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made yesterday in the House of Commons show clearly
the point of view of the English government. We have
assured the English government that, as long as England
remains neutral, our fleet will not attack the northern
coast of France, and that we will not violate the territorial
integrity or independence of Belgium. I now repeat this
statement before the whole world, and I may add that, so
long as England remains neutral, we would also be willing,
in case of reciprocal assurances, to abstain from all hostile
operations against the French merchant marine.

"Gentlemen, such has been the course of events. I
repeat the Kaiser's words: 'Germany goes to war with a



50 The Great War

clear conscience!' We are fighting for the fruits of our
peaceful labor, for the inheritance of a great past, and for
our future. The fifty years are not yet passed during
which. Count Moltke said, we should have to remain
armed for the defense of our inheritance and the con-
quests of 1870. Now the great hour of trial for our
people has struck. But we face it with clear confidence.
Our army is in the field, our navy is ready for battle —
behind them stands the entire German people — the entire
German people [he glanced at the Social Democrats,
pausing an instant to receive their expression of approba-
tion] united to the last man !

"You, gentlemen, know your duty in all its greatness.
The bills before you require no further explanation. I ask
you to pass them quickly."

The response of the Social Democrats, as expressed by
their parliamentary leader, Herr Haase, has a peculiar
interest:

"On behalf of my party I am commissioned to make
the following statement: We are face to face with an
hour of destiny. The consequences of imperialistic policy,
which has inspired an era of armament competition, and
accentuated the differences between the nations, have
burst over Europe like a deluge. The advocates of this
policy must bear the responsibility. We refuse to accept
it. The Social Democrats have struggled against this fate-
ful development with all their power, and until the very
last moment they worked to preserve peace through im-
pressive demonstrations in all countries, in accord with
their brothers in France. Their exertions have been in
vain. We stand now before the inexorable fact of war.
The horrors of hostile invasion threaten us. The question
before us. is not now that of war or peace, but concerning
the necessary supplies for the national defense. We must



Moral Forces in the Teutonic Empires 51

now consider the millions of our fellow-countrymen who,
without any fault of their own, are plunged into this
catastrophe. They will suffer most from the ravages of
war. Without distinction of party, we follow with our
innermost good wishes those of our brothers who have
been called to the colors. We think also of the mothers
who must part with their sons, of the wives and children
who are robbed of their supporters, and for whom the
terrors of hunger are added to anxiety of death. To these
will soon be added thousands of wounded and crippled
soldiers. We regard it as an imperative duty to stand by
them all, to mitigate their sufferings, to help their im-
measurable need. For our nation and for its future liberty,
much, if not all, is hazarded, should victory come to Rus-
sian despotism, whose hands are already stained with the
blood of the best of its own people. This danger must be
averted and the civilization and independence of our own
land secured. In these circumstances we prove the truth
of our constant assertion : in the hour of danger we do
not leave our Fatherland in the lurch. And in this atti-
tude we feel that we are true to the principles of the
International, which recognizes the right of every nation
at all times to independence and self-defense, just as, in
accordance with it, we condemn any war of conquest.
We demand that as soon as the end of securing our safety
has been attained, and the enemy is inclined to peace, this
war be terminated by a treaty which shall make friendship
with our neighbors possible. We demand this not only in
the interests of international solidarity, for which we have
always striven, but also for the good of the German nation.
Guided by these principles, we agree to the credits which
are required."

The extraordinary credit of 5,000,000,000 marks ($1,190,-
000,000), the largest single war-credit ever demanded of



52 The Great War

any legislative assembly, was unanimously passed, and the
Reichstag was adjourned until November 24th.

