Government would be the first to do so, nor would public opinion here ever approve of it.'
"If the German Chancellor wishes to know why there were conversations on military subjects between British and Belgian officers he may find one reason in a fact well known to him—namely, that Germany was establishing an elaborate network of strategical railways leading from the Rhine to the Belgian frontier through a barren, thinly populated tract. The railways were deliberately constructed to permit of a sudden attack upon Belgium, such as was carried out in August last.
"This fact alone was enough to justify any communications between Belgium and the other powers on the footing that there would be no violation of Belgian neutrality, unless it was previously violated by another power. On no other footing did Belgium ever have any such communications.
"In spite of these facts the German Chancellor speaks of Belgium as having thereby 'abandoned and forfeited' her neutrality, and he implies that he would not have spoken of the German invasion as a 'wrong' had he then known of the conversations of 1906 and 1911.
"It would seem to follow that according to Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg's code wrong becomes right if the party which is to be the subject of the wrong foresees the possibility and makes preparations to resist it.
"Those who are content with older and more generally accepted standards are likely to agree rather with what Cardinal Mercier said in his pastoral letter: 'Belgium was bound in honor to defend her own independence. She kept her oath. The other powers were bound to respect and to protect her neutrality. Germany violated her oath. England kept hers. These are the facts.'
"In the second part of the German Chancellor's thesis, namely, that Germany 'took her responsibilities toward the neutral States seriously,' he alleges nothing except that 'he spoke frankly of the wrong committed by Germany' in invading Belgium.
"That a man knows the right while doing the wrong is not usually accepted as proof of his serious conscientiousness. The real nature of Germany's view of her 'responsibilities toward the neutral States' may, however, be learned on authority which cannot be disputed by reference to the English 'White Paper.'
"If those responsibilities were in truth taken seriously why, when Germany was asked to respect the neutrality of Belgium if it were respected by France, did Germany refuse? France, when asked the corresponding question at the same time, agreed. This would have guaranteed Germany from all danger of attack through Belgium.
"The reason of Germany's refusal was given by Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg's colleague, (the German Foreign Secretary, Herr von Jagow.) It may be paraphrased in the well-known gloss upon Shakespeare: 'Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just, but four times he that gets his blow in fust.'
"'They had to advance into France,' said Herr von Jagow, 'by the quickest and easiest way so as to be able to get well ahead with their operations and endeavor to strike some decisive blow as early as possible.'
"Germany's real attitude toward Belgium was thus frankly given by the German Foreign Secretary to the British Ambassador, and the German Chancellor in his speech to the Reichstag claimed the right to commit a wrong in virtue of the military necessity of hacking his way through. The treaty which forbade the wrong was by comparison a mere scrap of paper.
"The truth was spoken in these first statements by the two German Ministers. All the apologies and arguments which have since been forthcoming are afterthoughts to excuse and explain away a flagrant wrong. Moreover, all the attacks upon Great Britain in regard to this matter and all talk about 'responsibilities toward neutral States' come badly from the man who, on July 29, asked Great Britain to enter into a bargain to condone the violation of the neutrality of Belgium.
"The German Chancellor spoke to the American correspondent of his 'efforts for years to bring about an understanding between England and Germany.' An understanding, he added, which would have 'absolutely guaranteed the peace of Europe.'
"He omitted to mention what Mr. Asquith made public in his speech at Cardiff, that Germany required as the price of an understanding an unconditional pledge of England's neutrality. The British Government were ready to bind themselves not to be parties to any aggression against Germany. They were not prepared to pledge their neutrality in case of aggression by Germany.
[Footnote 3: In his address at Cardiff, appearing in Vol. 1, No. 2, of THE NEW YORK TIMES CURRENT HISTORY, Premier Asquith said:
In a communication to the German Government in 1912 regarding her future policy Great Britain declared that she would neither make nor join in any unprovoked attack upon Germany. But that was not enough for German statesmanship.
Germany wanted us to go further and pledge ourselves to absolute neutrality in the event of Germany being engaged in war. To that demand there was but one answer, and that was the answer which the Government gave.]
"An Anglo-German understanding on the latter terms would not have meant an absolute guarantee for the peace of Europe, but it would have meant an absolutely free hand for Germany, so far as England was concerned, for Germany to break the peace of Europe.
