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Belgium in 1914

Belgium in 1914

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Belgium had been a constitutional monarchy since it gained its independence from the Netherlands in 1831. As Belgium occupied the only wide open space between France and Germany, its neutrality was a vital component of the European balance of power. The foreign policy of King Albert I, who had ruled the country since 1909, was to maintain a neutral stance between its two powerful and antagonistic neighbours and did not join either the Triple Alliance or the Triple Entente.

In 1914 Belgium had a population of around 7.5 million. A prosperous trading nation, with major ports at Antwerp and Ostend, Belgium had good supplies of coal and iron and an efficient railway system.

Belgium had universal male suffrage but the well-educated and wealthy were allowed up to three votes each. In 1914 power was held by Baron de Broqueville and his Catholic Party.

Belgium had a small regular army of 43,000 men with another 115,000 trained reserves. The Belgian Air Force had only one squadron of 12 aircraft.

Belgium in 1914 - History

A. The War in Belgium, from Military Perspective

In 1914 the Belgian Army reflected the structure of the Belgian state - while the officers' corps was predominantly French-speaking, he majority of the men was Flemish.
In 1839, Belgium's NEUTRALITY had been guaranteed by the powers, including Prussia, which in 1871 was succeeded by the German Empire. With tension rising on the European continent, Belgium in Nov. 1913 again declared neutrality in case a world war would break out. On August 2nd 1914, Germany directed an ultimatum at the Belgian government requesting free passage through Belgium for the German Army on their push into France, around the French border fortifications, according to the SCHLIEFFEN-PLAN (drawn up in 1907). The Belgian government denied the request German troops on Aug. 4th invaded both Belgium and Luxemburg. In August and September, almost all of Belgium was occupied by German forces only stretches of the extreme west remained free. Many Belgians, both civilians and soldiers, had fled into the neutral Netherlands, where the Belgian soldiers were interned.
The Belgian government had denied the German request as irreconcilable with Belgian neutrality the Belgian army opposed the advance of the German troops but, adain and again, had to give ground. The front stabilized, and turned into TRENCH WARFARE. On the Belgian front, the BATTLES OF YPRES and LANGEMARCK were fought Belgian troops were able to hold on to a small stretch of Belgian soil in western Flanders. For almost four years, the frontline hardly changed. In 1915 the Belgian army even dispatched an armored car division to the Russian front it arrived in Archangelsk October 13th 1915 and returned, via the US, in 1918.
In spring 1918 the Germans undertook a last attempt to force a victory the offensive was halted, and the allies, strengthened by the arrival of fresh US troops, pushed back the German lines. On November 11th, an armistice was signed, ending the war.

King Albert, wearing soldier's helmet and uniform
Belgian stamps issued in 1919

B. The Belgian Administration

The Belgian government evacuated Brussels (which fell to the Germans) and took up provisorical residence in SAINTE ADRESSE near Le Havre (France). King ALBERT, dressed in the uniform of a plain soldier, came to symbolize the Belgian determination to hold out against an enemy with vastly superior numbers he won the respect and affection of his own people, but of those sympathizing with the Belgian cause throughout the world.

German stamps overprinted for use in occupied Belgium.
The cancellation on the right stamp reads "Luettich"
(German, for Liege (Fr.)/Luik (Flemish)).

C. The German Military Administration

During World War I, the larger part of occupied Belgium was placed under the administration of a GOUVERNOR GENERAL (from December 1914 to April 1917 Moritz Ferdinand Freiherr von Bissing) the western districts, in the vicinity of the front, were placed under military administration.
In occupied Belgium, CARDINAL MERCIER, Archbishop of Mechelen (in Fr.: Malines), by calling on the Belgian Catholics to remain loyal to their legitimate government, to be patriots and to be willing to endure the occupation, contributed to raising the morale in the country devastated by warfare. He repeatedly addressed the German authorities, raising issues such as the execution or deportation of Belgian civilians etc.
ADOLPHE MAX (1869-1939), Burgomaster of Brussels, refused to answer requisition demands by the German authorities he was held in prison throughout the war.
As Germany suffered from a serious lack of labour, in 1916 and 1917 many Belgian workers were ordered to work in German factories (FORCED LABOUR). On Oct. 1915, English nurse EDITH CAVELL, convicted of helping several hundred prisoners escape after recovering in the hospital, was executed by the German authorities.
Occupied Belgium soon faced a food shortage early in the war, HERBERT HOOVER, later to become US President, organized an AMERICAN COMMITTEE FOR THE RELIEF OF BELGIUM, which organized the shipment of food aid to Belgian civilians.
A Flemish National diet at Brussels in 1917 decides to establish a COUNCIL OF FLANDERS, which on December 22nd 1917 proclaimed an INDEPENDENT STATE OF FLANDERS. The German government declared Belgium an artificial creation it administratively separated Flanders and WALLONIA. In July 1918 the German authorities dissolved the administrative bodies of Flanders and Wallonia. After the German defeat, Flemish political activist flee to the Netherlands.
German-Jewish novelist ARNOLD ZWEIG participated in the invasion of Belgium as a German soldier (and Prussian patriot). The war experience transformed him into a devoted pacifist his war experience has greatly influenced novels such as ERZIEHUNG VOR VERDUN (education off Verdun, published 1935).

D. The Effects of the War on Belgium

The costs of war : 100,000 houses destroyed military and civilian casualties together 50,000 dead out of 267,000 men mobilized, 13,716 were listed dead, 44,686 wounded and 34,659 POW/MIA. A large percentage of Belgium's industrial facilities had been destroyed. The University of Leuven (in Fr.: Louvain) had suffered severe damage, the greater part of her library been lost. Of the medieval city of Ieper (in Fr.: Ypres) only ruins were left at the war's end. The life expectancy of the average Belgian, compared to prewar level, dropped by about 12 years, from about 50 in 1914 to about 38 during the war (Quetelet 2005).


Albert Léopold Clément Marie Meinrad was born 8 April 1875 in Brussels, the fifth child and second son of Prince Philippe, Count of Flanders, and his wife, Princess Marie of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. Prince Philippe was the third (second surviving) son of Leopold I ( r . 1831–1865 ), the first King of the Belgians, and his wife, Louise-Marie of France, and the younger brother of King Leopold II of Belgium ( r . 1865–1909 ). Princess Marie was a relative of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany ( r . 1888–1918 ), and a member of the non-reigning, Catholic branch of the Hohenzollern family. Albert grew up in the Palace of the Count of Flanders, initially as third in the line of succession to the Belgian throne as his reigning uncle Leopold II's son had already died. When, however, Albert's older brother, Prince Baudouin of Belgium, who had been subsequently prepared for the throne, also died young, Albert, at the age of 16, unexpectedly became second in line (after his father) to the Belgian Crown.

Retiring and studious, Albert prepared himself strenuously for the task of kingship. In his youth, Albert was seriously concerned with the situation of the working classes in Belgium, and personally travelled around working class districts incognito, to observe the living conditions of the people. [1] Shortly before his accession to the throne in 1909, Albert undertook an extensive tour of the Belgian Congo, which had been annexed by Belgium in 1908, finding the country in poor condition. Upon his return to Belgium, he recommended reforms to protect the native population and to further technological progress in the colony. [2]

Albert was married in Munich on 2 October 1900 to Bavarian Duchess Elisabeth Gabrielle Valérie Marie, a Wittelsbach princess whom he had met at a family funeral. A daughter of Bavarian Duke Karl-Theodor, and his second wife, the Infanta Maria Josepha of Portugal, she was born at Possenhofen Castle, Bavaria, Germany, on 25 July 1876, and died on 23 November 1965.

The civil wedding was conducted by Friedrich Krafft Graf von Crailsheim in the Throne Hall, [3] and the religious wedding was conducted by Cardinal von Stein, assisted by Jakob von Türk, Confessionar of the King of Bavaria. [3]

Based on the letters written during their engagement and marriage (cited extensively in the memoirs of their daughter, Marie-José) the young couple appear to have been deeply in love. The letters express a deep mutual affection based on a rare affinity of spirit. [4] They also make clear that Albert and Elisabeth continually supported and encouraged each other in their challenging roles as king and queen. The spouses shared an intense commitment to their country and family and a keen interest in human progress of all kinds. Together, they cultivated the friendship of prominent scientists, artists, mathematicians, musicians, and philosophers, turning their court at Laeken into a kind of cultural salon. [4] [5]

Albert and Elisabeth had three children:

    , Duke of Brabant, Prince of Belgium, who became later the fourth king of the Belgians as Leopold III (3 November 1901 – 25 September 1983, at Woluwe-Saint-Lambert). , Count of Flanders, Prince of Belgium, Prince Regent of Belgium (10 October 1903, in Brussels – 1 June 1983, at Ostend). , Princess of Belgium (4 August 1906, in Ostend – 27 January 2001). She was married at Rome, Italy on 8 January 1930 to Prince Umberto Nicola Tommaso Giovanni Maria, Prince of Piemonte (born 15 September 1904 and died on 18 March 1983 at Geneva, Switzerland). He became King Umberto II (r. 1946) of Italy.

Following the death of his uncle, Leopold II, Albert succeeded to the Belgian throne in December 1909, since Albert's own father had died in 1905. Previous Belgian kings had taken the royal accession oath only in French Albert innovated by taking it in Dutch as well. [1] He and his wife, Queen Elisabeth, were popular in Belgium due to their simple, unassuming lifestyle and their harmonious family life, which stood in marked contrast to the aloof, autocratic manner and the irregular private life of Leopold II. An important aspect of the early years of Albert's reign was his institution of many reforms in the administration of the Belgian Congo, Belgium's only colonial possession. [6]

King Albert was a devout Catholic. [4] [7] [8] Many stories illustrate his deep and tender piety. For instance, when his former tutor General De Grunne, in his old age, entered the Benedictine monastery of Maredsous in Belgium, King Albert wrote a letter to him in which he spoke of the joy of giving oneself to God. [7] He said: "May you spend many years at Maredsous in the supreme comfort of soul that is given to natures touched by grace, by faith in God's infinite power and confidence in His goodness." [8] To another friend, Lou Tseng-Tsiang, a former prime minister of China who became a Catholic monk in Belgium, Albert wrote: "Consecrating oneself wholly to the service of Our Lord gives, to those touched by grace, the peace of soul which is the supreme happiness here below." [8] Albert used to tell his children: "As you nourish your body, so you should nourish your soul." [4] In an interesting meditation on what he viewed as the harm that would result if Christian ideals were abandoned in Belgium, he said: "Every time society has distanced itself from the Gospel, which preached humility, fraternity, and peace, the people have been unhappy, because the pagan civilisation of ancient Rome, which they wanted to replace it with, is based only on pride and the abuse of force" (Commemorative speech for the war dead of the Battle of the Yser, given by Dom Marie-Albert, Abbot of Orval Abbey, Belgium, in 1936).