While the violation of Belgian neutrality from the British
and Belgian points of view, together with the question of
moral culpability, is treated elsewhere, the present situation
is a convenient point for the consideration of a question
which must challenge the curiosity of all thoughtful stu-
dents of Germany's method of inaugurating her campaign.
What effect, if any, did the German authorities believe
that their traverse of Belgium would exercise in the deter-
mination of British policy ? Did they regard British con-
duct as immutably fixed without reference to Belgium?
Was their invasion of Belgium in effect a conscious de-
fiance of Great Britain ?

Professor Hans Delbriick declares that if it were true
that England entered the war because Germany disre-
garded Belgian neutraHty, Germany cheated herself out
of a sure victory by her unwise step. He contends that
it is absurd to credit the Kaiser, Chancellor, and German
General Staff with such a blunder, and concludes that
these authorities must have been convinced that Eng-
land would have entered the war in any case and that
the Allies themselves would have crossed Belgium if
the Germans had permitted them the opportunity. It
was, in fact, almost inevitable that Great Britain would
sooner or later have been drawn into the war. Professor
Delbruck implies, however, that there were only two
conceivable courses of British conduct, namely, interfer-
ence in any case, and interference in consequence of
the violation of Belgian neutrality, the latter of which
he repudiates. But logically there was a third possi-
bility, interference in no case. Germany's conduct could
be explained just as readily on the assumption of a
belief that Great Britain would not intervene in any



Moral Forces in the Teutonic Empires 53

circumstances, as of a conviction that she would interfere
in any situation.

Count Andrassy, to whose views reference has already
been made, regards as untenable the view that the active
participation of Great Britain came as a surprise to the
leading circles in Berlin. On the other hand, an English
writer declares just as categorically: "All the evidence
indicates that it was an idee fixe in Berlin that under no
circumstances whatsoever short of an actual attack on
British shores would the United Kingdom participate in a
European war." These two expressions of opinion taken
at random illustrate the absolute diversity of views regard-
ing a question of fundamental interest.

In endeavoring to form our own judgment on this
problem, we shall examine separately the attitude of the
German civil and military authorities. This method will
not compromise the value of the investigation, and it may
contribute to the accuracy of the results.

There is no doubt that one of the principal aims of
Chancellor von Bethmann-HoUweg's policy had been to
secure a durable understanding with Great Britain. In
the course of his important address before the Reichstag,
December 2, 1914, he alluded to this hope, declaring that
by wearisome efforts it had been possible to arrive at an
understanding regarding some economic points of con-
troversy, reducing thereby the possible causes of friction.
It is known, for example, that an agreement had been
concluded regarding the extension of the Bagdad Railway
to the head of the Persian Gulf. The fact, of itself, that
the Chancellor made the above-mentioned admission in a
speech, the tendency of which was to establish Great
Britain's stubbornness, might seem to indicate that the
progress accomplished in the policy of reconciliation had
really been considerable. We may assume, therefore, that



54 The Great War

before the war the German Foreign Office cherished the
hope of maintaining friendly relations with Great Britain;
and it is not irrelevant to recall, in this connection, the
Chancellor's very hearty expression of approbation of Sir
Edward Grey's skill and fairness in dealing with the Balkan
crisis of 1913.

In the course of the memorable midnight interview
with the British ambassador in the night of July 29-30,
the Chancellor declared that the object of his policy had
always been to bring about an understanding with Great
Britain, and that "he had in mind a general neutrality
agreement between England and Germany, though it was,
of course, at the present moment too early to discuss de-
tails, and an assurance of British neutrality in the conflict
which the present crisis might possibly produce would
enable him to look forward to the realization of his desire."

On the morning of August 4th, after the invasion of
Belgium had become a reality, Herr von Jagow sent the
following message to Prince Lichnowsky, German Am-
bassador in London:

" Please dispel any mistrust that may subsist on the part
of the British Government with regard to our intentions,
by repeating most positively formal assurance that, even in
the case of armed conflict with Belgium, Germany will,
under no pretence whatever, annex Belgian territory.
Sincerity of this declaration is borne out by fact that we
solemnly pledged our word to Holland strictly to respect
her neutrality. It is obvious that we could not profitably
annex Belgian territory without making at the same time
territorial acquisitions at the expense of Holland. Please
impress upon Sir Edward Grey that German army could
not be exposed to French attack across Belgium, which
was planned according to absolutely unimpeachable in-
formation. Germany had consequently to disregard Belgian



Moral Forces in the Teutonic Empires 55

neutrality, it being for her a question of life or death to
prevent French advance."

