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WHY WE ARE AT WAR
GREAT BRITAIN'S CASE
With an Appendix of Original Documents including the Authorized English
Translation of the White Book issued by the German Government
Second Edition Revised (fourth impression)
containing the Russian Orange Book
MEMBERS OF THE OXFORD FACULTY OF MODERN HISTORY
We are not politicians, and we belong to different schools of political
thought. We have written this book to set forth the causes of the
present war, and the principles which we believe to be at stake. We have
some experience in the handling of historic evidence, and we have
endeavoured to treat this subject historically. Our fifth chapter, which
to many readers will be the most interesting, is founded upon first-hand
evidence--the documents contained in the British White Book
(Parliamentary Paper, Cd. 7467; hereafter cited as _Correspondence
respecting the European Crisis_), and the German White Book, which is an
official apology, supplemented by documents. The German White Book, as
being difficult of access, we have printed _in extenso_. It exists in
two versions, a German and an English, both published for the German
Government. We have reproduced the English version without correcting
the solecisms of spelling and expression. From the English White Book we
have reprinted, in the second appendix, a small selection of the more
significant documents; many more are quoted in the body of our work.
Our thanks are due to Sir H. Erle Richards, Chichele Professor of
International Law and Diplomacy; and to Mr. W.G.S. Adams, Gladstone
Professor of Political Theory and Institutions, for valuable suggestions
The sole responsibility for the book rests, however, with those who sign
Any profits arising from the sale of this work will be sent to the
Belgian Relief Fund, as a mark of sympathy and respect for the Belgian
nation, and especially for the University of Louvain.
H. W. C. DAVIS
C. R. L. FLETCHER
L. G. WICKHAM LEGG
Preface to Second Edition
By the courtesy of His Excellency the Russian Ambassador we are now able
to print in an appendix (No. VI) those documents contained in the
Russian Orange Book which have not been already published in the German
and the British White Books. In the light of the evidence afforded by
the Russian Orange Book, we have modified one or two sentences in this
21 September, 1914.
TABLE OF DATES
THE NEUTRALITY OF BELGIUM AND LUXEMBURG
Belgian neutrality--The origin of Belgium--England and the smaller
Powers--The Treaty of 1839--Belgium's independence and neutrality.--The
neutrality of the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg--Its origin--The Treaty of
1867--The collective guarantee.--The strategic importance of
Belgium--German plans long suspected.
THE GROWTH OF ALLIANCES AND THE RACE OF ARMAMENTS SINCE 1871
Introduction--The Triple Alliance--Bismarck's dismissal--French colonial
advance---Germany's demands for compensations--The Anglo-French
agreement concerning Morocco--German objections--England and Russia--The
Agadir incident--Anglo-French exchange of notes--Disputes in the
Balkans--The 'Boulanger Law' of 1886--Count Caprivi's law of
1893--Franco-Russian _entente_--German military preparations--France's
response--Russia's reorganization--England's Army and Navy.
Note. _Abstract of Anglo-French Agreement on Morocco_.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF RUSSIAN POLICY
Estrangement of Russia and Germany--Austria and the Balkans--German
penetration through the Balkans--Servia and Russia--Germany and the
Slavs--Russia and England.
CHRONOLOGICAL SKETCH OF THE CRISIS OF 1914
Diary of the Events leading to the War.
NEGOTIATORS AND NEGOTIATIONS
Dramatis personae. Sec. _Germany's attitude to Russia and
Austria_--Presentation of the Austrian Note to Servia--Germany shields
Austria--Conduct of Germany considered--Sir Edward Grey proposes
mediation, and then a Conference of Four Powers--Germany's objections to
a 'Conference'--Direct conversations between the Powers--Austria invited
to suspend military action--Mobilization; on whom does responsibility
lie?--War inevitable. Sec 2. _Germany's attitude to France_--Germany
accuses France of military preparations--Germany invades France. Sec 3.
_The question of British neutrality_--Possibility of England being
involved--Germany warned--German 'bid for British neutrality'--England's
refusal--France agrees, and Germany refuses, to respect Belgian
neutrality--Prince Lichnowsky and Sir Edward Grey--Neutrality of
Luxemburg violated--Germany demands a free passage through Belgium--Sir
Edward Grey protests--Belgium invaded--England's ultimatum--The Imperial
Chancellor urges necessity of Germany's action. Sec 4. _England and
Servia_--Sir Edward Grey realizes Russia's interest in Servia--He is
only concerned for the peace of Europe--He urges mediation--He proposes
a Conference. Sec 5. _Great Britain declines 'solidarity' with Russia and
France_--Proposals by MM. Sazonof and Poincare--England's refusal--Was
it wise?--The Austrian _dossier_. Sec 6. _Italy's comments on the
situation_--Significance of Italy's position--Italy's endeavours to
prevent war--Italy's declaration of neutrality.
Note. Abstract of Austro-Hungarian note to Servia, and Servians reply.
THE NEW GERMAN THEORY OF THE STATE
The principles of _raison d'etat_ and the rule of law--Treitschke's
teaching--The results of this philosophy--Contempt for public law--The
glorification of war--The philosophy pagan--Its adoption by Prussian
soldiers and Government--A plea for Prussia--England fights for law.
I. THE GERMAN WHITE BOOK
II. EXTRACTS FROM SIR EDWARD GREY'S CORRESPONDENCE RESPECTING THE
III. EXTRACT FROM THE DISPATCH FROM HIS MAJESTY'S AMBASSADOR AT BERLIN
RESPECTING THE RUPTURE OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH THE GERMAN
IV. THE CRIME OF SERAJEVO
V. EXTRACT FROM THE DISPATCH FROM HIS MAJESTY'S AMBASSADOR AT VIENNA
RESPECTING THE RUPTURE OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH THE AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN
VI. EXTRACTS FROM THE RUSSIAN ORANGE BOOK
1648 Jan. The Treaty of Munster.
Oct. The Treaty of Westphalia.
1713 April. The Treaty of Utrecht.
1772 First Partition of Poland.
1783 William of Nassau becomes Grand Duke of Luxemburg.
1788 July. The Triple Alliance of England, Holland, and Prussia.
1789 The French Revolution begins.
1792 Nov. 6. Battle of Jemappes. French Conquest of the Austrian
Netherlands and Liege.
Nov. 19. French decree offering 'freedom to all nations'.
Dec. 15. Compulsory freedom declared.
1793 Jan. Second Partition of Poland.
Feb. 1. Declaration of War by France against England and Holland.
1795 Third Partition of Poland.
1801 Feb. 9. The Treaty of Luneville. France guarantees the
independence of Holland (then called 'Batavian Republic').
1802 Mar. 27. The Treaty of Amiens.
1803 Mar. 13. Napoleon's famous interview with Lord Whitworth.
May 12. Declaration of War by England against France.
1814 Mar. 1. The Treaty of Chaumont.
May 30. The First Peace of Paris.
Sept. 29. Opening of the Congress of Vienna.
1815 Mar-June. The Hundred Days.
May 31. Belgium and Luxemburg placed under the Prince of Orange as
King of the United Netherlands.
Nov. 20. The Second Peace of Paris.
1830 Revolutions in France (July) and in Belgium (Aug.).
1830-1878 Servia autonomous.
1831 Nov. 15. Independence and Neutrality of Belgium guaranteed by
England, Austria, France, Prussia, and Russia.
1839 April 19. Final recognition of the Independence and Neutrality of
Belgium by the above-named Powers.
1867 May 11. European guarantee of the Neutrality of Luxemburg.
Declaration by Lord Stanley and Lord Clarendon.
1870 Aug. 9. Independence and Neutrality of Belgium again guaranteed
by Germany and France.
1871 May 10. The Treaty of Frankfort.
1872 The _Dreikaiserbund_; Alliance of Russia, Germany, and
1875 Threatened attack on France by Germany prevented by
Russia and England.
1878 The Treaty of Berlin.
Proclamation of Servian Independence under King Milan.
1879 Secret Treaty between Germany and Austria.
1883 Triple Alliance between Germany, Austria, and Italy.
1885 Formation of United Bulgaria.
War between Bulgaria and Servia.
1886 Peace between Bulgaria and Servia.
1890 Fall of Bismarck. Cession of Heligoland to Germany.
1891 Beginning of an understanding between Russia and France.
1893 Caprivi's Army Act.
1896 Germany begins to show aggressive tendencies in the field
of Colonial Expansion.
Treaty between England and France regarding their interests
Definite Alliance between Russia and France.
1898 Reconquest of the Sudan.
Tsar's rescript for an International Peace Conference.
1899 Anglo-French Agreement respecting Tripoli.
June. First Peace Conference at the Hague.
New German Army Act.
1902 Anglo-Japanese Alliance.
The Peace of Vereeniging closes the South African War.
1903 Revolution in Belgrade.
1904 April. The Treaty of London between England and France
with regard to North Africa.
1905 Mar. Visit of the German Emperor to Tangier.
June. Germany demands the dismissal of M. Delcasse.
Aug. The Treaty of Portsmouth between Russia and Japan.
Renewal of the Anglo-Japanese Alliance.
German Army Act.
Sept. France agrees to the holding of the Algeeiras
1907 Agreement between Russia and England concerning Persia,
Afghanistan, and Tibet.
June-Oct. Second Peace Conference at the Hague.
1908 Young Turk Revolution in Constantinople.
Oct. Annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina by Austria.
German Navy Law.
1909 Mar. Servia declares she will no longer protest against the
annexation of Bosnia by Austria.
1909 Mr. Asquith's speech on necessity for increasing the Navy.
1910 The Potsdam interview between the Tsar and the Kaiser.
1911 European Crisis over the question of Morocco, followed by a
closer Anglo-French _entente_.
German Army Act.
1912 Sensational German Army Bill.
War in the Balkans.
Nov. 26. German Navy construction estimates L11,416,700.
Dec. 29. Peace Conference of Balkan States with Turkey broken off.
1913 Jan. 17. M. Poincare elected French President.
Jan. 23. The Young Turkish Party overthrow the Government at
May 26. Peace made between Turkey and the Balkan States.
May 28. The New German Army Bill passes the Budget Committee of
June 20. Universal military service in Belgium.
June 26. Conference between the French President, the French
Foreign Minister, and Sir Edward Grey.
June 30. Bulgaria is attacked by Servia and Greece.
New German Army Bill.
July. Roumania attacks Bulgaria.
The Turks re-occupy Adrianople.
New Russian Army Bill.
French Army Bill.
Aug. 6. The Treaty of Peace between Bulgaria, Servia, Greece, and
Sept. 22. The Treaty of Peace between Bulgaria and Turkey.
Oct. 20. Servia at Austria's demand abandons Albania.
Austrian War Fund increased.
1914 Attacks by the German Press upon France and Russia.
THE NEUTRALITY OF BELGIUM AND LUXEMBURG
The kingdom of Belgium is a comparatively new creation, but the idea of
a Belgian nation is older than the kingdom. Historically and
geographically the kingdom has no doubt an artificial character; its
boundaries have been determined by the Great Powers and cut across the
ancient provinces of the Netherlands. And it must be added that its
population is heterogeneous both in race and language. These facts,
however, in no sense diminish the legal rights of Belgium as a nation.