"The Chancellor says that in his conversation with the British Ambassador in August last he 'may have been a bit excited at seeing the hopes and work of the whole period of his Chancellorship going for nought.'
"Considering that at the date of the conversation, Aug. 4, Germany had already made war on France, the natural conclusion is that the shipwreck of the Chancellor's hopes consisted not in a European war, but in the fact that England had not agreed to stand out of it.
"The sincerity of the German Chancellor's professions to the American correspondent may be brought to a very simple test, the application of which is more apposite because it serves to recall one of the leading facts which produced the present war.
"Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg refused the proposal which England put forward and in which France, Italy, and Russia concurred, for a conference at which the dispute would have been settled on fair and honorable terms without war. If he really wished to work with England for peace why did he not accept that proposal? He must have known after the Balkan conference in London that England could be trusted to play fair. Herr von Jagow had given testimony in the Reichstag to England's good faith in those negotiations.
"The proposal for the second conference between the powers was made by Sir Edward Grey with the same straightforward desire for peace as in 1912 and 1913. The German Chancellor rejected this means of averting the war. He who does not will the means must not complain if the conclusion is drawn that he did not will the end.
"The second part of the interview with an American newspaper correspondent consists of a discourse upon the ethics of the war. The things which Germany has done in Belgium and France have been placed on record by those who have suffered from them and who know them at first hand. After this it does not lie with the German Chancellor to read to the other belligerents a lecture upon the conduct of the war."
THE KAISER AT DONCHERY.
[By The Associated Press.]
Berlin, Jan. 29, (via London.)—The Lokalanzeiger has published some further accounts of the visit of Dr. Ludwig Ganghofer, the author, to Emperor William at the German Field Headquarters. It tells of a trip made by the Emperor and Dr. Ganghofer to Donchery, in the region of the Sedan battlefield. Here the Emperor, in speaking of the unity of the German people, is quoted as saying to Dr. Ganghofer: "It is my greatest pleasure that I could live to see it."
The Emperor pointed out to the author where his father had stood at Sedan, where Napoleon and Bismarck met, and other historic spots.
The trip by automobile finally brought the party to the headquarters of Crown Prince Frederick William, where, after luncheon had been eaten, the Emperor turned smiling to his son and said:
"One gets better things to eat at your headquarters than at mine. I shall consider whether I shall not requisition your cook."
The Emperor here had an opportunity to see a thousand French prisoners march by. He was greatly pleased when some of them doffed their caps to him and he returned their salute. During this review he turned to a photographer who was taking pictures, and said:
"Photograph the prisoners and not always me."
The party later climbed a steep ascent to get a view of the surrounding region. When descending, Dr. Ganghofer slipped, but the Emperor quickly grasped him by the arm and saved him from a fall, saying at the same time:
"Soldiers and citizens must help each other all they can."
A HYMN TO BELGIUM
FREDERIC H. COWEN.
(From King Albert's Book.)
1. Men of Belgium! Honour's own! Ye who saved the Holy Grail, Ye who died for Freedom's Crown, Hail, ye brave, for ever hail!
2. Wives of Belgium! who to Death Paid the toll of Mother's wail, Bound with widowed sorrow's wreath The brows of Death, ye dear saints: hail!
3. Maids of Belgium! ye who gazed At worse than sullen Death, and pale In terror, yet with eyes undazed, Smiled on at Hope—ye sweethearts—Hail! Maids of Belgium! Sweethearts, Hail!
4. Land of Belgium! earth and sky For evermore shall tell thy tale. The morning comes! Thou shalt not die! Hail! Thou Sad Immortal: Hail! Hail! Thou Sad Immortal: Hail!
N.B.—If it is desired to sing this as a simple Hymn, the Melody of the 3rd verse should be omitted and the words sung to the opening eight bars, as in the 1st and 2nd verses]
By H.G. Wells.
(Copyright by The New York Times Company.)
The article which follows was written by H.G. Wells for publication in England. The British censor, however, refused to permit its appearance there, and thus it was printed in the United States for the first time by THE NEW YORK TIMES on Feb. 7, 1915. In the development of his argument Mr. Wells points out that "the Dutch hold a sword at the back of Germany." That Holland has no intention of sheathing this sword, so removing a menace from Germany, is indicated by the recent cable from The Hague telling of the message sent by the Government to the Second Chamber of the Legislature dealing with pending legislation to prolong the term of enlistment in the regular army, in which this language is used: "The position of our country demands today, as it did in August, that our entire military force should be at all times available."