This message was communicated to Sir Edward Grey,
who read it to the House of Conmions on the same day,
where, in spite of the gravity of the situation, the uncon-
sciously humorous inconsistency of the proof of good
intentions proposed by the German Foreign Secretary
provoked a general manifestation of amusement. This
communication betrayed a deplorable inability to survey
the situation from any other than a subjective point of
view. For how could those who regarded the invasion of
Belgium as the breach of a solemn covenant be persuaded
that a new promise would serve as pledge for the harmless
consequences of the violation of the *old one? Such a
message would never have been dispatched by one who
was convinced that the participation of Great Britain in
the war was inevitable.

Sir Edward Goschen, British Ambassador in Berlin, pre-
sented the British ultimatum to Herr von Jagow at the
Foreign Office at about seven o'clock on the evening of
August 4th, demanding assurance by twelve o'clock the
same night that the German government would not pro-
ceed with its violation of the Belgian frontier. "In a short
conversation which ensued," Sir Edward Goschen reports,
"Herr von Jagow expressed his poignant regret at the
crumbling of his entire policy and that of the Chancellor,
which had been to make friends with Great Britain, and
then, through Great Britain, to get closer to France."

Directly afterwards the British ambassador called to take
leave of the Chancellor. The latter, who was in a very
excited state in consequence of the step which Great
Britain had taken, gave way to a passionate outburst. To
quote again from Sir Edward Goschen's report (given at
length in the Appetidix to this volume) :



56 The Great War

"He said that the step taken by His Majesty's Govern-
ment 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 who desired nothing better than to
be friends with her. All his efforts in that direction had
been rendered useless by this last terrible step, and the
policy to which, as I knew, he had devoted himself since
his accession to office had tumbled down like a house of
cards. What we had done was unthinkable; it was like
striking a man from behind while he was fighting for his
life against two assailants. He held Great Britain respon-
sible for all the terrible events that might happen. I pro-
tested strongly against that statement, and said that, in the
same way as he and Herr von Jagow wished me to under-
stand 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
honor of Great Britain that she should keep her solemn
engagement to do her utmost to defend Belgium's neu-
trality if attacked. That solemn compact simply had to
be kept, or what confidence could anyone have in engage-
ments given by Great Britain in the future.? The Chan-
cellor 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."

After reading the account of this historic interview
it seems impossible that any agency less potent than



Moral Forces in the Teutonic Empires 57

amazement and the keenest disappointment could have torn
aside so completely the veil of customary reserve and laid
bare the experienced bureaucrat's most intimate state of
feelino;, impelling him to utter in a moment of abandon-
ment expressions which he may subsequently have re-
gretted, and which furnished a slogan to his country's
foes. The Chancellor's stupefaction is the most convincing
proof that the heads of the civil administration had not
regarded the hostility of Great Britain as probable.

To the testimony already noted in this connection, we
may add of course, as cumulative evidence of the belief of
the German state department that Great Britain would
stand aloof, all the restraining circumstances mentioned in
Volume I, Chapter VIII, in connection with the threaten-
ing state of affairs in Ireland.

Turning our attention now to the chiefs of the military
administration, we shall discover that all the evidence seems
to indicate that in the opinion of the German General
Staff, the intellectual leadership of the military establish-
ment, while Great Britain's participation in the war was
probable, it might be disregarded as a factor of slight
importance in relation to the main features of the German
plan of campaign. A monograph appearing a short time
before the war, entitled Germany's Hour of Destiny, by
Colonel H. Frobenius, may be regarded as a fairly accu-
rate expression of the prevailing opinion in the leading
military circles. The German Crown Prince telegraphed
his congratulations to Colonel Frobenius on account of
this work, saying: "I hope your book will find its way
into every German home."

