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Title: The Great War and How It Arose

Author: Anonymous

Release Date: May 14, 2011 [eBook #36100]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1



E-text prepared by Produced by Steven Gibbs, Richard J. Shiffer,
and Distributed Proofreading volunteers
for Project Gutenberg

Transcriber's Note

Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as possible, including obsolete and variant spellings and other inconsistencies. Text that has been changed to correct an obvious error is noted at the end of this ebook.

Many occurrences of mismatched single and double quotation marks remain as they were in the original.





The Great War
How it arose


Parliamentary Recruiting Committee
12, Downing Street, London, S.W.


Serbia's Position3
Russia's Position6
Germany's Position6
Italy's Position8
Germany's Selected Moment8
Peace Thwarted by Germany10
I. Attempt to Extend Time-Limit of Austro-Hungarian Ultimatum11
II. Question of Delay of Hostilities between Austria-Hungary and Serbia11
III. Suggested Mediation by the Four Powers12
IV. Germany Asked to State Form of Mediation between Russia and Austria-Hungary13
V. Russia Suggests Direct Negotiations with Austria-Hungary14
VI. Russia's Final Attempt at Peace15
German Militarism Wins17
How France Came In19
How Great Britain Came In19
War with Austria22
Japan's Ultimatum to Germany22
Allies' Declaration of Common Policy23
Turkey Joins Germany24
More German Intrigues26
The Near East26
The Far East27
West Africa28
South Africa28
How the Germans Make War29
Germany's Attempted Bribery36
A. Germany's Knowledge of Contents of Austro-Hungarian Ultimatum40
B. How Germany Misled Austria-Hungary46
C. Some German Atrocities in Belgium48
D. Germany's Employment of Poisonous Gas52
E. Efforts of German Ministers of State to lay Blame on England52
F. List of Parliamentary Publications respecting the War55

[Pg 3]



On June 28, 1914, the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand and the Archduchess were assassinated on Austrian territory at Serajevo by two Austrian subjects, both Bosniaks. On a former occasion one of these assassins had been in Serbia and the "Serbian authorities, considering him suspect and dangerous, had desired to expel him, but on applying to the Austrian authorities, found that the latter protected him, and said that he was an innocent and harmless individual."[1] After a "magisterial" investigation, the Austro-Hungarian Government formally fixed upon the Serbians the guilt both of assisting the assassins and of continually conspiring against the integrity of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and on July 23, 1914, sent an ultimatum to Serbia of which the following were the chief terms[2]:—

"The Royal Serbian Government shall publish on the front page of their 'Official Journal' of the 13-26 July the following declaration:—

"'The Royal Government of Serbia condemn the propaganda directed against Austria-Hungary—i.e., the general tendency of which the final aim is to detach from the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy territories belonging to it, and they sincerely deplore the fatal consequences of these criminal proceedings.

"'The Royal Government regret that Serbian officers and functionaries participated in the above-mentioned propaganda...."

"The Royal Serbian Government further undertake:

"To suppress any publication which incites to hatred and contempt of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the general tendency of which is directed against its territorial integrity; ...

"To eliminate without delay from public instruction in Serbia, both as regards the teaching body and also as regards the methods of instruction, everything that serves, or might serve, to foment the propaganda against Austria-Hungary;

"To remove from the military service, and from the administration in general, all officers and functionaries guilty of propaganda against the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy whose names and deeds the Austro-Hungarian Government reserve to themselves the right of communicating to the Royal Government;[Pg 4]

"To accept the collaboration in Serbia of representatives of the Austro-Hungarian Government for the suppression of the subversive movement directed against the territorial integrity of the Monarchy;

"To take judicial proceedings against accessories to the plot of the 28th June who are on Serbian territory; delegates of the Austro-Hungarian Government will take part in the investigation relating thereto."

In effect Austria wished to force Serbia (a) to admit a guilt which was not hers; (b) to condemn officers in her army without trial at Austria's direction[3]; (c) to allow Austrian delegates to dispense such justice in Serbian Courts as they might think fit. In other words, Serbia was to lose her independence as a Sovereign State. And to all these claims Austria demanded an acceptance within 48 hours—until 6 p.m. on July 25, 1914. Yet, in spite of this, Serbia, within the specified time, sent her reply[4], which amounted to an acceptance of Austria's demands, subject, on certain points, to the delays necessary for passing new laws and amending her Constitution, and subject to an explanation by Austria-Hungary of her precise wishes with regard to the participation of Austro-Hungarian officials in Serbian judicial proceedings. The reply went far beyond anything which any Power—Germany not excepted—had ever thought probable. But the same day the British Ambassador at Vienna reported that the tone of the Austrian press left the impression that a settlement was not desired, and he later reported that the impression left on his mind was that the Austrian note was so drawn up as to make war inevitable. In spite of the conciliatory nature of Serbia's reply, the Austrian Minister withdrew from Belgrade the same evening, and Serbia was left with no option but to order a general mobilisation.[Pg 5]

An outline of the Serbian reply had been communicated to Sir E. Grey an hour or two before it was delivered. He immediately expressed to Germany the hope that she would urge Austria to accept it. Berlin contented itself with "passing on" the expression of Sir E. Grey's hope to Vienna through the German Ambassador there. The fate of the message so passed on may be guessed from the fact that the German Ambassador told the British Ambassador directly afterwards that Serbia had only made a pretence of giving way, and that her concessions were all a sham.

As Sir Edward Grey told the German Ambassador on one occasion "the Serbian reply went farther than could have been expected to meet the Austrian demands. German Secretary of State has himself said that there were some things in the Austrian Note that Serbia could hardly be expected to accept."[5]

During these forty-eight hours Great Britain made three attempts at peace. Before all things, the time-limit of the ultimatum had to be extended in order to give the requisite time to negotiate an amicable settlement. Great Britain and Russia urged this at Vienna. Great Britain asked Germany to join in pressing the Austrian Government. All that Berlin consented to do was to "pass on" the message to Vienna.

Secondly, Sir E. Grey urged that Great Britain, France, Germany, and Italy should work together at Vienna and Petrograd in favour of conciliation. Italy assented, France assented, Russia declared herself ready, Germany said she had no objection, "if relations between Austria and Russia became threatening."

Thirdly, the Russian, French, and British representatives at Belgrade were instructed to advise Serbia to go as far as possible to meet Austria.

But it was too late. The time-limit, which Austria would not extend, had expired.

The British Chargé d'Affaires at Constantinople discovered the true object in view when he telegraphed on July 29:—

"I understand that the designs of Austria may extend considerably beyond the Sanjak and a punitive occupation of Serbian territory. I gathered this from a remark let fall by the Austrian Ambassador here who spoke of the deplorable economic situation of Salonica under Greek administration and of the assistance on which the Austrian Army could count from Mussulman population discontented with Serbian rule."[6]

So Austria contemplated no less than the break-up of the whole Balkan settlement to which she and Germany had[Pg 6] been parties so recently as 1913. She was to take advantage of the weakened condition of the Balkan peoples (as a result of the Wars of 1912-13) to wage a war of conquest right down to the Ægean Sea.


[1] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 30.

[2] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 4.

[3] This demand was pointedly summed up by Mr. Lloyd George at the Queen's Hall, London, September 19, 1914, when he said:—

"Serbia ... must dismiss from her army the officers whom Austria should subsequently name. Those officers had just emerged from a war where they had added lustre to the Serbian arms; they were gallant, brave and efficient. I wonder whether it was their guilt or their efficiency that prompted Austria's action! But, mark you, the officers were not named; Serbia was to undertake in advance to dismiss them from the army, the names to be sent in subsequently. Can you name a country in the world that would have stood that? Supposing Austria or Germany had issued an ultimatum of that kind to this country, saying 'You must dismiss from your Army—and from your Navy—all those officers whom we shall subsequently name.' Well, I think I could name them now. Lord Kitchener would go; Sir John French would be sent away; General Smith-Dorrien would go, and I am sure that Sir John Jellicoe would have to go. And there is another gallant old warrior who would go—Lord Roberts. It was a difficult situation for a small country. Here was a demand made upon her by a great military power that could have put half-a-dozen men in the field for every one of Serbia's men, and that Power was supported by the greatest military Power (Germany) in the world."

[4] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 39.

[5] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 46.

[6] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 82.


Russia's interest in the Balkans was well-known. As late as May 23, 1914, the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs had reaffirmed in the Duma the policy of the "Balkans for the Balkans" and it was known that any attack on a Balkan State by any great European power would be regarded as a menace to that policy. The Russians are a Slav people like the Serbians. Serbian independence was one of the results of the Great War which Russia waged against Turkey in 1877. If Serbia was, as the Austrian Ambassador said to Sir E. Grey on July 29, "regarded as being in the Austrian sphere of influence"; if Serbia was to be humiliated, then assuredly Russia could not remain indifferent. It was not a question of the policy of Russian statesmen at Petrograd, but of the deep hereditary feeling for the Balkan populations bred in the Russian people by more than two centuries of development. It was known to the Austrians and to every foreign secretary in Europe, that if the Tsar's Government allowed Serbia to be crushed by Austria, they would be in danger of a revolution in Russia. These things had been, as Sir E. Grey said to Parliament in March, 1913, in discussing the Balkan War, "a commonplace in European diplomacy in the past." They were the facts of the European situation, the products of years of development, tested and retested during the last decade.


Since the outbreak of war Germany has issued an Official White Book which states concisely and with almost brutal frankness the German case prior to the outbreak of hostilities,[7] in the following terms:—

"The Imperial and Royal Government (Austria-Hungary) ... asked for our opinion. With all our heart we were able to ... assure him (Austria) that any action considered necessary ... would meet with our approval. We were perfectly aware that a possible warlike attitude of Austria-Hungary against Serbia might bring Russia upon the field, and that it might therefore involve us in a war, in accordance with our duties as allies. We could not ... advise our ally to take a yielding attitude not compatible with his[Pg 7] dignity, nor deny him our assistance in these trying days. We could do this all the less as our own interests were menaced through the continued Serb agitation. If the Serbs continued with the aid of Russia and France to menace the existence of Austria-Hungary, the gradual collapse of Austria and the subjection of all the Slavs under one Russian sceptre would be the consequence, thus making untenable the position of the Teutonic Race in Central Europe.

"A morally weakened Austria ... would be no longer an ally on whom we could count and in whom we could have confidence, as we must be able to have, in view of the ever more menacing attitude of our Easterly and Westerly neighbours.

"We, therefore, permitted Austria a completely free hand in her action towards Serbia."

Farther on in the German Official White Book (page 7) it is stated that the German Government instructed its Ambassador at Petrograd to make the following declaration to the Russian Government, with reference to Russian military measures which concerned Austria alone[8]:—

"Preparatory military measures by Russia will force us to counter-measures which must consist in mobilising the army.

"But mobilisation means war.

"As we know the obligations of France towards Russia, this mobilisation would be directed against both Russia and France...."

Here, then, we have the plain admission:—

That the steps subsequently taken were directed against Russia and France.

That from the first Austria was given a free hand even to the calculated extent of starting a great European war.

That a morally weakened Austria was not an ally on whom Germany "could count" or "have confidence" though no reference is made to Italy in this Official document.

[Pg 8]


[7] The German White Book (only authorised translation). Druck und Verlag: Liebheit & Thiesen, Berlin, pages 4 and 5. (Price, 40 pf.)

[8] Cd. 7717, No. 109. In a despatch from Berlin, July 30, 1914, Mons. Jules Cambon (French Ambassador) says:—

"Herr von Jagow then spoke to me of the Russian mobilisation on the Austrian frontier; he told me that this mobilisation compromised the success of all intervention with Austria, and that everything depended on it. He added that he feared that Austria would mobilise completely as a result of a partial Russian mobilisation, and this might cause as a counter-measure complete Russian mobilisation and consequently that of Germany.

"I pointed out to the Secretary of State that he had himself told me that Germany would only consider herself obliged to mobilise if Russia mobilised on her German frontiers, and that this was not being done. He replied that this was true, but that the heads of the army were insisting on it, for every delay is a loss of strength for the German army, and 'that the words of which I reminded him did not constitute a firm engagement on his part.'"


Italy's position on the eve of the Great War, and while the above machinations were in progress, is quite clear for the reason that she had been approached twelve months before to take part in a similar enterprise and had peremptorily refused. On August 9, 1913, the Italian Premier, Signor Giolitti, received a telegram from the Marquis di San Guiliano (Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs), acquainting him with the fact that Austria had just confided to Italy that, with the approval of Germany, she was about to deliver an ultimatum to Serbia, in essence identical with that actually sent on July 23, 1914, whereby the present Great War was kindled. Austria then asked Italy to consider this move to be a casus foederis under the Triple Alliance—which is purely a treaty of defence—involving Italy's military assistance on the side of Austria and Germany.[9] To this the Italian Premier (Signor Giolitti) replied[10]:—

"If Austria intervenes against Serbia it is clear that a casus foederis cannot be established. It is a step which she is taking on her own account, since there is no question of defence, inasmuch as no one is thinking of attacking her. It is necessary that a declaration to this effect should be hope for action on the part of Germany to dissuade Austria from this most perilous adventure."

Italy, having on this occasion made her position clear, maintained her neutrality last July (1914) when Germany and Austria decided to proceed with the plans arranged over twelve months before. Italy remained neutral because she held that Germany and Austria were the aggressors—not Russia and France.[11] By not consulting Italy on the subject of action against Serbia, Austria-Hungary violated one of the fundamental clauses of the Triple Alliance, and eventually this led Italy to denounce the Treaty on May 4th, 1915, and finally, on May 24th, 1915, to declare war on Austria-Hungary.


[9] See Appendix "A." Italy denounced this treaty May 4th, 1915.

[10] Cd. 7860.

[11] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 152.


The past history of Germany shows that she has always made her wars at her own "selected moment," when she thought her victim was isolated or unprepared. As General von Bernhardi says in his book, Germany and the Next Great[Pg 9] War: "English attempts at a rapprochement must not blind us as to the real situation. We may at most use them to delay the necessary and inevitable war until we may fairly imagine we have some prospect of success." On July 23, 1914, when Austria launched her ultimatum to Serbia, the Chancelleries of Europe were taken by surprise. Germany and Austria chose their moment well.

(1) The British representatives were away from both Berlin and Belgrade.

(2) M. Pashitch, the Serbian Prime Minister, and the other Ministers were away electioneering.

