Hide Articles List

15 articles on this Page







[No title]



SIR EDWARD REY'SREPI.Y. I  I Proas BmeMi. 1'Tie?y, 6 p.m. The Sccreary of tate for Foreign ASairs: &uthor?? the publication of the foUcwing ob?rvations upon the l report of am interview recepHy grçted by the Ger.(JÍa Chancellor to an Aa?ric?!i correspondent:— It is not buryriidng that the German Chancellor should show anxiety to explain away this now historic phrase about the treaty being a mere scrap of paper. The phrase has made a deep impression, bf- cause the progress of the world largely depends upon tho sanction of agreements between individuals and between nations, W the policy diseiosed in Herr von l j 11 1 J I Bethmann liollweg6 phrase tends to de- base the legal and moral currency of civilisation. I What the Germau Chancellor said was I that Great Britkin-in requiring Germany I to respect the neutrality of Belgium was going to make war just for a word, just for a scrap of paper." That is that Great Britain was making a mountain out of a molehill. He now asks the American public to bt-lieve that he meant the exact opposite of what he said—chat it was Great Britain who really regarded the neutrality of Belgium as a mere trifle, and Germany who took her responsi- bilities towards neutral States seriously." The arguments by which Berr von Bethmann Hollweg seeks to establish two sides of this case are in flat contradiction of plain facts. First, the German Chan- cellor alleges that England in 1911 was determined to throw troops into Belgium without the assent of the Belgium Govern- ment." This allegation is absolutely false. It is based upon certain documents foundi In Brussels which record conversations be-1 tween British and Belgian officers in 1906 and again in 1911. The fact that there is no note of these conversations at the British War Office or the Foreign Office shows that they were of purely informal character, and no military agreement of any sort was at either time made between the two Governments. Before any conversations took place be- tween British and Belgian officers, it was expressly laid down on the British side that discussion of military possibilities was to be addressed to the manner in which in case of need British assistance could be most effectively aiforde<J to Bel- gium for defence of her neutrality, and on Belgian soil. A marginal note upon record explains that that the entry of the English into Belgium would only take place after the violation of our neutrality by Germany." As regards the conversation of 1911 the: Belgian officers said to the British, You could only land in our country with our consent" and in 1913 Sir Edward Grey gave the Belgian Government a cate. goric-al assurance that no British Govern- ment would violate the neutrality of Belgium, and that so long as it was not violated by any other Power we certainly should not send troops ourselves in their territory." The Chancellor's method of misusing documents may be illustrated in this connection. Ho represented Sir Edward i Grey as saying, "He did not believe England would take such a step because he did not think English public opinion would justify such action." What Sir Edward Grey actually wrote was, "I said that I was sure that this Govern- ment would not be the first to violate the neutrality of Belgium, and I did not believe that any British Govern- raent" would be the first to do so, nor would public opinion here even approve of it." If the German Chancellor wished to know why there were conversations on military subjects between British and Belgian otlicer, he may find one reason in the fact well known to him, namely, that Germany was establishing an elaborate network of strategical railways leading from the Rhine to the Belgian frontier through a barren, thinly-populated tract, railways de- liborately constructed to permit of a sudden attack upon Belgium, such as was carried out in August last. This fact alone was enough to justify any communication between Belgium and other Powers on the footing that there would be no violation of Belgian neu- trality unless it were previously vio- lated by another Power. On no other footing did Belgium ever have any 8th communications In epite of these facts, the German Chancellor speaks of Belgium having thereby "abandoned." and "forfeited" her neutrality, and ho implies that he would not have epoken of German in- vasion as a wrong had he then known of the conversation of 1906 and 1911. ]t would seem to follow that accord- ing to Herr Von Bethmann Hollweg's code a wrong becomes a right if tho party which is to be the subj ect of tbc, wrong foresees the possibility and makes preparations to racist it. Those who are content with older and more generally accepted standards are likely to agree rather with what Cardinal Mercier aid in his pastoral letter: Bel- gium was bound in honour