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tions informally between the two countries. Lord Hal-
dane's intimate acquaintance and sympathy with German
life and thought, and his admiration for German philoso-
phy and literature suggested him as a suitable envoy for
this mission. He arrived in Berlin, February 9, 1912.

It was reported that Lord Haldane entered into conver-
sations with regard to important territorial adjustments in
Africa. We may observe in this connection that about
the same time Professor Hans Delbriick discussed in the
Preiissische J ahrbiicher, of which he is the editor, the aims
of German colonial policy. Although sturdily nationalistic
in his general views, an advocate of German expansion.
Professor Delbriick may be regarded as a reliably repre-
sentative German of the influential intellectual circles, a
personality free from extreme and exaggerated political
views. His leading characteristic is his independence. As
professor in a Prussian university, and therefore an official,
he criticised so sharply the government's treatment of the



140 The Great War

Danes in Schleswig, alluding in March, 1899, to "the bru-
tality which exhibits us to the abhorrence of the civilized
world," that his removal from the chair of history was
demanded. He was actually fined 500 marks ($119) for his
contumacious behavior, and this incident may be regarded
as evidence to show about how far the alleged tendency
in Germany to curtail academic freedom by government
interference may be expected to go. In spite of his inde-
pendence Professor Delbriick is in close touch with the
government and this invests with special importance all
that he writes on current political topics.

Lord Haldane's visit in Berlin had no apparent results;
but the rumored discussion of the African situation is
significant. The present war will almost certainly be fol-
lowed by territorial adjustments in Africa. The holdings
of the European powers in the Black Continent are scat-
tered in fragments like a mosaic of irregular pattern. It
is obviously desirable that a more logical apportionment
should take the place of the present patchwork system.
For this reason Professor Delbriick's article cited above
furnishes valuable testimony regarding Germany's aspira-
tions. He declared that national, not economic, consid-
erations should dominate in colonial policy; trade and
commerce should be regarded as means for the extension
and consolidation of the German nationality. The existing
German colonies were ill-suited as a basis for a national,
colonial development. The first essential condition, an
extensive, uninterrupted expanse of colonial territory was
lacking. He proceeded to suggest plans for securing the
necessary basis of compactness for the African colonies.
He assumed in the first place that the Portuguese colonies
would eventually be apportioned between Germany and
Great Britain. In making such a division he thought that
Germany might at least expect to receive Angola, Cabinda,



Moral Impulses in the United Kingdom 141

and Zanzibar. Germany could then exchange Togo for
the remainder of the French Congo territory between
Kamerun and the mouth of the Congo, with the French
privilege of eventually purchasing Belgium's rights in the
former Congo Free State. In this way Kamerun, the
present French Congo, Angola, and German Southwest
Africa would constitute a practically unbroken German
colonial domain of large extent. He suggested a second,
and possibly even more satisfactory plan for the event that
Great Britain desired to obtain a continuous route from
the Cape to Cairo, which is at present interrupted only by
German East Africa. Germany should in that case cede
this colony to Great Britain and receive in return the
British territory of Nigeria and the French territories of
Dahomey and the Congo with the eventual right of pur-
chasing the Belgian Congo, Great Britain indemnifying
France by ceding to her Gambia, Sierra Leone, and the
Gold Coast. In this way the three powers would con-
vert their dependencies into compact blocks, Germany's
African empire extending from the western extremity of
Togo to the southern limit of German Southwest Africa.

Suggestions had already been made before Lord Hal-
dane's visit in Berlin regarding a retardation in the rate of
naval construction by Germany and Great Britain. But
Germany wanted a comprehensive political agreement with
Great Britain before considering the proposed naval under-
standing. Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg commented
in his speech at the opening of the Reichstag, August 19,
1915, on his efforts to place Anglo-German relations upon
a permanent basis of friendship. From his words and
other evidence it appears that he suggested an agreement
in 1912 in essentially the following terms: (1) that neither
country had any idea of aggression against the other, and
that neither would make an unprovoked attack upon the



142 The Great War

other or join in any combination for the purpose of such
an aggression; and (2) that in the event of an unprovoked
attack made on either party by a third power or group of
powers, the party not attacked would stand aside; but (3)
that the obligation of observing neutrality should not apply
in cases where it would be incompatible with existing
agreements made by the contracting parties.