At the start of World War I, Albert refused to comply with Germany's request for safe passage for its troops through Belgium in order to attack France, which the Germans alleged was about to advance into Belgium en route to attacking Germany in support of Russia. In fact, the French government had told its army commander not to go into Belgium before a German invasion. [9] The German invasion brought Britain into the war as one of the guarantors of Belgian neutrality under the Treaty of 1839. King Albert, as prescribed by the Belgian constitution, took personal command of the Belgian Army, and held the Germans off long enough for Britain and France to prepare for the Battle of the Marne (6–9 September 1914). He led his army through the Siege of Antwerp (28 September – 10 October 1914) and the Battle of the Yser (16–31 October 1914), when the Belgian Army was driven back to a last, tiny strip of Belgian territory near the North Sea. Here the Belgians, in collaboration with the armies of the Triple Entente, took up a war of position, in the trenches behind the River Yser, remaining there for the next four years. During this period, King Albert fought alongside his troops and shared their dangers, while his wife, Queen Elisabeth, worked as a nurse at the front. During his time on the front, rumours spread on both sides of the lines that the German soldiers never fired upon him out of respect for him being the highest ranked commander in harm's way, while others feared risking punishment by the Kaiser himself, who was his cousin. The King also allowed his 12-year-old son, Prince Leopold, to enlist in the Belgian Army as a private and fight in the ranks. [2] [6] In the final offensive of the war, he commanded the Groupe d'Armées des Flandres at the Fifth Battle of Ypres. [10]

The war inflicted great suffering on Belgium, which was subjected to a harsh German occupation. The King, fearing the destructive results of the war for Belgium and Europe and appalled by the huge casualty rates, worked through secret diplomatic channels for a negotiated peace between Germany and the Entente based on the "no victors, no vanquished" concept. He considered that such a resolution to the conflict would best protect the interests of Belgium and the future peace and stability of Europe. Neither Germany nor the Entente were favourable to the idea, tending instead to seek total victory, and Albert's attempts to further a negotiated peace were unsuccessful. At the end of the war, as commander of the Army Group Flanders, consisting of Belgian, British and French divisions, Albert led the final offensive of the war that liberated occupied Belgium. King Albert, Queen Elisabeth, and their children then reentered Brussels to a hero's welcome.

The King Albert I Memorial in Nieuwpoort is dedicated to king Albert and the Belgian troops during the Great War.

Upon his return to Brussels, King Albert made a speech in which he outlined the reforms he desired to see implemented in Belgium, including an improved military, universal suffrage and the establishment of a Flemish University in Ghent.

Trip to the United States Edit

From 23 September through 13 November 1919, King Albert, Queen Elisabeth of Bavaria, and their son Prince Leopold made an official visit to the United States. During a visit of the historic Native American pueblo of Isleta Pueblo, New Mexico, King Albert decorated Father Anton Docher with Knight in the Order of Leopold II. [11] Docher offered the King a turquoise cross mounted in silver made by the Tiwas Indians. [12] [13] Ten thousand people travelled to Isleta for this occasion. That same year he was elected an honorary member of the New York Society of the Cincinnati.

In New York, the King received a ticker tape parade in his honor. The visit was considered a success by the Belgian authorities. [3]

Introduction of universal male suffrage Edit

Since the Belgian general strike of 1893, plural votes had been granted to individual men based on their wealth, education, and age, [14] but after the Belgian general strike of 1913 the promise had been made to have constitutional reform for one man, one vote universal suffrage but the German invasion of Belgium in August 1914 and the subsequent occupation delayed the implementation of the commission's proposal.

In 1918, King Albert forged a post-war "Government of National Union" made up of members of the three main parties in Belgium, the Catholics, the Liberals, and the Socialists [1] [6] and attempted to mediate between the parties in order to bring about one man, one vote universal suffrage for men. He succeeded in doing so. [15]

Paris Peace Conference Edit

The Belgian Government sent the King to the Paris Peace Conference in April 1919, where he met with the leaders of France, Britain and the United States. He had four strategic goals:

  1. to restore and expand the Belgian economy using cash reparations from Germany
  2. to assure Belgium's security by the creation of a new buffer state on the left bank of the Rhine
  3. to revise the obsolete treaty of 1839
  4. to promote a 'rapprochement' between Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

He strongly advised against a harsh, restrictive treaty against Germany to prevent future German aggression. [16] He also considered that the dethronement of the princes of Central Europe and, in particular, the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire would constitute a serious menace to peace and stability on the continent. [7] The Allies considered Belgium to be the chief victim of the war, and it aroused enormous popular sympathy, but the King's advice played a small role in Paris. [17]

Later years Edit

Albert spent much of the remainder of his reign assisting in the postwar reconstruction of Belgium.

In 1920 Albert changed the family name from “Saxe-Coburg-Gotha” to “House of Belgium” (van België, in Dutch de Belgique in French) as a result of strong anti-German sentiment. [18] This mirrored the British royal family's name-change to House of Windsor in 1917. [19]

Albert was a committed conservationist and in 1925, influenced by the ideas of Carl E. Akeley, he founded Africa's first national park, now known as Virunga National Park, in what is now Democratic Republic of Congo. During this period, he was also the first reigning European monarch to visit the United States. [20]

A passionate alpinist, King Albert I died in a mountaineering accident on 17 February 1934, while climbing alone on the Roche du Vieux Bon Dieu at Marche-les-Dames, in the Ardennes region of Belgium near Namur. His death shocked the world and he was deeply mourned, both in Belgium and abroad. Because King Albert was an expert climber, some questioned the official version of his death and suggested that the King was murdered (or even committed suicide) somewhere else and that his body had never been at Marche-les-Dames, or that it was deposited there. [21] [22] Several of those hypotheses with criminal motives were investigated by authorities, but doubts have remained ever since, being the subject of popular novels, books, and documentaries. [23] Rumors of murder have been dismissed by most historians. There are two possible explanations for his death, according to the official juridical investigations: the first was that the king leaned against a boulder at the top of the mountain that became dislodged the second that the pinnacle to which his rope was belayed broke, causing him to fall about 60 feet (18 metres). [24] In 2016, DNA testing by geneticist Dr. Maarten Larmuseau and colleagues from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven on bloodstained leaves that were collected [ when? ] from Marche-les-Dames concluded that King Albert had died at that location. [25]

Like his predecessors Leopold I and Leopold II, King Albert is interred in the Royal Crypt at the Church of Our Lady of Laeken in Brussels. [26]

In 1935, prominent Belgian author Emile Cammaerts published a widely acclaimed biography of King Albert I, titled Albert of Belgium: Defender of Right. In 1993, a close climbing companion of the King, Walter Amstutz, founded the King Albert I Memorial Foundation, an association based in Switzerland and dedicated to honouring distinguished individuals in the mountaineering world.

To celebrate 175 years of Belgian Dynasty and the 100th anniversary of his accession, [27] Albert I was selected as the main motif of a high-value collectors' coin: the Belgian 12.5 euro Albert I commemorative coin, minted in 2008. The obverse shows a portrait of the King. [27]

German Atrocities, 1914 : A History of Denial

John Horne and Alan Kramer mine military reports, official and private records, witness evidence, and war diaries to document the crimes that scholars have long denied: a campaign of brutality that led to the deaths of some 6500 Belgian and French civilians. Contemporary German accounts insisted that the civilians were guerrillas, executed for illegal resistance. In reality this claim originated in a vast collective delusion on the part of German soldiers. The authors establish how this myth originated and operated, and how opposed Allied and German views of events were used in the propaganda war. They trace the memory and forgetting of the atrocities on both sides up to and beyond World War II. Meticulously researched and convincingly argued, this book reopens a painful chapter in European history while contributing to broader debates about myth, propaganda, memory, war crimes, and the nature of the First World War.

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LibraryThing Review

This is a truly impressive work of history. It's history that only the most skilled and versatile historians can research and write. It explores the war crimes against civilians committed in Belgium . Читать весь отзыв

German atrocities, 1914: a history of denial

From the outset of the German invasion of Belgium in 1914, there were reports of atrocities against civilians. While not denying that incidents occurred, recent historians have been skeptical of the . Читать весь отзыв

Punch Cartoon 03

The issue of Punch published on 12th August 1914 was the first one to be edited after the declaration of war. Previous ones had cartoons referring to the political situation in Europe ( see 01 and 02) but this issue had other cartoons about the war as well. It carried one of the most famous full page political cartoons of the war. ‘Bravo Belgium’ has been used, for example, in school history lessons. It was discussed in “Cartoons and the historian” by Roy Douglas.

“How did the beginning of the 1914 war look to various belligerents? Many British people are familiar with the F. H. Townsend cartoon in Punch, showing a type-cast German, complete with sausages, threatening a boy who defends a gate marked “No Thoroughfare”. The cartoon carries the caption “Bravo, Belgium!” The German attack on Belgium was the nominal cause of British intervention, and it certainly had a big effect on British public opinion but it would be difficult to find corresponding cartoons in other major countries, Allied or enemy, giving that incident similar importance.”

The World War One German invasion of Belgium… What happened next?

In the early days of World War One, the Germans planned to march through Belgium as part of their plan to win the war. The Germans did not expect the Belgians to put up much resistance however, events did not quite turn out that way. In the second of a two-part article, Frank Jastrzembski continues from part 1 and tells the tale of the heroic Belgian defense of its homeland in 1914…

General Gerard Leman., the Belgian in charge of the defense of Liege.

General Leman set up his headquarters in Liege on July 31, 1914. On August 3, he ordered the destruction of the bridges, tunnels, and railways connected to Liege as the German forces began to flood across the small Belgian border. The next day the German Army of the Meuse arrayed for battle outside the ring of forts. An ultimatum was sent out to allow the Germans to enter Liege. Leman boldly refused the demand to surrender.

The Third Division occupying the trenches between the easternmost forts was attacked by the units of the Army of the Meuse. The German officers arrogantly launched their assault shoulder to shoulder as if organized on a parade ground against the sheltered Belgian defenders. The German assault was cut to pieces with the help of Belgian machine guns placed in the adjacent forts. At Fort Barchon, the Belgians mounted a counter strike and threw the wavering Germans back with their bayonets. The German attackers withdrew bloodied and completely stunned by the dogged Belgian resistance.

