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the combined operations to take place in the event of a German offensive with Antwerp as its object and under the hypothesis of the German troops marching through our country in order to reach the French Ardennes.
In this question, the Colonel said he quite agreed with the plan which I had submitted to him, and he assured me also of the approval of General Grierson, Chief of the English General Staff.
Other secondary questions which were likewise settled, had particular reference to intermediary officers, interpreters, gendarmes, maps, photographs of the uniforms, special copies, translated into English, of some Belgian regulations, the regulations concerning the import duties on English provisions, to the accommodation of the wounded of the allied armies, etc. Nothing was resolved on as regards the activity which the Government or the Military authorities might exert on the Press.
During the final meeting which I had with the British Attache, he informed me about the numbers of troops which would be daily disembarked at Boulogne, Calais and Cherbourg. The distance of the last place, which is necessary for technical considerations, will involve a certain delay. The first Corps would be disembarked on the 10th day, and the second on the 15th day. Our railways would carry out the transportation so that the arrival of the first Corps, either in the direction of BrusselsLouvain or of Namur-Dinant, would be assured on the Uth day, and that of the second on the 16th day.
I again, for a last time, and as emphatically as I could, insisted on the necessity of hastening the sea-transports so that the English troops could be with us between the 11th and 12th day. The happiest and most favorable results can be reached by a convergent and simultaneous action of the allied forces. But if that co-operation should not take place, the failure would be most serious. Colonel Barnardiston assured me that everything serving to this end would be done.
In the course of our conversations, I had occasion to convince the British Military Attache1 that we were willing, so far as possible, to thwart the movements of the enemy and not to take refuge in Antwerp from the beginning.
Lieutenant-Colonel Barnardiston on his part told me that, at the time, he had little ,hope for any support or intervention on the part of Holland. At the same time he informed me that his Government intended to transfer the basis of the British commissariat from the French coast to Antwerp as soon as all German ships were swept off the North Sea.
In all our conversations the Colonel regularly informed me about the secret news which he had concerning the military circumstances and the situation of our Eastern neighbors, etc. At the same time he emphasized that Belgium was under the imperative necessity to keep herself constantly informed of the happenings in the adjoining Rhinelands. I had to admit that with us the surveillance-service abroad was, in times of peace, not directly in the hands of the General Staff, as our legations had no Military Attaches. But I was careful not to admit that I did not know whether the espionage service which is prescribed in our regulations, was in working order or not. But I consider it my duty to point out this position which places us in a state of evident inferiority to our neighbors, our presumable enemies.
Major-General, Chief of the General Staff.
(Initials of Gen. Ducanne.) Note. When I met General Grierson at Compiegne, during the manoeuvres of 1906, he assured me the result of the re-organization of the English army would be that the landing of 150,000 would be assured and, that, moreover, they would stand ready for action in a shorter time than has been assumed above.
Concluded September, 1906.
2. MINUTES OP A CONFERENCE, DATED APRIL 23 (1912?) BETWEEN THE BELGIAN CHIEF
OF THE GENERAL STAFF, GENERAL JUNGBLUTH, AND THE BRITISH MILITARY ATTACHE, LIEUTENANT-COLONEL BRIDGES.
The British Military Attache1 asked to see General Jungbluth. The two gentlemen met on April 23rd.
Lieutenant-Colonel Bridges told the General that England had at her disposal an army which could be sent to the Continent, composed of six divisions of infantry and eight brigades of cavalry—together 160,000 troops. She has also everything which is necessary for her to defend her insular territory. Everything is ready.
At the time of the recent events, the British Government would have immediately effected a disembarkment in Belgium (chez nous), even if we had not asked for assistance.
The General objected that for that our consent was necessary.
The Military Attaché answered that he knew this, but that—since we were not able to prevent the Germans from passing through our country—England would have landed her troops in Belgium under all circumstances (en tout it&t de cause).
As for the place of landing, the Military Attaché did not make a precise statement; he said that the coast was rather long, but the General knows that Mr. Bridges, during Easter, has paid daily visits to Zeebrugge from Ostende.
