** World War I -- declaration of war

World War I: Germany Prepares to Execulte the Schlieffen Plan: Luxembourg (August 2, 1914)

German Luxembourg Belgium declaration of war
Figure 1.--Here Berlin police paste the official posters announcing the general mobilization to a street Litfaßsäule in Tiergarden while German boys watch. Beginning on July 29, events negan moving more rapidly than officilas cold deal with. The posters went up announcing German mobilization (August 1). We are not sure if war was mentioned, but war was declared by the end of theafternoon. This photyigraph may have been taken August 2 when German troops had moved into Luxenbourg. We are not sure to what extent the annoiuncements kept up with the fast moving events like the occupation of Luxembourg. Put your cursor on the image to see message on the back.

World and especially important British attention shifted west to neutral Luxembourg and Belgium (August 2). War in the the Balkans or the East was one thing. As Prime-Minister Chanmberlain would phrase it a generation later, 'a far away country, between people of whom we know nothing'. War in the Low Lands across the Channel was something very different. For centuries, English/British foreign policy had opposed powerful countries controlling the Low Lands. The neutrality of Luxembourg and Belgium had been guaranted by the Great Powers, including Germany. The Germans began occupying tiny, neutral Luxembourg as a first step in the invasion of Belgium and northern France. This began in the evening (August 1) and was completed (August 2). German troops were massing along the Belgian border. This was the first step in executing the Schlieffen Plan, the planned attack on France through Belgium. The Germans delivered another ultimatum, this time to King Alberrt and neutral Belgium. Luxembourg had no way of resisting, possessing inly a police fiorce. Belgiam on the other hand had an army. It was a small azrmy, but an army never-the-less. The Germans did not take the Belgian or British army seriously. The Kaiser would call the British Army, a 'contemptible' little army. [Doyle] The German Goverrnmernt demanded free passage for their army across Belgium. The Schliffen Plam was well known. It was very clear that these moves were the preliminary steps in executing the innasion of France. The French frontier forts posed a serious obstacle to the Germany Army. Attacking through Belgium was a way of avoiding those formidable obstacles. Here speed was all important. The Germans realized that with their strong army, but vulnerable economy, their best chance od winniubg any war was at the onset. The fastest route to Paris was through Belgium. The Belgians rejected the German demands outright. King Albert famously replied, "Belgium is a country, not a road." Kaiser Wilhelm II at this stage had second thoughts. He discussed canceling the invasion of Belgium with German Chief of General Staff Moltke. The Kaiser not only had family ties to the Tsar, but also to the British royal family. Moltke who was was completely absorbed with the complicated operation of executing the Schlieffen Plan could hardly believe his ears. He told the Kaiser essentially that the Schlieffen Plan had been set in motion and could not now be stopped, in part because it would cause chaos in the rail schedule.


Doyle, Arthur Conan. "The contemptible little army," Daily Chronicle (October 10, 1914).


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Created: 7:26 PM 8/6/2021
Last updated: 7:27 PM 8/6/2021