« AnteriorContinuar »
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 dificult, for, after the surrender of our national centre 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. Col. Barnardiston's announcements at the time of the conclusion of the entente cordiale, which were just as perfidious as they were naïve, 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 Capt. 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 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 premit it after we had formally pleged 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 o war between Germany and France."
[The text of the documents presented above is not disputed by the Belgian Government. Instead it is made the basis of the Belgian reply, beginning on the next page.]
[BELGIAN LEGATION ARTICLE NO. 1]
"INNOCENCE OF BELGIUM"
Reply to Publication of Military Documents by Germany "
[The following letter from the Belgian Legation at Washington certifies the official character of the documents presented below.-EDITOR.]
LEGATION DE BELGIQUE,
WASHINGTON, D. C.
To the Editor of The New York Times Current History:
Jan. 25, 1915.
In accordance with the request, in your letter of December 10, addressed to the Belgian Minister, for official documents published by the Legation, I have the pleasure of sending you, herewith, by the Minister's instructions, a copy of a pamphlet entitled The Innocence of Belgium," dealing with the Military Documents published recently in THE NEW YORK TIMES. I also take this opportunity to transmit to you a copy of a pamphlet entitled 'Why Belgium Was Devastated," containing translations of the German Proclamations issued in Belgium.
I have the honor to be, Sir, Your obedient
JAMES GUSTAVUS WHITELEY.
HE German Government has at last decided to publish the documents which it says were found in Brussels, and which it claims prove that Belgium violated her neutrality.
As a matter of fact these documents are the clearest proof of the innocence of Belgium.
Document No. 1 refers to a conversation between Major Gen. Ducarme and the English Military Attaché, Lieut. Col. Barnardiston.
The English Military Attaché went to call on the Belgian General and told him of the anxiety on the part of the English General Staff in regard to the general political situation and the possibility of war. "In case Belgium should be attacked, the sending of about 100,000 troops was provided for."
He (the British Military Attaché) proceeded in the following terms:
"The landing of the British troops I would take place on the French coast.
* The entry of the English into
Belgium would take place only after the violation of our (Belgian) neutrality by Germany."
It almost seems as if Col. Barnardiston had foreseen the future.
The document continues as follows: 'My visitor laid emphasis on the following fact: that it (the conversation) was not binding on his Government ** and that he did not know whether the opinion of his Sovereign had been consulted." It was thus clearly shown by the British Military Attaché that his communication was simply a conversation; it is, moreover, perfectly well known that Military Attachés have no power to make conventional agreements.
The document further continues: "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 (Belgian) country, in order
to reach the French Ardennes "-an additional proof that the object of the conversation was solely to prevent a violation of Belgian neutrality.
Document No. 2 refers to a conversation between the British Military Attaché and Gen. Jungbluth, in which the former said that the British troops would effect a landing even if we (the Belgians) did not ask for assistance." This is an additional proof that no agreement or convention had been made.
public opinion here ever approve of it. What we had to consider, and it was a somewhat embarrassing question, was what it would be desirable and necessary for us, as one of the guarantors of Belgian neutrality, to do if Belgian neutrality was violated by any power. For us to be the first to violate it and to send troops into Belgium would be to give Germany, for instance, justification for sending troops into Belgium also. What we desired in the case of Belgium, as in that of other neutral countries, was that their neutrality should be respected, and, as long as it was not violated by any To this the Belgian General replied other power, we would certainly not send that our (Belgium's) consent troops ourselves into their territory. was necessary," and he added that " am, &c., we (the (Signed) E. GREY. Belgians) were, moreover, perfectly able Document No. 3 contains, according to to prevent the Germans from passing Dr. B. Dernburg, the personal views of through Belgium," thus showing his the Belgian Minister in Berlin, but it anxiety to preserve the neutrality of Beldoes not, in any way, indicate the existgium. ence of an agreement between Belgium and England against Germany.
Dr. B. Dernburg claims that England would have sent troops into Belgium in any event, even if Germany had not invaded Belgium. Affirmations which are not based upon any evidence cannot destroy the text itself of the documents.