She is a sovereign state by the same charter as Italy or Greece; and for
the convenience of Europe she has been solemnly declared a neutral
state, endowed with special privileges but burdened with corresponding
obligations. While those privileges were maintained--and they have been
rigidly maintained for more than eighty years--the Belgian people
punctually fulfilled their obligations; and, because they have declined
to betray Europe by becoming the dependant of a powerful neighbour, or
by participating in the violation of European public law, their country
is a wilderness of smoking ruins.
In the tremendous and all but crushing ordeal of August, 1914, Belgium
has proved that she possesses other titles to existence and respect than
those afforded by treaties, by the mutual jealousies of neighbours, or
by the doctrines of international law. She has more than satisfied the
tests which distinguish the true from the fictitious nationality. Those
who have hitherto known Belgium only as a hive of manufacturing and
mining industry, or as a land of historic memories and monuments, are
now recognizing, with some shame for their past blindness, the moral and
spiritual qualities which her people have developed under the aegis of a
European guarantee. It is now beyond dispute that, if Belgium were
obliterated from the map of Europe, the world would be the poorer and
Europe put to shame. The proofs which Belgium has given of her
nationality will never be forgotten while liberty has any value or
patriotism any meaning among men. We cannot do less than echo the
general sentiment of admiration for a constancy to national ideals which
has left Belgium at the mercy of Huns less forgivable than those of
Attila. But the case against her oppressor is not to be founded solely
or mainly on her peculiar merits. In a special sense it rests upon the
legal rights and duties with which she has been invested for the
convenience of her neighbours and for the welfare of the European state
system. It was in their interest, rather than her own, that the Great
Powers made her a sovereign independent state. As such she is entitled,
equally with England or with Germany, to immunity from unprovoked
attack. But the Powers which made her a sovereign state, also, and for
the same reasons of convenience, made her a neutral state. She was
therefore debarred from consulting her own safety by making alliances
upon what terms she would. She could not lawfully join either of the two
armed camps into which Europe has fallen since the year 1907. And, if
she had been as contemptible as she is actually the reverse, she would
still be entitled to expect from England and from every other of her
guarantors the utmost assistance it is in their power to give. In
fighting for Belgium we fight for the law of nations; that is,
ultimately, for the peace of all nations and for the right of the weaker
* * * * *
The provinces which now constitute the kingdom of Belgium--with the
exception of the bishopric of Liege, which was until 1795 an
ecclesiastical principality--were known in the seventeenth century as
the Spanish, in the eighteenth as the Austrian, Netherlands. They
received the first of these names when they returned to the allegiance
of Philip II, after a short participation in the revolt to which Holland
owes her national existence. When the independence of Holland was
finally recognized by Spain (1648), the Spanish Netherlands were
subjected to the first of the artificial restrictions which Europe has
seen fit to impose upon them. The Dutch monopoly of navigation in the
Scheldt was admitted by the Treaty of Muenster (1648), and Antwerp was
thus precluded from developing into a rival of Amsterdam. In the age of
Louis XIV the Spanish Netherlands were constantly attacked by France,
who acquired at one time or another the chief towns of Artois and
Hainault, including some which have lately come into prominence in the
great war, such as Lille, Valenciennes, Cambray, and Maubeuge. The bulk,
however, of the Spanish Netherlands passed at the Treaty of Utrecht to
Austria, then the chief rival of France on the Continent. They passed
with the reservation that certain fortresses on their southern border
were to be garrisoned jointly by the Dutch and the Austrians as a
barrier against French aggression. This arrangement was overthrown at
the French Revolution. The French annexed the Austrian Netherlands and
Liege in November, 1792; and immediately afterwards threw down a
gauntlet to England by opening to all nations the navigation of the
Scheldt. This, and the threatened French attack on Holland, her ally,
drew England into conflict with the Revolution; for, first, Antwerp in
French hands and as an open port would be a dangerous menace; and
secondly, the French had announced a new and anarchic doctrine hostile
to all standing treaties: 'Our reasons are that the river takes its rise
in France and that a nation which has obtained its liberty cannot
recognize a system of feudalism, much less adhere to it'. The answer
of William Pitt, which in effect declared war upon the Revolution,
contains a memorable statement of the attitude towards public law which
England held then, as she holds it to-day: 'With regard to the Scheldt
France can have no right to annul existing stipulations, unless she also
have the right to set aside equally the other treaties between all
Powers of Europe and all the other rights of England and her allies....
England will never consent that France shall arrogate the power of
annulling at her pleasure and under the pretence of a pretended natural
right, of which she makes herself the only judge, the political system
of Europe, established by solemn treaties and guaranteed by the consent
of all the Powers'.
This was not our attitude in the case of Belgium only. It was an
attitude which we adopted with regard to all the minor Powers of Western
Europe when they were threatened by Napoleon. On precisely the same
grounds England defended in 1803 the independence of Holland, a
commercial rival if an old political ally, and of Switzerland, where she
had no immediate interests to protect. By the Treaty of Luneville
(February, 1801) France and Austria had mutually guaranteed the
independence of the Batavian Republic and the right of the Dutch to
adopt whatever form of government seemed good to them. In defiance of
these stipulations Napoleon maintained a garrison in Holland, and forced
upon her a new Constitution which had been prepared in Paris (November,
1801). Identical stipulations had been made for the Helvetian Republic
and had been similarly violated. Early in 1803 England demanded that the
French should evacuate Holland and Switzerland: to which Napoleon
replied that 'Switzerland and Holland are mere trifles'. His interview
with the English Ambassador on March 13, 1803, has many points of
resemblance with the now famous interview of August 4, 1914, between Sir
Edward Goschen and Dr. von Bethmann-Hollweg. The First Consul then, like
the Imperial Chancellor to-day, was unable, or professed himself unable,
to understand why Great Britain should insist upon the observance of
To return to Belgium. It became apparent in the Napoleonic Wars that
Belgium and Holland were individually too weak to protect themselves or
the German people against an aggressive French Government. The allies
therefore, in the year 1813, handed over to Holland the Austrian
Netherlands and the bishopric of Liege in order 'to put Holland in a
position to resist attack until the Powers could come to its aid'. This
arrangement was ratified at the Treaty of Chaumont (1814). As there was
no government or visible unity in the Belgian provinces after the
retirement of the French, the union with Holland, originally suggested
by Lord Castlereagh, seemed reasonable enough. It gave the Belgians the
great privilege of freely navigating the Scheldt. It was confirmed at
the Congress of Vienna, and the new kingdom of the United Netherlands
was declared neutral by the common consent of the Powers.
But the events of the years 1815-1830 proved conclusively that this
union was unsatisfactory to the Belgian population. The Belgians
complained that they were not allowed their just share of influence and
representation in the legislature or executive. They resented the
attempt to impose the Dutch language and Dutch Liberalism upon them.
They rose in revolt, expelled the Dutch officials and garrisons, and
drew up for themselves a monarchical and parliamentary constitution.
Their aspirations aroused much sympathy both in England and in France.
These two countries induced the other Great Powers (Austria, Prussia,
Russia) to recognize the new kingdom as an independent neutral state.
This recognition was embodied in the Treaty of the Twenty-Four Articles
signed at London in October, 1831; and it was not too generous to the
aspirations of Belgian nationality. Since the Belgians had been defeated
in the field by Holland and had only been rescued by a French army, they
were obliged to surrender their claims upon Maestricht, parts of
Luxemburg, and parts of Limburg. Some time elapsed before this
settlement was recognized by Holland. But at length this last guarantee
was obtained; and the Treaty of London, 1839, finally established the
international status of Belgium. Under this treaty both her independence
and her neutrality were definitely guaranteed by England, France,
Austria, Prussia, and Russia.
We have recently been told by the Imperial Chancellor that the Treaty of
1839 is nothing but 'a scrap of paper'. It is therefore desirable to
point out that Bismarck made full use of it in 1870 to prevent England
from supporting the cause of France. It was with this object that he
published the proposal alleged to have been made to him by the French
representative, Benedetti, in 1866, that Prussia should help France to
acquire Belgium as a solace for Prussian annexations in Northern
Germany. Then, as now, England insisted upon the Treaty of 1839. The
result was that, on the instance of Lord Granville, Germany and France
entered into an identic treaty with Great Britain (Aug. 1870) to the
effect that, if either belligerent violated Belgian territory, Great
Britain would co-operate with the other for the defence of it. The
treaty was most strictly construed. After the battle of Sedan (Sept.
1870) the German Government applied to Belgium for leave to transport
the German wounded across Belgian territory. France protested that this
would be a breach of neutrality and Belgium refused.
Such is the history of the process by which Belgium has acquired her
special status. As an independent state she is bound by the elementary
principle of the law of nations, that a neutral state is bound to refuse
to grant a right of passage to a belligerent. This is a well-established
rule, and was formally affirmed by the Great Powers at the Hague Peace
Conference of 1907. The fifth Article of the Convention  then drawn
up respecting the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in War
on Land runs as follows:--
'A neutral power ought not to allow on its territory any of
the acts referred to in Articles 2 to 4'.
Of the Articles thus specified the most important is No. 2:--
'Belligerents are forbidden to move across the territory of
a neutral power troops or convoys, either of munitions of war
By the Treaty of London the existence of Belgium is contingent upon her
'ARTICLE VII. Belgium within the limits specified in
Articles I, II, and IV shall form an independent and perpetually
neutral state. It shall be bound to observe such
neutrality towards all other states'.
It is unnecessary to elaborate further the point of law. That, it seems,
has been admitted by the Imperial Chancellor before the German
Reichstag. What is necessary to remember is that, in regard to Belgium,
Germany has assumed the position which the Government of the French
Revolution adopted towards the question of the Scheldt, and which
Napoleon adopted towards the guaranteed neutrality of Switzerland and
Holland. Now, as then, England has special interests at stake. The
consequences of the oppression or the extinction of the smaller
nationalities are bound to excite peculiar alarm in England. In
particular she cannot forget how she would be menaced by the
establishment of a militarist state in Belgium. But since in England's
case the dangers and uncertainties of a state of things in which Might
is treated as Right are particularly apparent, it is only to be expected
that she should insist with special emphasis upon the sanctity of
treaties, a sanctity which in the long run is as necessary to the
strongest nation as to the weakest. If treaties count for nothing, no
nation is secure so long as any imaginable combination of Powers can
meet it in battle or diplomacy on equal terms; and the stronger nations
must perforce fight one another to the death for the privilege of
enslaving civilization. Whether the progress of such a competition would
be a trifling evil, whether the success of any one among such
competitors would conduce to the higher interests of humanity, impartial
onlookers may debate if they please. England has answered both these
questions with an unhesitating negative.
Under existing treaty law the Grand Duchy of Luxemburg stands for all
practical purposes in the same legal position as its northern neighbour;
and the ruler of Luxemburg has protested against the German invasion
of her territory no less emphatically than King Albert, though with less
power of giving expression in action to her just resentment. If the
defence of Belgium has appealed more forcibly to the ordinary
Englishman, it is because he is more familiar with the past history of
Belgium and sees more clearly in her case the ultimate issues that are
involved in the German violation of her rights. As the following
narrative will show, the neutrality of Luxemburg was guaranteed in the
interests and at the instance of the Prussian state, as a protection
against French aggression. The legal case could not be clearer, and it
might perhaps be asked why the attack on Luxemburg, which preceded that
on Belgium, was not treated by this country as a _casus belli_.
