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theirs by right. Nor need promises be kept or treaties
observed, if such observance hindered success.

These teachings were widely proclaimed and often
repeated, but they attracted little attention outside of
Germany. For the most part they were so different from
what humane people allowed themselves to tliink of or
tried to believe that it seemed then incredible that Ger-
mans could deliberately entertain them. But in Germany
they w'ere received with earnest attention, and made
greater impression as time went on. They were probably
the greatest reason, after all, why the other factors that
tended toward a European conflict actually developed
into war. They were also the principal reason why, after
the Great War began, the greater part of the world turned
from Germany with such horror and loatliing.

Old doc-

Effects of
these doc-



toward a
great war

and the
note, 1914

The ten

So in the years after 1870, and especially after 1900,
many factors in Europe tended to bring on a struggle of
nations. Several times a great war nearly came to pass,
but each time it was averted. By 1913, however, condi-
tions had become such that it would be almost impossible
to avoid a great conflict if another occasion arose. We
know now, what was hidden then, that the Teutonic
powers were at last fully determined to secure certain
things, especially in the Balkans, If they could, they
would get them without war. They were ready to fight
for them if they must fight.

The immediate cause of the war developed from a
single episode. June 28, 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdi-
nand, heir to the Austrian and Hungarian thrones, and his
wife were assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia.
The assassins were Bosnians, but the affair at once took
on an ominous aspect when it was known that Austria-
Hungary considered the crime to have been plotted in
Servia with the knowledge of the government at Belgrade.
It was rightly suspected that opportunity would now be
seized to reduce Servia to the dependence which Germany
and Austria desired. The worst suspicions were con-
firmed when, about a month later, July 24, a note was
addressed to the Servian Government, declaring that it had
acted in hostile way toward its neighbor, that it was a
source of danger, and that evidently the infamous murder
of the archduke had resulted largely therefrom. Ac-
cordingly, ten demands were presented which must be
acceded to in full within forty-eight hours. One of these
demands was that Servia should remove officials "whose
names and deeds the Austro-Hungarian Government re-
serve to themselves the right of communicating"; while
another was that Austro-Hungarian representatives be
permitted to take part in court proceedings in Servia
and in measures undertaken there with respect to those
engaged in activities against the Dual Monarchy.


At once it was the o])iiiion of those wlio read the note
that it had been so drafted as not to he accej)table. Sir
Edward (irey, British secretary for foreign affairs, and
one of the ablest and best diplomats in Europe, declared
that he had never seen so formidable a document ad-
dressed to an indei)endent state. If Servia yielded what
was now asked she would forego her sovereignty and
independence, and become in effect a dependency of the
power to whom she yielded. If this took place, then
Austria, and with her the German Empire, would secure
in the Balkans the supremacy for which they had so long
striven, especially the vital advantage of controlling
Servia and a part of the route of the railway to Con-
stantinople. No state can retain its sovereignty and
allow representatives of a foreign power to take part in the
business of its law courts, and if any power promised un-
conditionally to dismiss such officials as were afterward
to be named, not only would it submit to a demand
subversive of its independence but it would be possible for
the foreign power to cause it to remodel its government in
such manner as to render it entirely submissive.

Servia at once appealed to Russia for support. Servians
could count on the sympathy of Russia, and it was prob-
able that Russia would not stand aside and see Servia
crushed and Germany and Austria obtain immediate
preponderance in the Balkans. Austria unaided would
probably be no match for Russia, but she would certainly
be supported by the German Ehipire. It was now as
proper and fundamental a policy for Germany to refuse
to allow Austria-Hungary to be destroyed as it was for the
British Empire to be determined to give France support.
Accordingly, men believed that such a note would never
have been dispatched from Vienna without the knowledge
and approval of Berlin. The German authorities an-
nounced that they approved the contents of the note,
but declared that they had not known those contents be-

