Page 3419

3419 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

been much more moderate. One may perhaps wonder why, even at this late date,

they might not have felt inclined to endeavor to keep peace, but the reasons are,

of course, not difficult to discover. The

time had passed for diplomacy. Even

had the Chancellor and the Foreign Secretary desired to come to terms, they could

not have done so. The great German

military machine was already in motion.

To have drawn back now would have been

humiliating to the last degree. All real

authority was now in the hands of the

General Staff of the army. The thoughtful among these officers no doubt viewed

England's entrance with some misgivings.

Still they knew that she could at first put

only a few troops into the field, and, confident in their plans and preparations and

in the "surprises" they had in store for

their enemies, they doubtless thought

that they could quickly strike such terrible

blows at France and Russia that they could

compel peace before Great Britain could

bring much of her real strength into play.

And how nearly they succeeded events

have shown.

On the same day that the British delivered their ultimatum, Chancellor von

Bethmann-Hollweg, in the course of a

speech in the Reichstag, explained Germany's course in Belgium as follows:

"Gentlemen, we are now in a state of

necessity, and necessity knows no law.

Our troops have entered Luxemburg and

perhaps have already entered Belgian

territory. Gentlemen, that is a breach

of international law. It is true that the

French Government declared at Brussels

that France would respect Belgian neutrality as long as her adversary respected

it. We knew, however, that France stood

ready for an invasion. France could wait,

we could not. A French attack upon our

flank on the lower Rhine might have been

disastrous. Thus we were forced to ignore

the rightful protests of the Governments

of Luxemburg and Belgium. The wrong-I speak openly-the wrong we thereby

commit we will try to make good as soon

as our military aims have been attained.

He who is menaced as we are and is fighting

for his highest possession can only consider how he is to hack his way through."