England's attitude towards Luxemburg is that which she has consistently
adopted towards those smaller states of Europe which lie outside the
reach of naval power. It is an attitude which she has maintained in the
case of Servia even more clearly than in that of Luxemburg. England
holds herself bound to exert her influence in procuring for the smaller
states of Europe equitable treatment from their more powerful
neighbours. But the duty of insisting upon equitable treatment falls
first upon those Powers whose situation enables them to support a
protest by effective action. Just as Servia is the special concern of
Russia, so Luxemburg must look to France in the first instance for
protection against Germany, to Germany if she is assailed from the
French side. In either case we should hold ourselves bound to exercise
our influence, but not as principals. Any other course would be
impossibly quixotic, and would only have the effect of destroying our
power to help the states within our reach.
* * * * *
The Grand Duchy of Luxemburg was a revival of an ancient state which had
lost its existence during the French Revolution. Although it was placed
under the rule of the King of the Netherlands, a descendant of its
former sovereign, it was not incorporated in his kingdom, but retained
its own identity and gave to its ruler the secondary title of Grand Duke
of Luxemburg. The position it occupied after 1815 was in some ways
anomalous; for lying as it did between the Meuse and the Rhine, and
possessing in the town of Luxemburg a fortress whose natural strength
some competent critics reckoned as second only to that of Gibraltar
among the fortresses of Europe, it was considered to be an indispensable
link in the chain of defences of Germany against French aggression. Not
being able to trust the Dutch to hold this great fortress against the
French, the Congress of Vienna laid down as a principle that all land
between the Meuse and the Rhine must be held by Prussian troops on
behalf of the newly formed Germanic Confederation. Thus Luxemburg was
held by Prussian troops on behalf of this foreign confederation, and
over this garrison the only right allowed to the Grand Duke, the
sovereign of the country, was that of nominating the governor.
This strange state of affairs was not modified by the Belgian Revolution
of 1830; for though more than half the Grand Duchy threw in its lot with
Belgium to form the modern province of Belgian Luxemburg, the Grand
Duchy, confined to its modern limits, still contained the great fortress
with its garrison of Prussian troops. It is not surprising that, under
these circumstances, the Grand Duchy joined the Prussian _Zollverein_,
and so drew nearer to Germany, in spite of the independent character of
its inhabitants, who have strenuously resisted any attempt at absorption
into Germany. France naturally continued to cast envious eyes upon the
small state with the powerful citadel, but no opportunity presented
itself for reopening the question until 1866.
In that year Napoleon III had anticipated that the war between Prussia
and Italy on one side and Austria and the small German states on the
other would be long and exhausting, and would end in France imposing
peace on the weary combatants with considerable territorial advantage to
herself. His anticipation was entirely falsified; the war lasted only
seven weeks and Prussia emerged victorious and immensely strengthened by
the absorption of several German states and by the formation of the
North German Confederation under her leadership. This, the first
shattering blow which the French Emperor's diplomatic schemes had
received, led him to demand compensation for the growth of Prussian
power, and one of his proposals was the cession of Luxemburg to France.
This suggestion had some legal plausibility quite apart from the
question of the balance of power. For the Prussian garrison held
Luxemburg in the name of the German Confederation, which had been
destroyed by the war of 1866; and, the authority to which the garrison
owed its existence being gone, it was only logical that the garrison
should go too. After much demur Count Bismarck acknowledged the justice
of the argument (April, 1867), but it did not by any means follow that
the French should therefore take the place vacated by the Prussians. At
the same time the fortress could not be left in the hands of a weak
Power as a temptation for powerful and unscrupulous neighbours. The
question of Luxemburg was therefore the subject discussed at a Congress
held in London in the following May.
Here the Prussians showed themselves extremely politic and reasonable.
Realizing that, with the advance of artillery, the great rock-fortress
no longer had the military value of earlier days, they not only raised
no objections to the evacuation of Luxemburg by their troops, but in the
Congress it was they who proposed that the territory of the Grand Duchy
should be neutralized 'under the collective guarantee of the Powers'.
A treaty was therefore drawn up on May 11, 1867, of which the second
article ran as follows:--
'The Grand Duchy of Luxemburg, within the Limits determined by the
Act annexed to the Treaties of the 19th April, 1839, under the
Guarantee of the Courts of Great Britain, Austria, France, Prussia,
and Russia, shall henceforth form a perpetually Neutral State.
'It shall be bound to observe the same Neutrality towards all other
'The High Contracting Parties engage to respect the principle of
Neutrality stipulated by the present Article.
'That principle is and remains placed under the sanction of the
collective Guarantee of the Powers signing as Parties to the present
Treaty, with the exception of Belgium, which is itself a Neutral
The third article provided for the demolition of the fortifications of
Luxemburg and its conversion into an open town, the fourth for its
evacuation by the Prussian garrison, and the fifth forbade the
restoration of the fortifications.
Such then was the treaty guaranteeing the neutrality of Luxemburg, which
was proposed, it may be observed, by Prussia herself; but, until the
treaty was broken by the very Power which had proposed the neutrality,
only one incident need be noted in the history of the country, namely,
the part it played in the war of 1870-1. On December 3, 1870, Count
Bismarck issued from Versailles a circular to the Prussian Ambassadors,
calling attention to the fact that both the French and the Luxemburgers
had violated the neutrality of the Grand Duchy, mainly by giving
facilities for French soldiers to return to France. Precautions were
taken by the Prussian Government on the frontier to prevent such abuses
occurring in the future, and as no violation of the neutrality of
Luxemburg was committed by the Prussians, the neutral co-guarantors were
satisfied with the Prussian attitude, and the subject dropped. At the
end of the war, M. Thiers vainly attempted to obtain Luxemburg as
compensation for the loss of Metz.
In accordance with the Family Compact of 1783, the Grand Duchy passed on
the death of the late King of Holland to Prince William of Nassau, on
whose death the present Grand Duchess succeeded to her father's throne.
There is one point in the Treaty of 1867 which calls for special
comment. The neutrality of the Grand Duchy is 'placed under the
collective guarantee of the Powers signing'. The phrase originally
proposed by Count Bismarck was 'the formal and individual guarantee of
the Powers,' and it was altered at the instance of the English Foreign
Minister, Lord Stanley. The phrase actually adopted was suggested by the
Russian diplomat, Baron Brunnow, and was accepted both by England and by
Prussia. Lord Stanley's objection had been based upon the fear that
England might incur an unlimited liability to assist Luxemburg
single-handed if all other Powers failed to meet their obligations. In
other words, Luxemburg might have been used as the infallible means of
dragging us into every and any war which might arise between Germany and
France. From that danger we were protected by Lord Stanley's objection;
as the case stands the treaty gives us, in his own words, 'a right to
make war, but would not necessarily impose the obligation,' should
Luxemburg be attacked. To this doctrine a reference will be found in the
British White Paper (No. 148), where Sir Edward Grey informs M. Cambon
of 'the doctrine' concerning Luxemburg, 'laid down by Lord Derby and
Lord Clarendon in 1867'. It may also be observed that two of the
co-guarantors of the Treaty of 1867, namely Italy and Holland, have also
not thought it necessary to make the violation of Luxemburg a _casus
It is evident to all who study closely the map of France that her
eastern frontier falls into two sharply contrasted divisions, the
north-eastern which reaches from the sea to the valley of the Sambre,
and the south-eastern which extends from that river to, and along the
Swiss boundary. The former is flat country, easy for military
operations; the latter is mountainous, intersected with many deep
valleys. After the loss of Alsace-Lorraine, the French set to work to
rectify artificially the strategical weakness of their frontier; and in
a chain of fortresses behind the Vosges Mountains they erected a rampart
which has the reputation of being impregnable. This is the line Belfort,
Epinal, Toul, Verdun. A German attack launched upon this line without
violating neutral territory would have to be frontal, for on the north
the line is covered by the neutral states of Belgium and Luxemburg,
while on the south, although the gap between the Vosges and the Swiss
frontier apparently gives a chance of out-flanking the French defences,
the fortress of Belfort, which was never reduced even in the war of
1870-1, was considered too formidable an obstacle against which to
launch an invading army. A rapid advance on Paris was therefore deemed
impossible if respect were to be paid to the neutrality of Belgium and
Luxemburg, and it was for this purely military reason that Germany has
to-day violated her promises to regard the neutrality of these states.
This was frankly admitted by Herr von Jagow to Sir Edward Goschen: 'if
they had gone by the more southern route they could not have hoped, in
view of the paucity of roads and the strength of the fortresses, to have
got through without formidable opposition entailing great loss of
In the case of Belgium a very easy road was afforded into French
territory up the Valley of the Meuse, past Liege and thence into France
past Namur and through what is known as the Gap of Namur. A German army
could debouch into France through this gap the more easily inasmuch as
the French, relying on the neutrality of these two states, had not
strongly fortified the frontier from the sea to Maubeuge. Moreover, as
the country to the west of the Sambre was very easy country for
manoeuvring and furnished with good roads and railways, it was reckoned
that the formidable French lines to the south could be turned in this
manner, and the German army could march upon Paris from the north-east.
As to Luxemburg, plainly it could not in such a scheme remain neutral.
It would lie between the two wings of the German army, and controlling
as it did the roads to Brussels, Metz, and Aix-la-Chapelle, it could not
be allowed to cause such inconvenience as to prevent easy communication
between one portion of the German army and another.
That such a plan was contemplated by the Germans has been for some years
past a matter of common knowledge in England; and it has been also a
matter of common opinion that the attempt to execute this plan would
involve the active resistance of the British forces, to whom the duty
was supposed to have been assigned of acting on the left flank of the
French opposing the entry of the Germans from Belgian territory. The
plea therefore that has been put forward that the British have now dealt
the Germans 'a felon's blow' can only be put forward by persons who are
either ignorant or heedless of what has been a matter of casual
conversation all over England these last three years; and Sir Edward
Grey himself was so convinced that the German Government knew what the
consequences of a violation of Belgian neutrality would be that he
informed Sir Francis Bertie on July 31st that the 'German Government do
not expect our neutrality'. There has been no secret about it
whatever. It is incredible that the excitement and surprise of the
Imperial Chancellor on the receipt of the ultimatum of August 4th should
have been genuine, seeing that it involves miscalculation or
misinformation entirely incompatible with what we know of the
thoroughness of German methods. At the time of the Agadir crisis the
military situation was the same, and the German War Office knew quite
well what our part would then have been. Surprise at such action on our
part in 1914 is little else than comedy, and can only have been
expressed in order to throw the blame of German aggression on to the
shoulders of Great Britain.
This argument that Great Britain has taken the aggressive falls to the
ground entirely when it is confronted with the hard facts of chronology.
Far from attacking the Germans, we were so anxious to keep the peace
that we were actually three days late in our mobilization to join the
French on their left wing; and had it not been for the defence offered
by Liege, our scruples would have gravely imperilled the common cause.
For it was not until we were certain that Germany had committed what was
tantamount to an act of war against us, by invading the neutral state of
Belgium, that we delivered the ultimatum which led to the war.
[Footnote 1: Cam. Mod. Hist. viii 301.]
[Footnote 2: Ibid. 304.]
[Footnote 3: Printed by A. Pearce Higgins, _The Hague Peace
Conferences_, pp. 281-9.]