The inde-
pendence of
Servia at

Danger of
a general



The German
support in

makes war
on Servia

forehand. Strictly this may have been true. But it is
now certain that Count Berchtold, Austrian minister of
foreign affairs, who had determined upon a bold stroke,
had obtained from Germany general promise of sup-
port for whatever policy Austria undertook, July 5 the
German Government secretly declared: "Austria must
judge what is to be done to clear up her relation to Servia;
whatever Austria's decision may turn out to be, Austria
can count with certainty upon it, that Germany will stand
behind her as an ally and friend." But bad as it would
be if Russia came to the help of Servia, and Germany to
the support of Austria-Hungary, the mischief would not
stop there. France was bound to support Russia by
the terms of the military convention, and it was her
primary interest not to abandon Russia, unless Russia was
making wicked and wanton aggression. And if France
were drawn in, it was most probable that before long
England would come to her support. Then a great
European war would have begun, and it was impossible
to tell how far it might afterward extend. Accordingly,
those statesmen who desired to avert such catastrophe
now bent all their efforts to quenching the fire that had
been started.

In the terrible Twelve Days, July 24 to August 4, many
efforts were made to settle the affair and keep peace. The
British and French ministers in Belgrade urged Servia to
return a satisfactory reply. The Servian Government
humbled itself to the dust and accepted most of the de-
mands, not completely yielding to those which threatened
its independence, though offering to refer the decision of
them to the Hague Tribunal. Austria refused to con-
sider the reply, and dec^red war ^n Servia, July 28. At
once an invasion began. And now Russia appeared upon
the scene. The day before, the tsar had declared: "Russia
will in no case disinterest herself in the fate of Servia."
The tsar's council had already decided to mobilize part


of the Russian army against Austria, if necessary. IMean-
while, strong representations were made.

Every hour the menace of war grew more dreadful. The Austria,
other Great Powers now bent themselves to keeping tlie Germany,
peace between Austria and Russia. Great Brilaiu, France, ^"^^la
and Italy tried to do it in one way; Germany iricd it in
another. In the first group Enghind took the lead. Sir
Edward Grey proposed that a conference of the four
powers be held to mediate between Russia and Austria-
Hungary and work for a satisfactory solution; but with
such a scheme Germany would have nothing to do, saying
that she could not take part in bringing her all\' before a
European tribunal. Germany had a plan very different.
She attempted to terrify Russia by threats, and so prevent
her supporting Servia's cause. The dispute, she said, was
an affair merely between Austria and Servia; no outside
party should intervene; any such intercession "would
precipitate inconceivable consequences." In Russia and
in Germany military leaders now secretly urged on prepa-
rations for war, so as to take the other at a disadvantage,
the measures of each one driving the other still further.
The German emperor promised to use his influence to Kaiser
bring about a satisfactory understanding between Austria ^'^ tsar
and Russia, but the German ambassador in St. Petersburg
was instructed to say that Russian military measures
would be answered by mobilizing the German armj-, and
"mobilization means war." July 29, the German em-
peror telegraphed to the tsar that it was perfectly pos-
sible for Russia to "remain a spectator" in the Austro-
Servian war. Next day he said the tsar must decide:
"You have to bear the responsibiHty for war or peace."
Germany probably wished that a war be avoided, and
preferred peace, so long as she and her ally got what
they asked for; otherwise they were quite willing to fight.
On the contrary, Great Britain and France, and, to some
extent, Russia, earncstlv wished to avoid war, and were



The Great
War begins:
declares war
on Russia

declares war
on France

trying hard to bring about a compromise and satisfactory
arrangement. Austria would make no compromise what-
ever, and Germany was bound by the secret promise to
support her.

Meanwhile, Austrian armies continued their march into
Scr^^a. The protests of Russia effected nothing. Then
on the night of July 29, almost at the same moment,
Russian and Austrian armies were mobilized against each
other. Face to face with the dread conflict Austria seemed
to hesitate. Then Germany stepped forward, and set-
tled the affair herself. Her diplomats were thrust aside
by the Great General Staff, which now got control. Rus-
sia, more and more threatened by Germany, was mobiliz-
ing all her forces. July 31 the German Government
demanded that Russia stop all mobilization within twelve
hours, and France was asked what she would do if a Russo-
German war were begun. Russia returned no answer.
August 1 the German Empire declared war upon Russia.