The Germans mounted a daring attempt to capture or assassinate Leman on August 6. A detachment of thirty German soldiers and nine officers dressed as British soldiers drove up to Leman’s headquarters. One of Leman’s aides, Major Marchand, soon caught on to the trap and alerted the headquarters, but was subsequently shot down. The surprise German attack carried Leman’s headquarters, but in the confusion Leman escaped to Fort Loncin, west of the city.

Closer to Liege

The German high command decided on the realignment of their strategy by focusing on capturing the city of Liege itself. Thousands of German reinforcements were soon flooding to the outskirts in an attempt to make a concentrated breakthrough past the forts into the city. After refusing to surrender once again, Liege was shelled on August 6 by a Zeppelin LZ-1, killing nine civilians. The Germans would become vilified for the atrocities committed against the Belgian population. With enough pressure, there was a breakthrough between Fort Fleron and Fort Evegnee on August 10, putting the Germans in range of Liege itself.

The Third Division was controversially sent to join the main Belgian Army in Louvain. The reasoning behind this move was that it would be better suited if it joined King Albert and the main army rather than being bottled up within the forts and surrounded. The movement of the Third Division to join Albert left Liege with weakened defenses as German reinforcements continued to strengthen their chokehold around the city.

The few Belgians in Liege were eventually forced to surrender the city. Even though the city was in German hands, the forts were still intact, and the guns of the forts controlled the roads coming in and out of Liege. The German’s held Liege with approximately 120,000 men, but could not move in and out of the city without being under persistent artillery from the forts. The Germans could only move undetected at night and in small parties.

In the meantime, the Allies sluggishly reacted to honor their guarantee to protect Belgian neutrality. The French, under General Joseph Joffre, were too infatuated with attacking through Alsace-Lorraine, and were indifferent to the genuine threat on their left in Belgium. The British, who decided on sending an expeditionary force of four divisions of infantry and cavalry, were slow in transporting these men across the channel to help the besieged Belgians.

A new weapon

General Erich Ludendorff, the new commander of the Fourteenth Brigade, realized the Belgian forts were not going to surrender even with Liege occupied. He decided on a method other than sacrificing his men in useless frontal assaults. He ordered up some 305 mm Skoda siege mortars borrowed from Austria, and a 402 mm howitzer produced by Krupp steelworks. None of these steel behemoths had been used in combat before. The 402mm Krupp weighed 75 tons and had to be transported by rail in five sections then set in concrete before going into action. It would fire up to ten 2,200 lb. projectiles per hour. It had a range of up to nine miles and was fired by an electric charge with a 200-man crew.

On August 12, the German government relayed another message to King Albert demanding the Belgians surrender. “Now that the Belgian Army has upheld its honor by heroic defense to a very superior force,” the Germans arrogantly indicated, they asked that the Belgians spare themselves from “further horrors of war.” King Albert refused to reply. The massive siege guns were soon unleashed on each fort in succession.

The forts had a major weakness in their design. They were vulnerable to artillery attacks from the rear. The siege guns took two days to assemble, and on August 12, they began to pound the remaining forts in detail.

The massive shells decimated the defending concrete and steel forts and buried the defenders. The forts could not return fire as the German guns were out of range. The defenders of each fort were forced to hunker down and withstand the bombardment. On August 13, three of the forts fell. Fort Pontisse withstood forty-five shells in 24 hours of bombardment before it was taken by an infantry assault. Fort Chaudfontaine surrendered with only 75 out of 408 still alive from the hellish shelling. By August 14, all forts east and north of the city had fallen.

After the eastern forts were reduced, the siege guns were brought up against the forts positioned to the west of the city. Fort Boncelles survived a 24-hour bombardment but soon fell on August 15 leaving little more than particles of concrete and scraps of metal. The bombardment left clouds of poisonous gas. By August 16, eleven of the twelve forts had fallen. Only Fort Loncin remained.

The last battle

General Leman had positioned himself in the last standing fort. The bombardment lasted for three days, from August 12-15. In an interval between the bombardments, the Germans sent emissaries under the white flag to try and convince Leman to surrender the garrison. Leman refused all demands. On August 16, Loncin was hit by a 420 mm shell that penetrated the magazine and exploded, demolishing the fortress.

German soldiers then entered on foot after the explosion. The majority of the garrison was buried in the debris, including their commander. Leman later vividly remembered the effects of the explosion as, “Poisonous gases seemed to grip my throat as in a vise.”

Hopeless as the situation was for the Belgians, they attempted to hold on to the fort. The last twenty-five or so Belgian defenders still able to stand were found in a corridor preparing for a last ditch effort to ward off the Germans. In another instance of tenacity, a corporal valiantly tried to drive the Germans back single-handily by firing his rifle in vain with one good arm, as his other arm was dangling wounded at his side. In a show of compassion, the Germans threw down their weapons and ran to the aid of the Belgian soldiers. Of the 500 defenders in Fort Loncin, 350 were dead and 150 wounded.

German Designs on Belgium, 1914-1918 ↑

Meanwhile, German plans for Belgium took further shape. Imperial Germany had not gone to war to capture Belgium, but it became a war aim once stalemate set in. Even so, designs on Belgium fluctuated with the military situation, and no consensus existed among imperial decision-makers. Yet two conditions remained in force until the last moment. First, Belgium had to be subordinated to the German war effort. Second, it had to stay in the German orbit National Liberal leader Gustav Stresemann (1878-1929) expressed the thought of many when he declared that a land “conquered with so much blood must not again be relinquished.” [47]

Subordination to the German war effort was, above all, material in nature. From December 1914, the occupied country had to pay a monthly war tax of 40 million francs, twenty times the sum total of all pre-war direct and indirect taxes. In return, the Government-General (though not the army in the Etappengebiet) pledged to limit further exactions – yet it did impose further taxes in the form of fees for all manner of permits and of heavy fines for even minor infringements.

In the second half of the war, this policy gave way to extreme exploitation under the auspices of the Third Supreme Command. The monthly tax rose to 50 million, then 60 million francs. An expanding system of “Centrals” (Zentralen) controlled and siphoned off locally produced foodstuffs and other goods. A February 1917 decree placed Belgium’s ailing industries under complete German control. Unless firms agreed to work for the occupation army, they were closed down, their equipment was seized and shipped to Germany, and their buildings demolished. Entire manufacturing regions were stripped, including of transport infrastructure. The policy of extreme exploitation also, tragically, led to the deportation and forced labour of Belgian workers. Forced labour was introduced, violently and messily, in October 1916. [48] After worldwide protest (including in the Reichstag), it was halted in February 1917 for the Government-General, but continued until war’s end in the Etappengebiet.

Forced labour, a brutal measure of last resort, signalled the end of hopes for a thriving Belgian economy under German control. These hopes slotted into a larger aim of creating a basis of common interest, perhaps even legitimacy, for the occupation regime. One major legitimizing endeavour was ethnic-cultural in scope: a pro-Flemish policy (Flamenpolitik) addressed Flemish linguistic grievances. This was a play for acceptance, and an attempt to divide the occupied population, but it also had emotional benefits for Germany-at-war: Flamenpolitik redefined the invasion of Belgium as a liberation – that of a “brother” people from an artificial state that suffocated the Germanic element. As Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg (1856-1921) told the Reichstag in April 1916, Germany pledged never again to abandon its Flemish brethren to “frenchification”. Flamenpolitik was pursued by different actors, who did not always agree among themselves: the Governor-General’s Political Department and other units officers in the Etappengebiet and a plethora of politicians, lobbyists, and experts from the German home front. A high point was the creation, in October 1916, of the all-Flemish University of Ghent. In March 1917, in a move internally criticized as rash, the occupation authorities divided Belgium into Flemish and Walloon regions and declared Brussels the capital of Flanders.

In March 1917, representatives of the “Council of Flanders”, a self-appointed body with no legislative or executive power, visited the chancellor in Berlin. By then, Flamen­­politik had created a political culture of sympathetic Flemings: an estimated 20,000 of them (occasional sympathizers and signatories of petitions included) who called themselves “activists,” a term chosen to convey a vigorous pro-Flemish stance. The emergence of activism met with enthusiasm in parts of German public opinion. Friedrich Naumann (1860-1919), for one, greeted the Council of Flanders’ visit with the words: “Henceforth, Flanders’ plight is Germany’s plight Flanders’ hopes are Germany’s hopes.” [49] Yet creating an activist milieu did not mean gaining the Flemish population at large and hopes to attract Flemish Movement leaders fizzled, as most of them publicly refused to accept rights proffered by an occupation regime. Occupation officials acknowledged among themselves that their activist contacts were largely “leaders without troops.” [50] Unable to garner a significant following or enter the decisive terrain of municipal authority, activists were reduced to brokering favours (thus confirming public criticism of activism as a form of war profiteering) and producing a vast corpus of anti-Belgian rhetoric. Activism – both the Flemish version and its smaller-scale Walloon counterpart – had its uses on the German home front, but it did not provide the occupation regime with useful local associates.

German defeats Belgium in the First World War – 1914.

The Germans beat Belgian cities with powerful howitzers called Debela Berta. They conquered Belgium in about twenty days. In the conquered area, they established the so-called Imperial German Governor-General of Belgium (Kaiserliches Deutsches Generalgouvernement Belgien).

On August 20, 1914, the German Imperial Army occupied Brussels in World War I. The German attack on neutral Belgium was considered a war crime in itself, as it circumvented neutrality agreements. The German attack on Belgium and their occupying power over that country is sometimes called the Rape of Belgium, and during that time the Germans committed crimes against the civilian population and against Belgian cultural monuments.

Imperial Germany attacked Belgium with as many as three armies and almost 750,000 soldiers (the entire Belgian army was 6-7 times smaller). The Supreme Commander of the German Army was personally Emperor (Kaiser) Wilhelm II, and the Chief of General Staff Helmuth von Moltke (from the famous military family of Moltke, his uncle Field Marshal Count von Moltke was also formerly Chief of General Staff).

The German First Army under the command of Colonel-General Alexander von Kluck headed for Brussels. From her left advanced the Second Army under Colonel-General Karl von Bülow (the von Bülow family is one of the most famous in German military history, and its members held in politics and the positions of chancellor and minister).

The Germans beat Belgian cities with powerful howitzers called Debela Berta. They conquered Belgium in about twenty days. In the conquered area, they established the so-called Imperial German Governor General of Belgium (Kaiserliches Deutsches Generalgouvernement Belgien). Such a general governorship was probably a model for Adolf Hitler to establish a similar institution in the conquered Polish territories during World War II. The first German Governor General of Belgium in the First World War was Field Marshal Baron Colmar von der Goltz (known for his activity in Turkey, which is why he was also called Goltz-pasha).

World War One: How 250,000 Belgian refugees didn't leave a trace

Little could have prepared Folkestone for 14 October 1914. The bustling Kent port was used to comings and goings, but not the arrival of 16,000 Belgian refugees in a single day.