[Footnote 4: The entire treaty will be found in Hertslet, _Map of Europe
by Treaty_, vol. ii, pp. 979-98.]
[Footnote 5: _Correspondence respecting the European Crisis_, (Cd.
7467), No. 147. Minister of State, Luxemburg, to Sir E. Grey, Aug. 2.]
[Footnote 6: Edward Hertslet, _The Map of Europe by Treaty_, vol. iii,
p. 1806, no. 406. 'Proposal of _Prussia_ of Collective Guarantee by
Powers of Neutrality of _Luxemburg_, London, 7th May, 1867.']
[Footnote 7: Hertslet, _ut sup._, vol. iii, p. 1803. The High
Contracting Powers were Great Britain, Austria, France, Belgium, Italy,
the Netherlands, Prussia, and Russia.]
[Footnote 8: _Dispatch from His Majesty's Ambassador at Berlin
respecting the rupture of diplomatic relations with the German
Government_ (Cd. 7445), Miscellaneous, no. 8, 1914.]
[Footnote 9: _Correspondence respecting the European Crisis_, p. 62, no.
116. July 31, 1914. See also _infra_ pp. 82 _et seqq_.]
THE GROWTH OF ALLIANCES AND THE RACE OF ARMAMENTS SINCE 1871
Even at the risk of being tedious it is essential that we should sketch
in outline the events which have produced the present grouping of
belligerent states, and the long-drawn-out preparations which have
equipped them for conflict on this colossal scale. To understand why
Austria-Hungary and Germany have thrown down the glove to France and
Russia, why England has intervened not only as the protector of Belgium,
but also as the friend of France, we must go back to the situation
created by the Franco-German War. Starting from that point, we must
notice in order the formation of the Triple Alliance between Germany,
Austria-Hungary, and Italy, of the Dual Alliance between France and
Russia, of the Anglo-French and the Anglo-Russian understandings. The
Triple Alliance has been the grand cause of the present situation; not
because such a grouping of the Central European Powers was
objectionable, but because it has inspired over-confidence in the two
leading allies; because they have traded upon the prestige of their
league to press their claims East and West with an intolerable disregard
for the law of nations. Above all it was the threatening attitude of
Germany towards her Western neighbours that drove England forward step
by step in a policy of precautions which, she hoped, would avert a
European conflagration, and which her rivals have attempted to represent
as stages in a Machiavellian design to ruin Germany's well-being. These
precautions, so obviously necessary that they were continued and
expanded by the most pacific Government which England has seen since Mr.
Gladstone's retirement, have taken two forms: that of diplomatic
understandings, and that of naval preparations. Whichever form they have
taken, they have been adopted in response to definite provocations, and
to threats which it was impossible to overlook. They have been strictly
and jealously measured by the magnitude of the peril immediately in
view. In her diplomacy England has given no blank cheques; in her
armaments she has cut down expenditure to the minimum that, with
reasonable good fortune, might enable her to defend this country and
English sea-borne trade against any probable combination of hostile
Let us consider (1) the development of the diplomatic situation since
1870, (2) the so-called race of armaments since 1886.
The Treaty of Frankfort (May 10, 1871), in which France submitted to the
demands of the new-born German Empire, opened a fresh era of European
diplomacy and international competition. The German Empire became at
once, and has ever since remained, the predominant Power in Western
Europe. The public opinion of this new Germany has been captured to no
small extent by the views of such aggressive patriots as Treitschke, who
openly avowed that 'the greatness and good of the world is to be found
in the predominance there of German culture, of the German mind, in a
word of the German character'. The school of Treitschke looked for the
establishment of a German world-empire, and held that the essential
preliminary to this scheme would be the overthrow of France and England.
But until 1890, that is to say so long as Prince Bismarck remained
Chancellor, no such ambitious programme was adopted by the German
Government. Bismarck was content to strengthen the position of the
Empire and to sow disunion among her actual or suspected enemies. In
1872 he brought about a friendly understanding with Austria and Russia,
the other two great Powers of Eastern Europe, the so-called
_Dreikaiserbuendnis_, which was designed to perpetuate the _status quo_.
But the friendship with Russia quickly cooled; it received a sharp
set-back in 1875, when the Tsar Alexander II came forward rather
ostentatiously to save France from the alleged hostile designs of
Germany; it was certainly not improved when Bismarck in his turn
mediated between Russia and her opponents at the Congress of Berlin
(1878). On the other hand, a common interest in the Eastern Question
drew closer the bonds between Germany and Austria. The latter felt
herself directly menaced by the Balkan policy of Russia; the former was
not prepared to see her southern neighbour despoiled of territory. Hence
in 1879 was initiated that closer union between Germany and Austria
which has been so largely responsible for the present situation. The
Treaty of 1879, which was kept secret until 1887, was purely defensive
in its character; but the terms showed that Russia was the enemy whom
both the contracting Powers chiefly feared. Neither was bound to active
measures unless the other should be attacked by Russia, or any Power
which had Russian support. In 1882 the alliance of the two great German
Powers was joined by Italy--a surprising development which can only be
explained on the ground of Italy's feeling that she could not hope for
security at home, or for colonial expansion in the Mediterranean, so
long as she remained in isolation. The Triple Alliance so constituted
had a frail appearance, and it was hardly to be expected that Italy
would receive strong support from partners in comparison with whose
resources her own were insignificant. But the Triple Alliance has
endured to the present day, the most permanent feature of the diplomatic
system of the last thirty-two years. Whether the results have been
commensurate with the sacrifices of sentiment and ambition which Italy
has made, it is for Italy to judge. On the whole she has been a sleeping
partner in the Alliance; its prestige has served almost exclusively for
the promotion of Austrian and German aims; and one of its results has
been to make Austria a formidable rival of Italy in the Adriatic.
Meanwhile the remaining Great Powers of Europe had continued, as Prince
Bismarck hoped, to pursue their separate paths, though England was on
friendly terms with France and had, equally with Russia, laboured to
avert a second Franco-German War in 1875. After 1882 the English
occupation of Egypt constituted for some years a standing grievance in
the eyes of France. The persistent advance of Russia in Asia had in like
manner been a source of growing apprehension to England since 1868; and,
for a long time after the Treaty of Berlin, English statesmen were on
the watch to check the growth of Russian influence in the Balkans. But
common interests of very different kinds were tending to unite these
three Powers, not in any stable alliance, even for mutual defence, but
in a string of compacts concluded for particular objects.
One of these interests was connected with a feeling that the policy of
the principal partners in the Triple Alliance, particularly that of
Germany, had become incalculable and was only consistent in periodic
outbursts of self-assertiveness, behind which could be discerned a
steady determination to accumulate armaments which should be strong
enough to intimidate any possible competitor. The growth of this feeling
dates from the dismissal of Prince Bismarck by the present Kaiser.
Bismarck had sedulously courted the friendship of Russia, even after
1882. He entered in fact into a defensive agreement with Russia against
Austria. While he increased the war strength of the army, he openly
announced that Germany would always stand on the defensive; and he
addressed a warning to the Reichstag against the 'offensive-defensive'
policy which was even then in the air, though it was still far from its
'If I were to say to you, "We are threatened by France and Russia;
it is better for us to fight at once; an offensive war is more
advantageous to us," and ask for a credit of a hundred millions, I
do not know whether you would grant it--I hope not.'
But Bismarck's retirement (1890) left the conduct of German policy in
less cautious hands. The defensive alliance with Russia was allowed to
lapse; friction between the two Powers increased, and as the result
Germany found herself confronted with the Dual Alliance of France and
Russia, which gradually developed, during the years 1891-6, from a
friendly understanding into a formal contract for mutual defence. There
is no doubt that this alliance afforded France a protection against that
unprovoked attack upon her eastern frontier which she has never ceased
to dread since 1875; and it has yet to be proved that she ever abused
the new strength which this alliance gave her.
It is only in the field of colonial expansion that she has shown
aggressive tendencies since 1896; and even here the members of the
Triple Alliance have never shown serious cause for a belief that France
has invaded their lawful spheres of interest. Her advance in Morocco was
permitted by Italy and Spain; her vast dominion in French West Africa
has been recognized by treaties with Germany and England; in East Africa
she has Madagascar, of which her possession has never been disputed by
any European Power; her growing interests in Indo-China have impinged
only upon an English sphere of interest and were peacefully defined by
an Anglo-French Agreement of 1896. France has been the competitor, to
some extent the successful competitor, of Germany in West Africa, where
she partially envelops the Cameroons and Togoland. But the German
Government has never ventured to state the French colonial methods as a
_casus belli_. That the German people have viewed with jealousy the
growth of French power in Africa is a notorious fact. Quite recently, on
the eve of the present war, we were formally given to understand that
Germany, in any war with France, might annex French colonies; and it
is easy to see how such an object would reconcile the divergent policies
of the German military and naval experts.
Up to the eve of the present war Great Britain has consistently refused
to believe that Germany would be mad enough or dishonest enough to enter
on a war of aggression for the dismemberment of colonial empires. German
diplomacy in the past few weeks has rudely shattered this conviction.
But up to the year 1914 the worst which was generally anticipated was
that she would pursue in the future on a great scale the policy, which
she has hitherto pursued on a small scale, of claiming so-called
'compensations' when other Powers succeeded in developing their colonial
spheres, and of invoking imaginary 'interests' as a reason why the
efforts of explorers and diplomatists should not be allowed to yield to
France their natural fruits of increased colonial trade. It is not our
business to impugn or to defend the partition of Africa, or the methods
by which it has been brought about. But it is vital to our subject that
we should describe the methods by which Germany has endeavoured to
intimidate France at various stages of the African question. The trouble
arose out of a Moroccan Agreement between England and France, which was
the first definite proof that these two Powers were drifting into
relations closer than that of ordinary friendship.
In 1904 England and France settled their old quarrel about Egypt. France
recognized the English occupation of Egypt; England, on her side,
promised not to impede the extension of French influence in Morocco. It
was agreed that neither in Egypt nor in Morocco should there be a
political revolution; and that in both countries the customs tariff
should make no distinction between one nation and another. This compact
was accompanied by a settlement of the old disputes about French fishing
rights in Newfoundland, and of more recent difficulties concerning the
frontiers between French and English possessions in West Africa. The
whole group formed a step in a general policy, on both sides, of healing
local controversies which had little meaning except as instruments of
diplomatic warfare. The agreement regarding Egypt and Morocco is
distinguished from that concerning West Africa and Newfoundland in so
far as it recognizes the possibility of objections on the part of other
Powers. It promised mutual support in the case of such objections; but
not the support of armed force, only that of diplomatic influence.
At the moment of these agreements Count Buelow told the Reichstag that
Germany had no objection, as her interests were in no way imperilled by
them. Later, however, Germany chose to regard the Moroccan settlement as
an injury or an insult or both. In the following year the Kaiser made a
speech at Tangier (March, 1905) in which he asserted that he would
uphold the important commercial and industrial interests of Germany in
Morocco, and that he would never allow any other Power to step between
him and the free sovereign of a free country. It was subsequently
announced in the German Press that Germany had no objection to the
Anglo-French Agreement in itself, but objected to not having been
consulted before it was arranged. This complaint was met, on the part of
France, by the retirement of M. Delcasse, her Minister of Foreign
Affairs, and by her assent to an International Conference regarding
Morocco. The Conference met at Algeciras, and German pretensions were
satisfied by an international Agreement. It is to be observed that
in this Conference the original claims of Germany were opposed, not only
by Russia, from whom she could hardly expect sympathy, but even by
Italy, her own ally. When Germany had finally assented to the Agreement,
her Chancellor, in flat contradiction with his previous utterance 'that
German interests were in no way imperilled by it', announced that
Germany had been compelled to intervene by her economic interests, by
the prestige of German policy, and by the dignity of the German Empire.