Neither England nor France had much direct interest
in Balkan affairs, and both of them greatly wished peace.
But the hour of fate was at hand for France. The Ger-
man ambassador in Paris was bidden to insist on a reply
to the German inquiry, and it is now known that he was
also instructed, in case France promised to leave Russia
to her fate, to demand that the French hand over to the
German authorities certain strong fortresses in pledge.
But the reply was that "France would do that which her
interests dictated." Two days later, August 3, Germany
declared war upon France, falsely affirming that France
had attacked her first. Actually the French, in their
great desire to avoid war, had drawn their forces back
some seven miles from their frontier. But also in thi^
moment of destiny the French people stood up in un-
conquerable spirit before the greatest danger that had
ever approached them.

Thus the Continent was engulfed in war. Great Britain


was close to the brink. More than any other power had
England striven for peace. Every resource had been
tried. It was not iniprohahle that France and Russia
would be crushed, and British statesmen realized, what
many of their people did not clearly see yet, that if France
were crushed, then Britain's best friend would be gone,
and Britain would be left, perhaps, to face alone a mightier
Germany in the future. It would be better to support
France now. Yet the British peoj)lc and parliament
wished to stay out of the war, and France could get no
assurance that England would give her assistance. Al-
most certainly England would have come to the help of
France before the conflict was over, but it might well be
that her help would have come too late. August 2 a prom-
ise was given that the British fleet would protect French
shipping and the north coast of France, and afterward
this would undoubtedly have been regarded by Germany
as an unfriendly act, whenever it suited her to do so. But
meanwhile Germany was striving to keep Britain out of
the war, and Sir Edward Grey had already declared that if
Germany and Austria would make "any reasonable pro-
posal" for keeping the peace, and it became clear that
France and Russia were not trying to keep it, then Great
Britain "would have nothing more to do with the conse-

An event now occurred which caused Great Britain
to enter the struggle at once. Germany violated the
neutrality of Belgium. The plans of the German General
Staff called for the immediate crushing of France and then
afterward attacking Russia alone. If this was to succeed,
there must be no dela3\ But the frontier between Ger-
many and France was not long, and it was so strongly
fortified that it seemed probable much time would be lost
in getting through. Between Germany and France also
lay the neutralized countries of Switzerland, Luxemburg,
and Belgium. Both Luxemburg and Belgium afford

and Great

the neu-
trality of




The easy
road into

"A scrap of

easy and admirable entrance into the most vital part of
France. It was true, the inviolability of the territory
of these small states was guaranteed by treaties which
had long been regarded as sacred and as part of the public
law of Europe, and the German Empire was engaged to
uphold them. Nevertheless, Germany at once began
pouring an enormous force through Luxemburg and de-
manded that the Belgian Government allow free passage.
One of the finest things in history was the splendid way
in which Belgium, suddenly asked to forfeit her neutraliza-
tion and threatened with terrible fate if she refused, bravely
called upon the German Government to keep its promise,
and then tried to resist the German armies, which struck
her at once. Immediately Belgium appealed to the Great
Powers; Russia, France, and Great Britain promised such
help as they could give.

The position of Belgium is such that if she were in the
hands of a strong power hostile to Great Britain, then the
very existence of Britain would be threatened. It had
therefore long been a cardinal principle of British states-
manship that the neutrality and independence of Belgium
must be maintained. Now, August 4, the British am-
bassador in Berlin was instructed to present an ultimatum
demanding that Germany withdraw her forces from Bel-
gium at once. The chancellor of the Empire, Von Beth-
mann-Hollweg, refused, saying bitterly that England was
going to war for Belgian neutrahty, "just for a scrap of
paper." Thus did the highest official of Germany speak
of the treaty obligations of his government. Before the
Reichstag he admitted that Germany had done wrong —
"necessity knows no law." "From this admission," said a
German writer afterward, "neither God nor the devil will
ever set us free." At midnight of August 4, when the
time of the ultimatum had expired, Great Britain entered
the war.