Germany had invaded Belgium, forcing them to flee. The exodus had started in August and the refugees continued to arrive almost daily for months, landing at other ports as well, including Tilbury, Margate, Harwich, Dover, Hull and Grimsby.

Official records from the time estimate 250,000 Belgians refugees came to Britain during WW1. In some purpose-built villages they had their own schools, newspapers, shops, hospitals, churches, prisons and police. These areas were considered Belgian territory and run by the Belgian government. They even used the Belgian currency.

Few communities in the UK were unaffected by their arrival, say historians. Most were housed with families across the country and in all four nations.

But despite their numbers the only Belgian from the time that people are most likely to know is the fictitious detective Hercule Poirot. Agatha Christie is said to have based the character on a Belgian refugee she met in her home town of Torquay.

There is little else to show they were here apart from a church, some plaques, gravestones, the odd bit of wood carving in public buildings and a few Belgian street names dotted around the country. There is a single monument in London's Victoria Embankment Gardens given in thanks by the Belgian Government.

"It was the largest influx of refugees in British history but it's a story that is almost totally ignored," says Tony Kushner, professor of modern history at the University of Southampton.

This was partly by design. When WW1 finished the British government wanted its soldiers back home and refugees out, he says.

"Britain had an obligation to help refugees during the war but the narrative quickly changed when it ended, the government didn't want foreigners anymore."

Many Belgians had their employment contracts terminated, leaving them with little option but to go home. The government offered free one-way tickets back to Belgium, but only for a limited period. The aim was to get them to leave the country as quickly as possible.

Within 12 months of the war ending more than 90% had returned home, says Kushner. They left as quickly as they came, leaving little time to establish any significant legacy.

"They were pushed out of the country. It wasn't very dignified and the government was happy for the nation to forget. It also suited the Belgium government who needed people to return to rebuild the country."

The few that did stay integrated into British life - many married Britons they had met while in the country.

"They were white and Catholic so they didn't stand out," says Gary Sheffield, professor of war studies at the University of Wolverhampton. "They simply disappeared from view."

The refugees were initially greeted with open arms. The government used their plight to encouraged anti-German sentiment and public support for the war.

"Contact with the Belgian refugees acted as a good reminder of why the First World War was a war worth fighting," says Sheffield.

They were portrayed in the press as "plucky", says Christophe Declercq, who runs the Online Centre for Research on Belgian Refugees and whose great-grandfather was among the arrivals.

"There was a jubilant feeling of going to get 'the Bosche' and the 'plucky little Belgians' fitted into that narrative. It was often the case that if you didn't have a refugee staying with you, you knew someone who did. They were treated rather like pets."

The real Poirot

  • Poirot is known for his meticulous appearance and brilliant detection skills
  • First appeared in novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920) and many other subsequent Christie novels until his final appearance in Curtain: Poirot's Last Case (1975)
  • Poirot novels adapted for the screen have featured well-known actors including Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov and David Suchet

The welcome they received was sometimes overwhelming. One refugee describes in his diary his fright when a scuffle broke out between local people who wanted to carry his luggage for him. There are other stories of thousands of cheering people turning out to greet just a handful of Belgians.

But the goodwill didn't last. Most people expected the war to be over by Christmas but it soon became clear that it wouldn't.

"As Belgians became more permanent guests a lot of individuals and families who enthusiastically housed them ran out of money and/or patience within a few months and returned the refugees to where they had collected them," says Dr Jacqueline Jenkinson, a lecturer in history at the University of Stirling who recently organised a conference on the Belgian refugees.

Housing and jobs became an issue. Belgians in the purpose-built villages had running water and electricity while their British neighbours didn't. More affluent refugees could afford to buy their own properties.

A ɼolony' for 6,000 Belgian refugees

  • Elisabethville was a sovereign Belgian enclave in Birtley, Tyne and Wear
  • It was named after the Belgian queen
  • It had its own schools, shops, hospitals, churches and a prison

"Key to the growing resentment was how badly the British were suffering in comparison," says Declercq, who is a lecturer in translation at UCL.

There was also a more personal reason why the refugees slipped from the country's collective memory.

"When British soldiers returned from the war many didn't want to talk about what theyɽ experienced," says Declercq. "The subject was off limits and as a result their families didn't feel they could talk about what they had experienced at home while the men were fighting, or at least it seemed insignificant. They just didn't have those conversations."

It meant the refugees' story was not remembered at a national level in any significant way or in the homes where they had stayed. WW1 as a whole was a "more complex and problematic" memory for the nation because of issues like the enormous loss of life, says Kushner.

Later World War Two broke out and gripped the nation's attention.

"The events of 1939 to 1945 completely overtook the First World War in people's minds," says Sheffield. "There was a new wave of refugees to dominate the memory. So many things about the First World War were forgotten, all the nuances of the subject."

In recent years some local projects have looked into Belgian refugees in certain areas, but the WW1 centenary has also sparked new interest at a national level, as evidenced by last week's academic conference.

"There are the stories out there," says Declercq. "Some families did stay in touch with the Belgians they had looked after and they visited each other for years. We are starting to scratch the surface and find out who these people were."

And his own great-grandfather? After arriving in Britain in August, 1914, he left for the Netherlands at the end of 1915 and settled there.

