A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 148

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GERMAN INVASION OF BELGIUM


herE.forcesandtodivideherarmies. Withthememoriesof Met2t and Sedan still burning fiercely in her mind, the very last thing France would do would be to split her troops into two or morearmies. Suchapolicyhadcostherthevictoryinthewar of 1870, and France was rigorously set on avoiding a similar , mistake. Britainhadyettobeinvolved,andinanyeventher troops had to be mobilized and carried across the sea. It was impossible that she could render any effective aid to Belgium before at least three weeks. In the result, Belgium was left alone. On August 2 German forces occupied the grand duchy of Luxemburg. This little frontier state, under 1,000 square miles in ajrea, had been protected by treaty in the same way as Belgium. Luxemburg was powefless to resist. But the violation of her neutrality was no less a crime than the invasion of Belgium. With thajt precision and efficiency which characterised the whole of the German advance in 1914 and which proved so conclusively how long and how adequately her plans had been rehearsed, the Germans proceeded to turn the little state into an advanced militaryposition. Adespoticcontrolwasestablishedoverthe country, villages were destroyed, woods cut down, and trenches dug with a ruthless disregard for any but strategic purposes. The value of this territory from the military point of view lay initsgeographicalposition. Byadvancingthroughthesta\e, troops, while avoiding the barriers of the Ardennes in the N., could deploy into N. France and up to the valley of the Meuse, and thus threaten the flank of the armies defending the frontier S. of Longwy. But the gap was too narrow and the roads and railways insufficient to permit of an effective attack by that route, and it was in Belgium that Germany sought to find a road so broad and so well provided with adequate transport facilities that she could pour her enormous man power into N. France with the. least possible delay. The request of the German government for permission to march through Belgium was contained in a memorandum marked ** very confidential " and sent by the German minister in Brussels to M. Davignon, the Belgian minister for foreign iflairs. It bears the date August 2. Reliable information has been received by the German Government to the effect that French forces intend to march onthelineoftheMeusebyGivetandNamur. Thisinforma* tion leaves no doubt c*s to the intention of France to march through Belgian territory against Germany. The German

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