What changes for Holland are likely to result from the present war?
Let me, as an irresponsible journalist, try to estimate them, and try to forecast what Holland is likely to do in the next few months. I do not want for a moment to suggest what Dutchmen ought to do; this preaching to highly intelligent neutrals is not a writer's business, but I want to imagine how things must look in the private mind of a wary patriotic Hollander, and to guess what may be the outcome. Because in many ways Holland does seem to hold the key to the present situation.
It is clear that whatever fears may have been felt for the integrity of Holland at the beginning of the war must now be very much abated. The risk of Germany attacking Holland diminishes with each day of German failure, and the whole case and righteousness of the Allies rests upon their respect for Holland. Holland's position as regards Germany now is extraordinarily strong materially, and as regards the Allies it is overwhelmingly strong morally. She has behaved patiently and sanely through a trying crisis. She has endured much almost inevitable provocation and temptation with dignity and honesty. Were she now subjected to any German outrage she could strike with her excellent army of 400,000 men at Aix-la-Chapelle, and turn repulse into rapid disaster.
That is the interesting thing about the Dutch position now. The Dutch hold a sword at the back of Germany. Were they to come into the war on the German side, they would, no doubt, provide a most effective but certainly not a decisive reinforcement to the German western front, but they would also lay open a convenient way for the Allies to the vital part of Germany, Westphalia. But were they to come in on the side of the Allies they would at once deliver a conclusive blow. They could cut the main communications of the German army in Flanders, they could round up and assist to capture a very large portion of the German western forces, and they could open the road not only to attack but to turn the Rhine defenses. In fact, they could finish Germany.
This situation is already fairly obvious; I betray no strategic secret; it must become manifest to every Dutchman before many more weeks. One has but to look at the map. Every day now diminishes the possibility of Germany being able to make any effective counterattack, any Belgian destruction, in Holland, and every day increases the weight of the blow that Holland may deliver. What are the chances that Holland may not ultimately realize to the full the possibilities of that blow and join the Allies?
Against her doing so is the consideration that she is doing very well as she is. She keeps her freedom. Practically the Allies fight to secure it for her. The dread of Germanization which has hung over Holland for forty years seems to recede.
And, of course, as a secondary restraining force there is the reasonable fear of devastation. The "good German" vindictiveness might make one last supreme effort.
But, on the other hand, is she really doing as well as it seems? Unless she intervenes this war will probably last for another full year. She wants it to end. It is a terrible oppression. Her army must remain mobilized, even if it does not fight. Her trade stagnates. She is incumbered by refugees. What if she struck to end the war and get the tension over? Not now, perhaps, but presently. Simultaneously with the Franco-British counter-stroke that now draws near.
And what if she struck also for a hatred of what has happened to Belgium? Suppose the Dutch are not so much frightened by the horrible example of Belgium as indignant. My impression of the Dutch—and we English know something of the Dutch spirit—is that they are a people not easily cowed. Suppose that they have not only a reasonable fear but a reasonable hatred of "frightfulness." Suppose that an intelligent fellow-feeling for a small nation has filled them with a desire to give Germany a lesson. There, it may be, is a second reason why Holland should come in.
And by coming in, there is something more than the mere termination of a strain and the vindication of international righteousness to consider. There is the possibility, and not only the possibility but the possible need, that Holland should come out of this world war aggrandized. I want to lay stress upon that, because it may prove a decisive factor in this matter.
The Dutch desire aggrandizement for the sake of aggrandizement as little as any nation in Europe. But what if the path of aggrandizement be also the path of safety?
It is clear that both France and Belgium will demand and receive territorial compensation for these last months of horror. It is ridiculous to suppose that the Germans may fling war in its most atrocious and filthy form over Belgium and some of the sweetest parts of France without paying bitterly and abundantly for the freak.
Quite apart from indemnities, France and Belgium must push forward their boundaries so far that if ever Germany tries another rush she will have to rush for some days through her own lost lands. The only tolerable frontier against Germans is a day's march deep in Germany. Of course, Liege will have to be covered in the future by Belgian annexations in the Aix region and stretching toward Cologne, and France will go to the Rhine. I think Belgium as well as France will be forced to go to the Rhine.