The plain fact was that Germany, soon after the conclusion of the
Anglo-French agreements, had found herself suddenly delivered from her
preoccupations on the side of Russia, and had seized the opportunity to
assert herself in the West while Russia was involved in the most
critical stage of her struggle with Japan. But this war came to an end
before the Convention of Algeciras had begun; and Russia, even in the
hour of defeat and internal revolutions, was still too formidable to be
overridden, when she ranged herself beside her Western ally.
Of the part which England played in the Moroccan dispute there are
different versions. What is certain is that she gave France her
diplomatic support. But the German Chancellor officially acknowledged,
when all was over, that England's share in the Anglo-French Agreement
had been perfectly correct, and that Germany bore England no ill-will
for effecting a _rapprochement_ with France. Still there remained a
strong impression, not only in England and France, that there had been
on Germany's part a deliberate intention to test the strength of the
Anglo-French understanding and, if possible, to show France that England
was a broken reed.
It is not surprising that under these circumstances England has taken,
since 1906, the precaution of freeing herself from any embarrassments in
which she had previously been involved with other Powers. In 1905 she
had shown her goodwill to Russia by exercising her influence to moderate
the terms of the settlement with Japan. This was a wise step, consonant
alike with English treaty-obligations to Japan and with the interests of
European civilization. It led naturally to an amicable agreement with
Russia (1907) concerning Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet, the three
countries which touch the northern borders of our Indian Empire. It
cannot be too strongly emphasized that this agreement was of a local
character, exactly as was that with France; that our friendly
understandings with France and with Russia were entirely separate; and
that neither related to the prosecution of a common policy in Europe;
unless indeed the name of a policy could be given to the precaution,
which was from time to time adopted, of permitting consultations between
the French and English military experts. It was understood that these
consultations committed neither country to a policy of common
action. England was drifting from her old attitude of 'splendid
isolation'; but she had as yet no desire to involve herself, even for
defensive purposes, in such a formal and permanent alliance as that
which had been contracted by Germany, Austria, and Italy.
But her hand was forced by Germany in 1911. Again the question of
Morocco was made to supply a pretext for attacking our friendship with
France. The German occupation of Agadir had, and could have, only one
meaning. It was 'fastening a quarrel on France on a question that was
the subject of a special agreement between France and us'. The
attack failed in its object. War was averted by the prompt action of the
British Government. Mr. Asquith announced that Great Britain, in
discussing the Moroccan question, would have regard to British
interests, which might be more directly involved than had hitherto been
the case, and also to our treaty obligations with France. Somewhat later
Mr. Asquith announced that if the negotiations between France and
Germany did not reach a satisfactory settlement, Great Britain would
become an active party to the discussion. The nature of British
interests were appropriately defined by Mr. Lloyd George in a Guildhall
speech as consisting in the peace of the world, the maintenance of
national honour, and the security of international trade. The last
phrase was a significant reference to the fact that Agadir, though
valueless for commercial purposes, might be invaluable to any Power
which desired to molest the South Atlantic trade routes. No one doubted
then, or doubts to-day, that England stood in 1911 on the brink of a war
which she had done nothing to provoke.
The situation was saved in 1911 by the solidarity of England and France.
Two Powers, which in the past had been separated by a multitude of
prejudices and conflicting ambitions, felt at last that both were
exposed to a common danger of the most serious character. Hence a new
phase in the Anglo-French _entente_, which was cemented, not by a
treaty, but by the interchange of letters between the English Secretary
for Foreign Affairs (Sir Edward Grey) and the French Ambassador in
London (M. Paul Cambon). On November 22, 1912, Sir Edward Grey
reminded M. Cambon of a remark which the latter had made, 'that if
either Government had grave reason to expect an unprovoked attack by a
third Power, it might become essential to know whether it could in that
event depend on the armed assistance of the other.' Sir Edward Grey
continued:--'I agree that if either Government had grave reason to
expect an unprovoked attack by a third Power, or something that
threatened the general peace, it should immediately discuss with the
other whether both Governments should act together to prevent aggression
and to preserve peace, and, if so, what measures they would be prepared
to take in common. If these measures involved action, the plans of the
General Staffs would at once be taken into consideration, and the
Governments would then decide what effect should be given to them.'
M. Cambon replied on the following day that he was authorized to accept
the arrangement which Sir E. Grey had offered.
The agreement, it will be seen, was of an elastic nature. Neither party
was bound to co-operate, even diplomatically, with the other. The
undertaking was to discuss any threatening situation, and to take common
measures if both agreed to the necessity; there was an admission that
the agreement might result in the conduct of a joint defensive war upon
a common plan. Such an understanding between two sovereign states could
be resented only by a Power which designed to attack one of them without
The date at which these notes were interchanged is certainly
significant. In November, 1912, the Balkan Allies were advancing on
Constantinople, and already the spoils of the Balkan War were in
dispute. Servia incurred the hostility of Austria-Hungary by demanding
Albania and Adriatic ports; and the Dual Monarchy announced that it
could never accept this arrangement. Behind Servia Austrian statesmen
suspected the influence of Russia; it was, they said, a scheme for
bringing Russia down to a sea which Austria regarded as her own
preserve. Austria mobilized her army, and a war could hardly have been
avoided but for the mediation of Germany and England. If England had
entertained the malignant designs with which she is credited in some
German circles, nothing would have been easier for her than to fan the
flames, and to bring Russia down upon the Triple Alliance. The notes
show how different from this were the aims of Sir Edward Grey. He
evidently foresaw that a war between Austria and Russia would result in
a German attack upon France. Not content with giving France assurance of
support, he laboured to remove the root of the evil. A congress to
settle the Balkan disputes was held at London in December, 1912; and it
persuaded Servia to accept a reasonable compromise, by which she
obtained commercial access to the Adriatic, but no port. This for the
moment pacified Austria and averted the world-war. To whom the solution
was due we know from the lips of German statesmen. The German Chancellor
subsequently (April 7, 1913) told the Reichstag:--
'A state of tension had for months existed between Austria-Hungary
and Russia which was only prevented from developing into war by the
moderation of the Powers.... Europe will feel grateful to the
English Minister of Foreign Affairs for the extraordinary ability
and spirit of conciliation with which he conducted the discussion of
the Ambassadors in London, and which constantly enabled him to
bridge over differences.'
The Chancellor concluded by saying: 'We at any rate shall never stir up
such a war'--a promise or a prophecy which has been singularly
It is no easy matter to understand the line of conduct which Germany has
adopted towards the great Slavonic Power on her flank. Since Bismarck
left the helm, she has sometimes steered in the direction of
subservience, and sometimes has displayed the most audacious insolence.
Periodically, it is to be supposed, her rulers have felt that in the
long run the momentum of a Russian attack would be irresistible; at
other times, particularly after the Russo-Japanese War, they have
treated Russia, as the Elizabethans treated Spain, as 'a colossus
stuffed with clouts.' But rightly or wrongly they appear to have assumed
that sooner or later there must come a general Armageddon, in which the
central feature would be a duel of the Teuton with the Slav; and in
German military circles there was undoubtedly a conviction that the epic
conflict had best come sooner and not later. How long this idea has
influenced German policy we do not pretend to say. But it has certainly
contributed to her unenviable prominence in the 'race of armaments'
which all thinking men have condemned as an insupportable, tax upon
Western civilization, and which has aggravated all the evils that it was
intended to avert.
The beginning of the evil was perhaps due to France; but, if so, it was
to a France which viewed with just alarm the enormous strides in
population and wealth made by Germany since 1871. The 'Boulanger Law' of
1886 raised the peace footing of the French army above 500,000 men, at a
time when that of Germany was 427,000, and that of Russia 550,000.
Bismarck replied by the comparatively moderate measure of adding 41,000
to the German peace establishment for seven years; and it is significant
of the difference between then and now that he only carried his Bill
after a dissolution of one Reichstag and a forcible appeal to its
France must soon have repented of the indiscretion to which she had been
tempted by a military adventurer. With a population comparatively small
and rapidly approaching the stationary phase it was impossible that she
could long maintain such a race. In 1893 Count Caprivi's law, carried
like that of Bismarck after a stiff struggle with the Reichstag, raised
the peace establishment to 479,000 men. Count Caprivi at the same time
reduced the period of compulsory service from three years to two; but
while this reform lightened the burden on the individual conscript, it
meant a great increase in the number of those who passed through
military training, and an enormous increase of the war strength. The
Franco-Russian _entente_ of 1896 was a sign that France began to feel
herself beaten in the race for supremacy and reduced to the defensive.
In 1899 the German peace strength was raised to 495,000 for the next six
years; in 1905 to 505,000. On the second of these occasions the German
Government justified its policy by pointing out that the French war
strength was still superior to that of Germany, and would become still
stronger if France should change the period of service from three years
to two. The German law was announced in 1904; it had the natural effect.
The French Senate not only passed the new law early in 1905, but also
swept away the changes which the Lower House had introduced to lighten
the burden of annual training upon territorial reserves. France found
her justification in the Moroccan episode of the previous year.
This was not unreasonable; but since that date France has been heavily
punished for a step which might be taken to indicate that _Revanche_ was
still a feature of her foreign policy. Since 1886 her utmost efforts
have only succeeded in raising her peace establishment to 545,000
(including a body of 28,000 colonial troops stationed in France), and
her total war strength to 4,000,000. In the same period the peace
establishment of Germany was raised to over 800,000, and her total war
strength of fully trained men to something like 5,400,000. It is obvious
from these figures that a policy of isolation has long ceased to be
possible to France; and that an alliance with Russia has been her only
possible method of counterbalancing the numerical superiority of the
German army, which is certainly not less well equipped or organized than
that of France.
This Russian alliance of France has been the only step in her
continental policy which could be challenged as tending to overthrow the
European balance. Undoubtedly it is France's prime offence in German
eyes; and her colonial policy has only been attacked as a pretext for
picking a quarrel and forcing on a decisive trial of strength before the
growth of Russian resources should have made her ally impregnable.
Let us now look at the German military preparations from a German point
of view. The increases of the last twenty years in military expenditure
and in fighting strength have been openly discussed in the Reichstag;
and the debates have usually run on the same lines, because the
Government up to 1912 pursued a consistent policy, framed for some years
ahead and embodied in an Army Act. The underlying principle of these
Army Acts (1893, 1899, 1905, 1911) was to maintain a fairly constant
ratio between the peace strength and the population. But the war
strength was disproportionately increased by the Caprivi Army Act of
1893, which reduced the period of compulsory service from three years to
two. The hardly-veiled intention of the German War Staff was to increase
its war resources as rapidly as was consistent with the long-sufferance
of those who served and those who paid the bill. It was taken as
axiomatic that an increasing population ought to be protected by an
increasing army. National defence was of course alleged as the prime
consideration; and if these preparations were really required by growing
danger on the two main frontiers of Germany, no German could do
otherwise than approve the policy, no foreign Power could feel itself
Unfortunately it has been a maxim of German policy in recent years that
national independence means the power of taking the aggressive in any
case where national interests or _amour-propre_ may prompt it. The
increase of the German army, either in numbers or in technical
efficiency, seems to be regularly followed by masterful strokes of
diplomacy in which the 'mailed fist' is plainly shown to other
continental Powers. Thus in 1909, at the close of a quinquennium of
military re-equipment, which had raised her annual army budget from
L27,000,000 to L41,000,000, Germany countenanced the Austrian annexation
of Bosnia and the Herzegovina, and plainly told the authorities at St.