Militarism and the rivalry of nations: G. H. Terris, A Short
History of War and Peace (1911), for an elementary introduc-
tion; H. N. Brailsford, The War of Steel and Gold, a Stiidij of the
Armed Peace (1914); P. Camena d'Almeida UArmee Allemande
avant et pendant la Guerre de 191Jt - 19lH (1920); A (iauvain,
L'Europe avant la Guerre (1917); General C. von der Goltz,
Das Volk in Wajfen, trans, by F. A. Aslnvorth, A Nation in Arms
(1915); E. F. Henderson, Germamfs Fitjhtinfj Machine (1914);
Walter Lippman, The Stakes of Dipl</tnaci/ (1915); Munroe
Smith, Militarism and Statecraft (1918); J. Poirier, U Evolution
de VArmee Allemande de 18S8-1913 (1914); J. T. W. Xewbold,
How Europe Armed for War (1916); E. A. Pratt, The Rise of
Rail-Power in War and Conquest, 1833-19H (1910); and for
general considerations on war and national rivalry, Dr. G. F.
Nicolai, Die Biologie des Krieges (1918), trans, by C. A. and J.
Grande, The Biology of War (1919); H. H. Powers, The Things
Men Fight For (1916), a very suggestive book.

Pacifism: Norman Angell [R. N. A. Lane,] The Great Illusion
(ed. 1914), a book which was the cause of considerable mislead-
ing and delusion; G. G. Coulton, The Main Illusions of Pacificism

German spirit and ambition: for a brief statement the most
illuminating account is J. A. Cramb, Germany and England
(1914), a book of rare beauty and power; Friedrich von Bern-
hardi, Deutschland und der Ndchste Krieg (1911), trans, by A.
H. Powles, Germany and the Next War (1912); Georges Bourdon,
L'Enigme Allemande (1913); H. S. Chamberlain, trans, by
John Lees, The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, 2 vols.
(1911); Thomas Mann, Bcfrachtungen eines Unpolitschen
(1918); Wallace Notestein and E. E. Stoll, Conquest and Kultur
(1917) and Anonymous, Out of Their Own Mouths (1917), for
collections of extracts and quotations translated; Jacques
Riviere, UAllemand (1918); Otto-Richard Tannenberg, Gross-
Deutschland (1911); R. G. Usher, Pan-Germanism (1913). Also
for German plans of expansion: H. Andrillon, L' Expansion de
VAllemagne (1914), concerning economic expansion; S. Grum-
bach, Das Annexionistische Deutschland (1917).

Nationalism: E. B. Krehbiel, Nationalism, War and Society
(1916); A. J. Toynbee, Nationality and the War (1915).

Diplomatic negotiations just before the war: the best and


most convenient collection for ordinary use continues to be
Collected Diplomatic Dociiments Relating to the Outbreak of the
Europeayi War (1914), a publication of the British Government
but allowed, even by hostile critics, to contain translations of
the various " books" and "papers" of the warring governments
which are accurate and fair; E. R. O. von Mach, Official Diplo-
matic Documents Relating to the Outbreak of the European War
(1916), which contains photographic facsimiles of the first
and most important collections of documents in the original
languages — the footnotes, which caused the publishers to with-
draw the volume from circulation, are to be used with caution;
J. B. Scott, Diplomatic Documents Relating to the Outbreak of the
European W^ar, 2 vols. (1916), a larger collection. The govern-
ments of the Central Powers at first gave little information
about their actions in these days, but recently some very full
and valuable collections of documents have been published,
especially for Germany, Die Deutschen Dokumente zum Kriegs-
ausbruck, ed. by Karl Kautsky, 4 vols. (1919); and for Austria-
Hungary, Diplomatische Aktenstiicke zur Vorgeschichte des
Krieges, 1914, ed. by Dr. Richard Gooss, 3 vols. (1919). All
these documents, together with much subsidiary material, have
been analyzed by S. B. Fay, "New Light on the Origins of the
World War," American Historical Review, July, October, 1920,
January, 1921, the best and most recent account. For the
diplomatic negotiations also J. W. Headlam, The History of
Twelve Days, July 2Jfth to August UK 19H (1915); M. R. Price,
The Diplomatic History of the War (no date, ? 1914), containing
valuable documents but much vitiated by the prejudice of the
author; E. C. Stowell, The Diplomacy of the War of 191 If (1915).
Attempted explanations, justifications, or condemnations: E.
P. Barker and others, Why We Are at War: Great Britain's Case
(1914); Colonel Bauer, Konnien Wir den Krieg Vermeiden,
Gewinnen, Abbrechen? (1919), by one of the officers of Luden-
dorff's staff; Harold Begbie, Vindication of Great Britain (1916);
Sir E. Cook, How Britain Strove for Peace (1914); Deutschland
und der Weltkrieg (1915), by several authors, trans, by W. W.
Whitelock, Modern Germany in Relation to the Great War (1916);
H. A. L. Fisher, The War, Its Causes and Its Issues (1914); Dr.
Richard Grelling, J' Accuse: von einem Deutschen (1915), Das
Verbrechen, translated as The' Crime (1917-); J. W. Headlam,
The German Chancellor and the Outbreak of War (1917); H. F.
Helmolt, Die Geheime Vorgeschichte des Weltkrieges (1914);