(3) The Russian Ambassadors were absent from Vienna, Berlin and Paris, and the Russian Minister was absent from Belgrade. Indeed the Russian Ambassador at Vienna had left "for the country in consequence of reassuring explanations made to him at the (Austro-Hungarian) Ministry for Foreign Affairs."[12]

(4) The President of the French Republic and the Prime Minister were out of France at Reval, on board the French Battleship "La France."

(5) The Austro-Hungarian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had left the Capital and his presence at Ischl was constantly used by the Germans and Austrians as an excuse for not being able to get things done in time.

The known facts of the crisis out of which the Great War arose and the messages of our Ambassadors suggest that Germany chose this particular time:—

(1) Calculating that Russia, if she did not fight, would be humiliated, whilst Austria—Germany's ally—would be strengthened by the conquest of Serbia; and

(2) Believing that if Russia chose to fight, even if she fought with France as her ally, still it was a favourable moment.

The deepening of the Kiel Canal to permit German battleships to pass from the Baltic to the North Sea was just completed. Germany had at her disposal the larger part of a huge war tax of £50,000,000, and had added enormously to her land forces. The murder of the Archduke created a pretext which roused enthusiasm for war in Austria, and there can be little doubt that Germany was ready to use this wave of popular feeling for her own ends. Germany appears to have instilled into Austria-Hungary the belief that there was small danger in coercing Serbia.[13]

On the other hand, Germany aimed at thoroughly humiliating Russia and France, and appears to have calculated that if the worst came to the worst, she and Austria-Hungary[Pg 10] would be in a position to beat them both. The German view of the European situation may be briefly set forth as follows:—

Russia.—Russia was passing through serious industrial troubles, which it was thought might end in revolution.

France.—France was passing through a period of political chaos, no Government being able to hold together for more than a few weeks. And on July 13 the French had appointed a Committee to inquire and report immediately on alleged deficiencies in various defensive preparations.

Belgium.—Belgium was beginning a re-organisation of her Army which would have gradually increased it to almost double its present strength.

Britain.—Germany thought the Irish and general political position in Britain made it impossible for her to show a united front in foreign affairs, and that therefore she would be unable to fight. The Germans seem to have assumed that Britain would be glad incidentally to seize the chance of making money through neutrality and would repudiate her treaty obligations to Belgium and her friendship for France, and be content to see Germany ruthlessly crushing the smaller Powers of Europe. Sir Edward Grey, on July 27, 1914, telegraphed to the British Ambassador at Petrograd:—"I have been told by the Russian Ambassador that in German and Austrian circles impression prevails that in any event we would stand aside."[14]

Our Ambassadors at Petrograd, (July 24, 1914), Rome, (July 29, 1914) and Paris (July 30, 1914), each stated that the Foreign Offices of Russia, Italy and France respectively thought that Germany was counting on our neutrality, while the German Foreign Minister, after war was actually declared, seemed totally unable to understand how we could go to war for what he called "a Scrap of Paper." The "Scrap of Paper" happened to be a treaty guaranteeing the neutrality of Belgium and signed by both Great Britain and Germany![15] The whole case is put in a nutshell in the despatch from the British Ambassador at Vienna, dated August 1, 1914, in which he says:—

"I agree ... that the German Ambassador at Vienna desired war from the first, and that his strong personal bias probably coloured his action here. The Russian Ambassador is convinced that the German Government also desired war from the first.... Nothing can alter the determination of Austro-Hungarian Government to proceed on their present course, if they have made up their mind with the approval of Germany."[16]


[12] Cd. 7717, No. 18.

[13] See Appendix "B."

[14] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 47.

[15] Great Britain and the European Crisis, Nos. 80, 99 and 160.

[16] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 141.


The attitude taken up by Germany and Austria-Hungary throughout the whole crisis can only lead to one conclusion—that both countries were determined to force their point, even[Pg 11] at the risk of a European war. As showing the endeavours to devise means of averting a general conflict, they should be considered seriatim, together with the persistency with which they were blocked in Berlin:—

(I.)—Attempt to Extend Time-Limit of Austro-Hungarian Ultimatum to Serbia.

On July 25, in reply to the Anglo-Russian efforts, to extend the forty-eight hour "time-limit" of the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia, the Russian Chargé d'Affaires at Vienna telegraphed that he had been officially informed that "the Austro-Hungarian Government refuse our proposal to extend the time-limit of the Note."[17] How Austria-Hungary was aided and abetted by Germany in this refusal is made plain in the despatch from the Russian Chargé d'Affaires at Berlin on the same day:—

"The (German) Minister for Foreign Affairs ... tells me that the British Government have likewise urged him to advise Vienna to extend the time limit of the ultimatum, ... but he fears that in the absence of Berchtold" (Austro-Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs) "who has left for Ischl, and in view of the lack of time, his telegrams may have no result. Moreover, he has doubts as to the wisdom of Austria yielding at the last moment, and he is inclined to think that such a step on her part might increase the assurance of Serbia."[18]

(II.)—The Question of Delay of Hostilities between Austria-Hungary and Serbia.

When the extension of the time-limit of the Ultimatum to Serbia was refused by Austria, Sir Edward Grey thought the question of preventing or delaying hostilities might serve as a basis for discussion. The Austrian Ambassador explained that:—

"the Austrian Note should not be regarded as an Ultimatum; it should be regarded as a step which, in the event of no reply, or in the event of an unsatisfactory reply within the time fixed, would be followed by a rupture of diplomatic relations, and the immediate departure of the Austro-Hungarian Minister from Belgrade, without, however, entailing the immediate opening of hostilities."[19]

As Sir Edward Grey said in his Despatch to the British Chargé d'Affaires at Berlin, July 24, 1914:—

"The immediate danger was that in a few hours Austria might march into Serbia and Russian Slav opinion demand that Russia should march to help Serbia; it would be very[Pg 12] desirable to get Austria not to precipitate military action and so to gain more time. But none of us could influence Austria in this direction unless Germany would propose and participate in such action at Vienna. You should inform Secretary of State."[20]

The following day (July 25, 1914), Sir Edward Grey wrote to the British Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin:—

"The Austrian Ambassador has been authorised to inform me that the Austrian method of procedure on expiry of the time limit would be to break off diplomatic relations and commence military preparations, but not military operations. In informing the German Ambassador of this, I said that it interposed a stage of mobilisation before the frontier was actually crossed, which I had urged yesterday should be delayed."[21]

But here again Germany was lukewarm, to say the least of it, as will be seen in the Despatch from the British Chargé d'Affaires at Berlin to Sir Edward Grey, dated July 26, 1914:—

"Under-Secretary of State has just telephoned to me to say that German Ambassador at Vienna has been instructed to pass on to Austro-Hungarian Government your hopes that they may take a favourable view of Serbian reply if it corresponds to the forecast contained in Belgrade telegram of 25th July.

"Under-Secretary of State considers very fact of their making this communication to Austro-Hungarian Government implies that they associate themselves to a certain extent with your hope. German Government do not see their way to going beyond this."[22]

(III.)—Suggested Mediation by the Four Powers.

On July 24, 1914, Sir Edward Grey suggested to the German Ambassador that the only chance he could see of a mediating or moderating influence being effective was:—

"that the four Powers, Germany, Italy, France and ourselves should work together simultaneously at Vienna and St. Petersburg in favour of moderation in the event of the relations between Austria and Russia becoming threatening."[23]

Finding that Russia consented to this idea, Sir Edward telegraphed to our representatives at Paris, Berlin and Rome on July 26, 1914, to the following effect:—

"Would Minister for Foreign Affairs be disposed to instruct Ambassador here to join with representatives of France, Italy, and Germany, and myself, to meet here in conference immediately for the purpose of discovering an issue which[Pg 13] would prevent complications? You should ask Minister for Foreign Affairs whether he would do this. If so, when bringing the above suggestion to the notice of the Governments to which they are accredited, representatives at Belgrade, Vienna and St. Petersburg should be authorised to request that all active military operations should be suspended pending results of conference."[24]

The Powers, with the exception of Germany, consented. Germany again proclaimed herself the disturbing element, as is shown in the following Despatch from the British Ambassador at Berlin to Sir Edward Grey, dated July 27, 1914:—

"(German) Secretary of State says that conference you suggest would practically amount to a court of arbitration, and could not, in his opinion, be called together except at the request of Austria and Russia. He could not therefore fall in with your suggestion, desirous though he was to co-operate for the maintenance of peace. I said I was sure that your idea had nothing to do with arbitration, but meant that representatives of the four nations not directly interested should discuss and suggest means for avoiding a dangerous situation. He maintained, however, that such a conference as you proposed was not practicable."[25]

Again, on July 29, 1914, the British Ambassador at Berlin reported:—

"I was sent for again to-day by the Imperial Chancellor, who told me that he regretted to state that the Austro-Hungarian Government, to whom he had at once communicated your opinion, had answered that events had marched too rapidly and that it was therefore too late to act upon your suggestion that the Serbian reply might form the basis of discussion."[26]

(IV.)—Germany asked to State any Form which Mediation between Russia and Austria-Hungary might take.

How Germany endeavoured to shuffle out of the suggested mediation by the four Powers on the plea that the "form" was not one which Austria-Hungary could accept, is set forth in a Telegram from Sir Edward Grey to the British Ambassador in Berlin, dated July 29, 1914:—

"The German Government ... seemed to think the particular method of conference, consultation or discussion, or even conversations à quatre in London too formal a method. I urged that the German Government should suggest any method by which the influence of the four Powers could be used together to prevent war between Austria and Russia. France agreed, Italy agreed. The whole idea of mediation or mediating influence was ready to be put into operation by any method that Germany could suggest if mine was not[Pg 14] acceptable. In fact, mediation was ready to come into operation by any method that Germany thought possible if only Germany would 'press the button' in the interests of peace."[27]

Here again Germany evaded the point, as is shown in the Telegram from the British Ambassador in Berlin to Sir Edward Grey, dated July 30, 1914:—

"The Chancellor told me last night that he was 'pressing the button' as hard as he could, and that he was not sure whether he had not gone so far in urging moderation at Vienna that matters had been precipitated rather than otherwise."[28]

Sir Edward Grey's telegram was sent off about 4 p.m. on July 29. His appeal was followed almost immediately by a strange response. About midnight a telegram arrived at the Foreign Office from His Majesty's Ambassador at Berlin.[29] The German Chancellor had sent for him late at night. He had asked if Great Britain would promise to remain neutral in a war, provided Germany did not touch Holland and took nothing from France but her colonies. He refused to give any undertaking that Germany would not invade Belgium, but he promised that, if Belgium remained passive, no territory would be taken from her.

Sir E. Grey's answer was a peremptory refusal, but he added an exhortation and an offer. The business of Europe was to work for peace. That was the only question with which Great Britain was concerned. If Germany would prove by her actions now that she desired peace, Great Britain would warmly welcome a future agreement with her whereby the whole weight of the two nations would be thrown permanently into the scale of peace in years to come.

(V.)—Russia Suggests Direct Negotiations with Austria-Hungary.

Another excuse given by Germany for refusing mediation by the four Powers was the possibility of direct negotiations between Russia and Austria-Hungary. The British Ambassador in Berlin on July 27, in recording Germany's excuses, said that the German Secretary of State—

"added that news he had just received from St. Petersburg showed that there was an intention on the part of M. de Sazonof" (Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs) "to exchange views with Count Berchtold" (Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs). "He thought that this method of procedure might lead to a satisfactory result, and that it would be best before doing anything else to await outcome of the exchange of views between the Austrian and Russian Governments."[30]

[Pg 15]

It is worth noting that, in reply to this Despatch from the British Ambassador in Berlin, Sir Edward Grey wrote on July 29:—

"I told the German Ambassador that an agreement arrived at direct between Austria and Russia would be the best possible solution. I would press no proposal as long as there was a prospect of that, but my information this morning was that the Austrian Government have declined the suggestion of the Russian Government that the Austrian Ambassador at St. Petersburg should be authorised to discuss directly with the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs the means of settling the Austro-Serbian conflict."[31]

Russia had done her best to open these negotiations, and endeavoured to get the German Government to advise Austria to continue negotiations thus opened. How the proposal was received by Germany is found in the following Despatch from the Russian Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, dated July 27, 1914:—

"I begged the Minister for Foreign Affairs to support your proposal in Vienna that Szapary" (Austro-Hungarian Ambassador in Russia) "should be authorised to draw up, by means of a private exchange of views with you, a wording of the Austro-Hungarian demands which would be acceptable to both parties. Jagow" (German Foreign Secretary of State) "answered that he was aware of this proposal and that he agreed with Pourtalès" (German Ambassador in Russia) "that as Szapary had begun this conversation, he might as well go on with it. He will telegraph in this sense to the German Ambassador at Vienna. I begged him to press Vienna with greater insistence to adopt this conciliatory line; Jagow answered that he could not advise Austria to give way."[32]

The result of Germany's hostile attitude to the plan was at once made apparent the next day in Vienna, where the Russian Ambassador reported on July 28, 1914:—

"Count Berchtold" (Austro-Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs) "replied that he was well aware of the gravity of the situation and of the advantages of a frank explanation with the St. Petersburg Cabinet. He told me that, on the other hand, the Austro-Hungarian Government, who had only decided, much against their will, on the energetic measures which they had taken against Serbia, could no longer recede, nor enter into any discussion of the terms of the Austro-Hungarian note."[33]

(VI.)—Russia's Final Attempt at Peace.

Finally, on July 30, 1914, another attempt at peace by Russia is indicated in the Despatch from the Russian Minister[Pg 16] for Foreign Affairs to the Russian Ambassadors at Berlin, Vienna, Paris, London, and Rome, in the following terms:—

"The German Ambassador, who has just left me, has asked whether Russia would not be satisfied with the promise which Austria might give—that she would not violate the integrity of the Kingdom of Serbia—and whether we could not indicate upon what conditions we would agree to suspend our military preparations. I dictated to him the following declaration to be forwarded to Berlin for immediate action: 'If Austria, recognising that the Austro-Serbian question has become a question of European interest, declares herself ready to eliminate from her ultimatum such points as violate the sovereign rights of Serbia, Russia undertakes to stop her military preparations.'