Colonel Frobenius bases his conjectures upon the funda-
mental distinction of the purposes of warfare into two
classes, the unlimited and limited, as defined by the great
strategist Clausewitz. The former involve the utilization



58 The Great War

of all the energy and forces of a state in the supreme
endeavor of crushing its opponent. The latter are con-
fined to the attainment of some particular, restricted advan-
tage; they do not aim at the complete subversion of the
enemy. The purpose of France, for example, in a war
with Germany would be unlimited; but that of Great
Britain would be limited, confined to the destruction of
the German fleet. Great Britain would wish to spare the
German army as much as possible for the maintenance of
an equilibrium on the continent after the war, or as a useful
auxiliary in an eventual conflict with Russia.

For this reason, according to Frobenius, the interests
and strategic plans of Great Britain and her continental
allies would be widely divergent. The latter's operations
would naturally be directed along lines converging on
Berlin, whilst Great Britain would wish to employ her
expeditionary force solely in ferreting out the German
navy from the harbors where it would take refuge, that it
might be destroyed by the superior British navy. Colonel
Frobenius was convinced that it was the British intention
that the expeditionary force of 150,000 men should disem-
bark at Antwerp and act in concert with the French
armies, extending their left wing, until a first important
victory had been gained over the Germans, when the
British would turn to the more congenial task of cooper-
ating with their own fleet in subduing the German naval
bases and coast defenses. The violation of Belgian neu-
trality is assumed by this author without comment. He
remarks: "In France the opinion prevailed that England
would unselfishly furnish a military force to serve French
interests. This is preposterous in the case of this country,
which never yet subordinated its own interests to those of
other nations. Quite the contrary, in many cases it utilized
their forces for its own purposes and interests."



Moral Forces in the Teutonic Empires 59

The conclusions of Colonel Frobenius as to the scope of
the prospective British operations on the continent and the
limited stren;y;th of the forces contemplated were supported
by many indications. For instance, a sensation had been
created in Germany in the autunni of 1905 by the state-
ment of M. Delcasse, French Foreign Minister during
the international crisis a short time before, that he had
received Great Britain's promise to disembark 100,000 men
in Schleswig and seize the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal in the
event of hostilities between France and Germany.

The substance of the Anglo-Belgian conversations rela-
tive to the disembarkation of a British expeditionary force,
first of 100,000, later 160,000 men, to defend the neutrality
of Belgium, as revealed in the documents "discovered" by
the Germans in the War Office in Brussels, was probably
not unknown to the German General Staff.

The opposition in Great Britain, France, and Belgium to
the Dutch plan of erecting a modern fortress at Flushing
to command the estuary of the Scheldt made a great im-
pression in Germany, where it confirmed the suspicion
that the British expeditionary force would be disembarked
at Antwerp. This project of fortifying Flushing was pro-
posed in November, 1910, several months before the final
Moroccan crisis, as part of a larger plan of coast defenses
in the Netherlands. Sir Edward Grey declared in the
House of Commons on February 16, 1911, that the British
government thought it undesirable to state its view on the
measures taken by a foreign government to protect its
own territory. There was a strong movement in the
Netherlands itself against the scheme of fortification on ac-
count of the expense involved, and it was quietly dropped.

Our conclusions regarding the opinion of the controlling
personalities in Germany about British policy in relation to
the German invasion of Belgium may be briefly summarized.