Petersburg that any military action against Austria would bring Russia
into a state of war with Germany. It was a startling step; _radix
malorum_ we may call it, so far as the later development of the
continental situation is concerned. Russia withdrew from the impending
conflict in 1909, but it is improbable that she has ever forgiven the
matter or the manner of the German ultimatum.
In 1911 followed the episode of Agadir, which was clearly an attempt to
'force a quarrel on France.' But in 1911 Germany realized that her
military calculations had been insufficient, if she wished to continue
these unamiable diplomatic manners. It was not a question of
self-preservation; it was a question, as the German Chancellor told the
Reichstag, of showing the world that 'Germany was firmly resolved not to
be pushed aside.' Hence the sensational Army Bill of 1912, necessitated,
as the Government told the Reichstag, by the events of 1911. The Russian
peril could hardly be described as imminent. The Prussian Minister of
War said publicly in 1911 that 'there was no Government which either
desired or was seeking to bring about a war with Germany.' Russia had
recently taken steps which, at Berlin, perhaps, were read as signs of
weakness, but elsewhere were hailed as proofs of her desire for general
peace. M. Isvolsky, the supposed champion of Balkan ideals, had retired
from office; his successor, M. Sazonof, had accompanied the Czar to the
Potsdam interview (1910); the outstanding disputes of Germany and Russia
over their Persian interests had been settled by agreement in 1911.
But the German Army Bill of 1912 was followed by Russia's intervention
in the Balkans to secure for Servia at least commercial access to the
Adriatic. This compromise, ostensibly promoted and belauded by German
statesmanship, only increased the determination of the German Government
to 'hold the ring' in the Balkans, to claim for Austria the right of
settling her own differences with Servia as she would, and to deny
Russia any interest in the matter. In 1913 came the supreme effort of
the German General Staff: an Army Act for raising the peace strength by
instalments until it reached 870,000, and for the eventual provision of
a war strength of 5,400,000 men. This enormous increase was recommended
'by the unanimous judgement of the military authorities' as being
'necessary to secure the future of Germany.' The Chancellor warned the
Reichstag that, although relations were friendly with Russia, they had
to face the possibilities involved in the Pan-Slavist movement; while in
Russia itself they had to reckon with a marvellous economic development
and an unprecedented reorganization of the army. There was also a
reference to the new law for a return to three years' service which
France was introducing to improve the efficiency of her peace
establishment. But it was obvious that Russia was the main
preoccupation. Germany had forced the pace both in the aggrandizement of
her military strength and in the methods of her diplomatic intercourse.
Suddenly she found herself on the brink of an abyss. She had gone too
far; she had provoked into the competition of armaments a Power as far
superior to Germany in her reserves of men as Germany thought herself
superior to France. It was not too late for Germany to pause. On her
future behaviour towards other Powers it depended whether the Bill of
1913 should be taken as an insurance against risks, or as a challenge to
all possible opponents.
The other Powers shaped their policy in accordance with Germany's
example. In France, on March 4, the Supreme Council of War, having
learned the outline of the German programme, decided to increase the
effective fighting force by a return to the rule of three years'
service. Before the German Bill had passed (June 30), the French Prime
Minister announced (May 15) that he would of his own authority keep with
the colours those who were completing their second year's service in the
autumn. The French Army Bill, when finally passed (July 16), lowered the
age limit for commencing service from twenty-one to twenty, and brought
the new rule into force at once. A few weeks earlier (June 20) Belgium
introduced universal military service in place of her former lenient
system. In Russia a secret session of the Duma was held (July 8) to pass
a new Army Budget, and the term of service was raised from three to
three and a quarter years. Austria alone provided for no great increase
in the numerical strength of her army; but budgeted (October 30) for
extraordinary naval and military expenditure, to the extent of
L28,000,000, to be incurred in the first six months of 1914. Thus on all
sides the alarm was raised, and special preparations were put in hand,
long before the crisis of 1914 actually arrived. It was Germany that had
sounded the tocsin; and it is difficult to believe that some startling
_coup_ was not even then being planned by the leaders of her military
We have been told that, whatever the appearance of things might be, it
was Russia who drove Germany to the extraordinary preparations of 1913;
that Germany was arming simply in self-defence against a Slavonic
Crusade. What are the facts? Economically Russia, as a state, is in a
stronger position than the German Empire. In 1912 we were told that for
the past five years the revenue of Russia had exceeded expenditure by an
average sum of L20,000,000 per annum. The revenue of Russia in 1913 was
over L324,000,000; she has budgeted for L78,000,000 of military
expenditure in 1914, of which some L15,000,000 is emergency expenditure.
The total revenue of the German Empire in 1913 was L184,000,000; she has
budgeted for a military expenditure in 1914 of L60,000,000. To adopt the
usual German tests of comparison, Russia has a population of 173
millions to be defended on three land-frontiers, while Germany has a
population of 65 millions to be defended on only two. The military
efforts of Russia, therefore, have been made on a scale relatively
smaller than those of Germany.
We must, however, add some further considerations which have been urged
by German military critics; the alleged facts we cannot test, but we
state them for what they may be worth. The reorganization of the Russian
army in recent years has resulted, so we are told, in the grouping of
enormously increased forces upon the western frontier. The western
fortresses also have been equipped on an unparalleled scale. New roads
and railways have been constructed to accelerate the mobilization of the
war strength; and, above all, strategic railways have been pushed
towards the western frontier. Thus, it is argued, Russia has in effect
gone behind the Potsdam Agreement of 1910, by which she withdrew her
armies to a fixed distance behind the Russo-German frontier. We confess
that, in all this, while there may have been cause for watchfulness on
the part of Germany, we can see no valid cause for war, nothing that of
necessity implies more than an intention, on the part of Russia, not to
be brow-beaten in the future as she was in 1909 and 1912.
These military developments did not escape English notice. They excited
endless speculation about the great war of the future, and the part
which this country might be asked to bear in it. Few, however, seriously
supposed that we should commit ourselves to a share in the fighting upon
land. The problem most usually discussed in this connexion was that of
preparation to resist a sudden invasion from abroad. Was it possible to
avoid compulsory service? Was the Territorial Force large enough and
efficient enough to defend the country if the Expeditionary Force had
gone abroad? Great Britain was infinitely better equipped for land
warfare in August, 1914, than she had ever been in the nineteenth
century. But her Expeditionary Force was a recent creation, and had been
planned for the defence of India and the Colonies. In practice the
country had clung to the 'Blue Water' policy, of trusting the national
fortunes entirely to the Navy. The orthodox theory was that so long as
the Navy was kept at the 'Two Power' standard, no considerable invasion
of the British Isles was possible.
But from 1898 the programmes of the German Navy Laws constituted a
growing menace to the 'Two Power' standard, which had been laid down as
our official principle in 1889, when France and Russia were our chief
European rivals at sea. That France or Russia would combine with Germany
to challenge our naval supremacy was improbable; but other states were
beginning to build on a larger scale, and this multiplied the possible
number of hostile combinations. That Germany should wish for a strong
fleet was only natural. It was needed to defend her foreign trade, her
colonial interests, and her own seaports. That Germany should lay down a
definite programme for six years ahead, and that the programme should
become more extensive at each revision, was no necessary proof of
malice. But this country received a shock in 1900, when the programme of
1898 was unexpectedly and drastically revised, so that the German Navy
was practically doubled. England was at that moment involved in the
South African War, and it was hard to see against whom the new fleet
could be used, if not against England. This was pointed out from time to
time by the Socialist opposition in the Reichstag. The orthodox official
reply was that Germany must be so strong at sea that the strongest naval
Power should not be able to challenge her with any confidence. But the
feeling of the semi-official Navy League was known to be violently
hostile to England; and it was obvious that the German navy owed its
popularity to the alarmist propaganda of that league.
It was impossible for English statesmen to avoid the suspicion that, on
the sea as on land, the Germans meant by liberty the right to unlimited
self-assertion. Common prudence dictated close attention to the German
Navy Laws; especially as they proved capable of unexpected acceleration.
The 'Two Power' standard, under the stress of German competition, became
increasingly difficult to maintain, and English Liberals were inclined
to denounce it as wasteful of money. But, when a Liberal Government
tried the experiment of economizing on the Navy (1906-8), there was no
corresponding reduction in the German programme. The German Naval Law of
1906 raised the amount of the naval estimates by one-third; and German
ministers blandly waved aside as impracticable a proposal for a mutual
limitation of armaments.
In 1909 this country discovered that in capital ships--which now began
to be considered the decisive factor in naval warfare--Germany would
actually be the superior by 1914 unless special measures were taken. The
British Government was awakened to the new situation (it arose from the
German Naval Law of 1908), and returned unwillingly to the path of
increasing expenditure. The Prime Minister said that we regretted the
race in naval expenditure and were not animated by anti-German feeling;
but we could not afford to let our supremacy at sea be imperilled, since
our national security depended on it (March 16, 1909). The 'Two Power'
standard was dropped, and the Triple Alliance became the object of
special attention at the Admiralty. The First Lord said on March 13,
1911, that we should make our navy superior to any foreign navy and to
any _probable_ combination which we might have to meet single-handed. In
practice this meant a policy of developing, in the matter of
Dreadnoughts, a superiority of sixty per cent, over the German navy;
this, it was officially explained in 1912, had been for some years past
the actual Admiralty standard of new construction (Mr. Winston
Churchill, March 18, 1912).
But even this programme had to be stiffened when the year 1912 saw a new
German Navy Bill which involved an increased expenditure of L1,000,000
annually for six years, and had the effect of putting nearly four-fifths
of the German navy in a position of immediate readiness for war. Earlier
in the year the British Government had announced that, if the German
policy of construction were accelerated, we should add to our programme
double the number which Germany put in hand; but if Germany relaxed her
preparations we should make a fully proportionate reduction. The German
Bill came as an answer to this declaration; and it was followed in this
country by supplementary estimates on naval account, amounting to nearly
a million pounds; and this was announced to be 'the first and smallest
instalment of the extra expenditure entailed by the new German law.' The
new British policy was maintained in 1913 and in 1914, though in 1913
the First Lord of the Admiralty made a public offer of a 'naval
holiday,' a suspension of new construction by mutual consent. The
Imperial Chancellor responded only by suggesting that the proposal was
entirely unofficial, by asking for concrete proposals, and by saying
that the idea constituted a great progress; and his naval estimates in
1913 were half a million higher than those of 1912.