It is no good talking now of buffer States, because the German conscience cannot respect them. Buffer States are just anvil States. At any rate, very considerable annexations of German territory by Belgium and France are now inevitable, and Holland must expect a much larger and stronger Belgium to the south of her, allied firmly to France and England.
And to the north is it very likely that the British will be able to tolerate the continued German possession of the Frisian Islands? These islands, and the coast of East Friesland, have had but one use in German hands, and that use has been the preparation of attacks on England. Clearly the British may decide to have no more of such attacks. Every advance in scientific warfare may make them more dangerous and exasperating. The British intend soberly and sanely to do their utmost to make a repetition of the present war impossible. To secure this they may find it necessary to have Germany out of the North Sea. But they have no desire whatever to take either the Frisian Islands or East Friesland, if Holland will save them that trouble.
Now, suppose the Dutch will not think of this now. Suppose, for the want of their aid, the Allies are unable to press the war to the complete regimentation of Germany, what will be the position of Holland in twenty years' time?
She will stand between England and Germany. A Germany incompletely beaten means an Anglophobe Germany. Belgium and France expanded, recuperated, allied, linked by a common literature and language, may be too formidable for another German attack. So that there is the possibility that in twenty years' time or so Germany, recovering and vindictive, may in some way contrive to hold off France and Belgium, and try her luck against England alone. By that time submarine and aeroplane may be so developed as to render a German attack on England much more hopeful than it is at present, especially by way of the Rhine mouth. What, in the light of the Belgian experience and the new doctrine of a "right of way," will be the outlook for a little isolated Holland, as small as she is now, as a buffer State in such a case.
She has always been claimed as a part of the great Pan-German scheme, and at any time she may find the German heel upon her face, vindictively punishing her for her lack of enthusiasm for Teutonic brotherhood. Hadn't she better get herself a little larger and stronger now; hadn't she better help to make the ending of the German threat more conclusive, and link herself definitely with the grand alliance of the Western Powers? Now she could make a very good bargain indeed. If she inquired she would find Britain ready enough to guarantee the integrity and protection of Holland's colonial empire forever by the British fleet. All the four Western Powers, France, Belgium, Holland, Britain, would be willing to make the most binding pledges for such mutual protection. It is the manifest common-sense of the settlement that they should set up such a collective guarantee. And, in addition, there are those Frisian Islands, and East Friesland, and that dangerous wedge that Germany drives into Holland along the Rhine. It is not difficult to map a very much improved Dutch frontier along the Ems, and thence striking down to the Rhine and meeting the iron country on the left bank of the Rhine, whose annexation and exploitation is Belgium's legitimate compensation for her devastation and sufferings. Here are the makings of a safer Greater Holland! Thousands of Dutchmen must be looking on the map at the present time and thinking such things as this. There, clearly and attractively, is the price of alliance.
The price of neutrality is an intact Holland—and a certain isolation in the years ahead. But still, I admit, a not unhappy Holland, Dutch and free. Until a fresh Anglo-German struggle begins. Yet, be it noted, a Holland a little helpless and friendless if some renascent Asiatic Power should presently covet her Eastern possessions.
The price of participation with Germany, on the other hand, is complete envelopment in the warm embrace of the "good German brotherhood"—the gradual substitution of the German language for the Dutch, and a Germanization of such colonies as the Allies may still leave for Holland, frequent State visits from Kaisers, and the subordination of Dutch mercantile interests to those of Hamburg and Altona and (Germanized) Antwerp. And—the everlasting howling everywhere of "Deutschland, Deutschland ueber Alles."
(No! No! They will never fight for the Germans. No sane people will ever fight for the Germans if they can possibly avoid it. Not even our press censorship, not even the Maximilian Krafts in our silliest weekly papers will provoke Holland to that.)
But I have a sort of feeling, for the reasons I have stated, that even without any serious breach of Dutch neutrality by the Germans, Holland may decide presently to put her troops beside the Belgians. And if, as is always possible, the Germans do make some lumpish onslaught upon Dutch neutrality, then I am convinced that at once that sturdy little country will up and fight like the very devil. And do remarkably well by it.
And I have a much stronger feeling that presently the Dutch Government will ask the Germans to reconsider their proposed annexation of Belgium. Upon that point Holland has absolutely dictatorial power at the present moment. She could secure the independence of Belgium at the cost of a little paper and ink, she could force Germany to evacuate her sister country by the mere movement of her army.