"Please inform me at once by telegraph what attitude the German Government will adopt in face of this fresh proof of our desire to do the utmost possible for a peaceful settlement of the question, for we cannot allow such discussions to continue solely in order that Germany and Austria may gain time for their military preparations."[34]

And subsequently this was amended according to the following Despatch from the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Russian Ambassadors abroad, dated July 31, 1914, Petrograd:—

"Please refer to my telegram of 17 (30) July. The British Ambassador, on the instructions of his Government, has informed me of the wish of the London Cabinet to make certain modifications in the formula which I suggested yesterday to the German Ambassador. I replied that I accepted the British suggestion. I accordingly send you the text of the modified formula, which is as follows:—

"'If Austria will agree to check the advance of her troops on Serbian territory; if, recognising that the dispute between Austria and Serbia has become a question of European interest, she will allow the Great Powers to look into the matter and decide what satisfaction Serbia could afford to the Austro-Hungarian Government without impairing her rights as a sovereign State or her independence, Russia will undertake to maintain her waiting attitude."[35]

The possibility of peace was not thought hopeless by Sir Edward Grey, for, in a despatch to the British Ambassador at Berlin, dated August 1, he says:—

"I still believe that it might be possible to secure peace if only a little respite in time can be gained before any Great Power begins war.

"The Russian Government has communicated to me the readiness of Austria to discuss with Russia and the readiness of Austria to accept a basis of mediation which is not open to the objections raised in regard to the formula which Russia originally suggested.

"Things ought not to be hopeless so long as Austria and Russia are ready to converse, and I hope that German Government[Pg 17] may be able to make use of the Russian communications referred to above, in order to avoid tension. His Majesty's Government are carefully abstaining from any act which may precipitate matters."[36]

That Austria was at last taking a more reasonable attitude is shown by the despatch from the Russian Ambassador in Paris, dated August 1, 1914:—

"The Austrian Ambassador yesterday visited Viviani" (French Minister for Foreign Affairs), "and declared to him that Austria, far from harbouring any designs against the integrity of Serbia, was in fact ready to discuss the grounds of her grievances against Servia with the other powers. The French Government are much exercised at Germany's extraordinary military activity on the French frontier for they are convinced that under the guise of 'Kriegszustand,' mobilisation is, in reality, being carried out."[37]

Unfortunately at this point, when the Austro-Hungarian Government appeared ready to debate amicably with Russia, Germany stopped all efforts at peace by issuing an Ultimatum to Russia. News of this is given in a telegram to the Russian representatives abroad on August 1, in the following terms:—

"At midnight the German Ambassador announced to me, on the instruction of his Government, that if within 12 hours, that is by midnight on Saturday, we had not begun to demobilise, not only against Germany, but also against Austria, the German Government would be compelled to give the order for mobilisation. To my enquiry whether this meant war, the Ambassador replied in the negative, but added that we were very near it."[38]

As Sir Maurice de Bunsen, the British Ambassador in Vienna, tersely put it in his despatch, dated from London, September 1, 1914, to Sir Edward Grey:—

"Unfortunately these conversations at St. Petersburg and Vienna were cut short by the transfer of the dispute to the more dangerous ground of a direct conflict between Germany and Russia. Germany intervened on the 31st July by means of her double ultimatums to St. Petersburg and Paris. The ultimatums were of a kind to which only one answer is possible, and Germany declared war on Russia on the 1st August, and on France on the 3rd August. A few days' delay might in all probability have saved Europe from one of the greatest calamities in history."[39]


[17] Cd. 7626, No. 12.

[18] Cd. 7626, No. 14.

[19] Cd. 7626, No. 16.

[20] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 11.

[21] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 25.

[22] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 34.

[23] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 11.

[24] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 36.

[25] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 43.

[26] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 75.

[27] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 84.

[28] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 107.

[29] Great Britain and the European Crisis, Nos. 85 and 101.

[30] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 43.

[31] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 84.

[32] Cd. 7626, No. 38.

[33] Cd. 7626, No. 45.

[34] Cd. 7626, No. 60.

[35] Cd. 7626, No. 67.

[36] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 131.

[37] Cd. 7626, No. 73.

[38] Cd. 7626, No. 70.

[39] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 161.


Thus Germany rejected all suggestions, while Austria, supported by Germany, was determined on war. The Serbian episode was clearly an excuse. Germany's alliance with[Pg 18] Austria was "defensive." She was bound to join with Austria only in case of the latter being attacked by Russia. Austria claimed that because Russia would not stand idle while Serbia was crushed, therefore Russia was the aggressor. Germany was a party to the Austrian attack on Serbia. The British Ambassador at Vienna on July 30 says: "I have private information that the German Ambassador (at Vienna) knew the text of the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia before it was despatched and telegraphed it to the German Emperor. I know from the German Ambassador himself that he endorses every line of it."[40]

Germany, therefore, chose this moment to send a challenge to Russia knowing that Russia must fight unless she were willing to be humiliated and disgraced in the eyes, not only of men of the Slav race in the Balkans, but in the eyes of the whole world.

The French Foreign Minister, telegraphing on July 31 to the French Ambassador in London as to Germany's aggressive steps on the Franco-German frontier, said: "All my information goes to show that the German preparations began on Saturday (July 25)."[41] What has actually happened in the war goes to show that this must have been the case.

The precise situation at this point is well shown in the British Foreign Office introduction to Great Britain and the European Crisis:—

"At this moment, on Friday, the 31st, Germany suddenly despatched an ultimatum to Russia, demanding that she should countermand her mobilisation within twelve hours. Every allowance must be made for the natural nervousness which, as history has repeatedly shown, overtakes nations when mobilisation is under way. All that can be said is that, according to the information in the possession of His Majesty's Government, mobilisation had not at the time proceeded as far in Russia as in Germany, although general mobilisation was not publicly proclaimed in Germany till the next day, the 1st August. France also began to mobilise on that day. The German Secretary of State refused to discuss a last proposal from Sir E. Grey for joint action with Germany, France, and Italy until Russia's reply should be received, and in the afternoon the German Ambassador at St. Petersburg presented a declaration of war. Yet on this same day, Saturday, the 1st, Russia assured Great Britain that she would on no account commence hostilities if the Germans did not cross the frontier, and France declared that her troops would be kept 6 miles from her frontier so as to prevent a collision. This was the situation when very early on Sunday morning, the 2nd August, German troops invaded Luxemburg, a small independent State whose neutrality had been guaranteed by all the Powers with the same object as the similar guarantee of Belgium. The die was cast. War between Germany, Russia, and France had become inevitable."


[40] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 95.

[41] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 105—Enclosure 3.[Pg 19]


France, by her alliance with Russia, was bound to stand by Russia if she was attacked by Germany and Austria. On July 31 the German Ambassador at Paris informed the French Government that Russia had ordered a complete mobilisation, and that Germany had given Russia twelve hours in which to order demobilisation and asking France to define her attitude. France was given no time, and war came, when German troops at once crossed the French frontier. Germany, by her attitude towards France, plainly admitted that she was the aggressor. She made no pretence of any cause of quarrel with France, but attacked her because of France's defensive alliance with Russia.


Great Britain was primarily drawn in to save Belgium. We were bound by a Treaty (1839) to which Germany and France were also parties, guaranteeing the neutrality of Belgium. When Germany attacked France in 1870, Prince Bismarck gave Belgium a written declaration—which he said was superfluous in view of the Treaty in existence—that the German Confederation and its allies would respect the neutrality of Belgium, provided that neutrality were respected by the other belligerent Powers.

France has been faithful to her Treaty. She even left her Belgian frontier unfortified. On August 3, 1914, on the verge of war, our position was made plain by Sir Edward Grey in the House of Commons, when he said:—

"When mobilisation was beginning, I knew that this question must be a most important element in our policy—a most important subject for the House of Commons. I telegraphed at the same time in similar terms to both Paris and Berlin to say that it was essential for us to know whether the French and German Governments respectively were prepared to undertake an engagement to respect the neutrality of Belgium. These are the replies. I got from the French Government this reply:—

"'The French Government are resolved to respect the neutrality of Belgium, and it would only be in the event of some other Power violating that neutrality that France might find herself under the necessity, in order to assure the defence of her security, to act otherwise. This assurance has been given several times. The President of the Republic spoke of it to the King of the Belgians, and the French Minister at Brussels has spontaneously renewed the assurance to the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs to-day.'

[Pg 20]

"From the German Government the reply was:—

"'The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs could not possibly give an answer before consulting the Emperor and the Imperial Chancellor.'

"Sir Edward Goschen, to whom I had said it was important to have an answer soon, said he hoped the answer would not be too long delayed. The German Minister for Foreign Affairs then gave Sir Edward Goschen to understand that he rather doubted whether they could answer at all, as any reply they might give could not fail, in the event of war, to have the undesirable effect of disclosing, to a certain extent, part of their plan of campaign."[42]

This clearly indicated that Germany would not respect the neutrality of Belgium, and the day after Sir Edward Grey's speech, on August 4, the German Army had penetrated Belgium on its way to France after a peremptory notice to the Belgian Government to the effect that the Imperial Government "will, deeply to their regret, be compelled to carry out, if necessary, by force of arms, the measures considered indispensable." Thus began the nightmare of German "Kultur," to which unoffending Belgium was subjected, and against which she appealed to the British Government: "Belgium appeals to Great Britain and France and Russia to co-operate, as guarantors, in defence of her territory."[43] On August 4 Great Britain asked Germany for a definite assurance by midnight that she would not violate Belgian neutrality. Germany's attitude is unmistakable in the following report of an interview by our Ambassador in Berlin with the German Secretary of State:—

"Herr von Jagow at once replied that he was sorry to say that his answer must be 'No,' as, in consequence of the German troops having crossed the frontier that morning, Belgian neutrality had been already violated. Herr von Jagow again went 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 endeavour to strike some decisive blow as early as possible.

"It was a matter of life and death for them, as if they had gone by the more southern route they could not have hoped, in view of the paucity of roads and the strength of the fortresses, to have got through without formidable opposition entailing great loss of time.[Pg 21]

"This loss of time would have meant time gained by the Russians for bringing up their troops to the German frontier. Rapidity of action was the great German asset, while that of Russia was an inexhaustible supply of troops....

"I then said that I should like to go and see the Chancellor, as it might be, perhaps, the last time I should have an opportunity of seeing him.... I found the Chancellor very agitated. His Excellency at once began a harangue, which lasted for about twenty minutes. He said that the step taken by His Majesty's Government was terrible to a degree; just for a word—'neutrality,' a word which in war time had so often been disregarded—just for a scrap of paper Great Britain was going to make war on a kindred nation.... He held Great Britain responsible for all the terrible events that might happen. I protested strongly against that statement, and said that, in the same way as he and Herr von Jagow wished me to understand that for strategical reasons it was a matter of life and death to Germany to advance through Belgium and violate the latter's neutrality, so I would wish him to understand that it was, so to speak, a matter of 'life and death' for the honour of Great Britain that she should keep her solemn engagement to do her utmost to defend Belgium's neutrality if attacked. That solemn compact simply had to be kept, or what confidence could anyone have in engagements given by Great Britain in the future? The Chancellor said: 'But at what 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 solemn engagements, but His Excellency was so excited, so evidently overcome by the news of our action, and so little disposed to hear reason that I refrained from adding fuel to the flame by further argument."[44]

Thus, when midnight struck on Tuesday, August 4, 1914, it found us at war with Germany for tearing up the "scrap of paper" which was Britain's bond.[45] And earlier in the same day the German Chancellor, Dr. von Bethmann Hollweg, in the course of a remarkable speech in the Reichstag, admitted the naked doctrine, that German "necessity"[Pg 22] overrides every consideration of right and wrong, in the following words:—

"Gentlemen, we are now in a state of necessity, and necessity knows no law! Our troops have occupied Luxemburg and perhaps" (as a matter of fact the speaker knew that Belgium had been invaded that morning) "are already on Belgian soil. Gentlemen, that is contrary to the dictates of international law.... The wrong—I speak openly—that we are committing we will endeavour to make good as soon as our military goal has been reached. Anybody who is threatened, as we are threatened, and is fighting for his highest possessions can have only one thought—how he is to hack his way through (wie er sich durchhaut)!"[46]


[42] Great Britain and the European Crisis, Part II.

[43] Statements by Prime Minister, House of Commons, August 4 and 5, 1914.

[44] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 160.

[45] See Appendix E.

[46] The Times, August 11, 1914.


From now onwards we were definitely allied with France in defence of Belgium's neutrality.

At 6 p.m. on August 6, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia.

On August 12 Sir Edward Grey was compelled to inform Count Mensdorff (Austro-Hungarian Ambassador in London) at the request of the French Government, that a complete rupture having occurred between France and Austria, a state of war between Great Britain and Austria would be declared from midnight of August 12.


On August 17 the text of an ultimatum by Japan to Germany was published in the following terms:—

"We consider it highly important and necessary in the present situation to take measures to remove the causes of all disturbance of the peace in the Far East and to safeguard general interests as contemplated in the agreement of alliance between Japan and Great Britain.

"In order to secure firm and enduring peace in Eastern Asia, the establishment of which is the aim of the said agreement, the Imperial Japanese Government sincerely believes it to be its duty to give advice to the Imperial German Government, to carry out the following two propositions:—

"(1) To withdraw immediately from Japanese and Chinese waters the German men-of-war and armed vessels of all kinds, and to disarm at once those which cannot be withdrawn.[Pg 23]

"(2) To deliver on a date not later than September 15 to the Imperial Japanese authorities without condition or compensation the entire leased territory of Kiao-chau with a view to the eventual restoration of the same to China.

"The Imperial Japanese Government announces at the same time that in the event of its not receiving by noon of August 23 an answer from the Imperial German Government signifying unconditional acceptance of the above advice offered by the Imperial Japanese Government, Japan will be compelled to take such action as it may deem necessary to meet the situation."[47]


[47] Under Art. II of the Anglo-Japanese Agreement, signed on July 13, 1911, it was agreed that if the two contracting parties should conduct a war in common, they should make peace in mutual agreement, etc.


The Official Press Bureau issued the following on August 17:—

"The Governments of Great Britain and Japan, having been in communication with each other, are of opinion that it is necessary for each to take action to protect the general interest in the Far East contemplated by the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, keeping specially in view the independence and integrity of China, and provided for in that Agreement.

"It is understood that the action of Japan will not extend to the Pacific Ocean beyond the China Seas, except in so far as it may be necessary to protect Japanese shipping lines in the Pacific, nor beyond Asiatic waters westward of the China Seas, nor to any foreign territory except territory in German occupation on the Continent of Eastern Asia."