Belgium in 1914 - History

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1890 - "Ghost Dance" revival movement among American Plains Indians culminating in Battle of Wounded Knee on 28 December (1890) Pershing involved in campaign as junior officer 1890 - A.T. Mahan publishes "The Influence of Sea Power on History, 1660-1783" arguing that Britain's status rested on naval supremacy which controlled the Eurasian balance of power 1890 4 March - Caprivi becomes German Chancellor (till 28 October 1894) 1890 18 March - Dismissal/Resignation of Bismarck 1890 May - French unsuccessfully try to get Russians to jon them in a military alliance against Germany 1890 18 June - Reinsurance Treaty lapses 1890 1 July - Heligoland Treaty Germany gives up its claims to Zanzibar to Britain, in exchange for Heligoland 1890 October - Reichstag elections with S. P. D. holding 35 seats (out of 397) 1890 1 October - German anti-socialist laws not renewed
1891 - Italian government agrees to a commercial treaty with Germany and Austria 1891 - Diplomatic relations with United States broken off by Italy following dispute over the murder of 11 Italians in New Orlans indemnities paid the following year by the U.S. and relations resumed 1891 7 February - Schlieffen appointed Chief of German General Staff (till 1 Jan, 1906) 1891 July - French naval squadron visits Russian port of Kronstadt greeted with cheers by Russians 1891 27 August - Franco-Russian Entente
1892 1 February - Germany signs commercial treaties with Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and Austria-Hungary 1892 May - "Jackie" Fisher becomes Third Lord of the Admiralty for 5 and half years (ship design and construction) 1892 17 August - Franco-Russian Military Convention 1892 17 August - Schlieffen begins formulating concept of two-front war plan to counter Franco-Russian alliance
1893 17 January - Franco-Russian Alliance signed 1893 18 February - Founding of Agrarian League in Germany 1893 13 July - Germany Army bill accepted 1893 August - Clemenceau runs for re-election from the Var district, but looses and is out of political office for the first time in almost 20 years 1893 30 August - Report reaches London that French ordered British vessels out of Gulf of Siam creates war scare 1893 October - Russian naval visit to French port of Toulon 1893 19 October - General Bronsart v Schellendorf becomes German Minister of War (till 14 Aug 1896) 1893 December - Italian forces Mahdists under Ahmad wad-Ali at Agordat
1894 10 February - Russo-German commercial treaty signed 1894 12 May - Anglo-Congolese (Free State) treaty signed with Britian hoping to bar French from the Nile Valley 1894 July - German General Staff develops a new strategic plan for two-front war 1894 July - Italians capture Kassala 1894 September - Japan goes to war with China over Korea (First Korean War) with British attempts at intervention against Japan failing 1894 26 September - A French intelligence agent steals papers from the German Embassy in Paris that reveal a French officer is spying for the Germans, leading to the Drefyus affair: repercussions throughout France's army and government Drefus accused, tried and convicted on flimsy (and fabricated) evidence, and then sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island 1894 26 October - Hohenlohe becomes German Chancellor (till Oct 1900) 1894 1 November - Tsar Alexander II dies and Nicoholas II becomes Tsar
1895 - Cuban Revolution led by Rizal against Spain ends in failure 1885 - British army Chitral Expedition 1895 April - Japanese and Chinese conclude Treaty of Shimonoseki among various European powers expressing self-interests and resulting in recognition of Korean independance and surrendering Port Arthur and Liaotung Peninsula to Japan Russians upset over Japanese gains 1895 June - Opening of Kiel Canal in Germany 1895 21 June - Salisbury returns to power in Britain 1895 August - Kaiser Wilhelm visits England for Victoria's Golden Jubilee celebrations 1895 December - Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) arrested jailed in St Petersburg and exiled to Siberia for three years 1895 29 December - Jameson Raid into the Transavaal 1895 - Armenian massacres in Turkey, during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II
1896 - Philipine Revolution led by Aguinaldo against Spain begins 1896 - Charles E. Callwell, British Army, publishes Small Wars - Their Principles and Practice as a practical treatise on guerrilla and 'small wars' conflict 1896 3 January - Wilhelm II sends telegram to Kruger congratulating him on preserving independance of Transvaal 1896 1 March - Italian disaster at Battle of Adowa (Ethiopia) Italians appeal for British aid unsuccessfully 1896 13 March - British Government decides to retake Khartoum and Sudan and funding voted (British decision to keep Egypt and not evacuate soon followed) 1896 14 August - Gossler becomes German Minister of War (till 15 Aug 1903)
1897 Greco-Turkish War 1897 22 January - Waldersee's memorandum on coup d`etat for Wiliam II against the Reichstag 1897 January-February - Russian attempt to set up anti-German coalition with British in Far East and attempt fails 1897 17 March - Russians formally demand lease of Port Arthur 1897 5 May - Austro-Russian "agreement"to maintain status-quo in Balkans for next ten years 1897 15 June - Tirpitz nominated State Secretary for the I.G. Navy 1897 20 October - Bülow nominated State Secretary in the German Foreign Office 1897 November - Germans occupy Chinese port of Kaio-Chow for coaling station following murder of two German missionaries there 1897 December - Zwartberg Hottentots revolt against Germans and are suppressed 1897 25 December - Italians hand Kassala over to Egyptian Army
1898 25 March - British demand China leases Wei-hai-wei for port facilities beginning of Chinese partition. Increasing Russian concerns over Far East/China (and becomes a feature of each springtime over the next half-dozen years) 1898 26 March - Germany's "Naval Bill" passes the Reichstag 1898 1 April - Chamberlain suggests an alliance with Germany 1898 8 April - Battle of the Atbara 1898 10 April - Reichstag ratifies First Navy Law 1898 25 April - Spanish American War begins 1898 30 April - German Navy League Founded 1898 13 August - U.S. Army captures Manila 1898 30 August - Anglo-German agreement over Portuguese colonies 1898 September-November - Fashoda Crisis (Anglo-French confrontation and possibility of war over French attempts to claim Sudan) 1898 4 September - Funeral of Gordon at Khartoum 1898 9 September - Kitchener starts for Fashoda 1898 22 September - Battle of Gedaref 1898 24 September - Kitchener returns from Fashoda 1898 October - Wilhem II pays second visit to Ottoman Empire and suggests building the Bagdad railway 1898 November - Spanish American War ends with Treaty of Paris U.S. gains Philipines, the Sulus, and Guam in return for payment of $20 million to Spain Cuban independance 1898 December - Moro revolt against U.S. occupation of Philipines, lasts until 1903, with sporadic fighting until 1914
1899 4 February - Aguinaldo leads Philipine Insurrection against U.S. forces in Philipines 1899 16 February - French President Faure suffers a heart attack during a tryst with the wife of a French painter (Steinheil) his wife called - Faure dies later that evening 1899 April - Anglo-French agreement on Meditteranean spheres on influence 1899 May-July - First Hague Peace Conference 1899 Summer - Churchill runs for Parliament and loses 1899 September - Dreyfus pardoned after French Army yields to public pressure but repercussions continued with the public being suspicious of the army's role in the matter French Army funds are subsequently cut back over the years 1899 November - The Hay 'Open Door' Note on China 1899 12 October - Boer War begins 1899 20-29 November - Wilhelm II visits England 1900
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1900 January - 'Bunderesrath' Affair 1900 29 July - King Humbert of Italy assasinated by Bresci (Italian anarchist) Victor Emmanuel III becomes king 1900 February - Relief of Ladysmith 1900 8 March - Landsdowne asks Germany to join Britain in imposing on France a localization of any Russo-Japanese War 1900 May - Relief of Mafeking 1900 Spring-Summer - Peasant uprisings in China leading to Boxer Rebellion 1900 14 June - Reichstag accepts Second Navy Law as proposed by Tirpitz (supplementals in 1906, 1908, and 1912) 1900 June-August - Boxer Rebellion spreads 1900 1 October - Churchill elected to Parliament by a margin of 22 votes during the "Khaki Election" 1900 16 October - Anglo-German agreement over China 1900 17 October - Bülow becomes Reich Chancellor (till 14 Jul 1909) 1900 December - Delcassé offers Italians pledge that that French would not encroach in Tripoli 1900 31 December - Murder of English missionary in China
1901 - Germans develop plans for the submarine U-1 1901 20 January - Kaiser Wilhelm arrives in London to visit Queen Victoria as she was dying 1901 22 January - Death of Queen Victoria Edward VII becomes King of Great Britain 1901 24 March - Japanese demand withdrawal of proposed agreement between Russia and China Russians back off 1901 31 May - European troops begin landing in China to supress the Boxers 1901 20 June - Siege of European legations by Boxers begins 1901 September - U.S. President McKinley shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz, while attending Pan-American Exposition and dies eight days later 1901 October-December - Collapse of Anglo-German alliance negotiations and also Russo-Japanese talks 1901 November - "British Foreign Policy" article by "A.B.C." published in The National Review 1901 18 November - Hay-Pauncefote Treaty, providing the United States with powers of exclusive regulation and management for the proposed Panama Canal 1901 December - Oberst Alfred Redl begins spying on his government for the Russians
1902 30 January - Anglo-Japanese Alliance formed giving Japanese greater prestige in Far East 1902 20 March - Franco-Russian declaration on China (intentions of Franco-Russian protectorate) 1902 June - Fisher returns to the Admiralty as Second Sea Lord (staffing ships with officers and men) 1902 28 June - Triple Alliance renewed 1902 September - Turks allow Russians to send four torpedo-boats north through Starits of Mamarra renewing the "straits Question" and creates ending of the Mediterranean Entente 1902 November - Franco-Spanish plans to divide Morrocco ruined by British meddling and exposure of treaty terms 1902 November - German discussions with Turks over Bagdad railway increase and military aid to Turkey begun 1902 22 November - Friedrich Krupp suicides amid charges of homosexuality business goes to his daughter Bertha 1902 December - Widespread revolt in Turkey against Sultan Abdul Aziz marking revolt suppressed but Sultan's power diminished afterwards 1902 25 December - Reichstag accepts higher agricultural tarriffs
1903 April - Bezobrazov becomes Sec. of State in Russia and his hard-line policies make Far Eastern compromise impossible Japanese begin to see talks with Russians as futile 1903 May - Edward VII visits Paris 1903 16 June - Reichstag elections with gains for S.P.D. 1903 July - Loubet of France visits London 1903 July until April 1904 Anglo-French talks settling territorial claims between the countries (Siam, Newfoundland, Egpyt, West Africa, Morrocco, etc) eventually leading to the British joining the Entente in April 1904 1903 15 August - Gen Karl v Einem becomes German Minister of War (till Aug. 1909)
1904 Kaiser tells Leopold II of Belgium that a war between France and Germany would involve Belgium during another visit in 1910, the Kaiser says otherwise) 1904 4 February - Russo-Japanese War begins Japanese attack Port Arthur 1904 8 April - Entente Cordiale between France and Britain (sponsored by Landsdowne, Foreign Secretary, 1900-1905) 1904 May - Fisher becomes First Sea Lord of the Admiralty (director of operations) till fall of 1906 1904 28 July - Russo-German commercial treaty signed 1904 3 October - French and Spanish agreement on Morrocco and city of Fez 1904 3 October (till 1908) Herrero and Hottentot insurrection in German South-West Africa 1904 21 October - Dogger Bank Incident (Russian fleet fires on British fishing-vessels) 1904 November - Theodore Roosevelt elected President of the United States 1904 23 November - Russo-German alliance negotiations following Dogger Bank incident break-down