Great Britain was prepared to accept the first part of
this proposal and gave assurances that she had not entered
into any engagement to attack Germany and wovild not
enter into any, but refused to bind herself absolutely to
maintain an attitude of neutrality in case Germany were
involved in war with any other power or powers.

The Chancellor interpreted this refusal in the sense that
Great Britain was not willing to pledge her abstention
from assisting France in an aggressive enterprise against
Germany. The British government, on the other hand,
regarded the proposal as a disguised attempt to bind Great
Britain's hands while Germany crushed and despoiled
France. The position of France was therefore the key
to the situation. While Great Britain was not disposed to
back France in an aggressive attempt to recover Alsace-
Lorraine, she could not afford to see France weakened,
and deprived of her position as a great power. In conse-
quence of the difficulty of ascertaining which party in a
conflict is really the aggressor, the promise to stand aside
in any case in which Germany was attacked might com-
promise Great Britain's interest in the preservation of
France. For a statesman of Bismarckian dexterity might
conceivably arise in Germany capable of saddling France
with the apparent responsibility for provoking a war which
was really contrived for German aggrandizement.

Suppose the formal inception of hostilities rested with
Austria-Hungary. If Austria-Hungary and Russia were



Moral Impulses in the United Kingdom 143

at war Germany would probably feel bound by her treaty
of alliance with Austria-Hungary to go to her assistance.
The moment this occurred, France would doubtless be
under obligation, in accordance with the terms of the
Dual Alliance, to aid Russia by attacking Germany. A
situation would thus be created in which, according to the
terms of the proposed Anglo-German agreement, Ger-
many, ostensibly the victim of an unprovoked attack, might
crush France and help herself to the latter's colonies, while
Great Britain would be pledged to stand by inactively and
watch the spoliation of her neighbor. The acceptance of
the proposed agreement by Great Britain would presum-
ably have eliminated her participation in the campaign of
1914. It would have removed the element which many
regard as decisive in turning the balance against the success
of the great drive on Paris.

Count Andrassy for instance declared:

"It is as clear as sunlight that without the intervention of
England, France would long ago have been beaten to the
ground and perhaps forfeited her position as a great power
for generations."

Great Britain's rejection of Germany's offer was analo-
gous to Germany's renunciation of the Re-insurance Treaty
with Russia. In each instance the rejection was due to a
relationship of peculiar intimacy between one of the prin-
cipal parties in the case and a third power, and to suspicion
in consequence of the difficulty of defining with precision
an attitude of aggression. These proposals made in 1912
throw light upon the allusions to general neutrality arrange-
ments made just before the war both by Sir Edward Grey
and Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg.

The disparity of opinion within the Liberal party in
Great Britain regarding the absorbing topic of Anglo-
German relations may be illustrated by a circular letter



144 The Great War

sent by Sir J. Brunner, President of the National Liberal
Federation, to the chairmen of Liberal associations through-
out the country. In this communication he claimed that
the Liberal government in its policy had not been faith-
ful to its election pledges. The Liberal victory in 1906
had been won on a program of peace, retrenchment, and
reform. But the false naval panic of 1909 had, in his esti-
mation, swept away the spirit of prudence and economy.
The invention of the Dreadnought had proved a curse to
mankind. British friendship with France had been twisted
into an entanglement injurious to Anglo-German relations.
The success of Lord Haldane's mission to Berlin had been
thwarted by Mr. Churchill's warlike speeches. In conse-
quence of these mistakes, he urged that the Federation
should demand a change in policy.