On September 5, 1914, the British Official Press Bureau issued the following statement from the Foreign Office:—


The undersigned duly authorised thereto by the respective Governments hereby declare as follows:—

The British, French, and Russian Governments mutually engage not to conclude peace separately during the present war. The three Governments[Pg 24] agree that when terms of peace come to be discussed no one of the Allies will demand terms of peace without the previous agreement of each of the other Allies. In faith whereof the undersigned have signed this Declaration and have affixed thereto their seals.

Done at London in triplicate, the 5th day of September, 1914.

E. Grey, His Britannic Majesty's Secretary of
State for Foreign Affairs.

Paul Cambon, Ambassador Extraordinary and
Plenipotentiary of the French Republic.

Benckendorff, Ambassador Extraordinary and
Plenipotentiary of His Majesty the Emperor of Russia.


Directly war broke out the Turkish Army was mobilised, under the supreme command of Enver Pasha, who was entirely in German hands.[48] Although the Turkish Government had declared their intention of preserving their neutrality, they took no steps to ensure its maintenance. They forfeited their ability to do so by the admission of the German warships, "Goeben" and "Breslau," which, fleeing from the Allied Fleets, had entered the Dardanelles on August 10.

Instead of interning these war vessels with their crews, as they were repeatedly asked to do by the Allied Governments, the Turkish Government allowed the German Admiral and his men to remain on board, and while this was the case the German Government were in a position to force the hand of the Turkish Government whenever it suited them to do so.

In pursuance of a long-prepared policy, the greatest pressure was exercised by Germany to force Turkey into hostilities. German success in the European War was said to be assured; the perpetual menace to Turkey from Russia might, it was suggested, be averted by an alliance with Germany and Austria; Egypt might be recovered for the Empire; India and other Moslem countries would rise against Christian rule, to the great advantage of the Caliphate of Constantinople; Turkey would emerge from the War the one great power of the East, even as Germany would be the one great power of the West. Such was the substance of German misrepresentations.

Enver Pasha, dominated by a quasi-Napoleonic ideal, and by the conviction of the superiority of German arms, proved a most active agent on behalf of Germany.

A strong German element was imported into the remainder of the Turkish Fleet, even before the British Naval Mission, which had been reduced to impotence by order of the Minister[Pg 25] of Marine, was recalled by His Majesty's Government. Large numbers of Germans were imported from Germany to be employed in the forts of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus, and at other crucial points.

Numerous German merchant vessels served as bases of communication, and as auxiliaries to what had become in effect the German Black Sea Fleet. Secret communications with the German General Staff were established by means of the "Corcovado," which was anchored opposite the German Embassy at Therapia. The German Military Mission in Turkey acted in closest touch with the Turkish Militarist Party. They were the main organisers of those military preparations in Syria which directly menaced Egypt.

Emissaries of Enver Pasha bribed and organised the Bedouins on the frontier; the Syrian towns were full of German officers, who provided large sums of money for suborning the local chiefs. The Khedive of Egypt, who was in Constantinople, was himself a party to the conspiracy, and arrangements were actually made with the German Embassy for his presence with a military expedition across the frontier. All the Turkish newspapers in Constantinople and most of the provincial papers became German organs; they glorified every real or imaginary success of Germany or Austria, and minimised everything favourable to the Allies.

Millions of money were consigned from Germany to the German Embassy in Constantinople, and delivered under military guard at the Deutsche Bank. At one time these sums amounted to £4,000,000. A definite arrangement was arrived at between the Germans and a group of Turkish Ministers, including Enver Pasha, Talaat Bey and Djemal Pasha, that Turkey should declare war as soon as the financial provision should have attained a stated figure.

The final point was reached when Odessa and other Russian ports in the Black Sea were attacked by the Turkish Fleet on October 29, 1914. It is now certain that the actual orders for these attacks were given by the German Admiral on the evening of October 27.

On October 30 the Russian Ambassador asked for his passports and there was nothing left but for the British and French Ambassadors to demand theirs on the same day. The Russian Ambassador left Constantinople on October 31, while the British and French Ambassadors left the following evening.[49]

Thenceforward the Turks, at the instigation of the Germans, unsuccessfully endeavoured to raise Mahomedans in all countries against Great Britain and her Allies. The Sultan of Turkey, misusing his position as Padishah and Titular[Pg 26] Head of the Moslems, gave a perverted history of the events and proclaimed a Holy War. The Sultan, in his speech from the Throne on December 14, 1914 (at which ceremony the ex-Khedive of Egypt was present), said:—

"We were just in the best way to give reforms in the interior a fresh impetus when suddenly the great crisis broke out. While our Government was firmly resolved to observe the strictest neutrality, our Fleet was attacked in the Black Sea by the Russian Fleet. England and France then began actual hostilities by sending troops to our frontiers. Therefore I declared a state of war. These Powers, as a necessity, compelled us to resist by armed force the policy of destruction which at all times was pursued against the Islamic world by England, Russia, and France, and assumed the character of a religious persecution. In conformity with the Fetwas I called all Moslems to a Holy War against these Powers and those who would help them."[50]

What the Moslems of India thought of the situation is succinctly shown by a speech delivered on October 1, 1914, by the Agha Khan, the spiritual head of the Khoja community of Mahomedans and President of the All-India Moslem League.[51] He said he had always been convinced that Germany was the most dangerous enemy of Turkey and other Moslem countries, for she was the Power most anxious to enter by "peaceful penetration" Asia Minor and Southern Persia. But she had been posing for years past as a sort of protector of Islam—though Heaven forbid that they should have such an immoral protector.


[48] Cd. 7716.

[49] Cd. 7628 and Cd. 7716.

[50] A Reuter's Amsterdam telegram of December 15, 1914.

[51] Times, October 2, 1914,


The vastness of German intrigues throughout the world in preparation for a great war have come out piece by piece.

The Near East.—Taking the Near East first, we find that Germany, having suborned the ex-Khedive of Egypt, Abbas Hilmi, proceeded weeks before the rupture with Turkey to give orders, through the Ottoman Empire, to Shukri, the acting Chief of the Turkish Special Mission, to prepare public opinion in Egypt for Turkish invasion and to await the coming of the German Mors, whose trial was attended by such startling disclosures.[52]

Mors had been introduced to Enver Pasha by Dr. Pruefer (Secretary to Prince Hatzfeldt when he was German Agent[Pg 27] in Egypt) and had held long conferences with Omar Fauzi Bey, of the Turkish General Staff, who on September 6, 1914, worked out a scheme for disturbances in Egypt by bands of criminals led by Turkish officers and for an attack on the Suez Canal.

In 1908 Prince Hatzfeldt succeeded Count Bernstorff, as German Agent in Egypt, and he at once established close relations with the Egyptian disloyalists of the extreme faction. In this he appears to have been aided by Baron von Oppenheim, and by Dr. Pruefer, the Oriental Secretary of the Agency, who was a fine Arabic scholar, and who had travelled a great deal in Syria and the Near East. The leaders of the disloyal section in Egypt were kept in the closest touch, and visited Prince Hatzfeldt at the German Agency, and were in constant communication with Dr. Pruefer, who, in Oriental disguise, often visited them, and other Panislamic Agents.[53]

The Far East.—In India the German merchants joined our Chambers of Commerce and were elected as representatives of commercial life, and as trustees of port trusts, which gave them a knowledge of our local defences. In some instances they appear to have become volunteers, and so to have gained knowledge of our forts and armouries. Small German merchants and traders in the Punjab and other districts constantly endeavoured to undermine the British Raj, and preached sedition wherever they went. Such were the agents and spies of the German Government.

Since the Mutiny at Singapore it has been proved that the Germans were calling home their reserves from Singapore and the East in May, 1914, and even as early as April of last year.[54] The first thing the mutineers did was to go to the German Encampment, open the doors, and supply those inside with rifles. Sir Evelyn Ellis, member of the Singapore Legislative Council, who was President of the Commission appointed by the Governor to collect evidence with reference to the Mutiny, which took place on February 15, 1915, stated that:—

"They were not to think that they had been engaged in suppressing a small local disturbance. On the contrary, there was evidence to show that they had assisted in defeating one of the aims of the destroyer of Europe. They had been dealing with work that had been engineered by the agents of our common foes, and they had contributed to the suppression of a most diabolical plot. What had taken place in Singapore was only part of a scheme for the murder of women and children such as they had had instances of on the East Coast of England."[55]

[Pg 28]

The head of a big German firm in Singapore, after being released on parole, was found with a wireless installation in his house, with which he was stated to have kept the "Emden" supplied with news.[56]

In Persia and Arabia there is abundant proof of German intrigues, while in China few opportunities have been lost by German agents of impugning British good faith, and German money appears to have been used for years in keeping the Chinese press—in Peking more particularly—as anti-British as possible. Since the declaration of war an attempt has been made by Captain Pappenheim, Military Attaché of the German Legation in Peking, to organise an expedition into Russian Siberia to damage the Trans-Siberian railway. His action was, of course, a gross abuse of his diplomatic position, and has been disclaimed by the Chinese Government.[57]

West Africa.—In West Africa the report of Colonel F. C. Bryant on operation in Togoland shows how well the Germans were prepared for war in that region.[58]

South Africa.—In South Africa[59] it has been proved that so far back as 1912 the Germans were in communication with Lieut.-Colonel Maritz with a view to a rebellion. The latter appears to have brooded over schemes for the establishment of a Republic in South Africa. As the Blue Book, published in Cape Town on April 28, 1915, states: "One witness, Captain Leipold, of the Government Intelligence Department, who was sent to find out how things stood with Maritz, describes how the rebel leader dramatically threw his cards on the table in the shape of a bundle of correspondence with the German Administration at Windhuk, dating as far back as August, 1912."[60]

In a speech to his troops on August 9, 1914, Maritz declared that he had 6,000 Germans ready to help him, and he further stated that Beyers and De Wet had been fully informed of his plans long before the war.[61]

Evidence was also given during the trial of De Wet that the rebellion in South Africa "was planned a couple of years ago when General Hertzog left the Ministry."[62] The Germans, either directly or indirectly, suborned, amongst others, Maritz, De Wet, De La Rey, Beyers, Kemp, and Kock. But the magnificent services of General Botha and the[Pg 29] loyalists of South Africa—both British and Dutch—rendered nugatory the machinations of the German Government.

The history of German intrigues, both before and since the war, in British and French colonies, and in neutral countries throughout the world, which are now known and proved to the hilt, may be gauged from the examples given in the foregoing brief notes. The German newspaper Der Tag, which, during the first month of the war, declared: "Herr Gott, sind diese Tage schŚn" (O Lord, how beautiful are these days), subsequently summarised the German outlook when it naively declared:—[63]

"So many of our calculations have deceived us. We expected that British India would rise when the first shot was fired in Europe, but in reality thousands of Indians came to fight with the British against us. We anticipated that the whole British Empire would be torn to pieces, but the Colonies appear to be closer than ever united with the Mother Country. We expected a triumphant rebellion in South Africa, yet it turned out nothing but a failure. We expected trouble in Ireland, but instead, she sent her best soldiers against us. We anticipated that the party of 'peace at any price' would be dominant in England, but it melted away in the ardour to fight against Germany. We reckoned that England was degenerate and incapable of placing any weight in the scale, yet she seems to be our principal enemy.

"The same has been the case with France and Russia. We thought that France was depraved and divided and we find that they are formidable opponents. We believed that the Russian people were far too discontented to fight for their Government, and we made our plans on the supposition of a rapid collapse of Russia, but, instead, she mobilised her millions quickly and well, and her people are full of enthusiasm and their power is crushing. Those who led us into all those mistakes and miscalculations have laid upon themselves a heavy responsibility."


[52] Times, April 28, 1915.

[53] Times, January 6, 1915.

[54] Times, April 24, 1915. (Speech by the Bishop of Singapore.)

[55] Daily News and Leader, April 27, 1915.

[56] Morning Post, March 27, 1915.

[57] Letter from the Chinese Legation to the Times, March 13 and 20, 1915.

[58] Daily News and Leader, April 22, 1915.

[59] Cd. 7874.

[60] Times, April 30, 1915.

[61] Times, March 17, 1915.

[62] Times, February 19, 1915.

[63] Times, April 26, 1915.


It has often been asked what would happen if savages were armed with the products of modern science and with the intelligence to use them. Germany has answered the question. Every resource of science lies at the German command; the chemist, the physicist, the metallurgist, have all worked in this war to place the most effective tools of destruction in the Germans' hands, and to satisfy their ambitions they have shut the gates of mercy on mankind. The Official Handbook of Instructions issued to Officers of the German Army by the German General Staff urges the "exploitation of the crimes of third parties (assassination, incendiarism, robbery and the[Pg 30] like) to the prejudice of the enemy." This Official Handbook says:—

"A war conducted with energy cannot be directed merely against the combatants of the Enemy State and the positions they occupy, but it will and must in like manner seek to destroy the total intellectual and material resources of the latter."[64]

The German Emperor, addressing the troops which he sent to take part in the International Expedition in China in 1900, said:—

"When you come into contact with the enemy strike him down. Quarter is not to be given. Prisoners are not to be made. Whoever falls into your hands is into your hands delivered. Just as a thousand years ago the Huns, under their King Attila, made for themselves a name which still appears imposing in tradition, so may the name of German become known in China in such a way that never again will a Chinaman dare to look askance at a German. The blessing of the Lord be with you. Give proof of your courage and the Divine blessing will be attached to your colours."

At midnight on August 4, Great Britain declared war on Germany for violating the neutrality of Belgium, and it will be remembered that earlier in the day the German Imperial Chancellor had stated that German troops "perhaps are already on Belgian soil," and that Germany could only have one thought—how she was to "hack her way through." Simultaneously with the thought, came action. What was actually taking place is described, by Lord Bryce's Committee of Inquiry, in the following words[65]:—

"On August 4th the roads converging upon Liège from north-east, east, and south were covered with German Death's Head Hussars and Uhlans pressing forward to seize the passage over the Meuse. From the very beginning of the operations the civilian population of the villages lying upon the line of the German advance were made to experience the extreme horrors of war. 'On the 4th of August,' says one witness, 'at Herve' (a village not far from the frontier), 'I saw at about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, near the station, five Uhlans, these were the first German troops I had seen. They were followed by a German officer and some soldiers in a motor car. The men in the car called out to a couple of young fellows who were standing about 30 yards away. The young men, being afraid, ran off, and then the Germans fired and killed one of them named D——.'