to defend her own independence. She kept her oath. The other PotVers were bound to respect and protect her neutrality. Germany violated her oath. England kept here. Theee are the facte." In support of the second part of the German Chancellor's thesis, namely, that Germany took her responsibilities to- wards neutral States seriously," he al- leges nothing except that he epoke frankly of the wrong committed by Ger- many in invading Belgium. That a man knows the right while doing wrong is not usually accepted as proof of his serious conscientiousness. The real nature of Germany's view of her "large responsibility towards neutral Statas" may, however, be learnt on authority which cannot be disputed by reference to the English White Papers. Those responsibilities were in truth taliou seriously. Why, when Germany was asked to respect the neutrality of Belgium if it were respected by France, did Germany refuse? France, when asked the corresponding question at the same time, agreed. This would have guaranteed Germany from all danger of attack through Belgium. The reason of Germany's refusal was given by Herr von Bethmann colleague. It may be paraphnjeed in the well-known gloes upon Shakespeare. "Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just, but four times ho that gets his blow in fust." f"I,hey had to advance into -France," 6aid Herr von Jagow, by the quickest and easiest way po as to be able to get well ahead with their operations and find a hoar to strike some decisive blow as early as possible." Germany's real atti- tude toward Belgium wlis thus- frankly given by the German Foreign Secretary to the British Ambassador, and the Ger- man I Chancellor in his speech to the Reichstag claimed the right to commit a wrong in virtue of tbe military necessity of hacking a way through." The treaty which forbade the wrong was by com- parison "a mere scrap of paper." The truth was spoken in the first statement by the two German Mini- 6te. All apologies and arguments which have smeboon fortheoming are afterthoughts to excuse and ex- plain away a Hagrant wrong. Moreover, all attacks upon Great Bri- tain in regard to this matter, and all the talk about responsibilities towards: neutral States," come badly from thai man who ou July 29th asked Great Bri- tain to condone violation of the neu- l trality of Belgium. T het. German Chancellor 6poke to tie American correspondent of his efforts for years to bring about an understanding between England and Germany," an understanding, he added, which would have absolutely guaranteed the peace of Europe." He omitted to mention what Mr. As- quith made public in his speech at Cardiff: that Germany required as the price of 1),11 understanding an uncondi- tional pledge of England's neutrality. The- British Government were ready to hind themselves not to be parties to any aggression against Germany. They wer-a not prepared to pledge their neu- trality in ease of- aggression by Ger- many- An Anglo-German understanding oij the latter terms would not have meant: .1.1) absolute guarantee fqr the peace of Europe. but it would have meant an abso- lutely free hand for Germany so far as England was concerned for Germany to break the peace of Europe. The Chancellor says that in his rOil-I versation with the British Ambassador; in August last he "may have been a bit! excited at seeing the hopes and work of I the whole period of his Chancellorship going for nought." Considering that a the date of the conversation (Angus 4th) Germany had already made war 01 France, the natural conclusion is tha the shipwreck of the Chancellor's hope consisted, not in the fact of a Europeal war, but in the fact that Englapd hat not agreed to stand out of it. The dia pute would have been settled on faii and honourable terms without war if 1u really wished to work with England to. peace. Why did he not accept that pro posal? He must have known after tin Balkan conference in London that Eng land would be trusted to play fair. Hen von Jagow had given testimony in thi Reichstag to England's good faith ii these negotiations. The proposal for a second conference brtween the Powers was made by Sii Edward Grey with the sarno straight forward desire for peace as in 1912 anf 1913. The Gwman Chancellor rejectee this means of averting war. He vrlii does not will the means must not coin plain if the eon elusion is drawn thai he did not will the end. The second part of the interview witl the American correspondent consists of a discourse upca the ethics oi tb, Wan The things which Germany has done ii Belgium and France have been placed c4 record before the world by those -wlii have suffered from them and who kiioi* them at first hand. After this it does not lie with the German Chancellor to read to the other belligerents a lecture upo" the conduct of the war.



[No title]

—; 1 ■" ■ .• '■ ^ ' 1 ■ i.…