In a letter of Sir Edward Grey, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of England, addressed to the British Minister to Belgium, on the 7th of April, 1913, the British statesman declares in the most formal way, that: "As long as Belgium's neutrality was not violated by any other power, we (the British) should certainly not send troops ourselves into their territory."
The full text of this important letter is as follows:
In speaking to the Belgian Minister today I said, speaking unofficially, that it had been brought to my knowledge that there was apprehension in Belgium lest we should be the first to violate Belgian neutrality. I did not think that apprehension could have come from a British
The Belgian Minister informed me that there had been talk, from a British source which he could not name, of the landing of troops in Belgium by Great Britain, in order to anticipate a possible dispatch of German troops through Belgium to France.
I said that I was sure that this Government would not be the first to violate the neutrality of Belgium, and I did not believe that any British Government would be the first to do so, nor would
It is impossible to say that these documents constitute a proof of an agreement between England and Belgium against Germany, unless one accepts the idea that Germany had a right to violate Belgium's neutrality, and that all measures taken as a precaution against violation of neutrality must therefore have been taken against Germany.
The documents contain merely conversations between military officers in regard to a possible future co-operation of their armies in the event of violation of Belgian territory by Germany. They never even resulted in an agreement between those Governments; Military Attachés have no authority to make such agreements.
The events that happened last August and the sudden invasion of Belgium by Germany show that the British Government was fully justified in fearing the violation of Belgian territory by Germany. It seems incredible, after what has passed, that the German Government should denounce the British Government for approaching Belgian military officers and taking precautions against the very thing which eventually happened.
If further proof should be necessary, the documents published in the “Gray Book" show as clearly as possible that, when the war broke out, Belgium had
no such agreement with any of the pow
On July 24 the following letter was sent by the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs to the various Belgian Legations concerned, with instructions to communicate the same to the powers as soon as said Legations should have received telegraphic orders to do so.
The international situation is serious; the eventuality of a conflict between several powers cannot be set aside from the anxieties of the Government of the King.
Belgium has observed with the most scrupulous exactness the duties of a neutral State which are imposed on her by the Treaties of April 19, 1839. These duties, whatever the circumstances may be, will be resolutely fulfilled by her.
The friendly disposition of the powers toward her has been so often affirmed that Belgium has the confidence that her territory will be untouched by any attack if hostilities should break out on her frontiers.
All the necessary measures have nevertheless been taken, in order to assure the observance of her neutrality. It is scarcely necessary to insist upon their character. These measures are not and can not have been inspired by a design to participate in an armed struggle of the powers, nor by any sentiment of defiance toward any one of them.
Belgium declared that she would not fail to fulfill all of her duties, that she had not a single agreement of alliance with any one, and that she wanted to remain absolutely neutral.
Seven days later the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs communicated to the Belgian Legations his answer to the question which Sir Edward Grey had asked Belgium in the name of England:
"The British Minister requested to see me very urgently and communicated to me the following:
"Sir Edward Grey has asked the French and German Governments, separately, whether each of them was prepared to respect the neutrality of Belgium.
"In view of the existing treaties, I am also instructed to inform the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belgium that Sir Edward Grey presumes that Belgium will
do her utmost to maintain her neutrality.'
"I immediately thanked Sir Francis Villiers for this communication, which the Belgian Government appreciates very highly, and I added that Great Britain and the other nations, guarantors of our independence, might be sure that we would neglect no effort to maintain our neutrality, and that we were convinced that the other powers, in view of the excellent relations of friendship and confidence which we have always enjoyed with them, would observe and maintain this neutrality."
At the decisive moment, the attitude of Belgium was thus irreproachable. She was not bound to any other nation; she had her hands free. She declared that she was ready to make the necessary sacrifices to defend her neutrality and to resist any aggression from whatever source, and she added that, trusting in her friendly relations with the powers, she was unwilling to believe that any of them would violate her neutrality.
On Aug. 3, at 7 A. M., after having received the ultimatum from Germany, Belgium declared that she refused to repudiate her engagements.
The next day, the 4th of August, at 3 P. M., the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs received from Sir F. Villiers, Minister of England in Brussels, the following note:
BRUSSELS, Aug. 4, 1914.