A conference on Anglo-German relations was held in
Caxton Hall, October 30 to November 2, 1912, where the
sympathy and views of many leading men of both coun-
tries found expression. It is significant to note that the
right of maritime capture in time of war, persistently
adhered to by Great Britain, was condemned by promi-
nent international lawyers as the principal cause of Anglo-
German discord. The dangerous influence of the press
on international relations, and the possibiHties for an under-
standing regarding German colonial expansion were dis-
cussed, and a permanent committee was appointed for
carrying on the business of the conference.

In introducing the naval estimates, March 26, 1913,
Mr. Churchill suggested the idea of a "naval holiday,"
that is to say, a suspension of all naval construction by
Great Britain and Germany for the period of one year.
In the course of his speech he stated that according to the
program adopted in 1912 the progress of naval construc-
tion in six years would produce a total of twenty-five




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Lord Haldanc, Lord Chancellor and tbniicr Minister of War, arriving with Lord Kitchener

at the War Office.



Moral Impulses in the United Kingdom 145

capital ships in the United Kingdom against fourteen in
Germany. For any German keel in addition to the
program already adopted, he said that Great Britain would
lay down two. If Germany wished to modify this program
for 1914, she had only to say the word.

But on April 7th the German Chancellor, von Bethmann-
HoUweg, said that the German government must await
definite proposals from Great Britain before considering
such a cessation of construction.

Accordingly, Mr. Churchill renewed his proposal for
a "naval holiday" in a speech delivered at Manchester,
October 18th. After alluding to the statement of the
Chancellor that the German government awaited definite
proposals, Mr. Churchill said that in 1914 Great Britain
was to lay down four new keels and Germany two. He
offered, therefore, that, if Germany would defer laying
down her two keels for a year, Great Britain would post-
pone her four for the same period. In this way large sums
of money would be saved for social improvement.

This proposal did not receive Germany's assent. Many
people in Germany regarded it as a deceptive stratagem;
others, as a confession of weakness on the part of Great
Britain. German authorities declared, moreover, that the
proposal was impractical for Germany, because Great
Britain could build ships more rapidly, and also because
the German dockyard employees would be left without
work during the vacation year, while the men in the
British yards could be employed on foreign orders.

These incidents illustrate the diversity of opinion among
British Liberals as to the most effective means for preserv-
ing peace. Some urged that formidable preparations for
defense were the most reliable guarantee of safety, while
others maintained that a cordial, conciliatory attitude was
the essential requirement.



146 The Great War

As late as August 1st very few people in Great Britain
believed that the country vi^ould be drawn into the war.
They regarded the conflict as a Balkan question in which
they had no concern. One may almost say that the nation
as a whole was very strongly opposed to the notion of
intervening in any European war.

The Labor party drew up a resolution on July 31st, ex-
pressing the hope "that on no account will this country be
dragged into a European conflict, in which, as the prime
minister has stated, we have no direct or indirect interest,"
and stating, that "the party calls upon all labor organiza-
tions to watch events vigilantly, so as to oppose, if need be,
in the most effective way, any action which may involve
us in war."

The anti-war feeling was vigorously expressed by a con-
siderable portion of the press. Thus the Daily News and
Leader in an editorial of July 29th declared that Austria-
Hungary could not be blamed for her determination to
put a stop to a continual menace to her prosperity, or even
existence. Austria-Hungary was apparently resolved "to
take the utmost risks in order to end the machinations of
Russia in the Balkans, and to test the readiness of that
power to back her Serbian instrument even to the point of
war." The article asserted that Russia is no true champion
of freedom, and that her claim to be the protector of the
Slav peoples is unfounded. Russia had intervened in Balkan
affairs for entirely selfish ends, and her attitude at the
present was determined by her own far-reaching designs.
Neither France nor Great Britain could have any sympathy
with these designs. France should declare plainly that she
would have no part in saving Serbia from her deserved chas-
tisement. The suggestion that Great Britain should spend
lives and treasure "to establish Russia in the Balkans would
be an inconceivable outrage to a democratic country."



