Page 3437

3437 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

whether the Germans would be able to

inoculate their compatriots with their

own determined, conquering spirit.

Officially Germany and France began

to mobilize on the same day, August 2d,

but, in reality, both had begun preparations

some time before. The Germans had

declared "Kriegsgefahrzustand", or "state

of danger of war", on the 31st, and had

secretly been making preparations at

least a week earlier. For years the German military authorities had been looking

forward to this call to arms, and no detail

was too petty to have received their careful attention. Every trained man not

already in the service knew exactly where

he must go to find his outfit, complete

from rifle to shoes and spiked helmet,

and the problem of transporting the troops

to the frontiers had been worked out long

before. So complete were Germany's preparations in advance that she was able to

gain several precious days upon even her

best equipped opponent, France. Still

the task of mobilizing and transporting

three or four million men was too vast

to be executed in a few hours, and it was,

in fact, about two weeks before the Germans were completely in readiness for

their grand stroke.

This does not mean that fighting did

not begin for two weeks. German patrols

crossed the French border even before

war was declared, and, before mobilization

was completed, thousands of men had

been killed or wounded, but these early

conflicts were preliminary operations.

From a comparison of the resources

of the belligerents it at once becomes apparent that it was a vital matter to the

Teutonic Allies to make the war a short

one. On land they were for the moment

better prepared, and it behooved them

to reap the fruits of that preparation as

quickly as possible. Men, money, and

sea-power, either actually or potentially,

were all upon the side of the Entente Allies. The German army was undoubtedly

the most powerful military machine in

existence, but common sense dictated

that its power should be made the most

of in the shortest possible time. The

people of the Entente Allies belonged to

fighting races; and the history of a thousand years showed that, given the same

training, equipment, leadership, and determination, an Englishman or a Frenchman makes as good a soldier as a German.

Individually the Russians might not be

quite so good, but what they lacked in

quality they made up in numbers; and,

even in quality, they might be expected

to be fully as good as the Austrians and

Hungarians, perhaps better. If a decision

was not quickly obtained, Great Britain

and Russia would raise and train overwhelming armies; while, in case the struggle should become one of exhaustion, the

greater wealth of the Allies, and particularly of Great Britain, might prove to be

the decisive factor.

Closely allied with this aspect of the

matter was the subject of sea-power.

History shows that in most long worldwide conflicts control of the sea has proved

decisive. In the present case the Central

Powers might expect to see their ships

and commerce swept from the seas, their

communications with the rest of the world

cut off, while their enemies, with business

less deranged, could continue to draw

upon the world for supplies and munitions.

Unless some unknown factors should develop, it was clear that if the Central

Powers were to win in any large way, they

must do so quickly.

Their military plan was, in fact, based

upon this idea of forcing a speedy decision.

In a few words, it was as follows: Austria-Hungary was, if possible, to hold the slow moving Russians in check, while Germany,

with virtually her whole army, should

descend like a thunderbolt upon France.

The Germans hoped in a few weeks' time

to strike such mighty blows in the west

as to paralyze France and render her helpless for the rest of the war, after which

they could turn eastward and assist their

ally to dispose of the Russians. A six

months' war at most was the Teutonic

hope.

It was for this reason that the Germans

determined to violate the neutrality of

Belgium and to seek to overwhelm France