1905 22 January -Russian procession to Winter Palace attacked by troops and police (Bloody Sunday) 1905 1 February - German commercial treaties with Russia and Austria-Hungary ratified mid-February Grand Duke Serge assasinated in Moscow 1905 31 March - Wilhelm II visits Tangiers, gives speech against Entente Cordiale (concurrent with this, the British General Staff was holding theoretical war games on maps -- assuming the Germans might invade France through Belgium) 1905 William Haywood and others found the International Workers of the World ('Wobblies') 1905 30 April - Anglo-French military conversations begin 1905 27 May - Battle of Tsushima (Russian Navy routed) 1905 6 June - Declassé falls from power 1905 23 July - Treaty of Björkö 1905 28 September - Morocco Conference agreed 1905 5 October - H.M.S. Dreadnought keel laid down 1905 October - (middle) Russia affected by a general strike 1905 30 October - Tsar issues Imperial Manifesto creating a semi-constituional monarchy 1905 1 November - Rasputin first meets the Romanov family 1905 December - Schlieffen plan developed 1905 December - Churchill becomes under secreatry in British Colonial Office 1905 5 December - Campbell-Bannerman forms Liberal ministry
1906 1 January - Moltke succeds Schlieffen as Chief of German General Staff (till 14 Septeber 1914) 1906 12 January Landslide victory of Liberals in British elections 1906 16 January Algerciras Conference opens 1906 31 January Anglo-French military conversations authorized by Grey (who at this time thinks England has a moral obligation to France against Germany) Wilson sent to France Cabinet not informed of these talks until 1911 1906 March - London Daily Mail begins serializing "The Invasion of 1910" by William Le Queux (plot: Germans invade England and win) the story is made into a play that ran for 18 months 1906 5 April - Bülow has heart attack in Reichstag and is unable to work for several months 1906 8 April - Algecrias Act signed 1906 1 May beginning of Eulenberg scandal in German (Kaiser's close friend accused of homosexuality) accusations by Hardin 1906 May - Tax reform passes Reichstag 1906 May - Russian Duma meets for the first time 1906 5 June - Third German Navy Law (Novelle 1906) ratified 1906 7 July - Tsar asks Stolypin to become Prime Minister and shortly thereafter he dissolves the Duma 1906 August - Bertha Krupp marries Gustav (Krupp) von Bohlen und Halbach, he taking part of her surname to maintain firm's continuity 1906 8 September - Churchill meets the Kaiser while undersecretary at Colonial Office, discussing German colonial affairs in southern Africa 1906 13 December - Bülow dissolves Reichstag
1907 (Sinn Féin founded in Dublin) 1907 1 January Eyre Crowe's (British Foreign Office) memorandum on English interest in preserving balance of power and joining 2nd most powerful country in Europe (France) comments on German foreign policy and confrontation possible February - Russian Second Duma meets for the first time dissolved three months later by the Tsar 1907 25 January Reichstag elections 1907 February - Bülow Bloc formed 1907 April - Eulenberg scandal spreads, Hardin accuses three of the Kaiser's aides-de-camp of homosexuality 1907 15 June - Second Hague Peace Conference Opens 1907 30 July - Russo-Japanese War ends Russia begins focusing on Balkans instead of Far East for influence peddling 1907 31 August - Anglo-Russian Entente agreement over Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet 1907 23 October - Trial of Hardin (Moltke-Hardin trial) for libel begins in Berlin (dropped on technicality) Kaiser upset by trial and implications 1907 11 November - Kaiser reluctantly vists England during Eulenberg scandal and interviewed by Haldane of the Daily Telegraph
1908 3 January Hardin's second trial ends with a conviction for libel ordered to prison but set free on bond 1908 16 February - Wilhelm II writes to Lord Tweedmouth 1908 8 April - Asquith becomes Prime Minister and shortly after Churchill is part of Cabinet 1908 8 June - Eulenberg charged with perjury in Hardin case and arrested 1908 14 June - Fourth German Navy Law (Novelle 1908) ratified 1908 29 June - Hardin's second libel trial begins but is suspended in September, resumed the summer of 1909 and then postponed indefinitely again due to Eulenberg being too ill to stand trial 1908 July - Young Turks come to power and offer to become allies with Britain but are rebuked by Churchill 1908 2 July - Izvolski of Russia offers to support Austria annexation of Bosnia and Hercegovina if Austria would support Russian intentions on the "Straits" 1908 12-13 August - Hardinge visits Wilhelm II at Kronberg 1908 19 August - Austrian Government decides to annex Bosnia and Hercegovina 1908 15 September - Meeting at Buchlau (Buchlov) between Izvolski and Aehrenthal (of Austria) to discuss Balkans and Straits 1908 2 October - Details of Buchlau Agreement given to Russian Council of Ministers Council upset 1908 5 October - Bulgaria declares itself independant of Turkey 1908 6 October - Austria proclaims annexation of Bosnia and Hercgovina Izvolsky feels humiliiated following blunt German diplomatic rebuttals that follow 1908 6 October - Haldane's Daily Telegraph publishes interview with Kaiser 1908 28 October - Daily Telegraph interview of Wilhelm II published creates backlash in Germany 1908 10-11 November - Reichstag debates on Daily Telegraph Affair
1909 January Conrad (of Austria) writes Moltke asking what Germany would do if Austria attacked Serbia and Russians intervened over Bosnia 1909 21 January Moltke writes Conrad, replying if Russia mobilizes, Germany will as well, using Bosnia as justification 1909 9 February - H.M.S. Dreadnaught launched 1909 9 Februrary Franco-German Agreement over Morocco recognizing French political and German economic rights there 1909 26 February - French Ambassador to Russia tells Russian Government that the Bosnian situation should not be any of Russia or France's concern 1909 12 March - British Navy bill accepted after "Navy Scare" 1909 24 March - Collapse of Bülow Bloc 1909 12 June - Hansabund founded 1909 24 June - Bülow tax reform bill defeated 1909 14 July - Theobold v Bethmann-Hollweg becomes German Chancellor (till July 1917) 1909 25 July - Louis Bleriot first man to fly across the Channel from France to England 1909 11 August - von Herringen becomes German Minister of War (till 7 Jun 1913) 1909 December - British General Wilson visits Foch and listens to lectures followed by private talks invites Foch to London Wilson tours Franco-German border for 10 days by train and bicycle and concludes Germans would invade France through Belgium 1910
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1910 January General Wilson goes back to France and revisits Foch in Paris for further talks Foch visits Wilson and General Staff in London later in the year. (Wilson asks Foch what the smallest British military force that would be of value to France if Germany attacked, prompting the reply of "one British soldier") 1910 15 January British general elections 1910 14 February - Churchill becomes Home Secretary 1910 6 May - Edward VII dies suddenly and succeeded by George V 1910 27 May - Reform of Prussian three-class voting system fails 1911
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1911 9 February - Churchill speech declaring British fleet a necessity and a German fleet a luxury 1911 March - British plans for B.E.F. mobilization in event of British intervention in general contintental war ready (schedule of mobilization) 1911 21 May - French occupy Fez (Morocco) 1911 30 June - Messiny named French War Minister 1911 July - during the Agasir crisis, Hoseph Cailloux (then French Premier) begins secret negotiations with the Germans concurrent with Cambon's public ones these private negotiations are discovered by the French who have broken one of the German diplomatic codes (the "Green Dispatches") and Cailloux is forced to resign when Poincare is alerted to this information 1911 1 July - Panther at port of Agadir 1911 July - Asquith appoints Chruchill to Cabinet's Committee of Imperial Defense (formed 1904) 1911 20 July - Dubail-Wilson agreement signed agreeing to British mobilization following intervention, specifiying 150,000 men and 67,000 horses to be landed at Havre, Boulogne and Rouen between 4th-12th day of mobilization and be sent to Mauberge region and ready for action on 13th day 1911 21 July - Lloyd George warns Germany in his "Mansion House speech", stiffening German opinion towards his ideas speech primarily meant as support for the French during "crisis" period British make some preparations for war against Germany 1911 13 August - Churchill sends Asquith a memorandum analyzing a Euopean war in which Germany atacks France through Belgium and recommends use of British Army to aid France 1911 23 August - Asquith calls a secret meeting of Imperial Defense Committee asking for prepartion of war plans (Grey, Lloyd George and Churchill present among others) Gen. Henry Wilson discusses Anglo-French "plans" against German invasion of Belgium and France 1911 6 September - Stolypin assasinated in the Kiev Opera House in front of the Tsar 1911 29 Spetember Tripoli War between Italy and Turkey begins 1911 10 October - (until 1912) Chinese Revoltion begins at Wuhan 1911 25 October - Churchill becomes First Lord of the Admiralty and invites Fisher to meet him 1911 (till 1914) Mexican revolution fighting begins in November 1911 4 November - Morocco Agreement signed 1911 4 November - Charykov (of Russia) offers Turks a guarantee of the status quo if Straits open to Russian warships 1911 9-10 November - Reichstag debates Morocco Agreement 1912
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1912-1913 Irish Home Rule problem occupies British domestic politics 1912-1913 Krupp "Kornwalzer"stolen secret militiary documents scandal emerges and trials Krupp not penalized 1912 January British War Staff established 1912 January Caillaux ousted in France and followed by Poincaré 1912 - French Army General Staff makes the offensive à outrance official French military doctrine in it's Regulations for the Conduct of Large Units 1912 January - French Senate initiates an investigative committee into Cailloux's role in the Agadir Crisis and suspicions about Calloux's "Germanophilia" became widespread these sentiments led to the fall of the "Cailloux" government during 1912 Cailloux still maintained enough political power that he was back in his "old" post of Minister of Finance 1912 January - Reichstag elections with S.P.D. emerging as the strongest party 1912 February - Joffre tells (French) Supreme War Council that he was counting on British for 6 infantry and 1 cavalry divisions to be ready for action in Mauberge area by 15th day of mobilization 1912 7 February - Kaiser announces Army and Navy Bills 1912 8 February - Haldane arrives in Berlin for talks 1912 March - Churchill announces enlarging the RN, and removal of fleet from Malta to home waters (and with the French realigning their fleet) 1912 13 March - Balkan League between Serbia and Bulgaria formed 1912 22 March - New German naval program begun marking failure of Anglo-German talks on naval forces 1912 April - (2 week period) Turks close Straits fearing Italian attack with economic results in southern Russia creating tensions there 1912 15 April - Cambon proposes to Nicholson a renewal of Landsdowne's "May 1905 offer" of an alliance Grey writes Cambon with promises but no formal arrangement 1912 21 May - Military bills and Lex Bassermann-Erzberger passed by Reichstag 1912 29 May - Greece joins Balkan League 1912 17 August - Poincaré tells Sazonov (of Russia) of verbal agreement by England to aid France if Germany attacked France (possibly posturing) 1912 15 October - Peace between Italy and Turkey completed 1912 17 October - First Balkan War begins Montenegro declares war on Turkey, soon joined by Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia 1912 17 November - Poincaré tells Izvolski that France will back Russia in a war against Austria (which he said was backed by Germany) 1912 December - Haldane tells German Ambassador that England would aid France if attacked by Germany and could not allow the balance of power to be changed 1912 8 December - Wilhelm II calls military conference at Potsdam (over Haldane's comment) note: Some scholars (i.e., Fisher) see this as the turning point when Germany formulated plans for a war with Britain, but there was no follow-up on this. 1913 Go to World War I Document Archive Primary Documents, Pre - 1914
