A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 145

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A Popular History of The Great War   ·   Volume 1: The First Phase - 1914   ·   Chapter 8: German Invasion of Belgium
German Invasion of Belgium

THE decision of the German high command to attack France through Belgium was, from a military point of view, unmistakably a wise decision. Without doubt it nearly won the war for Germany before Christmas, 1914. From a political point of view, it was unmistakably disastrous, for, equally without doubt, it lost her the war in November, 1918. But, in view of the consequences which that decision produced and to which German statesmen cannot possibly have been blind, it is perhaps difficult to see why Germany, in order to gain a strategical and tactical advantage, chose to expose herself to the moral censure of the world and, more importantly, to a coalition of the nations of the world, based upon that moral censure, from which only a miracle could have saved her.

Moreover, it was fairly certain that even had Germany chosen the only line of attack which, politically, was open to her, namely the line through the Vosges over the French frontier and directly westwards to Paris, she could have broken through. No doubt she would have suffered incalculably greater losses, no doubt she would have spent as many months as she did weeks in getting to within 30 miles of Paris; but she could almost certainly have got as near as she did. The question for Germany hung upon the time factor. She could not afford, that is, to allow the French and the Russians a moment's breathing space. France had to be swept from the map before Russia had time to mobilise her enormous man power and throw it irresistibly across Germany's eastern frontier.

The Central Powers had chosen the psychological moment for attack with extreme nicety. Russia, as yet only convalescent from the trouncing she had received at the hands of Japan ten years before, was but ill prepared. In France the military party, since the Dreyfus case, had been distinctly out of favour, and a succession of unstable governments had only increased Germany's conviction that France's defences were at their weakest. The third member of the entente, namely Britain, appeared to

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