"The murder of this innocent fugitive civilian was a prelude to the burning and pillage of Herve and of other villages in the neighbourhood, to the indiscriminate shooting of civilians of both sexes, and to the organised military execution of batches of selected males. Thus at Herve some 50 men escaping from the burning houses were seized, taken outside the town[Pg 31] and shot. At Melen, a hamlet west of Herve, 40 men were shot. In one household alone the father and mother (names given) were shot, the daughter died after being repeatedly outraged, and the son was wounded. Nor were children exempt....

"The burning of the villages in this neighbourhood and the wholesale slaughter of civilians, such as occurred at Herve, Micheroux, and Soumagne, appear to be connected with the exasperation caused by the resistance of Fort Fléron, whose guns barred the main road from Aix la Chapelle to Liège. Enraged by the losses which they had sustained, suspicious of the temper of the civilian population, and probably thinking that by exceptional severities at the outset they could cow the spirit of the Belgian nation, the German officers and men speedily accustomed themselves to the slaughter of civilians."

As a German soldier's diary, examined by Lord Bryce's Committee, says:—"The inhabitants without exception were brought out and shot. This shooting was heart-breaking as they all knelt down and prayed, but that was no ground for mercy. A few shots rang out and they fell back into the green grass and slept for ever."[66]

During the invasion of Belgium and France, German procedure was almost the same in all cases. "They advance along a road, shooting inoffensive passers-by—particularly bicyclists—as well as peasants working in the fields. In the towns or villages where they stop, they begin by requisitioning food and drink, which they consume till intoxicated. Sometimes from the interior of deserted houses they let off their rifles at random, and declare that it was the inhabitants who fired. Then the scenes of fire, murder, and especially pillage, begin, accompanied by acts of deliberate cruelty, without respect to sex or age. Even where they pretend to know the actual person guilty of the acts they allege, they do not content themselves with executing him summarily, but they seize the opportunity to decimate the population, pillage the houses, and then set them on fire. After a preliminary attack and massacre they shut up the men in the church, and then order the women to return to their houses and to leave their doors open all night."[67]

Innumerable German atrocities are on record and well authenticated. For example, Professor Jacobs, at a medical meeting in Edinburgh, stated that, as head of the Belgian Red Cross, he "had visited a chateau but found the Red Cross[Pg 32] had not been respected. It had been completely destroyed, and the bodies of six girls, aged from ten to seventeen, were lying on the lawn. A convent containing sixty sisters had been entered by the German soldiers and every one had been violated. On the evidence of the doctor of the institution twenty-five were pregnant. Professor Jacobs had operated on the wife of a doctor living near Namur. Three weeks after the operation, when convalescing and still in bed, their house was entered by German soldiers; she was raped by seven of them and died two days after."[68]

1. A few typical examples of the wholesale atrocities of German troops are given in Appendix C, but to show that in many cases such atrocities were not only countenanced, but ordered by officers in command, we quote the following:—

August 22, 1914.

The inhabitants of the town of Andenne, after having protested their peaceful intentions, made a treacherous surprise attack on our troops.

It was with my consent that the General had the whole place burnt down, and about 100 people shot.

I bring this fact to the knowledge of the town of Liége, so that its inhabitants may know the fate with which they are threatened if they take up a similar attitude.

The General Commanding-in-Chief, Von Bulow.[69]

2. Here is an order of the day given on August 26 by General Stenger commanding the 58th German Brigade:—

After to-day no more prisoners will be taken. All prisoners are to be killed. Wounded, with or without arms, are to be killed. Even prisoners already grouped in convoys are to be killed. Let not a single living enemy remain behind us.

Oberlieutenant und Kompagnie-Chef Stoy;
Oberst und Regiments Kommandeur Neubauer;
General-Major und Brigade-Kommandeur Stenger.[70]

[Pg 33]

With reference to the above Order, Professor Joseph Bédier says: "Some thirty soldiers of Stenger's Brigade (112th and 142nd Regt. of the Baden Infantry), were examined in our prisoners' camps. I have read their evidence, which they gave upon oath and signed. All confirm the statement that this order of the day was given them on August 26, in one unit by Major Mosebach, in another by Lieut. Curtius, &c.; the majority did not know whether the order was carried out, but three of them say they saw it done in the forest of Thiaville, where ten or twelve wounded French soldiers who had already been spared by a battalion were despatched. Two others saw the order carried out on the Thiaville road, where some wounded found in a ditch by a company were finished off."[71]

3. The following are extracts from a Proclamation posted by the Germans at Namur on August 25, 1914:—

(3) Every street will be occupied by a German Guard, who will take ten hostages from each street, whom they will keep under surveillance. If there is any rising in the street the ten hostages will be shot.

(4) Doors may not be locked, and at night after eight o'clock there must be lights in three windows in every house.

(5) It is forbidden to be in the street after eight o'clock. The inhabitants of Namur must understand that there is no greater and more horrible crime than to compromise the existence of the town and the life of its citizens by criminal acts against the German Army.

The Commander of the Town,
Von Bulow.[72]

4. On October 5 the following Proclamation was posted in Brussels "and probably in most of the Communes of the Kingdom."

During the evening of September 25, the railway line and the telegraph wires were destroyed on the line Lovenjoul-Vertryck. In consequence of this, these two localities have had to render an account of this, and had to give hostages in the morning of September 30.

In future, the localities nearest to the place where similar acts take place will be punished without pity; it matters little if they are accomplices or not. For this purpose hostages have been taken from all localities near the railway line thus menaced, and at the first attempt to destroy the railway line, or the telephone or telegraph wires, they will be immediately shot.[Pg 34]

Further, all the troops charged with the duty of guarding the railway have been ordered to shoot any person who, in a suspicious manner, approaches the line, or the telegraph or telephone wires.

The Governor-General of Belgium,
(S.) Baron von der Goltz, Field-Marshal.[73]

For purposes of record it should be noted that Lord Bryce's Committee mention by name three German Generals whose armies have disgraced civilisation; they are those of General Alexander von Kluck, General von Bülow and General von Hausen.[74]

Some of the main heads of the barbarities of Germany and of the way she has violated the recognised rules of International Law, may be set out as follows:—[75]

(a) The treatment of civilian inhabitants in Belgium and the North of France has been made public by the Belgian and French Governments, and by those who have had experience of it at first hand. Modern history affords no precedent for the sufferings that have been inflicted on the defenceless and non-combatant population in the territory that has been in German military occupation. Even the food of the population was confiscated, until, in Belgium, an International Commission, largely influenced by American generosity and conducted under American auspices, came to the relief of the population, and secured from the German Government a promise to spare what food was still left in the country, though the Germans still continue to make levies in money upon the defenceless population for the support of the German Army.

(b) We have from time to time received most terrible accounts of the barbarous treatment to which British officers and soldiers have been exposed after they have been taken prisoner, while being conveyed to German prison camps. Evidence has been received of the hardships to which British prisoners of war are subjected in the prison camps, contrasting most unfavourably with the treatment of German prisoners in this country. The Germans make no attempt to save sailors from British war vessels they sink, although we have saved a large number of German sailors in spite of great danger to our men.[76]For example, on May 1, 1915, in the destroyer action in the North Sea, the Germans imprisoned two British[Pg 35] sailors below and when their vessel was sinking, saved themselves, but left their prisoners to sink below because "time was short."

As Lord Kitchener said, Germany "has stooped to acts which will surely stain indelibly her military history and which would vie with the barbarous savagery of the Dervishes of the Sudan."[77] On the same day, in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister declared: "When we come to the end of this war, which, please God, we may, we shall not forget—and ought not to forget—this horrible record of calculated cruelty and crime, and we shall hold it to be our duty to exact such reparation against those who are proved to have been guilty agents or actors in the matter, as it may be possible for us to exact. I do not think we should be doing our duty to these brave and unfortunate men or to the honour of our own country and the plain dictates of humanity if we were content with anything less than that."[78]

(c) At the very outset of war a German mine-layer was discovered laying a mine-field on the high seas. Further mine-fields have been laid from time to time without warning, and are still being laid on the high seas, and many neutral, as well as British vessels, have been sunk by them.

(d) At various times during the war German submarines have stopped and sunk British merchant vessels, thus making the sinking of merchant vessels a general practice, though it was admitted previously, if at all, only as an exception; the general rule, to which the British Government have adhered, being that merchant vessels, if captured, must be taken before a Prize Court. The Germans have also sunk British merchant vessels by torpedo without notice, and without any provision for the safety of the crew. They have done this in the case of neutral as well as of British vessels, and a number of non-combatant and innocent lives, unarmed and defenceless, have been destroyed in this way. The Germans have sunk without warning emigrant vessels, have tried to sink an hospital ship, and have themselves used an hospital ship for patrol work and wireless. The torpedoeing of the "Lusitania" on May 7, 1915, involving the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians—British and neutral—was acclaimed with great relish in Berlin.

(e) Unfortified, open, and defenceless towns, such as Scarborough, Yarmouth and Whitby, have been deliberately and wantonly bombarded by German ships of war, causing, in some cases, considerable loss of civilian life, including women and children.[Pg 36]

(f) German aircraft have dropped bombs on the East Coast of England, in places where there were no military or strategic points to be attacked.

(g) The Germans have used poisonous gases in killing Allied troops at the Front, although Germany was a signatory to the following article in the Hague Convention:—

"The Contracting Powers agree to abstain from the use of projectiles, the object of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases."[79]

And finally the German troops in South Africa have poisoned drinking wells and infected them with disease.[80]


[64] Kriegsbrauch im Landkriege. Berlin, 1902, in the series "Kriegsgeschichtliche Einzelschriften," published in 1905. A translation of this monograph by Professor J. H. Morgan has recently been published.

[65] Cd. 7894, page 7, 8.

[66] Cd. 7894, page 9.

[67] See Appendix C. Official Reports issued by the Belgian Legation (1914). The Commission chiefly responsible for these official Belgian reports was composed of M. Cooreman, Minister of State (President); Count Goblet d'Alviella, Minister of State and Vice-President of the Senate; M. Ryckmans, Senator; M. Strauss, Alderman of the City of Antwerp; M. van Cutsem, Hon. President of the Law Court of Antwerp; and, as Secretaries, Chevalier Ernst de Bunswyck, Chef du Cabinet of the Minister of Justice, and M. Orts, Councillor of Legation.

[68] Meeting of Edinburgh Obstetrical Society, December 9, 1914. Lancet, December 19, 1914, page 1, 440.

[69] Reports on the Violation of the Rights of Nations and of the Laws and Customs of War in Belgium.

[70] German Atrocities from German Evidence. One of the series of "Studies and Documents on the War." Publishing Committee: Mm. Ernest Lavisse, of the Académie française, Président; Charles Andler, professor of German literature and language in the University of Paris; Joseph Bédier, professor at the College de France; Henri Bergson, of the Académie française; Emile Boutroux, of the Académie française; Ernest Denis, professor of history in the University of Paris; Emile Durkheim, professor in the University of Paris; Jacques Hadamard, of the Académie des Sciences; Gustave Lanson, professor of French literature in the University of Paris; Charles Seignobos, professor of history in the University of Paris; André Weiss, of the Académie des Sciences morales et politiques.

[71] German Atrocities from German Evidence. See footnote on page 32.

[72] Reports on the Violation of the Rights of Nations and of the Laws and Customs of War in Belgium.

[73] Reports on the Violation of the Rights of Nations and of the Laws and Customs of war in Belgium.

[74] Cd. 7894, page 10.

[75] Most of the points referred to in the following record are to be found in Sir Edward Grey's reply to the U.S. Note—dated March 15.

[76] Cd. 7921, issued May 19, 1915, shows that although 1,282 men had been rescued by the British from German warships, not a single rescue had been effected by German men-of-war.

[77] House of Lords, April 27, 1915.

[78] House of Commons, April 27, 1915.

[79] See Appendix D.

[80] Report re Swakopmund, issued by Secretary of State for Colonies. Times, May 6, 1915.


We thus see with what an easy conscience Germany tears up her treaties and how she repudiates her most solemn pledges. In light of these facts let us examine the rush of promises Germany was prepared to give in order to ensure our neutrality in the War.

On July 29, 1914, Germany, having decided on the War in conjunction with Austria against Russia and France, made what our Ambassador at Berlin called "a strong bid for British neutrality," to which reference has been made, on page 14. Provided that Britain remained neutral Germany stated that every assurance would be given to Great Britain that the German Government aimed at no territorial acquisitions at the expense of France in Europe, should they prove victorious. Germany categorically stated that she was unable to give a similar undertaking with reference to the French colonies. She made a statement with regard to the integrity of Holland, and said that it depended upon the action of France what operations Germany might be forced to enter upon in Belgium, but that when the War was over Belgian integrity would be respected if she had not sided against Germany. In other words, Great Britain was to stand by and

See Belgium invaded and, if she resisted, annexed by Germany;

See all the French Colonies taken by Germany;

Acquiesce in France, our neighbour and friend, being crushed under the iron heel of Germany, and, as Bismarck threatened, bled white by a war indemnity when all was over.

As Sir Edward Grey replied on July 30: "From the material point of view such a proposal is unacceptable, for France,[Pg 37] without further territory in Europe being taken from her, could be so crushed as to lose her position as a Great Power, and become subordinate to German policy. Altogether, apart from that it would be a disgrace for us to make this bargain with Germany at the expense of France, a disgrace from which the good name of this country would never recover."[81]

That is the "infamous bargain" which Britain spurned and to which the Prime Minister referred on August 6 in the House of Commons, in the following words:—

"What would have been the position of Great Britain to-day ... if we had assented to this infamous proposal? Yes, and what are we to get in return for the betrayal of our friends and the dishonour of our obligations? What are we to get in return? A promise—nothing more; a promise as to what Germany would do in certain eventualities; a promise, be it observed—I am sorry to have to say it, but it must be put upon record—given by a Power which was at that very moment announcing its intention to violate its own treaty and inviting us to do the same. I can only say, if we had dallied or temporised, we, as a Government, should have covered ourselves with dishonour, and we should have betrayed the interests of this country, of which we are trustees."[82]

This suggestion of Germany is not the only infamous proposal she has made to Great Britain. She has made them with a persistence worthy of a better cause. In February, 1912, Lord Haldane went to Berlin on behalf of the Cabinet in order to obtain the basis of a friendly understanding between the two countries. What transpired is made clear in a speech delivered by Mr. Asquith, at Cardiff, on October 2, 1914, when the Prime Minister said:—

"We laid down in terms, carefully approved by the Cabinet, and which I will textually quote, what our relations to Germany ought, in our view, to be. We said, and we communicated this to the German Government:—

'Britain declares that she will neither make, nor join in, any unprovoked attack upon Germany. Aggression upon Germany is not the subject, and forms no part of any Treaty, understanding, or combination to which Britain is now a party, nor will she become a party to anything that has such an object.'

