Imágenes de páginas

States: "It will not be presumed that the legislative department of the Government will lightly pass laws which are in conflict with the treaties of the country, but that circumstances may arise which would not only justify the Government in disregarding their stipulations, but demand in the interests of the country that it should do so, there can be no question. Unexpected events may call for a change in the policy of the coun

try." And to strengthen this opinion another decision by Justice Curtis, rendered in 1908, may be cited, stating that "while it would be a matter of the utmost gravity and delicacy to refuse to execute a treaty, the power to do so was a prerogative of which no country could be deprived without deeply affecting its independence."

We now let these Belgian documents speak for themselves.

Summary of the Secret Documents

1. The first document is a report of the Chief of the Belgian General Staff, Major Gen. Ducarme, to the Minister of War, reporting a series of conversations which he had had with the Military Attaché of the British Legation, Lieut. Col. Barnardiston, in Brussels. It discloses that, as early as January, 1906, the Belgian Government was in consultation with the British Government over steps to be taken by Belgium, Great Britain, and France against Germany. A plan had been fully elaborated for the landing of two British army corps in French ports to be transferred to the point in Belgium necessary for operations against the Germans. Throughout the conversation the British and Belgian forces were spoken of "allied armies"; the British Military Attaché insisted on discussing the question of the chief command; and he urged the establishment, in the meantime, of a Belgian spy system in Germany.


II. When in the year 1912 Lieut. Col. Barnardiston had been succeeded by Lieut. Col. Bridges as British Military Attaché in Brussels, and the Chief of the Belgian General Staff, Major Gen. Ducarme, had been succeeded by Gen. Jungbluth as Chief of the Belgian General Staff, the conversations proceeded between the two latter officials. That is to say, these were not casual conversations between individuals, but a series of official conversations between representatives of their respective Governments, in pursuance of a well-considered policy on the part of both Governments.

III. The above documents are given additional significance by a report made in 1911 by Baron Greindl, Belgian Minister in Berlin, to the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs, from which it appears that this representative of the Belgian Government in Berlin was familiar with the plans above set forth and protested against them, asking why like preparations had not been made with Germany to repel invasion by the French and English.

Taken together, these documents show that the British Government had the intention, in case of a Franco-German war, of sending troops into Belgium immediately-that is, of doing the very thing which, done by Germany, was used by England as a pretext for declaring war on Germany.

They show also that the Belgian Government took, in agreement with the English General Staff, military precautions against a hypothetical German invasion of Belgium. On the other hand, the Belgium Government never made the slightest attempt to take, in agreement with the German Government, military precautions against an Anglo-French invasion of Belgium, though fully informed that it was the purpose of the British Government to land and dispatch, across French territory into Belgium, 160,000 troops, without asking Belgium's permission, on the first outbreak of the European war. This clearly demonstrates that the Belgian Government was determined from the outset to join Germany's enemies.

Report of Gen. Ducarme, Chief of the Belgian General Staff, to the Belgian Minister of War


"Letter to the Minister

"Concerning the Confidential Conver


“BRUSSELS, April 10, 1906.

"Mr. Minister:

"I have the honor to report to you briefly about the conversations which I had with Lieut. Col. Barnardiston and which have already been the subject of my oral communications.

"The first visit took place in the middle of January. Mr. Barnardiston referred to the anxieties of the General Staff of his country with regard to the general political situation, and because of the possibility that war may soon break out. In case Belgium should be attacked, the sending of about 100,000 troops was provided for.

"The Lieutenant Colonel asked me how such a measure would be regarded by us. I answered him, that from a military point of view it could not be but favorable, but that this question of intervention was just as much a matter for the political authorities, and that, therefore, it was my duty to inform the Minister of War about it.

"Mr. Barnardiston answered that his Minister in Brussels would speak about it with our Minister of Foreign Affairs.

"He proceeded in the following sense: The landing of the English troops would take place at the French coast in the vicinity of Dunkirk and Calais, so as to hasten their movements as much as possible. The entry of the English into Belgium would take place only after the violation of our neutrality by Germany. A landing in Antwerp would take much more time, because larger transports would be needed, and because, on the other hand, the safety would be less complete.

This admitted, there would be several other points to consider, such as

railway transportation, the question of requisitions which the English Army could make, the question concerning the chief command of the allied forces.

"He inquired whether our preparations were sufficient to secure the defense of the country during the crossing and the transportation of the English troopswhich he estimated to last about ten days.

"I answered him that the places Namur and Liége were protected from a coup de main, and that our field army of 100,000 men would be capable of intervention within four days.