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1913 - Edison develops first talking motion pictures 1913 - Wilson visits French General Staff every other month and reviews Foch's manoeuvres of XX Corp guarding the border) 1913 5 January Jagow succeds Kidelen-Wächter in the German Foreign Office 1913 February - Russian celebrations for 300 years of Romanovs 1913 26 March - Churchill proposes Naval Holiday 1913 May - Treaty of London ending First Balkan War and Albania given international recognition various territorial adjustments 1913 May - French General Staff adopts Plan 17 1913 24 May - Oberst Alfred Redl, Deputy Chief of the Austrian Inteligence Bureau comitts suicide prior to being arrested as a Russian spy 1913 4 June Prussian Diet elections 1913 7 June - Erich v Falkenhayn becomes German Minister of War (till 21 Jan 1915) 1913 30 June - Second Balkan War begins with Bulgarian attack on Greece and Serbia 1913 30 June - German Army Bill and Tax Compromise accepted 1913 29 July - Anglo-Turkish understanding supporting German efforts in Turkey to build Bagdad railway 1913 August - Lusitania undergoes extensive modifications permitting guns to be mounted and ammunition holds and ammo elevators installed prior to registration as a Reserve RN cruiser 1913 7 August - French Army bill ratified ("Three Year Law") 1913 10 August Peace of Bucharest ends Second Balkan War and marked by territorial adjustments 1913 23 August - Churchill prepares contingency plans paper for Britain to send troops to aid France in war against Germany 1913 28 August "Kartell der schaffenden Stände" proclaimed 1913 30 August - Churchill writes Grey that Britain should aid Russia and France in a war with Germany 1913 1 October - Greatest German Army increase since 1871 peace strength increased by 136,000 to 760,908 NCO's and men 1913 18 October - Churchill again proposes a Naval Holiday 1913 18 October - Berchtold (Austria) sends an ultimatum to Serbia demanding withdrawal of forces that crossed into Albania Serbs withdrew 1913 26 October - Kaiser meets Berchtold (Austrian Foregin Minister) in Vienna discussing possible Germanic-Slav (Serb) confrontation 1913 October-November - Zabern Affair in Germany 1913 October - French Army adopts new field regulations calling for offensive 1913 November - Miguel Almereyda begins publication of Le Bonnet Rouge, a weekly newspaper for the militant left in France during 1914 it begins to appear daily 1913 November - Liman von Sanders given total command of Turkish army and in charge at Istanbul resulting in open Russian animosity towards Germans in Turkey Russia becoming increasingly more anti-German and belligerent 1913 9 December - Liman von Sanders Commission to Turkey seen off by Kaiser 1913 November - King Albert of Belgium invited to Berlin Kaiser tells King that he feels war with France inevitable similar statements by Moltke 1913 9 December - Liman von Sanders Commission to Turkey seen off by Kaiser 1913 14 December - Liman von Sanders arrives in Constantinople 1914
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1914 5 January - Gaston Calmette, editor of Le Figaro begins running a series of political and personal exposés on Cailloux 1914 20 January Sazonov and Tsar discuss Liman von Sanders in Turkey and competeing with Austria over binding Poles to the Russian state 1914 February - Durnovo (Russian State Council member) writes memo to Tsar regarding Russian role in war against Germany assumes that Britain wouldn't be able to help much and territorial gains wouldn't be worthwhile and predicted a war would lead to social revolution 1914 16 March - Joseph Caillaux's wife buys a Browning automatic pistol in the morning and late that afternoon shoots Gaston Calmette the editor of Le Figaro Cailloux resigns his political post in the Cabinet Calmette dies that evening 1914 April - (till March 1916) U.S. troops stationed on U.S./Mexico border during Mexican Civil War Villa's raid on Columbus, N.M., 1916, and subsequent U.S. incursion into Mexico 1916-1917 U.S. forces begin Veracruz expedition in April, lasts until November 1914. 1914 Spring according to Tuchman, the Anglo-French military arrangements are completed even to point of details on billeting arrangements for British troops) 1914 May - Anglo-Russian naval talks begin attempting to determine co-operation between fleets 1914 12 May - Moltke and Conrad (of Austria) meet in Karlsbad) 1914 13 June - Kaiser Wilhelm II and Franz Ferdinand meet for the last time at Konopischt, Serbia and Russia discussed 1914 28 June - Assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife at Sarajevo 1914 30 June - German Ambassador in Vienna advises Austrians against taking hasty steps 1914 July - Trial of Madame Cailloux for the murder of Gaston Calmette French public absorbed and distracted by details of the trial and surrounding scandals on July 28th, the verdict of "not guilty" was rendered 1914 4 July - Hoyos mission to Berlin taking two notes one being Austrian plans for Balkans (primarily Roumania) and a note from Franz Josef 1914 5 July - Austrian Ambassador in Berlin delivers handwritten note from Franz Josef to Kaiser, over luncheon the Kaiser`s 'blank cheque' 1914 6 July - German Ambassador informs Grey that the crisis would be serious since Austria with German support was planning to act against Serbia 1914 6 July - Wilhelm talks with Krupp and says he will not "chicken out" this time 1914 6 July - Wilhelm II leaves for Norwegian cruise (until 27 July) 1914 7 July - Austro-Hungarian Ministerial Council meets 1914 8 July - Ultimatum to Serbia being prepared 1914 11 July - German Naval HQ sends telegram to Admiral Spee on Scharnhorst in pacific adivisory that England would probably be hostile in event of war 1914 14 July - Tisza (Hungarian Prime Minister) concedes to military action against Serbia thereby 1914 14 July - Tschirschky tells Bethmann-Hollweg the Austrian note is composed to preclude acceptance by the Serbs 1914 15 July - Conrad goes on holiday 1914 15 July - Poincaré and Viviani leave for St. Petersburg 1914 16 July - Grey tells Russian Ambassador that Germans can no longer be counted on as peacemakers under all circumstances 1914 18 July - Admiralty Grand Review of the First Fleet (223 ships) 1914 19 July - Austro-Hungarian Ministerial Council meets and approves ultimatum to be handed over on 23 July course of action planned 1914 19 July - Jagow plants article in Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung advocating localisation of Austro-Serb conflict 1914 20 July - Poincaré and Viviania arrive in St Peterburg 1914 20 July - Churchill orders First Fleet not to disperse 1914 21 July - Franz Josef approves ultimatum at Bad Ischl text of ultimatum sent to Berlin 1914 21 July - Cambon asks Jagow if he knows anything of the Austrian notes contents 1914 21 July - Sazonov tells Austrian Ambassador that Russia will try to persuade Serbs to make reasonable amends 1914 21 July - George V summons all parties to a conference at Buckingham Palace to discus the Irish situation Grey reports to Cabinet and discussion of European situation follows 1914 23 July - Austria delivers ulitmatum to Serbia at 6 PM limited Austrian mobilization at Temesvar and Austrian fleet gathers at Semlin 1914 23 July - Poincaré and Viviani leave St. Petersburg for state visit to Oslo and Copenhagen 1914 23 July - Lloyd George tells House of Commons that relations with Germany were better than they have been for years 1914 24 July - Asquith writes a friend that he expected a war between Austria and Germany on one side, and France and Russia on the other ( "a real Armageddon") and hopes Britain can remain out of it 1914 24 July - Austria-Hungary informs France, Russia, and Britain of ultimatum at 9 AM Grey informed at 2 PM 1914 24 July - Grey informs Cabinet of contents of ultimatum and proposes to mediate among the powers 1914 24 July - German ambassadors transmit note in Paris, London, and St Petersburg that conflict be localised 1914 24 July - Paul Cambon proposes conference and announces support of Russia in case of Russians at war with Austria 1914 24 July - Delbrück meets Reich and Prussian authourities 1914 24 July - Russian Council of Ministers considers partial mobilization and asks Austria to extend the time for the ultimatum to Serbia Sazanov says Serbia would become a protectorate of the Central Powers, loss of Russia's historic mission, and loss of prestige of Russia in Balkans 1914 24 July - Churchill sends Fleet advisory notice of crisis, but not a full alert 1914 24 July - Italian Government takes conciliatory stance towards crisis and attempts to maintain interests in Balkans and Adriatic without war 1914 25 July - Serbian Parliament meets in special session and sends reply to ultimatum 1914 25 July - King Peter of Serbia moves capital from Belgrade to Kraguyavatz 1914 25 July - Vienna breaks off diplomatic relations with Belgrade and Serbian envoy dismissed 1914 25 July - Austro-Hungarian Government declares martial law and war measures begun 1914 25 July - Moltke and Falkenhayn return to Berlin Wilhelm II leaves Norway to return to Berlin 1914 25 July - Wilhelm II orders return of Fleet 1914 25 July - French Ministerial Council urges immediate return of Poincaré and Vivianni 1914 25 July - Paris and Berlin crowds demonstrate in favor of war 1914 25 July - Grey again proposes mediation 1914 25 July - Jagow forwards Grey's proposal to Vienna 1914 25 July - Russian Crown Council meets with Tsar and approves resolutions of Ministerial Council Tsar orders preparations for mobilization 1914 25 July - Italian Government shows no interest in suporting Austria 1914 26 July - Royal Navy holds test mobilization for one day and plans to disperse next morning (27th) 1914 26 July - Serbian army begins mobilizing and panic in Belgrade 1914 26 July - Russians begin preparatory measure for war (not mobilization) 1914 26 July - Russia asks Germany to exert moderating influence on Austria-Hungary Germans try to localize war 1914 26 July - Grey proposes Four-Power conference of Ambassadors in London 1914 26 July - Austria mobilises on Russian frontier 1914 26 July - Austrian reservist in U.S. are warned to return for service some Serbs in New York make ready to return home 1914 26 July - Emergency meeting of French Cabinet 1914 26 July - France takes precautionary military measures and French fleet order to prepare French officers and men excused for harvesting recalled to their units 1914 26 July - Italy masses its fleet 1914 26 July - Belgium increases its army to enforce neutrality 1914 27 July - Wilhelm II returns to Potsdam/ Berlin 1914 27 July - France accepts Grey's proposals of mediation while telling Russians the French army would fully stand by Russia militarily 1914 27 July - French units in Morocco ordered to France 1914 27 July - Bethmann-Hollweg rejects idea of Four Power conference 1914 27 July - (AM) Churchill orders Royal Navy to be kept together and not disperse as planned and later informs Grey of his action 1914 27 July - Poincaré cancels visit to Copenhagen and Oslo and starts to return home 1914 27 July - Anti-war demonstrations in Paris 1914 28 July - Churchill orders fleet to sail to its war base at Scapa Flow 1914 28 July - Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia Austrian reservists in U.S. are ordered to return to Austria 1914 28 July - King Peter of Serbia goes to Nish 1914 28 July - Prince Henry of Prussia reports to Wilhem II on his conversations with George V 1914 28 July - Wilhelm issues 'Halt-in-Belgrade' appeal shortly after seeing the Serb reply to the Austrian ultimatum 1914 28 July - Wilhelm II appeals to Tsar's monarchial solidarity crosses the Tsar's telegram to him 1914 28 July - Russia orders mobilization of four western military districts and Black Sea coastline black-out 1914 28 July - Grey hopes that Austria-Hungary and Russia can be brought to negotiate 1914 28 July - Bethmann-Hollweg meets Südekem (S.P.D.) 1914 28 July - French General Staff informs Russian military attache in Paris that French Army is fully ready and active to do her duty as an ally of Russia 1914 28 July - French Army moves to the frontier areas 1914 28 July - French Socialists demonstrate against war German Socialist anti-war rallies 1914 28 July - Italian Government orders concentration of 1st and 2nd naval squadrons at Gaeta and Italian vessels ordered home 1914 29 July - Churchill persuades Asquith to authorize "Warning Telegram" to fleet 1914 29 July - Nicholas II telegrams Kaiser, start of "Willy-Nicky" telegrams in English over next three days 1914 29 July - Vienna refuses to negotiate with Serbia, Belgrade shelled by Austrian artillery 1914 29 July - Franz Josef sends letter to Tsar Nicholas 1914 29 July - Austrian forces repulsed at Losnitza 1914 29 July - Montenegrins occupy Cattaro 1914 29 July - Serbs blow up bridges at Semlin 1914 29 July - Belgian army reserves called up 1914 29 July - Trade in Antwerp "paralyzed" 1914 29 July - Tschirischky transmits Kaiser's 'Halt-in-Belgrade" proposal 1914 29 July - Poincaré and Vivianni return to Paris and hold Cabinet council meeting 1914 29 July - Business in Paris almost at standstill 1914 29 July - Kaiser holds military councils and issues German warnings to Russia 1914 29 July - Moltke sends a memorandum to Chancellor and demands general mobilization of German Armed forces Moltke also send telegram to Conrad suggesting Austria begin full mobilization and Germany would follow 1914 29 July - Bethmann-Hollweg makes moves to keep Britain neutral final draft of ultimatum to Belgian Government sent to German ambassador in Brussels 1914 29 July - Grey informs Lichnowsky (German Ambassador) that Britain could not remain neutral in the event of a continental war proposes mediation 1914 29 July - Grey and Cabinet begin meeting daily, sometimes twice or more a day over next several days following this meeting "Warning Telegram" sent to all British naval, military and colonial stations warning that war was possible 1914 29 July - (and 30th) R.N. leaves Portsmouth 1914 29 July - British and German fleets in Far East begin mobilizing 1914 29 July - King of Montenegro's yacht evades capture by Austrian destroyers 1914 29 July - Russian general mobilization ordered, but revoked by Tsar later that same evening Russian hopes for Serb victory Russians black-out Baltic coastline 1914 29 July - Kaiser holds Crown Council at Potsdam over possibility of British involvement over France 1914 30 July - Bethmann-Hollweg unsuccessfully tries to reverse German policy 1914 30 July - Belgian forts provisioned and Belgian Government forbids export of horses or vehicles 1914 30 July - Holland declares neutrality 1914 30 July - Austria-Hungary agrees to negotiations with Russia but refuses to delay operations against Serbia 1914 30 July - Austria expels newspaper correspondants from Semlin 1914 30 July - Moltke presses for general mobilization 1914 30 July - Berliner Lokalanzeiger announces German mobilization but issue is withdrawn official denial 1914 30 July - Prussian State Ministry meets at Potsdam 1914 30 July - Austria-Hungary orders general mobilization including men up to 50 years old 1914 30 July - Russian general monilization ordered for 31 July Russian Government takes control of railways 1914 30 July - Unionist papers in England call for Britain to go to war against Germany if France attacked 1914 30 July - Halifax garrison in Canada begins preparations 1914 30 July - French troops guard railways French Army withdraws 10 kilmeters along entire border with Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany Germans covering troops along border. In Paris, nothing yet known of Austrian and Russian mobilization. 