[Pg 38]

"There is nothing ambiguous or equivocal about that. But that was not enough for German statesmanship. They wanted us to go further. They asked us to pledge ourselves absolutely to neutrality, in the event of Germany being engaged in war, and this, mind you, at a time when Germany was enormously increasing both her aggressive and defensive forces, and especially upon the sea. They asked us—to put it quite plainly—for a free hand, so far as we were concerned, if and when they selected the opportunity to overpower and dominate the European world. To such a demand one answer was possible, and that was the answer we gave."[83]


[81] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 101.

[82] House of Commons, August 6, 1914.

[83] South Wales Daily News, October 3, 1914.


If, in view of all this evidence, Britain had refused to fight, what would have been her position? The Prime Minister, speaking at the Guildhall on September 4, 1914, said:—

"But let me ask you, and through you the world outside, what would have been our condition as a nation to-day if, through timidity, or through a perverted calculation of self-interest or through a paralysis of the sense of honour and duty, we had been base enough to be false to our word and faithless to our friends?

"Our eyes would have been turned at this moment with those of the whole civilised world to Belgium—a small State which has lived for more than 70 years under a several and collective guarantee, to which we, in common with Prussia and Austria, were parties—and we should have seen, at the instance, and by the action of two of these guaranteeing Powers, her neutrality violated, her independence strangled, her territory made use of as affording the easiest and most convenient road to a war of unprovoked aggression against France.

"We, the British people, should have at this moment been standing by with folded arms and with such countenance as we could command, while this small and unprotected State (Belgium), in defence of her vital liberties, made a heroic stand against overweening and overwhelming force.

"We should have been watching as detached spectators the siege of Liège, the steady and manful resistance of a small Army, the occupation of Brussels with its splendid traditions and memories, the gradual forcing back of the patriotic defenders of their native land to the ramparts of Antwerp, countless outrages suffered by them, and buccaneering levies exacted from the unoffending civil population, and finally the greatest crime committed against civilisation and culture since the Thirty Years' War—the sack of Louvain, with its buildings, its pictures, its unique library, its unrivalled associations, a shameless holocaust of irreparable treasures lit up by blind barbarian vengeance....

"For my part I say that sooner than be a silent witness—which means in effect a willing accomplice—of this tragic triumph of force over law and of brutality over freedom, I would see this country of ours blotted out of the pages of history."

[Pg 39]

Further, we need not imagine that the peace we should have gained would have been a lasting one. If we had dishonoured our name in the manner Mr. Asquith has described, we should have been left without a friend in the world. Who can doubt that we should have been Germany's next victim if she had succeeded in crushing Belgium and France and warding off the blows of Russia? As Mr. Bonar Law said, on the same occasion:—

"We are fighting for our national existence, for everything which nations have always held most dear."

The fate which has fallen upon Belgium would have been our fate in a few years' time, but with this difference, that we should have had no powerful friends to give back as far as humanly possible what we had lost, as Russia, France and Britain are determined to do for Belgium.[Pg 40]



Germany did her utmost to make the Great Powers believe that she had no knowledge of the contents of the Ultimatum delivered by Austria-Hungary to Serbia at 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 23, 1914.

Two days before the delivery of the Ultimatum, the Russian Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin, at the Diplomatic Audience, said to Herr von Jagow (German Secretary of State), that he supposed the German Government then had full knowledge of the Note prepared by Austria. Herr von Jagow protested that he was in complete ignorance of the contents of that Note, and expressed himself in the same way on that date (July 21) to the French Ambassador also. The very next day (July 22), however, M. Paul Cambon, the French Ambassador in London, in a despatch to the Acting French Minister for Foreign Affairs in Paris, stated:—

"Sir Edward Grey told me that he had seen the German Ambassador, who stated to him that at Berlin a démarche of the Austro-Hungarian Government to the Serbian Government was expected. Prince Lichnowsky assured him that the German Government were endeavouring to hold back and moderate the Cabinet of Vienna, but that up to the present time they had not been successful in this, and that he was not without anxiety as to the results of a démarche of this kind.... The communications of Prince Lichnowsky had left Sir Edward Grey with an impression of anxiety which he did not conceal from me. The same impression was given me by the Italian Ambassador, who also fears the possibility of fresh tension in Austro-Serbian relations."[84]

Here it will be noticed that Prince Lichnowsky, the German Ambassador in London, stated that the German Government were endeavouring to "hold back and moderate the Cabinet of Vienna." How could they have done this if they were not aware of the general terms of the Ultimatum which Austria-Hungary proposed sending to Serbia. Moreover, the impression given by the Italian Ambassador was probably derived from his knowledge of what had happened over a year before, when Austria appears to have been resolved on provoking war with Serbia on August 9, 1913.

But unfortunately for Germany the statement was refuted by one of its own States, Bavaria. The Ultimatum to Serbia was not delivered until 6 p.m. on the evening of July 23; yet earlier on that day M. Allizé, the French Minister at Munich, in his Report to Paris, stated:—

" ... Official circles have for some time been assuming with more or less sincerity an air of real pessimism.[Pg 41]

"In particular, the President of the Council said to me to-day that the Austrian Note, the contents of which were known to him (dont il avait connaissance) was in his opinion drawn up in terms which could be accepted by Serbia, but that none the less the existing situation appeared to him to be very serious."[85]

It is difficult to think that the President of the Bavarian Council knew the contents of the Austrian Note while the German Secretary of State at Berlin was kept in ignorance of its terms. Yet, the next day, Herr von Jagow again makes the denial which is forwarded to Paris in the French Ambassador's despatch, dated Berlin, July 24:—

"I asked the Secretary of State to-day in the interview which I had with him if it was correct, as announced in the newspapers, that Austria had presented a Note to the Powers on her dispute with Serbia; if he had received it; and what view he took of it.

"Herr von Jagow answered me in the affirmative, adding that the Note was forcible and that he approved it, the Serbian Government having for a long time past wearied the patience of Austria.... Thereupon I asked him if the Berlin Cabinet had really been entirely ignorant of Austria's requirements before they were communicated to Belgrade, and as he told me that that was so, I showed him my surprise at seeing him thus undertake to support claims, of whose limit and scope he was ignorant.... It is not less striking to notice the pains with which Herr von Jagow and all the officials placed under his orders, pretend to everyone that they were ignorant of the scope of the Note sent by Austria to Serbia."[86]

Confirmation of Germany's complicity is received in a despatch to his Government from the French Ambassador (M. Paul Cambon) in London, dated July 24, 1914:—

"I mentioned the matter to my Russian colleague, who is afraid of a surprise from Germany, and who imagines that Austria would not have despatched her Ultimatum without previous agreement with Berlin.

"Count Benckendorff told me that Prince Lichnowsky, when he returned from leave about a month ago, had intimated that he held pessimistic views regarding the relations between St. Petersburg and Berlin. He had observed the uneasiness caused in this latter Capital by the rumours of a naval entente between Russia and England, by the Tsar's visit to Bucharest, and by the strengthening of the Russian Army. Count Benckendorff had concluded from this that a war with Russia would be looked upon without disfavour in Germany.

"The Under-Secretary of State has been struck, as all of us have been, by the anxious looks of Prince Lichnowsky since his return from Berlin, and he considers that if Germany had wished to do so, she could have stopped the despatch of the Ultimatum."[87]

Again on the same day (July 24, 1914) we have an interesting despatch from the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs in Paris to the French Ambassadors abroad, detailing what transpired at a visit received from Herr von Schoen (the German Ambassador in Paris),[Pg 42] at which the latter twice read (but refused to leave copy of) a note which said:—

"Under these circumstances the course of procedure and demands of the Austro-Hungarian Government can only be regarded as justified. In spite of that, the attitude which public opinion as well as the Government in Serbia have recently adopted does not exclude the apprehension that the Serbian Government might refuse to comply with those demands, and might even allow themselves to be carried away into a provocative attitude towards Austria-Hungary. The Austro-Hungarian Government, if they do not wish definitely to abandon Austria's position as a Great Power, would then have no choice but to obtain the fulfilment of their demands from the Serbian Government by strong pressure, and, if necessary, by using military measures, the choice of the means having to be left to them.... The German Government consider that in the present case there is only question of a matter to be settled exclusively between Austria-Hungary and Serbia, and that the Great Powers ought seriously to endeavour to restrict it to those two immediately concerned.

"The German Government desire urgently the localisation of the dispute, because every interference of another Power would, owing to the natural play of alliances, be followed by incalculable consequences...."[88]

A note of similar effect was left with Sir Edward Grey by the German Ambassador in London.[89]

Now the details of the Ultimatum to Serbia were only communicated to the French and Russian Governments on July 24, 1914, after 10 o'clock in the morning (nearly 17 hours after they had been delivered to Serbia), and presumably they were communicated to all the other Governments at about the same time. Germany would have us believe that she received the contents at the same time and on the same day as the other Governments. Yet, a few hours later, the German Ambassador in Paris is able, on instructions from his Government, to present a detailed note and to argue the matter in all its bearings. That is to say, Germany would have us believe that the Kaiser and his Ministers received the contents of the Ultimatum in the morning, and, almost within a few minutes, gathered together and discussed a question which they knew, if not carefully handled, must mean a European war; pretend that it was a matter to be settled exclusively between Austria-Hungary and Serbia; and promptly instruct their Ambassador in Paris to the minutest details.

As the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs remarked to the British Ambassador in Petrograd on this fateful morning, "Austria's conduct was both provocative and immoral; she would never have taken such action unless Germany had first been consulted."[90]

It has since been proved that Germany and Austria were parties not only to this, but to an exactly similar conspiracy which took place twelve months before.

On December 5, 1914, in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Signor Giolitti (ex-Premier of Italy) made the following momentous statement:—

"During the Balkan War, on the 9th August, 1913, about a year before the present war broke out, during my absence from[Pg 43] Rome, I received from my hon. colleague, Signor di San Giuliano (late Foreign Minister), the following telegram:—

"'Austria has communicated to us and to Germany her intention of taking action against Serbia, and defines such action as defensive, hoping to bring into operation the casus foederis of the Triple Alliance, which, on the contrary, I believe to be inapplicable. (Sensation.)

"'I am endeavouring to arrange for a combined effort with Germany to prevent such action on the part of Austria, but it may become necessary to state clearly that we do not consider such action, if it should be taken, as defensive, and that, therefore, we do not consider that the casus foederis arises.

"'Please telegraph to me at Rome if you approve.'

"I replied:—

"'If Austria intervenes against Serbia it is clear that a casus foederis cannot be established. It is a step which she is taking on her own account, since there is no question of defence, inasmuch as no one is thinking of attacking her. It is necessary that a declaration to this effect should be made to Austria in the most formal manner, and we must hope for action on the part of Germany to dissuade Austria from this most perilous adventure.' (Hear, hear.)

"This course was taken, and our interpretation was upheld and recognised as proper, since our action in no way disturbed our relations with the two Allied Powers. The declaration of neutrality made by the present Government conforms therefore in all respects to the precedents of Italian policy, and conforms also to an interpretation of the Treaty of Alliance which has been already accepted by the Allies.

"I wish to recall this, because I think it right that in the eyes of all Europe it should appear that Italy has remained completely loyal to the observance of her pledges." (Loud applause.)[91]

As the Times of December 11, 1914, said in a Leading Article:—

"In the face of these facts, what becomes of the pretence of the German White Book that it was the murders which forced Austria to take action; what of the contention that Russia, or that England, is answerable for the war? Germany had known Austria's purpose for a year when she granted that Power a free hand to deal with Serbia at her discretion." ... These contemporary telegrams read by Signor Giolitti "prove that the war is no result of Russian arrogance, of French revenge, or of English envy, as the German Chancellor avers, but that it is the consequence of schemes long harboured, carefully thought out, and deliberately adopted by Austria and by Germany."

On the occasion referred to above it was not the murder of the heir-apparent at Serajevo which was the pretext for aggression; the issue of the moment was the Treaty of Bucharest.

Two days after the delivery of the Ultimatum to Serbia in July, 1914, Herr von Jagow issued another denial. In his Report to the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs in Paris, the French Ambassador at Berlin on July 25 wrote:—

"The English Chargé d'Affaires also enquired of Herr von Jagow, as I had done yesterday, if Germany had had no knowledge[Pg 44] of the Austrian Note before it was despatched, and he received so clear a reply in the negative that he was not able to carry the matter further; but he could not refrain from expressing his surprise at the blank cheque given by Germany to Austria."[92]

On the same day (July 25) the Russian representative in Paris reports to his Government, that the German Ambassador (Herr von Schoen) said:—

"that Austria had presented her Note to Serbia without any definite understanding with Berlin, but that Germany nevertheless approved of the Austrian point of view, and that undoubtedly 'the bolt once fired' (these were his own words), Germany could only be guided by her duties as an ally."[93]

The next day the Acting Director of the "Direction Politique" in Paris, in a note on the visit to that Office paid by Herr von Schoen, the German Ambassador, stated (Paris, Sunday, July 26):—

"Herr von Schoen, who listened smiling, once more affirmed that Germany had been ignorant of the text of the Austrian Note, and had only approved it after its delivery; she thought, however, that Serbia had need of a lesson severe enough for her not to be able to forget it, and that Austria owed it to herself to put an end to a situation which was dangerous and intolerable for a great Power. He declared besides that he did not know the text of the Serbian reply, and showed his personal surprise that it had not satisfied Austria, if indeed it was such as the papers, which are often ill-informed, represented it to be."[94]

A denial by the German Ambassador to England of his Government's cognisance of the Note is referred to in a despatch from the Russian Ambassador in London (Count Benckendorff) to M. Sazonof, dated July 25, 1914:—

"Grey has told me that the German Ambassador has declared to him that the German Government were not informed of the text of the Austrian Note, but that they entirely supported Austria's action."[95]

On July 25, 1914, a Note was handed by the German Ambassador at Petrograd to the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs:—

"We learn from an authoritative source that the news spread by certain newspapers, to the effect that the action of the Austro-Hungarian Government at Belgrade was instigated by Germany is absolutely false. The German Government had no knowledge of the text of the Austrian Note before it was presented, and exercised no influence upon its contents. A threatening attitude is wrongly attributed to Germany.

