A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 49


BELGIUM APPEALS TO BRITAIN


On this Sunday, in preparation for what was now regarded in Germany as inevitable, German troops entered the grand duchy of Luxemburg. Belgium was treated with slightly more ceremony. This took the form of a request for permission to march troops through that country, adding that dire consequences would follow a refusal. Twelve hours were given for the reply, which came with promptitude in the form of an emphatic negative. Thereupon German troops, in pursuance of the plan of campaign, entered Belgian territory, while the king of the Belgians made a dignified appeal to Great Britain for diplomatic intervention. The facts are set out in the following dispatch (dated August 4) from Sir E. Grey to Sir E. Goschen:

The King of the Belgians has made an appeal to His Majesty the King for diplomatic intervention on behalf of Belgium in the following terms: "Remembering the numerous proofs of your Majesty's friendship and that of your predecessor, and the friendly attitude of England in 1870 and the proof of friendship you have just given us again, I make a supreme appeal to the diplomatic intervention of your Majesty's Government to safeguard the integrity of Belgium."
His Majesty's Government are also informed that the German Government have delivered to the Belgian Government a note proposing friendly neutrality entailing free passage through Belgian territory, and promising to maintain the in dependence and integrity of the Kingdom and its possessions at the conclusion of peace, threatening in case, of refusal to treat Belgium as an enemy. An answer was requested within twelve hours. We also understand that Belgium has categorically refused this as a flagrant violation of the law of nations.
His Majesty's Government are bound to protest against this violation of a treaty to which Germany is a party in common with themselves, and must request an assurance that the demand made upon Belgium will not be proceeded with and that her neutrality will be respected by Germany. You should ask for an immediate reply.

On the same day, Tuesday, August 4, Great Britain took the decisive step. Following diplomatic usage her final communication to Germany was in the form of a note to her ambassador in Berlin, who was instructed to convey its purport to the German chancellor. Its gravity was evidenced from the statement therein that if a satisfactory reply was not received within a

← 48   ·   49   ·   50 →
(page index)