"After having expressed his full satisfaction with my explanations, my visitor laid emphasis on the following facts: (1) That our conversation was entirely confidential; (2) that it was not binding on his Government; (3) that his Minister, the English General Staff, he and I were, up to the present, the only ones* informed about the matter; (4) that he did not know whether the opinion of his sovereign had been consulted.

[blocks in formation]

*This is similar to the manner in which the English entente with France was arranged. The British the Parliament and British Cabinet were kept in ignorance of the fact that English and French naval experts were consulting together. The British Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sir Edward Grey, repeatedly assured the country that Great Britain's hands were free. Yet, when the crisis came, this quite unofficial exchange of military views and plans, this mere gentleman's agreement, revealed itself, of course, as a binding obligation. Nations do not reveal their military secrets to each other except on the clear understanding that an alliance is in force.

thirteen days two army corps, four cavalry brigades, and two brigades of horse infantry would be landed.

"He asked me to study the question of the transport of these forces to that part of the country where they would be useful, and he promised to give me for this purpose details about the composition of the landing army.

"He reverted to the question concerning the effective strength of our field army, and he emphasized that no detachments should be sent from this army to Namur and Liége, because these places were provided with garrisons of sufficient strength.

"He asked me to direct my attention to the necessity of granting the English Army the advantages which the regulations concerning the military requisitions provided for. Finally he insisted upon the question of the chief command.

"I answered him that I could say nothing with reference to this last point, and promised him that I would study the other questions carefully.

"Later on the English Military Attaché confirmed his former calculations; twelve days would at least be necessary to carry out the landing at the French coast. It would take a considerably longer time (1 to 22 months) to land 100,000 men in Antwerp.

"Upon my objection that it would be unnecessary to await the end of the landing in order to begin with the railway transportations, and that it would be better to proceed with these when the troops arrived at the coast, Lieut. Col. Barnardiston promised to give me exact data as to the number of troops that could be landed daily.

"As regards the military requisitions, I told my visitor that this question could be easily regulated.

"The further the plans of the English General Staff progressed, the clearer became the details of the problem. The Colonel assured me that one-half of the English Army could be landed within eight days; the rest at the conclusion of the twelfth or thirteenth day, with the

[blocks in formation]

"In the course of another interview Lieut. Col. Barnardiston and I studied 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 Gen. 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, &c. Nothing was resolved on as regards the activity which the Government or the military authorities might exert on the press.

"During the final meetings which I had with the British Attaché, 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 neces

sary for technical considerations, will involve a certain delay. The first corps would be disembarked on the tenth day, and the second on the fifteenth 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 eleventh day, and that of the second on the sixteenth 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 eleventh and twelfth 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. Col. 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 Attaché 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.

"Lieut. Col. 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, &c. 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 Attaché. 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.

[ocr errors][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

Minutes of a Conference Between the Belgian Chief of the General Staff, Gen. Jungbluth, and the British Military

Attache, Lieut. Col. Bridges

(Lieut. Col. Barnardiston, British Military Attaché in Brussels, was succeeded in his office by Lieut. Col. Bridges. Likewise, Gen. Ducarme was succeeded, as Chief of the Belgian Staff, by Gen. Jungbluth. A conversation between Col. Bridges and Gen. Jungbluth was committed to writing, and that writing was also found at the Belgian For

eign Office. The document, which is dated April 23 and is presumed to belong to the year 1912, is marked "confidentielle" in the handwriting of Graf v.d. Straaten, the Belgian Foreign Secretary. This is the translation:) "Confidential.

"The British Military Attaché asked

[blocks in formation]

"Lieut. Col. 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 Belgian (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 état 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 Ostend.

"The General added that we were, besides, perfectly able to prevent the Germans from passing through."

[blocks in formation]

Report of Baron Greindl, Belgian Minister in Berlin, to the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs

[blocks in formation]

ly long one. Extracts from it were published in The North German Gazette of Oct. 13. A facsimile has been made of the first page only of the document, because of its great length.

The writer reveals with great astuteness the ulterior motives underlying the English proposal and draws attention to the danger of the situation in which Belgium had become involved by a one-sided partisanship in favor of the powers of the Entente. In this very detailed report, dated Dec. 23, 1911, Baron Greindl explains that the plan of the General Army Staff for the defense of Belgian neutrality in a Franco-German war as communicated to him only concerned the question as to what military measures should be adopted in case Germany violated Belgian neutrality. The hypothesis of a French attack on Germany through Belgium had, however, just as much probability in itself. The diplomat then goes on in the following manner:]

"From the French side danger threatens not only in the south of Luxemburg, it threatens us on our entire joint fron

« AnteriorContinuar »