I am instructed to inform the Belgian Government that, if Germany exercises pressure for the purpose of compelling Belgium to abandon her position of a neutral country, the Government of his Britannic Majesty expects Belgium to resist by every possible means. The Government of his Britannic Majesty is ready, in that event, to join with Russia and France, if desired by Belgium, to offer to the Belgian Government, at once, common action for the purpose of resisting the use of force by Germany against Belgium, and at the same time to offer a guarantee to maintain the independence and the integrity of Belgium in the future.
England offered her help but did not impose it. She did not intend to send troops into Belgian territory as a preventive measure. She expressly subordinated her assistance to the desire of Belgium.
It was only on the 4th of August, during the evening, after having vainly hoped and waited for a change in the attitude of Germany, that Belgium called England, France, and Russia to COoperate, as guarantor powers, in the defense of her territory.
In the preface published by Dr. B. Dernburg, with the documents, it is said that only the prompt action at Liége that put this important railway centre, commanding the railway connections to France and Germany, into German hands, prevented the English landing and invading Belgium."
It is impossible to conceive how the taking of Liége prevented the English from landing and invading Belgium. That statement is hardly a compliment to the intelligence or the geographical knowledge of the American people. The fact is that Liége was taken a long time before the British troops landed at Calais, and it is still today in the hands of the Germans without in the least interfering with the arrival of British reinforcements in France and in the territory still left in the possesion of Belgium. The fact is that Liége was not taken to prevent the Britinsh from entering Belgium, but because it was part of the plan of the German General Staff to invade Belgium at once, to march across her territory, to crush the army of France as soon as possible, and then to turn and attack the Russians on the east.
It is interesting to recall here the famous conversation held between the British Ambassador in Berlin, on one side, and the Chancellor of the Empire, Mr. Bethmann-Hollweg, and the German Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mr. von Jagow, on the other side, at the time of the invasion of Belgium by the German troops. These conversations prove, indisputably, the premeditated intention of Germany to violate Belgium's neutrality:
the Imperial Government had been obliged to take this step, namely, that they had to advance into France by the quickest and easiest way so as to be able to get well ahead with their operations and endeavor to strike some decisive blow as early as possible. It was a matter of life and death to them, for, if they had gone by the more southern route, they could not have hoped, in view of the paucity of the roads and the strength of the fortresses, to have got through without formidable opposition, entailing great loss of time. This loss of time would mean time gained by the Russians for the bringing up of their troops to the German frontier. Rapidity of action was the great German asset, while that of Russia was the inexhaustible supply of troops." (Official report of the British Ambassador in Berlin to the British Government.)
This conversation preceded by a few minutes that in which the German Chancellor, giddy at the sight of the abyss into which Germany was falling, uttered these celebrated words: "Just for a word, NEUTRALITY, a word which in wartimes has been so often disregarded; just for A SCRAP OF PAPER, Great Britain is going to make war on a kindred nation. At what price would that compact (neutrality) have been kept? Has the British Government thought of that?" Sir Edward Goschen replied that fear of consequences would hardly be regarded as an excuse for breaking a solemn engagement. (Official report of the British Ambassador in Berlin to his Government.)
Finally, the solemn avowal of the German Chancellor, during the sitting of the Reichstag on Aug. 4, 1914, settles this question definitely: "We are in a state of legitimate defense. NECESSITY KNOWS NO LAW. Our troops have occupied Luxemburg and have perhaps already penetrated into Belgium. This is against the law of nations."
The truth is that every step taken by Germany was a clear indication of her intentions against Belgium. Her strategic railroads are concentrated on the Belgian frontier, and her military writers, von Bernhardi, von Schlifenbach, and von der Goltz, made no secret of her plan to carry on her war by means of an invasion of Belgium's Herr von neutral country. Events have shown how, long before the
To the request of Sir Edward Goschen, the English Ambassador in Berlin, to be allowed to know if Germany would pledge herself to respect the neutrality of Belgium, the German Secretary of State replied that this neutrality had already been violated by Germany." Jagow went again into the "reasons why