Moral Impulses in the United Kingdom 147

On the 29th tlie Daily Gniphic, while acknowledjjing
that the contest between Austria-Hungary and Serbia was
being waged near a powder magazine that might explode
and involve Europe in a terrible catastrophe, declared:

"That this risk has been duly weighed by the Austrian
Emperor and his sagacious advisers we do not doubt, and
it is in that circumstance that we find the best grounds
for hope. There is, indeed, not the slightest reason, apart
from incomprehensible wrong-headedness, why, at this
stage, at least, any other state should interfere. Even if
Austrian action were less justified than it is, the idea of
plunging the whole of Europe into war on that account
would be an act of madness.

"There is, then, no reason whatever for enlarging the
area of the war, and if so incendiary an initiative should
come from one of our own allies, we trust that Sir Edward
Grey will not shrink from denying it all countenance on
the part of Great Britain."

As late as August 1st the same paper maintained that by
remaining outside the fire zone Great Britain could do a
great deal of good in the way of protecting the minor
states such as Belgium and Holland, and preserving the
peace in the Balkans.

The Nation on the same day, while admitting that
Austria-Hungary deliberately provoked the war with Ser-
bia by her excessive demands, stated that British public
opinion was definitely opposed to war. The general panic
throughout Europe was a sufficient explanation for the
pacific spirit of the world of finance and commerce. The
British working classes had as much reason to dread a gen-
eral war as the Socialists of Germany, who were holding
monster meetings to protest against it. The conclusion
was drawn from these observations, that "a minister who
led this country into war would be responsible for a war as



148 The Great War

causeless and unpopular as any war in history, and that he
would cease to lead the Liberal party." The article main-
tained that Great Britain's proper role was that of mediator.
"The suggestion conveyed in the articles of the Times and
Morning Post . . . that the appalling contingency of a
general war might make a case for our own armed action,
is the language of sheer insanity. We do these writers the
credit of supposing that they argue that the fear of our
armed intervention might conduce to the general peace.
On the contrary, the knowledge that we were prepared to
back her is the one thing which might induce Russia
to make war, and there the whole danger lies. . . . That
our statesmen should even dream of sharing with one ship
or one battalion in the immense and irrational crime of a
general war for a local end that touches no real interest of
Western Europe is an absurdity which we need not discuss."

The London Times, the traditional mouthpiece of the
more emphatic British spirit, was expressing itself in a
distinctly different tone. On the 30th it declared:

"This government and this nation reserve for themselves,
it need hardly be said, the most complete liberty of action
in such an event. If France is menaced, or the safety of
the Belgian frontier, which we have guaranteed with her
and with Prussia by treaties that Mr. Gladstone's govern-
ment in 1870 confirmed, we shall know how to act. We
can no more afford to see France crushed by Germany, or
the balance of power upset against France, than Germany
can afford to see Austria-Hungary crushed by Russia, and
that balance upset against Austrian and Hungarian interests.
Upon that issue, should it become an issue to be deter-
mined by arms, our friends and our enemies will find that
we think and act with one accord."

The Times expressed itself even more strongly and un-
equivocally on August 1st. After summing up the situation




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Brltii.li iiittrt.-.t in the war. A cr*»wj in Whitehall, oppoNitt- Downing Street,
waiting for a glimpse o{ ministers and other notables.



Moral Impulses in the United Kingdom 149

it declared that the action demanded of the British Empire
in the impending conditions was clear:

" If France and Russia are involved in war, the Empire
must supi^ort them with all its strenirth and without delay."
The editorial proceeded to unfold the threefold reason:

"In the first place we must stand by our friends. . . .
The character of nations is weighed by the world at
moments like this. We should be judged, and rightly
judged, unworthy of the friendship of any civilized power,
if we were to repudiate the claim of France and Russia
upon our support now that events, against their will as
against ours, have brought our cooperation to the decisive
test of war. . . .

"In the second place we have a vital interest in seeing
that France is not overwhelmed by Germany, however
friendly we may and do feel to the German people. The
power which dominates France will dominate Belgium
and the Netherlands and threaten, as did Louis XIV and
Napoleon, the very basis of the Empire's existence — British
sea-power. ..."