From these facts, viewed in their chronological order, it is clear that
on sea as on land Germany has set the pace. Thirty years ago the German
navy did not enter into England's naval calculations. For the last six
years, if not for a longer period, it has been the one navy which our
Admiralty felt the necessity of watching from year to year, and indeed
from month to month. It is the first time for more than a hundred years
that we have had to face the problem of 'a powerful homogeneous navy
under one government and concentrated within easy distance of our
On German principles we should long ago have adopted the
'offensive-defensive.' We have been at least as seriously menaced by
Germany at sea as Germany has been menaced by Russia upon land. But we
can confidently say that in the period of rivalry our fleet has never
been used as a threat, or turned to the purposes of an aggressive
colonial policy. Rightly or wrongly, we have refused to make possible
intentions a case for an ultimatum. We have held by the position that
only a breach of public law would justify us in abandoning our efforts
for the peace of Europe.
_Abstract of Anglo-French Agreement on Morocco_.
In April, 1904, England and France concluded an agreement for the
delimitation of their interests on the Mediterranean littoral of North
Africa. The agreement included five secret Articles which were not
published until November, 1911. The purport of the Articles which were
published at the time was as follows. By the first Article England
stated that she had not the intention of changing the political state of
Egypt; and France declared that she would not impede the action of
England in Egypt by demanding that a term should be fixed for the
British occupation or in any other way. By the second Article France
declared that she had not the intention of changing the political state
of Morocco; and England recognized that it appertained to France, as the
Power conterminous with Morocco, to watch the tranquillity of this
country and to assist it in all administrative, economic, financial, and
military reforms which it required, France promised to respect the
customary and treaty rights of England in Morocco; and by the third
Article England made a corresponding promise to France in respect of
Egypt. By the fourth Article the two Governments undertook to maintain
'the principle of commercial liberty' in Egypt and Morocco, by not
lending themselves in either country to inequality in the establishment
of Customs-duties or of other taxes or of railway rates. The sixth and
seventh Articles were inserted to ensure the free passage of the Suez
Canal and of the Straits of Gibraltar. The eighth declared that both
Governments took into friendly consideration the interests of Spain in
Morocco, and that France would make some arrangements with the Spanish
Monarchy. The ninth Article declared that each Government would lend its
diplomatic support to the other in executing the clauses relative to
Egypt and Morocco. Of the secret Articles two (Nos. 3 and 4) related
to Spain, defining the territory which she was to receive 'whenever the
Sultan ceases to exercise authority over it,' and providing that the
Anglo-French agreement would hold good even if Spain declined this
arrangement. Article 1 stipulated that, if either Government found
itself constrained, by the force of circumstances, to modify its policy
in respect to Egypt or Morocco, nevertheless the fourth, sixth, and
seventh Articles of the public declaration would remain intact; that is,
each would under all circumstances maintain the principle of 'commercial
liberty,' and would permit the free passage of the Suez Canal and the
Straits of Gibraltar. In Article 2 England, while disclaiming any
intention to alter the system of Capitulations or the judicial
organization of Egypt, reserved the right to reform the Egyptian
legislative system on the model of other civilized countries; and France
agreed on condition that she should not be impeded from making similar
reforms in Morocco. The fifth Article related to the Egyptian national
[Footnote 10: Quoted from Headlam's _Bismarck_, p. 444.]
[Footnote 11: _Correspondence respecting the European Crisis_ (Cd.
7467), No. 85. Sir E. Goschen to Sir E. Grey, July 29, 1914. See
_infra_, Appendix II.]
[Footnote 12: For these agreements see _The Times_, April 12, 1904, and
November 25, 1911. See note at end of this chapter.]
[Footnote 13: White Paper, Morocco No. 1 (1906).]
[Footnote 14: _Correspondence_, No. 105 (Enclosure 1). Sir E. Grey to M.
Cambon, November 22, 1912. See Appendix II.]
[Footnote 15: _Correspondence_, No. 87. Sir E. Grey to Sir F. Bertie,
July 29, 1914.]
[Footnote 16: _Times_, July 7, 1911.]
[Footnote 17: _Times_, July 27, 1911.]
[Footnote 18: _Times_, July 22, 1911.]
[Footnote 19: _Correspondence_, p. 57 (Enclosure 1 in No. 105). See
[Footnote 20: _Ibid_. p. 57 (Enclosure 2 in No. 105).]
[Footnote 21: _Times_, April 12, 1904.]
THE DEVELOPMENT OF RUSSIAN POLICY
Until the year 1890 Russia and Germany had been in close touch. Dynastic
connexions united the two imperial houses; and the common policy of
repression of Polish nationality--the fatal legacy of the days of
Frederic the Great and Catharine II--united the two empires. National
sentiment in Russia was, however, always anti-German; and as early as
1885 Balkan affairs began to draw the Russian Government away from
Germany. In 1890 Bismarck fell; and under William II German policy left
the Russian connexion, and in close touch with Austria embarked on
Balkan adventures which ran counter to Russian aims, while Russia on her
side turned to new allies.
The new direction of Russian policy, which has brought the aims of the
Russian Government into close accord with the desires of national Slav
sentiment, was determined by Balkan conditions. Bismarck had cherished
no Balkan ambitions: he had been content to play the part of an 'honest
broker' at the Congress of Berlin, and he had spoken of the Bulgarian
affair of 1885 as 'not worth the bones of a Pomeranian grenadier.'
William II apparently thought otherwise. At any rate Germany seems to
have conducted, for many years past, a policy of establishing her
influence, along with that of Austria, through South-Eastern Europe. And
it is this policy which is the _fons et origo_ of the present struggle;
for it is a policy which is not and cannot be tolerated by Russia, so
long as Russia is true to her own Slav blood and to the traditions of
After Austria had finally lost Italy, as she did in 1866, she turned for
compensation to the Balkans. If Venetia was lost, it seemed some
recompense when in 1878 Austria occupied Bosnia and the Herzegovina.
Hence she could expand southwards--ultimately perhaps to Salonica.
Servia, which might have objected, was a vassal kingdom, the protege of
Austria, under the dynasty of the Obrenovitch. As Austria might hope to
follow the line to Salonica, so Germany, before the end of the
nineteenth century, seems to have conceived of a parallel line of
penetration, which would carry her influence through Constantinople,
through Konieh, to Bagdad. She has extended her political and economic
influence among the small Slav states and in Turkey. In 1898 the King of
Roumania (a Hohenzollern by descent) conceded direct communication
through his territories between Berlin and Constantinople: in 1899 a
German company obtained a concession for the Bagdad railway from Konieh
to the head of the Persian Gulf. In a word, Germany began to stand in
the way of the Russian traditions of ousting the Turk and ruling in
Constantinople: she began to buttress the Turk, to train his army, to
exploit his country, and to seek to oust Russia generally from
In 1903 the progress of Austria and Germany received a check. A
blood-stained revolution at Belgrade ousted the pro-Austrian
Obrenovitch, and put in its place the rival family of the
Karageorgevitch. Under the new dynasty Servia escaped from Austrian
tutelage, and became an independent focus of Slav life in close touch
with Russia. The change was illustrated in 1908, when Austria took
advantage of the revolution in Turkey, led by the Young Turks, to annex
formally the occupied territories of Bosnia and the Herzegovina. Servia,
which had hoped to gain these territories, once a part of the old
Servian kingdom, was mortally offended, and would have gone to war with
Austria, if Russia, her champion under the new dynasty, could only have
given her support. But Russia, still weak after the Japanese war, could
not do so; Russia, on the contrary, had to suffer the humiliation of
giving a pledge to the Austrian Ambassador at St. Petersburg that she
would not support Servia. That humiliation Russia has not forgotten. She
has saved money, she has reorganized her army, she has done everything
in her power to gain security for the future. And now that Austria has
sought utterly to humiliate Servia on the unproved charge (unproved, in
the sense that no legal proof was offered) of complicity in the
murder of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Russia has risked
war rather than surrender her protection of a Slav kingdom. Slav
sentiment imperatively demanded action in favour of Servia: no
government could refuse to listen to the demand. The stake for Russia is
not merely the integrity of Servia: it is her prestige among the Slav
peoples, of which she is head; and behind all lies the question whether
South-Eastern Europe shall be under Teutonic control, and lost to
Germany has not only threatened Slav life in South-Eastern Europe: she
has irritated Slav feeling on her own Eastern frontier. The vitality and
the increase of the Slavs in Eastern Germany has excited deep German
alarm. The German Government has therefore of late years pursued a
policy of repression towards its own Slav subjects, the Poles,
forbidding the use of the Polish language, and expropriating Polish
landowners in order to plant a German garrison in the East. Teutonism is
really alarmed at the superior birth-rate and physical vigour of the
Slavs; but Russia has not loved Teutonic policy, and there has been an
extensive boycott of German goods in Russian Poland. The promise made by
the Tsar, since the beginning of the war, that he would re-create the
old Poland, and give it autonomy, shows how far Russia has travelled
from the days, not so far distant in point of time, when it was her
policy to repress the Poles in conjunction with Germany; and it has made
the breach between Germany and Russia final and irreparable.
It is thus obvious that Germany is vitally opposed to the great Slav
Empire in South-Eastern Europe and on her own eastern borders. But why,
it may be asked, should Russian policy be linked with English? Is there
any bond of union except the negative bond of common opposition to
Germany? There is. For one thing England and Russia have sought to
pursue a common cause--that of international arbitration and of
disarmament. If neither has succeeded, it has been something of a bond
between the two that both have attempted to succeed. But there are other
and more vital factors. England, which in 1854-6 opposed and fought
Russia for the sake of the integrity of Turkey, has no wish to fight
Russia for the sake of a Germanized Turkey. On the contrary, the
interest of England in maintaining independence in the South-East of
Europe now coincides with that of Russia. Above all, the new
constitutional Russia of the Duma is Anglophil.
'The political ideals both of Cadets and Octobrists were learnt
chiefly from England, the study of whose constitutional history had
aroused in Russia an enthusiasm hardly intelligible to a present-day
Englishman. All three Dumas ... were remarkably friendly to England,
and England supplied the staple of the precedents and parallels for
In a word, the beginnings of Russian constitutionalism not only
coincided in time with the Anglo-Russian agreement of 1907, but owed
much to the inspiration of England.
[Footnote 22: Count Aehrenthal, foreign minister of Austria (1906-1912),
started the scheme of the Novi Bazar railway to connect the railways of
Bosnia with the (then) Turkish line to Salonica. See also
_Correspondence_, No. 19, Sir R. Rodd to Sir E. Grey, July 25: 'There is
reliable information that Austria intends to seize the Salonica
[Footnote 23: For a summary of so-called proofs, see Appendix IV,
[Footnote 24: _Camb. Mod. Hist_. xii. 379.]
CHRONOLOGICAL SKETCH OF THE CRISIS
The following sketch of events from June 28 to August 4, 1914, is merely
intended as an introduction to the analytical and far more detailed
account of the negotiations and declarations of those days which the
reader will find below (Chap. V). Here we confine the narrative to a
plain statement of the successive stages in the crisis, neither
discussing the motives of the several Powers involved, nor
distinguishing the fine shades of difference in the various proposals
which were made by would-be mediators.