Gottlieb von Jagow, Ursachen und Ausbruch des Weltkrieges
(1919) ; Earl Ix)reburn, Ifow the War Camc(\mO) ; Ruiiisay Muir,
Britain s Case Against Germani/ (1914); I'aiil Rolirljacii, Der
Krieg und die Deutsche Politik (1914), trans, by 1*. II. Pliillipson,
Germany's Isolation (1914); J. II., The Origins of the IVar
(1914); T. Schieraann, Wie England eine Verstandigung mit
Deidschland Verhinderte (1915).

Belgium and Luxemburg: Loui.s Renault, trans, by Frank
Carr, First Violations of International Law by Germany: Luxem-
bourg and Belgium (1917) ; Charles de Visscher, La Belgique et les
Juristes Allemands (191G), trans, by E. F. Jourdain (191G);
George Renwick, Luxembourg (1913).


Sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt.
^neid, i. 462.

Ja der Krieg verschlingt die Besten.

Schiller, "Das Siegesfest" (1803).

. . . the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row.
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Lt.-Col. John McCrae, "In Flanders Fields" (1915).

The G t ^"^ Great War, as it has been called, perhaps for want

War of a better name, began August 1, 1914, with the declara-

tion of war by the German Empire against Russia. This
was followed two days later by the German declaration
against France. Next day came the declaration of Great
Britain against Germany. The conflict had been made
nearly inevitable by the declaration of war by Austria-
Hungary against Servia, and against Austria also now
the Powers of the Entente soon issued declarations. August
23, Japan declared war upon Germany in fulfilment, as she
said, of the terms of her alliance with Britain. By the
end of the summer all Europe with the exception of
Spain, Holland, the Scandinavian countries, Italy, and
some of the nations of the Balkans, the outlying and




less important parts, was involved in llic most destructive
conflict in the history of the world. Relatively more ter-
rible in the end, were the death struggle between Rome and
Carthage, the ravages of the Huns and of the Mongols,
the Hundred Years War in France, the Thirty Years War
in Germany, and even the Napoleonic wars; but these
struggles were on a smaller scale or else produced their
fearful results because they continued through a great
many years. The war which began in 1914 lasted little
more than four years, but in that short time it brought a
great part of the civilized world to the brink of destruc-
tion, and because of the enormous numbers engaged and
the fearful instruments of destruction employed, more
men were killed or maimed, it is said, than in all the wars
preceding, since the beginning of the Christian era.

It was e\ident to all at the beginning of the struggle
that the Germans and their allies had great advantage
from wonderful preparation and from striking suddenly
at their chosen time, but it was widely believed that if
only France and Russia could endure the assault for a
short period, until they could assemble all their force,
and especially until Britain, unprepared for the war, could
bring her resources to bear, that the Allies of the Entente,
because they had the greater resources in wealth and
population, had the better chance to win — that time was
on their side. This was not entirely true. It is certain
that the Germans expected a short war, for they had
much reason to anticipate an easy, overwhelming triumph.
But w^hen their first rush had been checked, there were
periods in the years that followed when their advantages
and resources were so superior that time seemed entirely
with them.

The Teutonic powers, especially Germany, possessed
certain advantages, which w^ere understood elsewhere
more clearly as the conflict progressed. The Germans
had the largest number of well-drilled, thoroughly trained,

The most
of conflicts

The op-

The Ger-
man army



The German


intelligent, and devoted soldiers possessed by any power
in the world. France had as brave and as skilful soldiers,
but not so great a population and not so large an army

Online LibraryEdward Raymond TurnerEurope since 1870 → online text (page 37 of 49)