1914 30 July - Guiseppe Garibaldi says he will fight for Serbia if Italy remains neutral 1914 31 July - Vienna rejects international conference and orders general mobilization 1914 31 July - Austrian Government assures Italy Government that more territory is not wanted 1914 31 July - Russian general mobilization becomes known in Berlin at noon 1914 31 July - Russian Council of Ministers meet at Peterhof and Government does not reply to German note 1914 31 July - Russian reserves called up 1914 31 July - Russians blow up railway bridge on Vienna-Warsaw line 1914 31 July - Serbs halt Austrians at Semendria and on Bosnia frontier 1914 31 July - 10 AM London Stock Exchange closes in a wave of financial panic (Monday a Bank Holiday) started in New York 1914 31 July - Reichstag summoned 1914 31 July - Kaiser proclaims 'state of imminent war' at 1 PM (one hour after Russian mobilization learned of) martial law declared and Kaiser makes speeches 1914 31 July - Crown Prince Wilhelm assigned military command 1914 31 July - Germany refuses to mediate and issues ultimatum to Russia to halt demobilization within 24 hours 1914 31 July - Germans send ultimatum to Paris demanding to know if France will stay neutral and if so, to hand over forts at Toul and Verdun given 18 hours to reply 1914 31 July - French Government prepares to refuse German ultimatum Paul Cambon goes to see Grey for British committment 1914 31 July - Churchill orders confiscation of Turkish ships Sultan Osman and Reshadieh cancelling delivery 1914 31 July - French socialist leader Jean Jaurès assassinated in Paris 1914 31 July - French Ministerial Council decides to order mobilization for 1 August 1914 31 July - Grey asks French and German Governments if they will respect Belgian neutrality France agrees, Germans evasive British Cabinet close to abandoning France Tory leaders be called to London to confer on crisis 1914 31 July - French answer to German note about Russia 1914 31 July - French Government mobilizes steamship La France for Government service 1914 31 July - Belgian Army mobilizes 1914 31 July - Dutch Army ordered to mobilize 1914 31 July - Belgian State Railway schedule of trains into Germany suspended 1914 31 July - Italian Council of Ministers votes to remain neutral 1914 1 August - 2AM Izvolsky (Russian Ambassador) awakens Poincaré, who had retired for the night, and asks what France plans to do 1914 1 August - (morning) Governor of Bank of England visits Lloyd George to tell him that Bank was opposed to British intervention Asquith gets similar messages from others in financial community 1914 1 August - French Army ordered to begin mobilization at 3:40 PM French Government says it will respect Belgian neutrality 1914 1 August - Cambon asks Grey if Britain will intervene and asks if "honor" was erased from the British dictionary 1914 1 August - Delcassé becomes War Minister in France 1914 1 August - German Ambassador prepares to leave Paris and American Ambassador and Council will look after German affairs there 1914 1 August - War rallies in Vienna and pressure on Austrian Government to keep war localized and to negotiate with Russia 1914 1 August - German ultimatum to Russia expires at noon Germany declares war on Russia at 12:52 PM and begins mobilization at 5 PM when announcement made to crowd at Imperial palace gates 1914 1 August - German ultimatum to France expires at 1 PM 1914 1 August - (ca 7 PM) Kaiser orders troops planning to invade Luxemburg to halt and tells Molke that it may be possible to prevent war with France and Moltke says that once mobilization began stopping war with France was no longer possible 1914 1 August - Reichstag convened 1914 ! August - German reservists in China begin concentrating at Tsing-tau German officals in South Africa begin returning home 1914 1 August - Russian forces fire on German patrol near Prostken 1914 1 August - Continued hopes in Berlin that Britain might stay neutral 1914 1 August - Belgian Government buys the entire wheat supply on market in Antwerp 1914 1 August - Special meeting of British Cabinet (night session) Churchill asks to mobilize the fleet and call up reserves and is turned down Grey asks to use fleet to support French in event of Germans in Channel (as promised to French) Lloyd Geroge not in favor of war on leaving the meeting, Grey tells Churchill he will honor pledge to Cambon and close the Channel with RN 1914 1 August - King George appeals to the Tsar for peace 1914 1 August - London Times denunciation of Germany 1914 1 August - Canadian Cabinet meets and agrees to send its offer of Canadian troops to England 1914 1 August - Italian Government tells Germany that Triple Alliance agreement only applied to a defensive war 1914 1 August - Japanese navy prepares for war 1914 2 August - German troops occupy Luxembourg 1914 2 August - Ambassador Cambon blames Germany for cause of conflict 1914 2 August - French Government declares a state of siege in France and Algiers 1914 2 August - French Socialists desplay patriotism in support of war 1914 2 August - French cut railway communications with Germany and Belgium 1914 2 August - Russian Ambassador in Berlin given passport 1914 2 August - (afternoon) Tsar formally declares war on Germany 1914 2 August - Russians cross German frontier and seize railroad station 1914 2 August - fighting between Russian and German cruisers near Libau German ships at sea ordered to seek neutral ports 1914 2 August - Germans in Kiao-Chau declare martial law 1914 2 August - German High Seas Fleet captures Wilson Liner Castro and a collier 1914 2 August - Montenegrin King signs mobilization order 1914 2 August - Austrian military cadets commissioned 1914 2 August - Germans and French recall all military reserves at home and abroad 1914 2 August - Two British Cabinet meetings (11AM-2PM and 6:30 PM-8PM) during second meeting Cabinet agrees that if Belgium invaded Britain would declare war 1914 2 August - Trafalgar Square anti-war demonstration evaporates and pro-war sentiments spread in Britain 1914 2 August - German ambassador in Brussels delivers ultimatum to Belgian Government at 8 PM 12 hour period to reply 1914 2 August - Belgian King holds Council of State at 9 PM-midnight to discuss ultimatum 1914 2 August - Invasion fears in Holland result in plans to flood the country to prevent it 1914 2 August - Belgian guards posted at bridges at Liege and Namur and Belgian "civic guard" called out 1914 2 August - Kitchener orders military censorship for British papers 1914 2 August - Canadian volunteers enlisting for possible war 1914 2 August - Canadian Royal Naval reserve called up 1914 2 August - Italian Cabinet ratifies neutrality declaration but troops called to colors as precautionary measure 1914 2 August - Japanese Emporer summons Council and asks for report on army Japanese navy warships readied 1914 3 August - 2:30 AM Belgian Council of State re-convenes to approve reply to German ultimatum, over at 4:00 AM reply given at 7 AM 1914 3 August - Bank Holiday in England crowds in Whitehall 1914 3 August - British Cabinet meets at 11AM (still unaware of Belgium's plans to refuse ultimatum) and learns of Belgian reply during session King Albert sends George V telegram asking for Britain to back its treaty obligations towards Belgium Cabinet sanctions mobilization of Fleet and Army but no decision to send BEF to France yet Grey says Britain will keep the German Navy out of the Channel 1914 3 August - Haldane sending out mobilization telegrams calling up Reservists and Territorials 1914 3 August - Dense crowds in Whitehall in support of war 1914 3 August - Italy declares neutrality 1914 3 August - Germans seize three towns in Russian Poland 1914 3 August - Tsar calls Russians to war and issues paper on causes of war 1914 3 August - Austrians and Serbs fighting along the Drona River 1914 3 August - Germany declares war on France and German Ambassador leaves Paris French Ambassador leaves Berlin 1914 3 August - American Ambassador in Moscow will look after German interests in Russia and Eastern Europe 1914 3 August - Belgium rejects German demands 1914 3 August - German-Turkish Treaty concluded 1914 3 August - German Ambassador sees Grey and asks about British intentions and decisions regarding the war 1914 3 August - Grey addresses House of Commons (ca. 3 PM) and debate follows with dinner break German ultimatum to Belgium becomes known Redmond promises Irish support 1914 3 August - British ultimatum contemplated being sent to Germany regarding Belgian neutrality 1914 3 August - German declaration of war on France (ca. 5:30 PM) 1914 3 August - Canadian ports of Quebec and Montreal put in charge of military authorities 1914 3 August - Canadian militia called up and reserves prepared to sail for England 1914 4 August - Serbs ban the sending of press dispatches 1914 4 August - German ambassador in Brussel delivers German response to Belgian reply at 6 AM 1914 4 August - 8:02 AM Germans invade Belgium 1914 4 August - 9 AM King Alfred meets Belgian parliament 1914 4 August - German troops cross French border near Mars-La-Tour and Moineville 1914 4 August - Joffre leaves for the frontier 1914 4 August - Riots in Paris 1914 4 August - Noon. King Alfred appeals to Britain and France for military support regarding Belgian neutrality 1914 4 August - British Cabinet meets at 11 AM after hearing of Belgian invasion and issues ultimatum to expire at midnight 1914 4 August - Whitehall filled with crowds in support of British intervention in war 1914 4 August - British ulitmatum transmitted to Berlin and British Ambassador prepares to leave Berlin 1914 4 August - German Government appeals to Italians to honor treaty go unheeded 1914 4 August - Reichstag opens speech by Kaiser (morning), stops for church services, reconvenes for German Chancellor speech (3 PM) Reichstag support of war and votes for war credits then adjourns (Socialists agree to set diferences aside and vote in support). 1914 4 August - (circa 2 PM and concurrent with Bethmann-Hollweg in Reichstag) Asquith announces to House of Commons that he has a message from King (Mobilization Proclamation) and reads terms of British ultimatum to Germany. 1914 4 August - 7 PM British ultimatum (two parts) becomes known in Berlin British Amabassador presents it to Bethmann-Hollweg 1914 4 August - circa 9 PM, British intercept German message from Berlin that Germany considers itself at war with Britain the moment the British Ambassador asked for his passport (during delivery of British ultimatum) 1914 4 August - Japanese Government proclamation preparing country for war on behalf of England (war on 23 Aug) 1914 4 August - Canadian Cabinet meeting and mobilzation of Canadian Expeditionary Force begins reservists sail 1914 4 August - Message of appreciation sent to Canada by King George 1914 4 August - Rival warship off Port of New York Foreign consulates in U.S. busy with returning nationals 1914 6 August - Austria-Hungary declares war on Russia

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