The crisis of 1914 began with an unforeseen development in the old
quarrel of Austria-Hungary and Russia over the Servian question. On June
28 the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir-apparent of the Austro-Hungarian
monarchy, and his wife, the Duchess of Hohenberg, paid a visit of
ceremony to the town of Serajevo, in Bosnia, the administrative centre
of the Austrian provinces of Bosnia and the Herzegovina. In entering the
town, the Archduke and the Duchess narrowly escaped being killed by a
bomb which was thrown at their carriage. Later in the day they were shot
by assassins armed with Browning pistols. The crime was apparently
planned by political conspirators who resented the Austrian annexation
of Bosnia and the Herzegovina (_supra_, p. 54), and who desired that
these provinces should be united to Servia.
The Austrian Government, having instituted an inquiry, came to the
conclusion that the bombs of the conspirators had been obtained from a
Servian arsenal; that the crime had been planned in Belgrade, the
Servian capital, with the help of a Servian staff-officer who provided
the pistols; that the criminals and their weapons had been conveyed from
Servia into Bosnia by officers of Servian frontier-posts and by Servian
customs-officials. At the moment the Austrian Government published no
proof of these conclusions, but, on July 23, forwarded them to the
Servian Government in a formal note containing certain demands which, it
was intimated, must be satisfactorily answered by Servia within
forty-eight hours. This ultimatum included a form of apology to be
published on a specified date by the Servian Government, and ten
engagements which the Servian Government were to give the
Austro-Hungarian Government. The extraordinary nature of some of these
engagements is explained in the next chapter (pp. 103-7).
On July 24 this note was communicated by Austria-Hungary to the other
Powers of Europe, and on July 25 it was published in a German paper,
the _Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung_. It was therefore intended to be a
public warning to Servia. On July 24 the German Government told the
Powers that it approved the Austrian note, as being necessitated by the
'Great-Servian' propaganda, which aimed at the incorporation in the
Servian monarchy of the southern Slav provinces belonging to
Austria-Hungary; that Austria, if she wished to remain a Great Power,
could not avoid pressing the demands contained in the note, even, if
necessary, by military measures; and that the question was one which
concerned no Powers except Austria-Hungary and Servia.
Russia did not agree that the Austrian note was directed against Servia
alone. On July 24 the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs told the
British Ambassador at St. Petersburg that Austria's conduct was
provocative and immoral; that some of her demands were impossible of
acceptance; that Austria would never have taken such action unless
Germany had first been consulted; that if Austria began military
measures against Servia, Russia would probably mobilize. The Russian
Minister hoped that England would proclaim its solidarity with France
and Russia on the subject of the Austrian note; doubtless Servia could
accept some of the Austrian demands. To the Austro-Hungarian
Government the Russian Minister sent a message, on the same day, July
24, that the time-limit allowed to Servia for her reply was quite
insufficient, if the Powers were to help in smoothing the situation; and
he urged that Austria-Hungary should publish the proofs of the charges
against Servia. On July 25 Russia told England that Servia would
punish those proved to be guilty, but would not accept all the demands
of Austria; that no independent state could do so. If Servia appealed to
arbitration, as seemed possible, Russia was, she said, prepared to leave
the arbitration in the hands of England, France, Germany, and Italy--the
four Powers whom Sir Edward Grey had suggested as possible mediators.
On the day on which Russia made this suggestion, July 25, the Servian
Government replied to the Austrian note, conceding part of the Austrian
demands, and announcing its readiness to accept, on the other points,
the arbitration of the Hague Tribunal or of the Great Powers. The
Austrian Government found the Servian note unsatisfactory, and
criticized its details in an official memorandum. The
Austro-Hungarian Minister left Belgrade on July 25; on July 26 a part of
the Austro-Hungarian army was mobilized; and on July 28 Austria-Hungary
declared war on Servia.
Sir Edward Grey had from the first declined to 'announce England's
solidarity' with Russia and France on the Servian question. On and after
July 26 he was taking active steps to bring about the mediation, between
Austria-Hungary and Servia, of four Powers (Italy, Germany, France,
England). To this mediation Russia had already agreed, July 25; and
Italy and France were ready to co-operate with England. Germany,
however, made difficulties on the ground that anything like formal
intervention would be impracticable, unless both Austria and Russia
consented to it. Russia had already (July 25) prepared the ukase
ordering mobilization, but had not yet issued it; on July 27 the
Russian Foreign Minister announced his readiness to make the Servian
question the subject of direct conversations with Vienna. This offer
was at first declined by the Austro-Hungarian Government, but
subsequently accepted; and conversations were actually in progress
between the representatives of the two Powers as late as August 1.
No doubt the hesitation of Austria was due to the fact that, on July 28,
the Russian Government warned Germany of the mobilization of the
southern military districts of Russia, to be publicly proclaimed on July
29. Austria replied to this intimation by offering assurances that
she would respect the integrity and independence of Servia; these
assurances, considered inadequate by the Russian Government, seem to
have been the subject of the last conversations between Russia and
Russia persisted that Germany was the real obstacle to a friendly
settlement; and this conviction was not affected by the appeals for
peace which the Kaiser telegraphed to the Tsar on July 28, July 29, and
July 31. On July 29 Germany told England that the Russian
mobilization was alarming, and that France was also making military
preparations; at the same time Germany threatened to proclaim
'imminent state of war' (_drohende Kriegsgefahr_) as a counter measure
to the French preparations; German military preparations, by July
30, had in fact gone far beyond the preliminary stage which she thus
indicated. Germany had already warned England, France, and Russia
that, if Russia mobilized, this would mean German mobilization against
both France and Russia. But on July 27, Russia had explained that
her mobilization would in no sense be directed against Germany, and
would only take place if Austrian forces crossed the Servian
frontier. On July 29, the day on which Russia actually mobilized the
southern districts, Russia once more asked Germany to participate in the
'quadruple conference' now proposed by England, for the purpose of
mediating between Austria and Servia. This proposal was declined by the
German Ambassador at St. Petersburg. Germany in fact believed, or
professed to believe, that the Russian mobilization, though not
proclaimed, was already far advanced.
On July 30 Austria, although her conversations with Russia were still in
progress, began the bombardment of Belgrade. The next day, July 31,
Russia ordered general mobilization; on August 1 France and Germany each
took the like step; Germany presented an ultimatum to Russia, demanding
that Russian mobilization should cease, and another ultimatum to France
asking what course she would take in the event of war between Germany
Before these decisive steps of July 30-August 1, and while Sir Edward
Grey was still engaged in efforts of mediation, Germany made overtures
to England, with the object of securing England's neutrality in the
event of a war between Germany and France. On July 29 Germany offered,
as the price of English neutrality, to give assurances that, if
victorious, she would make no territorial acquisitions at the expense of
France; but refused to give a similar assurance respecting French
colonies, or to promise to respect Belgian neutrality. These
proposals were refused by England on July 30. On August 1 the German
Ambassador unofficially asked England to remain neutral on condition
that Germany would not violate Belgian neutrality. Sir Edward Grey
replied that England's hands were still free, and that he could not
promise neutrality on that condition alone.
Meanwhile, on July 30, Sir Edward Grey was told by France that she would
not remain neutral in a war between Germany and Russia. On July 31
the English Cabinet, being asked by France to declare definitely on her
side, replied that England could give no pledge at present. On the
same day England asked France and Germany to engage to respect Belgian
neutrality. France assented, Germany evaded giving a reply. But, on
August 2, German forces entered the neutral state of Luxemburg; and
England promised to defend the French coasts and shipping if attacked by
the German fleet in the Channel, or through the North Sea. On August
4 the King of the Belgians telegraphed to King George announcing that
Germany had demanded passage for her troops through Belgian territory,
and appealing to England for help. On the same day, August 4,
England sent an ultimatum to Germany asking for assurance, before
midnight, that Germany would respect Belgian neutrality. This demand
was taken at Berlin as equivalent to a declaration of war by England
DIARY OF THE EVENTS LEADING TO THE WAR
June 28. Assassination at Sarajevo of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and
the Duchess of Hohenberg.
July 6. The Kaiser leaves Kiel for a cruise in Northern waters.
July 9. Results of Austro-Hungarian investigation into the Servian crime
laid before the Emperor.
July 13, 14. Serious disclosures about condition of French army.
July 13, 14, 15, 16. Heavy selling of Canadian Pacific Railway Shares,
especially by Berlin operators.
July 16. Count Tisza, the Hungarian Premier, speaking in the Hungarian
Chamber, describes war as a sad _ultima ratio_, 'but every state and
nation must be able and willing to make war if it wishes to exist as a
state and a nation.'
The _Times_ leading article 'Austria-Hungary and Servia' is commented on
in Berlin as an 'English warning to Servia.'
July 19. The King summons a conference to discuss the Home-Rule problem.
July 21. The _Frankfurter Zeitung_ warns Austria-Hungary of the folly of
its campaign against Servia.
July 23. Thursday. Austria presents her Note to Servia giving her 48
hours in which to accept.
July 24. Friday. Russian Cabinet Council held. The Austro-Hungarian
demands considered as an indirect challenge to Russia.--Strike at St.
Failure of the conference on Home Rule.
July 25. Saturday. Servian reply; considered unsatisfactory by
Austria-Hungary, whose Minister and Legation-staff leave Belgrade.
Russian Ambassador at Vienna instructed to request extension of
time-limit allowed to Servia.
Sir E. Grey suggests that the four other Powers should mediate at Vienna
and St. Petersburg.--Serious riot in Dublin.
July 26. Sunday. Sir E. Grey proposes that the French, Italian, and
German Ambassadors should meet him in conference immediately for the
purpose of discovering an issue which would prevent complications.
Partial mobilization of Austro-Hungarian army ordered.
Russian Foreign Minister warns German Ambassador that Russia cannot
remain indifferent to the fate of Servia.
Sir E. Goschen says the Kaiser is returning to-night.
July 27. Monday. France and Italy accept proposal of a conference.
German Secretary of State refuses the proposal of a 'conference.'
Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs proposes direct conversation
between Vienna and St. Petersburg.
British Fleet kept assembled after manoeuvres.
Sir E. Grey in the House of Commons makes a statement concerning the
attitude of Great Britain.
The _Times_ Berlin correspondent reports that the Kaiser returned this
afternoon from Kiel to Potsdam.
July 28. Tuesday. Austria-Hungary declares war on Servia.
Russia says the key of the situation is to be found at Berlin.
Austria declines any suggestion of negotiations on basis of the Servian
The Kaiser telegraphs to the Tsar.
July 29. Wednesday. Russian mobilization in the four military districts
of Odessa, Kiev, Moscow, and Kazan.
Germany offers, in return for British neutrality, to promise territorial
integrity of France, but will not extend the same assurance for French
Sir E. Grey warns the German Ambassador that we should not necessarily
stand aside, if all the efforts to maintain the peace failed.
Austria at last realizes that Russia will not remain indifferent.
The Tsar telegraphs to the Kaiser; the latter replies.
July 30. Thursday. Bombardment of Belgrade by Austro-Hungarian forces.
The Prime Minister speaks in the House of Commons on the gravity of the
situation, and postpones discussion of the Home Rule Amending Bill.
The Tsar telegraphs to the Kaiser.
July 31. Friday. General Russian mobilization ordered.
Sir E. Grey asks France and Germany whether they will respect neutrality
France promises to respect Belgian neutrality; Germany is doubtful
whether any answer will be returned to this request.
Austria declares its readiness to discuss the substance of its ultimatum