"In the third place, the Empire stands for civilized rela-
tions between peoples and the utmost regard for the spirit
of international law. It stands also for peace, and it must
resist at all costs a revival of the doctrine that war is merely
an instrument of policy, not the last resort when policy
has failed."

With few exceptions the German dailies do not employ
special correspondents in London, but receive their British
news reports through the Wolff Agency (Wolff Tele-
graphische Agentur), which is said to have been subsidized
by the German government. The statement has been
made that during the fateful days from July 31st until
August 4th, when Great Britain's policy hung in the bal-
ance, this German agency transmitted only such extracts



150 The Great War

from the British press as would convey the impression that
Great Britain's attitude was unconditionally pacific. Such
a statement, if authenticated, would constitute a historical
fact of considerable significance. It suggests that the whole
subject of the influence of the press in its relation to the
causes of the war is a field whose subsoil conceals incalcul-
able opportunities for profitable historical investigation.

As the war clouds loomed blacker and ever more men-
acing on the eastern horizon, France turned her gaze with
increasing anxiety across the Channel, and French statesmen
contemplated with ever greater solicitude the probable atti-
tude of their entente associate in case the threatening hurri-
cane should break. Sir Edward Grey encouraged them
vvith no specific assurance of help before August 2d.

Some hostile critics, it is true, claim that the British For-
eign Secretary virtually gave his promise of British support
to France as early as July 29th, and that the assurance given
at that time was the decisive factor which precipitated the
general conflict. The importance of this assertion requires
a somewhat detailed explanation of the circumstances upon
which it is based.

In an interview with M. Paul Cambon in the morning of
July 29th, Sir Edward Grey announced his intention of tell-
ing the German ambassador that he must not be misled by
the friendly tone of their conversations into any sense of
false security that Great Britain would stand aside, if all the
efforts to preserve peace should fail. Sir Edward Grey
added, however, that British public opinion "approached
the present difficulty from a quite different point of view
from that taken during the difficulty as to Morocco a few
years ago." The British idea was to avoid being drawn
into a war over a Balkan question. The British govern-
ment had not decided what they would do in case Germany
and France became involved. Great Britain was free from



Moral Impulses in the United Kingdom 151

engagements, and they would have to decide what British
interests required them to do. Sir Edward Grey consid-
ered it necessary to say this lest M. Cambon be misled by
the naval precautions and warning to Prince Lichnowsky
into supposing that British policy in the event of war had
been determined.

The same day Sir Edward Grey told Prince Lichnowsky
"in a quite private and friendly way, something that was
on his mind," that so long as the situation was restricted to
the present issues, he had no thought of interfering, but
that, if Germany and France became involved, he did not
wish Prince Lichnowsky to be misled "by the friendly
tone of their conversation into thinking that they should
stand aside." If British interests should require them to
intervene, the decision would have to be very rapid. Sir
Edward Grey "did not wish to be open to any reproach"
that the friendly tone of their conversations had misled the
German ambassador.

These steps, particularly the conversations with M. Cam-
bon, have been assailed from the most opposite points of
view. For British Jingoes regarded the remarks to the
French ambassador as the expression of an attitude of dis-
loyalty, whilst German critics not only burden Great Britain
with the responsibility for the war, on the ground that she
could have prevented it, but point to this very conversation
as an unmistakable intimation that Great Britain would take
her stand by the side of France and Russia. We may follow
the alleged course of the fateful current set in motion by
Sir Edward Grey's remarks, as traced by a prominent Ger-
man observer.

Our guide reminds us that M. Sazonoff had declared to
the British ambassador in St. Petersburg on July 25th that
if Russia felt sure of the support of France, she would face
all the risks of war. But France, as he informs us, hesitated



152 The Great War

to commit herself unreservedly until she was sure of
Great Britain's support. Sir Edward Grey's announcement
on the 29th furnished precisely the desired assurance.
France immediately communicated her resolution to per-



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