60 The Great War

The civil authorities thought that Great Britain would
probably abstain from interference in a continental conflict so
long as there was a prospect that the integrity of France and
the smaller neutral countries would not be destroyed. The
military authorities regarded the intervention of Great Britain
as probable, but not a matter of vital importance to Ger-
many. For all assumed, apparently without exception, that
Great Britain's participation in continental warfare would not
in any case extend beyond sending the expeditionary force
of 160,000 men, which, in view of the enormous numbers
engaged, would scarcely exert an appreciable effect in deter-
mining the issue. The general staff was probably confident
that with actual conditions a conflict with France could be
brought to the decisive point before Great Britain could
make ready other forces to be transported to the continent.

Loath to believe that Germany would persist in her
harsh design with reference to Belgium, Baron Beyens, the
Belgian Minister in Berlin, solicited an interview with Herr
von Jagow on August 4th. After listening while Baron
Beyens explained that any other reply to Germany's demands
than the refusal which had already been conveyed to the Ger-
man government would have been incompatible with the
honor of Belgium, the German Foreign Secretary admitted
privately the justice of the Belgian minister's argument.

Herr Gottlieb von Jagow is before all else a gentleman
of affable manners, conciliatory temperament, and tactful
address. He had earned conspicuous merit as ambassador
at Rome during a critical period of four years when the
mutual recriminations and jealousy of Italy and Austria
and the former's venture in Tripoli threatened to destroy
the Triple Alliance. The renewal of the pact in these
trying circumstances had been a noteworthy diplomatic
achievement. Herr von Jagow returned to Berlin very
reluctantly, at the Kaiser's urgent request, in 1913 to



Moral Forces in the Teutonic Empires 61

undertake the duties of the Foreign Office as successor of
the late Herr von Kiderlen-Wiichter.

The suggestion is apt to present itself to the mind of one
who studies attentively the diplomacy of the critical days
before the war that if the policy of Germany had been
guided by the personal feeling and conviction of Herr von
Jagow, the war could have been avoided, or at least post-
poned. But unfortunately the whole course and character
of events convey the impression that Herr von Jagow's
initiative was strictly limited and that in all important
matters the decision was dictated from sources higher up.
It must have violated Herr von Jagow's finer sensibility to
, endorse a policy which subordinated the distinction of right
and wrong to considerations of expediency.

As Herr von Jagow recited the motives of the German
government he seemed to Baron Beyens to be merely
repeating a lesson taught him by the Chief of the General
Staff. His final declaration with regard to the German
movement into Belgium, expressed, no doubt, with a very
sincere feeling of anguish and with absolute frankness on
his own part, was as follows:

"We have been compelled by absolute necessity to make
this demand upon your government. It is for Germany a
question of life and death. In order that she may not be
crushed, she must herself crush France and then turn
against Russia. It is with a feeling of extreme mortifica-
tion that the Kaiser and his government have been obliged
to take this decision. To myself it is the most painful
step that I ever have taken in my career."

When Baron Beyens demanded his passports, Herr von
Jagow's ingenuous exclamation of astonishment, his remark
that he did not wish to break relations with him, serves to
show that the German government did not expect that
Belgium would carry her resistance to the point of actual



62 The Great War

warfare. When Baron Beyens predicted that the hostility
of Great Britain would be the consequence of Germany's
conduct and asked Herr von Jagow whether the supposed
advantages of crossing Belgium were worth the price, the
latter merely shrugged his shoulders in reply.

Baron Beyens took his dinner alone at the adjacent Hotel
Kaiserhof, absorbed, doubtless, in gloomy meditations. His
mission was at an end. The methods of diplomacy were
powerless before the stern resolution that was impelling
the world's most formidable military organism. The in-
dustry and commerce of the civilized nations had attained
a giddy pinnacle of prosperity. On every side were the
evidences of amazing progress. But to Baron Beyens it
must all have seemed a mockery, a world from which the
soul had been banished, a society deaf to the plea of justice,
a generation which witnessed and approved the apotheosis
of a heartless materialism.

He may have passed over in memory, with an impression
of cruel irony, the many assurances and attentions which



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