A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 50

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THE FATEFUL THIRTEEN DAYS


stated time the ambassador must ask for his passports. The hour mentioned for the reply was 12 o'clock at night, but owing to the difference in time this was equivalent to 11 o'clock in London. When that hour struck neither the satisfactory reply nor indeed any reply had been received, and consequently Great Britain and Germany were at war.

The exact text of the ultimatum, for so it may be called, was:

We hear that Germany has addressed note to Belgian minister for foreign affairs stating that German Government will be compelled to carry out, if necessary by force of arms, the measures considered indispensable. We are also informed at that Belgian territory has been violated at Gemmenich. In these circumstances, and in view of the fact that Germany declined to give the same assurance respecting Belgium as France gave last week in reply to our request made simultaneously at Berlin and Paris, we must repeat that request, and ask that a satisfactory reply to it and to my telegram of this morning be received here by twelve o'clock to-night. If not, you are instructed to ask for your passports, and to say that His Majesty's Government feel bound to take all steps in their power to uphold the neutrality of Belgium and the observance of a treaty to which Germany is as much a party as ourselves.

On that memorable summer evening it was only known that Sir E. Goschen had delivered his fateful message. A little later to the British public were informed of the way in which he had discharged his momentous task and the incidents connected as therewith. The ambassador's dispatch to Sir Edward Grey giving an account of the interviews with the chancellor and his subordinates and his departure from Berlin, although long, is well worthy of reproduction; indeed it could hardly be omitted the from any reliable history of the Great War. Furthermore it sets forth the German case for violating the neutrality of Belgium.

In accordance with the instructions contained in your telegram of the 4th inst. I called upon the secretary of state that afternoon and enquired, in the name of His Majesty's Government, whether the Imperial Government would refrain from violating Belgian neutrality. Herr von Jagow at once replied that he was very sorry to say that his answer must be "No" as, in consequence of the German troops having crossed the frontier that morning, Belgian neutrality had already been violated.
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