"Germany, as the ally of Austria, naturally supports the claims made by the Vienna Cabinet against Serbia, which she considers justified."[96]

[Pg 45]

That this assumed ignorance was received with scepticism, and in some cases frank disbelief in other quarters, is apparent. The French Ambassador in Berlin reported on July 25:—

"The Belgian Minister appears very anxious about the course of events.... He does not believe in the pretended ignorance of the Government of Berlin on the subject of Austria's démarche.

"He thinks that if the form of it has not been submitted to the Cabinet at Berlin, the moment of its despatch has been cleverly chosen in consultation with that Cabinet, in order to surprise the Triple Entente at a moment of disorganisation."[97]

From the French Ambassador in Vienna on July 28 came the following statement to the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs in Paris:—

"Among the suspicions aroused by the sudden and violent resolution of Austria, the most disquieting is that Germany should have pushed her on to aggressive action against Serbia in order to be able herself to enter into war with Russia and France, in circumstances which she supposes ought to be most favourable to herself and under conditions which have been thoroughly considered."[98]

Up to this date, as the Russian Berlin representative reported to his Government the Official German Wolff Bureau (News Agency) had not published the text of the conciliatory Serbian reply, although it had been communicated to them; nor had it appeared in extenso in any of the local papers—because of the calming effect it would have had on German readers![99]

On the same day (July 28) the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs in Paris sent the following message to the French Ambassadors abroad:—

"I have had another visit from the German Ambassador this morning; he told me that he had no communication or official proposal to make to me, but that he came, as on the evening before, to talk over the situation and the methods to be employed to avoid action which would be irreparable. When I asked him about Austria's intentions, he declared that he did not know them and was ignorant of the nature of the means of coercion which she was preparing."[100]

But how does this compare with the following extract from a telegram sent the next day (July 29) by the Kaiser to the Tsar:—

"I cannot ... consider the action of Austria-Hungary as an 'ignominious war.' Austria-Hungary knows from experience that the promises of Serbia as long as they are merely on paper are entirely unreliable."[101]

On July 29 the French Minister at Brussels reported:—

"I report the following impressions of my interview with M. Davignon and with several persons in a position to have exact information. The attitude of Germany is enigmatical and justifies every apprehension; it seems improbable that the Austro-Hungarian Government would have taken an initiative which would lead, according to a preconceived plan, to a[Pg 46] declaration of war, without previous arrangement with the Emperor William.

"The German Government stand 'with grounded arms' ready to take peaceful or warlike action as circumstances may require, but there is so much anxiety everywhere that a sudden intervention against us would not surprise anybody here. My Russian and English colleagues share this feeling."[102]

Finally, on July 30, Sir Maurice de Bunsen, the British Ambassador in Vienna, stated to Sir Edward Grey:—

"I have private information that the German Ambassador knew the text of the Austrian Ultimatum to Serbia before it was despatched, and telegraphed it to the German Emperor. I know from the German Ambassador himself that he endorses every line of it."[103]

Confirmation of the whole evidence is found in the commercial world, for as Sir E. H. Holden, Chairman of the London City and Midland Bank, stated on January 29, 1915:—

"On the 18th of July last (1914) the Dresdner Bank caused a great commotion by selling its securities and by advising its clients to sell their securities. This was recognised as the first semi-official intimation of a probable European conflagration...."


[84] Cd. 7717, No. 19.

[85] Cd. 7717, No. 21.

[86] Cd. 7717, No. 30.

[87] Cd. 7717, No. 32.

[88] Cd. 7717, No. 28.

[89] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 9.

[90] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 6.

[91] Cd. 7860, page 401.

[92] Cd. 7717, No. 41.

[93] Cd. 7626, No. 19.

[94] Cd. 7717, No. 57.

[95] Cd. 7626, No. 20.

[96] Cd. 7626, No. 18.

[97] Cd. 7717, No. 35.

[98] Cd. 7717, No. 83.

[99] Cd. 7626, No. 46.

[100] Cd. 7717, No. 78.

[101] Cd. 7717, Appendix 5, No. 3.

[102] Cd. 7717, No. 87.

[103] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 95.



Germany's view is very clearly indicated in a despatch from the British Ambassador at Vienna, dated July 26, 1914:—

"According to confident belief of German Ambassador, Russia will keep quiet during chastisement of Serbia, which Austria-Hungary is resolved to inflict, having received assurances that no Serbian territory will be annexed by Austria-Hungary. In reply to my question whether Russian Government might not be compelled by public opinion to intervene on behalf of kindred nationality, he said that everything depended on the personality of the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, who could resist easily, if he chose, the pressure of a few newspapers. He pointed out that the days of Pan-Slav agitation in Russia were over, and that Moscow was perfectly quiet. The Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs would not, his Excellency thought, be so imprudent as to take a step which would probably result in many frontier questions in which Russia is interested, such as Swedish, Polish, Ruthene, Roumanian and Persian questions, being brought into the melting-pot. France, too, was not at all in a condition for facing a war.... He doubted Russia, who had no right to assume a protectorate over Serbia, acting as if she[Pg 47] made any such claim. As for Germany, she knew very well what she was about in backing up Austria-Hungary in this matter."[104]

Germany's view is further explained by the British representative at Berlin, on July 26, 1914:—

"Under-Secretary of State likewise told me that German Ambassador at St. Petersburg had reported that, in conversation with Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, latter had said that if Austria annexed bits of Serbian territory Russia would not remain indifferent. Under-Secretary of State drew conclusion that Russia would not act if Austria did not annex territory."[105]

The result of this German influence is shown on the Austrian Ambassador in Berlin by the following despatch from Sir Edward Goschen, the British Ambassador at Berlin, dated July 28, 1914:—

"Austrian colleague said to me to-day that a general war was most unlikely, as Russia neither wanted nor was in a position to make war. I think that that opinion is shared by many people here."[106]

So successful were the Germans in impressing this false view upon the Austrians that the position is best described by the British Ambassador in Vienna in his despatch to Sir Edward Grey, dated July 27, 1914:—

"I have had conversations with all my colleagues representing the Great Powers. The impression left on my mind is that the Austro-Hungarian note was so drawn up as to make war (with Serbia) inevitable; that the Austro-Hungarian Government are fully resolved to have war with Serbia; that they consider their position as a Great Power to be at stake; and that until punishment has been administered to Serbia it is unlikely that they will listen to proposals of mediation. This country has gone wild with joy at the prospect of war with Serbia, and its postponement or prevention would undoubtedly be a great disappointment."[107]

Added to which we have further proof in a despatch from the British Ambassador at Rome, dated July 23, 1914:—

"Secretary-General, whom I saw this morning at the Italian Foreign Office, took the view that the gravity of the situation lay in the conviction of the Austro-Hungarian Government that it was absolutely necessary for their prestige, after the many disillusions which the turn of events in the Balkans has occasioned, to score a definite success."[108]


[104] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 32.

[105] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 33.

[106] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 71.

[107] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 41.

[108] Great Britain and the European Crisis, No. 38.[Pg 48]



In December, 1914, a Committee was appointed by the British Government to inquire into the German outrages in Belgium and France. Under the Chairmanship of Lord Bryce, this Committee was composed of:—

The Rt. Hon. Viscount Bryce, O.M. (Regius Professor of Civil Law at Oxford, 1870; Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, 1886; Chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster (with seat in Cabinet), 1892; President of Board of Trade, 1894; one of the British Members of the International Tribunal at The Hague; Chief Secretary for Ireland, 1905-6; His Majesty's Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary at Washington, 1907-12).

The Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick Pollock, Bt., K.C., LL.D., D.C.L. (Judge of Admiralty Court of Cinque Ports since 1914; Editor of Law Reports since 1895; Chairman, Royal Commission on Public Records, 1910; Corpus Professor of Jurisprudence, Oxford, 1883-1903; Author of The Law of Torts, 1887; History of English Law, 1895.)

The Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Clarke, K.C. (Solicitor-General, 1886-92).

Sir Alfred Hopkinson, K.C. (Professor of Law, Owen's College, Manchester (Principal, 1898-1904); Adviser to the Bombay University, 1913-14).

Mr. H. A. L. Fisher (Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield University; Chichele Lecturer in Foreign History, 1911-12).

Mr. Harold Cox, M.A. (Editor, Edinburgh Review).

Sir Kenelm E. Digby, K.C., G.C.B. (Permanent Under-Secretary of State at Home Office, 1895-1903).

This eminent and impartial Tribunal, after carefully weighing the evidence (Cd. 7894 and Cd. 7895) came to the following grave conclusions:—

"(i) That there were in many parts of Belgium deliberate and systematically organised massacres of the civil population, accompanied by many isolated murders and other outrages.

"(ii) That in the conduct of the war generally innocent civilians, both men and women, were murdered in large numbers, women violated, and children murdered.

"(iii) That looting, house burning, and the wanton destruction of property were ordered and countenanced by the officers of the German Army, that elaborate provision had been made for systematic incendiarism at the very outbreak of the war, and that the burnings and destruction were frequent where no military necessity could be alleged, being indeed part of a system of general terrorisation.

"(iv) That the rules and usages of war were frequently broken, particularly by the using of civilians, including women and children, as a shield for advancing forces exposed to fire, to a less degree by killing the wounded and prisoners, and in the frequent abuse of the Red Cross and the White Flag.

"Sensible as they are of the gravity of these conclusions, the Committee conceive that they would be doing less than their[Pg 49] duty if they failed to record them as fully established by the evidence. Murder, lust, and pillage prevailed over many parts of Belgium on a scale unparalleled in any war between civilised nations during the last three centuries."

The Report makes it plain that apart from the first outbreak of outrages intended to cow the Belgians into submission, fresh bursts of plunder and rapine took place on specific occasions when the Germans suffered defeat. Cowardly vengeance was thus wreaked on the innocent Belgian civilians for the defeat of German arms. For example, on August 25, 1914, the Belgian Army, sallying out from Antwerp, drove the enemy from Malines. The Germans promptly massacred and burnt at Louvain, "the signal for which was provided by shots exchanged between the German Army retreating after its repulse at Malines and some members of the German garrison of Louvain, who mistook their fellow-countrymen for Belgians."[109] Similarly when a successful sortie from Antwerp drove the Germans from Aerschot, they retaliated by a blood-vendetta upon the civil population.

The Germans have endeavoured to justify their brutal excesses by bringing counter-charges against Belgian civilians. For instance, the Chancellor of the German Empire, in a communication made to the press on September 2, 1914, and printed in the Nord Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, of September 21, said: "Belgian girls gouged out the eyes of the German wounded. Officials of Belgian cities have invited our officers to dinner, and shot and killed them across the table. Contrary to all international law, the whole civilian population of Belgium was called out, and after having at first shown friendliness carried on in the rear of our troops terrible warfare with concealed weapons. Belgian women cut the throats of soldiers whom they had quartered in their homes while they were sleeping."

Upon this Lord Bryce's Committee make the comment: "No evidence whatever seems to have been adduced to prove these tales."[110]

Of both individual and concerted acts of barbarity, the report teems—for example:—[111]

"It is clearly shown that many offences were committed against infants and quite young children. On one occasion children[Pg 50] were even roped together and used as a military screen against the enemy, on another three soldiers went into action carrying small children to protect themselves from flank fire. A shocking case of the murder of a baby by a drunken soldier at Malines is thus recorded by one eye-witness and confirmed by another:—

"'One day when the Germans were not actually bombarding the town I left my house to go to my mother's house in High Street. My husband was with me. I saw eight German soldiers, and they were drunk. They were singing and making a lot of noise and dancing about. As the German soldiers came along the street I saw a small child, whether boy or girl I could not see, come out of a house. The child was about two years of age. The child came into the middle of the street so as to be in the way of the soldiers. The soldiers were walking in twos. The first line of two passed the child; one of the second line, the man on the left, stepped aside and drove his bayonet with both hands into the child's stomach, lifting the child into the air on his bayonet and carrying it away on his bayonet, he and his comrades still singing. The child screamed when the soldier struck it with his bayonet, but not afterwards.'"[112]

The following brief extracts of German atrocities are taken from Official Reports issued by the Belgian Legation:—[113]

"On the evening of the 22nd" (August, at Tamines) "a group of between 400 and 450 men was collected in front of the church, not far from the bank of the Sambre. A German detachment opened fire on them, but, as the shooting was a slow business, the officers ordered up a machine gun, which soon swept off all the unhappy peasants still left standing. Many of them were only wounded, and, hoping to save their lives, got with difficulty on their feet again. They were immediately shot down. Many wounded still lay among the corpses," and some of these were bayoneted....

"Next day, Sunday, the 23rd, about 6 o'clock in the morning, another party consisting of prisoners made in the village and the neighbourhood were brought into the square, ... in the square was a mass of bodies of civilians extending over at least 40 yards by 6 yards. They had evidently been drawn up and shot.... An officer asked for volunteers to bury the corpses. Those who volunteered were set to work and dug a trench 15 yards long, 10 broad and 2 deep. The corpses were carried to the trench on planks.... Actually fathers buried the bodies of their sons, and sons the bodies of their fathers.

"There were in the square both soldiers and officers. They were drinking champagne. The more the afternoon drew on the more they drank.... We buried from 350 to 400[Pg 51] bodies." ... A wounded man was buried alive, a German doctor having apparently ordered his interment....

"About 9 in the morning" (at Dinant, August 23) "the German soldiery, driving before them by blows from the butt-end of rifles, men, women, and children, pushed them all into the Parade Square, where they were kept prisoners till 6 o'clock in the evening. The guard took pleasure in repeating to them that they would soon be shot. About 6 o'clock a captain separated the men from the women and children. The women were placed in front of a rank of infantry soldiers, the men were ranged along a wall. The front rank of them were told to kneel, the others remaining standing behind them. A platoon of soldiers drew up in face of these unhappy men. It was in vain that the women cried out for mercy for their husbands, sons, and brothers. The officer ordered his men to fire. There had been no inquiry nor any pretence of a trial. About 20 of the inhabitants were only wounded, but fell among the dead. The soldiers, to make sure, fired a new volley into the heap of them. Several citizens escaped this double discharge. They shammed dead for more than two hours, remaining motionless among the corpses, and when night fell succeeded in saving themselves in the hills. Eighty-four corpses were left on the square and buried in a neighbouring garden."

