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purpose all act in the common interest and are free to live their own lives under a common protection.

I am proposing government by the consent of the governed; that freedom of the seas which in international conference after conference representatives of the United States have urged with the eloquence of those who are the convinced disciples of liberty; and that moderation of armaments which makes of armies and navies a power for order merely, not an instrument of aggression or of selfish violence.

These are American principles, American policies. We could stand for no others. And they are also the principles and policies of forward looking men and women everywhere, of every modern nation, of every enlightened community. They are the principles of mankind and must prevail.

The divisional line between the Flemish area to the north and the Walloon area to the south is based upon the texts of the German decrees of October 15, November 15 and December 13, 1916, relative to the employment of languages in the postal service, modifying the communal use of Flemish, and determining the competence of the Flemish and Walloon sections of the ministry of sciences and arts.







By Carl L. Becker,
Professor of modern European history, Cornell University

Belgium has been the storm center of the war, and her fate at the peace will be the test of victory or defeat. Upon this unoffending people the German Empire laid its heavy hand, and during four years subjected it to a martyrdom that is but the fulfilment of a "specifically German way of thinking and feeling." As German philosophers have written in books, line upon line, precept upon precept, so in Belgium the German army has made manifest in deeds the Fatherland's "ritual of envy and broken faith and rapine." Not to have rescued Belgium from this living death would be for us a confession of defeat, and for Germany a substantial victory.

It is therefore a fortunate circumstance, auguring well for the future, that the allied and American Governments are of one accord in respect to Belgium. Without qualification and without dissent they have declared that Belgium must be restored; and the words of President Wilson may stand as the expression, in this respect, of the purpose to which all the enemies of Germany are committed:

"Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored without any attempt to limit the sovereignty which she enjoys in common with all other free nations. No other single act will serve as this will serve to restore confidence among the nations in the laws which they have themselves set and determined for the government of their relations with one another. Without this healing act the whole structure and validity of international law is forever impaired." 1

B1bl1ograph1c Note.—In preparing this pamphlet I have used, as the foundation, the admirable work of Fernand Passelecq, La question fiamande et I'Allemagne (Paris, Berger-Levrault, 1917). In addition, the books and pamphlets on

'Address to Congress, January 8, 1918.

The Imperial German Government has often stated its intentions with respect to Belgium. At the beginning of the war, in the ultimatum presented to Belgium on August 2, 1914, the German Government declared that, "in the event of Belgium being prepared in the coming war to maintain an attitude of friendly neutrality toward Germany, the German Government binds itself, at the conclusion of peace, to guarantee the possessions and independence of the Belgian Kingdom in full"; otherwise the "eventual adjustments of the relations of the two states to each other must be left to the decision of arms." 1 Two days later, in his speech before the Reichstag on August 4, the chancellor, BethmannHolweg, defined the purposes of Germany more precisely, and more narrowly. He said:

Gentlemen, we are now defending ourselves in circumstances of extreme necessity {voir sind jetzt in der Notzvehr), and necessity knows no law. Our troops have occupied Luxemburg, have perhaps already set foot on Belgian territory. Gentlemen, that is contrary to the rules of international law (das widersprxcht den Geboten des Volkerrechts). . . . We were forced to disregard the legitimate protest of the Luxemburg and the Belgian Governments. The wrong—I speak openly—the wrong that we are thus doing, we will try to make good again as soon as our military end is attained. 2

Such was the expressed purpose of the German Government at the opening of the war. Meantime, the German army overran and conquered the greater part of Belgium. It did more. As a necessary part of attaining their military ends, the Germans in

Belgium in the offices of the American Historical Review, material compiled by Professor Van den Ven for the Belgian Information Service, extracts made from the German newspapers by Richard Jente for the Committee on Public Information, and official dispatches of Brand Whitlock, American minister to Belgium, under dateof August 10, 1917, February 3 and 23, March 6, 13 and 27, 1918, together with a number of documents transmitted with these dispatches, have been placed at my disposal.

1 Collected Diplomatic Documents Relating to the Outbreak of the European War (London, 1915), 310. Miscellaneous No. 10 (1915), Cd. 7860.

'The German text from the official Reichstag reports, for this part of the speech, together with a translation, is printed in J. R. O'Regan, The German War of 1914, 49. Aside _ from three slight changes, I have followed Mr. O'Regan's translation. The original speech was published for propagandist purposes in Der Kriegsausbruch 1914 (Berlin, 1914), II.


stituted in Belgium a reign of terror such as has not been known among civilized nations. Nothing was omitted that might serve to break the spirit of the people. The record of senseless crimes and cruelties, of bestial acts, of nameless obscenities and revolting savagery which must be charged to the account of the German army in Belgium recalls those deeds by which "the Huns, under their king Attila, a thousand years ago, made a name for themselves which is still mighty in tradition and story."

Prom1ses No Longer B1nd1ng

After the conquest and spoliation of Belgium, the promises which the German Government had formerly made were thought to be no longer binding. "The conquest of Belgium has simply been forced upon us," said Freiherr von Bissing, the German governor general of Belgium. "I will not discuss the views of those who dream that the German Government is bound by the declaration made at the beginning of the war."1 In its subsequent declarations of policy, the German Government has accordingly held a different language from that used by Bethmann-Hollweg on August 4, 1914.

These subsequent official declarations of policy in respect to Belgium were in substance much the same; and it will be sufficient to quote the last of them—the latest and the most precise—that of Chancellor von Herding, before the Main Committee in the Reichstag, on July 11, 1918:

That we do not contemplate holding Belgium in possession permanently—that has been our policy from the beginning of the war. As I said on November 29, the war has been for us, from the very beginning, a war of defense and not a war of conquest. The invasion of Belgium was a necessity forced upon us by the conditions of war. In the same way, the occupation of Belgium was a necessity forced upon us by the war. .. . Belgium, in our hands, is a pledge for future negotiations. A pledge signifies security against known dangers, which one may avoid by having this pledge in his hand. One surrenders this pledge, therefore, only when

'General von Bissing's Testament: a Study in German Ideals (London, Fisher Unwin, 1917), 24. _

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