The General added that we were, besides, perfectly able to prevent the Germans from passing through.
3. EXTRACT FROM REPORT OF BARON GREINDL, BELGIAN MINISTER IN BERLIN, TO THE
BELGIAN MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.5
Belgian Legation, Berlin, December 23, 1911.
I have had the honour to receive the dispatch of the 27 November last, P without docket-number, registration number 1108, * * *
5 The entire despatch has apparently not been published, but that portion of it made public and printed by Dr. Dernburg in his pamphlet, The Case of Belgium is here reproduced.
From the French side danger threatens not only in the south of Luxemburg, it threatens us on our entire joint frontier. We are not reduced to conjectures for this assertion. We have positive evidence of it.
Evidently the project of an outflanking movement from the north forms part of the scheme of the "Entente Cordiale." If that were not the case, then the plan of fortifying Flushing would not have called forth such an outburst in Paris and London. The reason why they wished that the Scheldt should remain unfortified was hardly concealed by them. Their aim was to be able to transport an English garrison, unhindered, to Antwerp, which means to establish in our country a basis of operation for an offensive in the direction of the Lower Rhine and Westphalia, and then to make us throw our lot in with them which would not be difficult, for, after the surrender of our national center of refuge, we would, through our own fault, renounce every possibility of opposing the demands of our doubtful protectors after having been so unwise as to permit their entrance into our country. Colonel Barnardiston's announcements at the time of the conclusion of the "Entente Cordiale," which were just as perfidious as they were naive, have shown us plainly the true meaning of things. When it became evident that we would not allow ourselves to be frightened by the pretended danger of the closing of the Scheldt, the plan was not entirely abandoned, but modified in so far as the British army was not to land on the Belgian coast, but at the nearest French harbors.
The revelations of Captain Faber, which were denied as little as the newspaper reports by which they were confirmed or completed in several respects, also testify to this. This British army, at Calais and Dunkirk, would by no means march along our frontier to Longwy in order to reach Germany. It would directly invade Belgium from the northwest. That would give to it the advantage of being able to begin operations immediately, to encounter the Belgian army in a region where we could not depend on any fortress, in case we wanted to risk a battle. Moreover, that would make it possible for it to occupy provinces rich in all kinds of resources and at any rate, to prevent our mobilization or only to permit it after we had formally pledged ourselves to carry on our mobilization to the exclusive advantage of England and her allies.
It is therefore of necessity to prepare a plan of battle for the Belgian army also for that possibility. This is necessary in the interest of our military defense as well as for the sake of the direction of our foreign policy, in case of war between Germany and France.
II. SPEECH OF THE IMPERIAL GERMAN CHANCELLOR, DR. VON BETHMANN HOLLWEG, DELIVERED IN THE REICHSTAG ON DECEMBER 2, 1914.«
The Belgian neutrality which England pretended she was bound to shield, is but a mask. On the 2d of August, 7 P. M., we informed Brussels that France's plan of
• This is the speech of the Imperial Chancellor referred to by Professor Neumeyer and contained in the copy of the Mwichner Neueste Nachrichten of December 3, 1914. which he was good enough to send. The passage printed is the one which Professor campaign was known to us and that it compelled us, for reasons of self-preservation, to march through Belgium, but as early as the afternoon of the same day, August 2d, that is to say, before anything was known and could be known of this step, the British Government promised unconditional aid to France in case the German navy attacked the French coastline. Not a word was said of Belgian neutrality. This fact is established by the declaration made by Sir Edward Grey in the House of Commons on the 3d of August. The declaration was communicated to me on August 4th, but not in full, because of the difficulties experienced at that time in the transmission of telegrams. Besides the very Blue Book issued by the British Government confirms that fact. How then can England allege that she drew the sword because we violated Belgian neutrality? How could British statesmen, who accurately knew the past, talk at all of Belgian neutrality? When on the 4th of August I referred to the wrong which we were doing in marching through Belgium, it was not yet known for certain whether the Brussels Government in the hour of need would not decide after all to spare the country and to retire to Antwerp under protest. You remember that, after the occupation of Liege, at the request of our army leaders, I repeated the offer to the Belgian Government. For military reasons it was absolutely imperative that at the time, about the fourth of August, the possibility for such a development was being kept open. Even then the guilt of the Belgian Government was apparent from many a sign, although I had not yet any positive documentary proofs at my disposal. But the English statesmen were perfectly familiar with these proofs. The documents which in the meantime have been found in Brussels, and which have been given publicity by me, prove and establish in what way and to what degree Belgium has surrendered her neutrality to England. The whole world is now acquainted with two outstanding facts. (1) In the night from the 3d to the 4th of August, when our troops entered Belgian territory, they were not on neutral soil, but on the soil of a state that had long abandoned its neutrality. (2) England has declared war on us, not for the sake of Belgian neutrality, which she herself had helped to undermine, but because she believed that she could overcome and master us with the help of two great military Powers on the Continent. Ever since the 2d of August when England promised to back up the French in this war, she was no longer neutral, but actually in a state of war with us. On the 4th'of August she declared war, the alleged reason being our violation of Belgian neutrality. But that was only a sham motive and a spectacular scene intended to conceal the true war motive and thus to mislead both the English people and foreign neutral countries.