"On Friday, August 21st, at 4 o'clock in the morning" (at Andenne, between Namur and Huy) "the" (German) "soldiers spread themselves through the town, driving all the population into the streets and forcing men, women, and children to march before them with their hands in the air. Those who did not obey with sufficient promptitude, or did not understand the order given them in German, were promptly knocked down. Those who tried to run away were shot. It was at this moment that Dr. Camus" (the Burgomaster), "against whom the Germans seemed to have some special spite, was wounded by a rifle shot, and then finished off by a blow from an axe. His body was dragged along by the feet for some distance....

"Subsequently the soldiers, on the order of their officers, picked out of the mass some 40 or 50 men who were led off and all shot, some along the bank of the Meuse, and others in front of the Police Station.

"The rest of the men were kept for a long time in the Place. Among them lay two persons, one of whom had received a ball in the chest, and the other a bayonet wound. They lay face to the ground with blood from their wounds trickling into the dust, occasionally calling for water. The officers forbade their neighbours to give them any help.... Both died in the course of the day.... In the morning the officers told the women to withdraw, giving them the order to gather together the dead bodies and to wash away the stains of blood which defiled the street and the houses."


[109] Cd. 7894, p. 14.

[110] Cd. 7894, p. 26.

[111] Professor J. H. Morgan, Representative of the Home Office, attached to the Headquarters Staff of the British Expeditionary Force, states in a letter to the Times, dated May 20, 1915:—

" ... There has lately come into my hands—unfortunately too late for use by the Committee—evidence which establishes beyond reasonable doubt that the outrages upon combatants in the field are committed by the orders of responsible officers, such as Brigade and Company Commanders, and that British and Belgian soldiers are the objects of peculiar malignancy.... There is some evidence to show that the East Prussian and Bavarian regiments are the worst offenders. The French military authorities, who have been of great assistance to me in my inquiries, informed me that they have now a very considerable 'black list' of this character. When the time comes to dictate terms of peace and to exact reparation that list will be very useful.... In the earlier stages of the war there was a widespread disinclination on the part of our officers and men to credit stories of 'atrocities.' Nothing has impressed me more than the complete change of conviction on this point, especially among our officers. As a Staff Officer of the highest eminence said to me lately, 'The Germans have no sense of honour in the field.' Any sense of the freemasonry of arms has practically disappeared among them, and deliberate killing of the wounded is of frequent occurrence."

[112] Cd. 7894. p. 32.

[113] The Commission chiefly responsible for these official Belgian reports was composed of M. Cooreman, Minister of State (President); Count Goblet d'Alviella, Minister of State and Vice-President of the Senate; M. Ryckmans, Senator; M. Strauss, Alderman of the City of Antwerp; M. Van Cutsem, Hon. President of the Law Court of Antwerp; and, as Secretaries, Chevalier Ernst de Bunswyck, Chef du Cabinet of the Minister of Justice, and M. Orts, Councillor of Legation.[Pg 52]



The following is a copy of a Report dated May 3, 1915, by Field-Marshal Sir John French on the employment by the Germans of poisonous gases as weapons of warfare:—

"The gases employed have been ejected from pipes laid into the trenches, and also produced by the explosion of shells especially manufactured for the purpose. The German troops who attacked under cover of these gases were provided with specially designed respirators, which were issued in sealed pattern covers. This all points to long and methodical preparation on a large scale.

"A week before the Germans first used this method they announced in their official communiqué that we were making use of asphyxiating gases. At the time there appeared to be no reason for this astounding falsehood, but now, of course, it is obvious that it was part of the scheme. It is a further proof of the deliberate nature of the introduction by the Germans of a new and illegal weapon, and shows that they recognised its illegality and were anxious to forestall neutral, and possibly domestic, criticism.

"Since the enemy first made use of this method of covering his advance with a cloud of poisoned air he has repeated it both in offence and defence whenever the wind has been favourable.

"The effect of this poison is not merely disabling, or even painlessly fatal, as suggested in the German Press. Those of its victims who do not succumb on the field, and who can be brought into hospital, suffer acutely, and in a large proportion of cases die a painful and lingering death. Those who survive are in little better case, as the injury to their lungs appears to be of a permanent character and reduces them to a condition which points to their being invalids for life. These effects must be well known to the German scientists who devised this new weapon and to the military authorities who have sanctioned its use.

"I am of opinion that the enemy has definitely decided to use these gases as a normal procedure, and that protests will be useless."



Since the war, both the German Imperial Chancellor, Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg, and the German Foreign Secretary, Herr von Jagow, have endeavoured to explain away the former's phrase: "a scrap of paper," which shocked the diplomatic conscience of the world.[Pg 53] Both have endeavoured to lay the blame for the conflict at Great Britain's door.[114] The German Imperial Chancellor now declares that:—

"Documents on the Anglo-Belgian Military Agreement which ... we have found in the archives of the Belgian Foreign Office ... showed that England in 1911 was determined to throw troops into Belgium without the consent of the Belgian Government."[115]

The true facts of the case are to be seen in the following extract from the statement issued by the Belgian Minister in London, on March 17, 1915:—

"A month after the declaration of war the German Chancery discovered at Brussels the reports of certain conversations which had taken place in 1906 and in 1912 between two British Military Attachés and two Chiefs of the Staff of the Belgian Army. In order to transform these reports into documents which would justify Germany's conduct it was necessary to garble them and to lie. Such was the only way in which the German action against Belgium could be made to appear decent.... Thus it came to pass that, with a shamelessness for which history shows few parallels, the German Chancery gave out that a 'Convention' had existed, by which Belgium had betrayed her most sacred pledges and violated her own neutrality for the benefit of England. To produce an impression on those ignorant of the facts, 'German honesty' suppressed, when the précis of the above-named conversations was published, the clause in which it was set forth that the exchange of opinion therein recorded did reference only to the situation that would be created if Belgian neutrality had already been violated. The Belgian Government gives to the allegations of the German Chancery the only answer that they deserve—they are a tissue of lies, all the more shameless because they are set forth by persons who claim to have studied the original documents.

"But what are the documents which Germany produces in order to prove Belgium guilty? They are two in number:—

"(1) The narrative of certain interviews which took place between Lieutenant-General Ducarne and Colonel Barnardiston in 1906. In the course of these interviews the British officer set forth his views as to the way in which England could help Belgium in case the latter were attacked by Germany. One phrase in the document clearly proves that Colonel Barnardiston is dealing with a hypothetical case—viz., 'the entry of English troops into Belgium would only take place after a violation of Belgian neutrality by Germany.' The translation in the Norddeutsche Zeitung of November 25 omits this clause, the phrase which gives its exact scope and significance to the document. Moreover, the photograph of General Ducarne's report contains the words, 'The officer with whom I spoke insists that our conversation has been absolutely confidential.' For the word conversation the Norddeutsche Zeitung substitutes the word 'convention.' Colonel Barnardiston is made to say that 'our convention' has been absolutely confidential![116][Pg 54]

"Such proceedings need no commentary.

"(2) The second document is the report of a conversation on the same subject in April, 1912, between Lieutenant-General Jungbluth and Lieutenant-Colonel Bridges. In the course of the conversation the former observed to the latter that 'any English intervention in favour of Belgium, if she were the victim of German aggression, could only take place with our consent.' The British Military Attaché raised the point that England might perhaps exercise her rights and duties, as one of the Powers guaranteeing Belgium, without waiting for the appeal to be made to her. This was Colonel Bridges' personal opinion only. The British Government has always held, as did the Belgian Government, that the consent of the latter was a necessary preliminary.

"The Belgian Government declares on its honour that not only was no 'Convention' ever made, but also that neither of the two Governments ever made any advances or propositions concerning the conclusion of any such convention. Moreover, the Minister of Great Britain at Brussels, who alone could contract engagements in her behalf, never intervened in these conversations. And the whole Belgian Ministry are ready to pledge themselves on oath that no conclusions arising from these conversations were ever brought before the Cabinet, or even laid before one single member of it. The documents which the Germans discovered give evidence of all this. Their meaning is perfectly clear provided that no part of them is either garbled or suppressed.

"In face of calumnies repeated again and again, our Government, faithfully reflecting Belgian uprightness, considers that it is its duty to inflict once more on the spoiler of Belgium the brand of infamy—his only legitimate reward. It also takes the opportunity of declaring, in answer to allegations whose malevolence is obvious, that:—

"(1) Before the declaration of war no French force, even of the smallest size, had entered Belgium.

"(2) Not only did Belgium never refuse an offer of military help offered by one of the guaranteeing Powers, but after the declaration of war she earnestly solicited the protection of her guarantors.

"(3) When undertaking, as was her duty, the vigorous defence of her fortresses, Belgium asked for, and received with gratitude, such help as her guarantors were able to place at her disposition for that defence.[Pg 55]

"Belgium the victim of her own loyalty, will not bow her head before any Power. Her honour defies the assaults of falsehood. She has faith in the justice of the world. On the day of judgment the triumph belongs to the people who have sacrificed everything to serve conscientiously the cause of Truth, Right, and Honour."

In the foregoing connection, the following extract from a statement authorised by Sir Edward Grey on January 26, 1915, is of interest:—

"As regards the conversation ... the Belgian officer said to the British: '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—railways 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 other Powers on the footing that there would be no violation of Belgian neutrality unless it were previously violated by another Power...."


[114] Interview with Herr von Jagow, by the New York World, March 28, 1915; interview with Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg, by the Associated Press, in New York papers, January 25, 1915.

[115] No such "conversations" took place in 1911. A passing reference only to the Morocco situation of 1911 was made in the 1912 "conversations." This appears to be the German Chancellor's sole foundation for his assertion. Cd. 7860, p. 360.

[116] In a letter to the Morning Post of February 8, 1915, Mr. A. Hamon, Professor de l'Université, Nouville de Bruxelles, writes:—

"In October and November last (13th and 24th) the Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung published the documents seized by the Germans in the Belgian archives. The German Government then published a Dutch edition of these documents, accompanied by a photographic reproduction of the said documents. The pamphlet bears the name of R. W. E. Wijnmalen as publisher, in the town of Den Haag (The Hague). On the photographic document we read in the margin: 'The entry of the English into Belgium would only take place after the violation of our neutrality by Germany.' Now, this extremely important note is omitted in the Dutch translation. It was also omitted in the German translation. This is a falsification through omission, a very serious falsification, as it modified the meaning of the document.

"But we have worse still. On the top of page 2 of General Ducarne's letter to the Minister, he says: 'My interlocutor insisted on this fact that "our conversation was quite confidential...."' In the Dutch translation, instead of 'conversation,' there is 'convention' (overeenkomst)! The mistake is great and cannot be but purposely made. The German Government thus changes into a convention, that is to say, an agreement, what is but a simple conversation."



Correspondence respecting the European Crisis. Misc. No. 6 (1914).

Rupture of Diplomatic Relations with the German Government. Despatch from His Majesty's Ambassador at Berlin. Misc. No. 8 (1914).

German Organisation for Influencing the Press of other Countries. Despatches from His Majesty's Ambassador at Berlin. Misc. No. 9 (1914).

Rupture of Diplomatic Relations with the Austro-Hungarian Government. Despatch from His Majesty's Ambassador at Vienna. Misc. 10 (1914).

Documents respecting Negotiations preceding the War published by the Russian Government. Misc. No. 11 (1914).

Papers relating to the Support offered by the Princes and Peoples of India to His Majesty in connection with the War. (I.O. paper.)

Diplomatic Correspondence respecting the War published by the Belgian Government. Misc. No. 12 (1914).[Pg 56]

Correspondence respecting Events leading to the Rupture of Relations with Turkey. Misc. No. 13 (1914).

Despatch from His Majesty's Ambassador at Constantinople summarising Events leading up to Rupture of Relations with Turkey and Reply. Misc. No. 14 (1914).

Diplomatic Correspondence respecting the War published by the French Government. Misc. No. 15 (1914).

Despatch to Sir H. Howard containing instruction respecting his Mission to the Vatican. Misc. No. 1 (1914).

Temperance Measures adopted in Russia since the outbreak of the War. Despatch from Petrograd enclosing Memo. Misc. No. 2 (1915).

Letter July 31/14 from President of French Republic to the King respecting the European Crisis, and His Majesty's Reply. Misc. No. 3 (1915).

Treatment of German Prisoners in United Kingdom. Correspondence with the U.S. Ambassador respecting. Misc. No. 5 (1915).

Rights of Belligerents: Correspondence with U.S. Government. Misc. No. 6 (1915).

Treatment of Prisoners of War and Interned Civilians in the U.K. and Germany respectively: Correspondence between His Majesty's Government and U.S. Ambassador respecting. Misc. No. 7 (1915).

Release of Interned Civilians and the Exchange of Diplomatic. &c., Officers, and of certain classes of Naval and Military Officers, Prisoners of War in the United Kingdom and Germany respectively. Misc. No. 8 (1915).

Sinking of German Cruiser "Dresden" in Chilean Territorial Waters: Notes exchanged with the Chilean Minister. Misc. No. 9 (1915).

List of certain Commissions and Committees set up to deal with Public Questions arising out of the War.

Bad Time kept in Shipbuilding, Munitions and Transport Areas: Report and Statistics.

Alleged German Outrages: Report of Committee.

Alleged German Outrages: Appendix to Report of Committee.

Collected Diplomatic Documents relating to the Outbreak of the European War. Misc. No. 10 (1915).

Treatment of British Prisoners of War and Interned Civilians at certain places of detention in Germany: Report by United States Officials. Misc. No. 11 (1915).

Correspondence regarding the Naval and Military Assistance afforded to His Majesty's Government by His Majesty's Oversea Dominions. (Cd. 7607.)

Correspondence relating to Gifts of Food-Stuffs and other Supplies to His Majesty's Government from the Oversea Dominions and Colonies. (Cd. 7608.)

Correspondence regarding Gifts from the Oversea Dominions and Colonies. (Cd. 7646.)

Papers relating to Scales of Pensions and Allowances of Officers and Men of the Oversea Contingents and their Dependents. (Cd. 7793.)

Correspondence on the subject of the proposed Naval and Military Expedition against German South-West Africa. (Cd. 7873.)

Report on the Outbreak of the Rebellion and the Policy of the Government with regard to its suppression. (Cd. 7874.)

Further Correspondence regarding Gifts from the Oversea Dominions and Colonies. (Cd. 7875.)

Transcriber's Note

The transcriber made this change to the text to correct an obvious error:

 1. p. 34, "appproaches" --> "approaches"



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