The military plans which England and Belgium had worked out to the minutest details now being unveiled, the policy of English statesmen is branded for all times of history to come. * * *
Neumeyer marked with his own hand in the copy sent to the Editor-in-chief of the Journal. The translation is that contained in Documents Regarding the European War, Series No. IV, International Conciliation, January, 1915, No. 86.
III. INTERVIEW OF THE IMPERIAL GERMAN CHANCELLOR, DR. VON BETHMANN HOLLWEG, GIVEN TO A REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ON JANUARY 24, 1915, AND PUBLISHED IN AMERICAN PAPERS ON JANUARY 25, 1915.'
I am surprised to learn that my phrase, "a scrap of paper," which I used in my last conversation with the British Ambassador in reference to the Belgian neutrality treaty, should have caused such an unfavorable impression in the United States. The expression was used in quite another connection and the meaning implied in Sir Edward Goschen's report and the turn given to it in the biased comment of our enemies are undoubtedly responsible for this impression.
My conversation with Sir Edward Goschen occurred Aug. 4. I had just declared in the Reichstag that only dire necessity and only the struggle for existence compelled Germany to march through Belgium, but that Germany was ready to make compensation for the wrong committed.
When I spoke I already had certain indications, but no absolute proof upon which to base a public accusation, that Belgium long before had abandoned its neutrality in its relations with England. Nevertheless, I took Germany's responsibilities toward the neutral state so seriously that I spoke frankly of the wrong committed by Germany.
What was the British attitude on the same question? The day before my conversation with Ambassador Goschen, Sir Edward Grey had delivered his well-known speech in Parliament, in which, while he had not stated expressly that England would take part in the war, he had left the matter in little doubt.
One needs only to read this speech through carefully to learn the reason for England's intervention in the war. Amid all his beautiful phrases about England's honor and England's obligations we find it over and over again expressed that England's interests—its own interests—call for participation in the war, for it is not in England's interests that a victorious and therefore stronger Germany should emerge from the war.
This old principle of England's policy—to take as the sole criterion of its actions its private interests regardless of right, reason, or considerations of humanity—is expressed in that speech of Gladstone's in 1870 on Belgian neutrality, from which Sir Edward quoted.
Mr. Gladstone then declared that he was unable to subscribe to the doctrine that the simple fact of the existence of a guarantee is binding on every party thereto, irrespective altogether of the particular position in which it may find itself at a time when the occasion for action on the guarantee arrives; and he referred to such English statesmen as Aberdeen and Palmerston as supporters of his views.
England drew the sword only because it believed its own interests demanded it. Just for Belgian neutrality it would never have entered the war.
That is what I meant when I told Sir Edward Goschen in that last interview, when we sat down to talk the matter over privately as man to man, that among the reasons
7 The interview is reprinted from the New York Times Current History, Vol. 1, No. 6, pages 1120-1122. Only so much of the interview is given as refers to the violation of Belgian neutrality.