Слике страница
PDF
ePub

large advances on a loan contracted by Bulgaria in the summer of 1914, and Turkey had agreed to allow Bulgarian express trains from Dedeagatch to go through without stopping on Turkish territory. Later a treaty was signed (announced August 23) between Bulgaria and Turkey by which the former was granted the coveted strip of the latter's territory, which would properly connect her seaport Dedeagatch with the interior of Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Government promised as its part of the agreement to maintain armed neutrality.

On September 21 Bulgaria began to mobilize, declaring at the same time that she was not preparing for war, but was only taking steps that were necessary to preserve armed neutrality. It looked now as if Bulgaria had decided to cast in her lot with the Teutonic allies. She was aided in making up her mind by the failure of the Allied campaign against the Dardanelles and the collapse of the Russian defensive in Poland. It is thought, too, that Bulgaria had entered into a secret agreement with the Central powers in July, 1915, whereby she was promised very liberal territorial concessions on condition that she would attack Serbia. At any rate, Bulgaria had decided that the Teutonic promises were either more alluring to her or else stood a better chance of being redeemed.

The Entente powers were not satisfied with

Bulgaria's explanation regarding the mobilization of her forces, and on October 3, 1915, Russia sent an ultimatum to Bulgaria stating that the events then taking place showed that the Government of King Ferdinand had decided “to place the fate of its country in the hands of Germany.” “The presence of German and Austrian officers at the ministry of war and on the staff of the army, the concentration of troops in the zone bordering Serbia and the extensive financial support accepted from our enemies by the Sofia Cabinet, no longer leave any doubt as to the object of the military preparations of Bulgaria.” The Russian minister was instructed to leave Bulgaria if the Bulgarian Government did not “within twenty-four hours openly break with the enemies of the Slav cause and of Russia, and does [did] not at once proceed to send away officers belonging to armies of states which are at war with the powers of the Entente.” 1

Instead of complying with these demands, Bulgaria, on October 13, attacked Serbia and next day declared war on her. Great Britain declared war on Bulgaria October 14, and Russia and Italy followed suit on October 19.

Portugal and Great Britain have been bound together by the ties of friendship for centuries. It is said that since the time of Edward III

1 Chicago Herald, October 4, 1915,

(1373) the two countries have been united by "a covenant of mutual support.” This old agreement, revised by Cromwell and again by Charles II, was declared to be still binding in 1873 by Queen Victoria. Portugal was thus in close alliance with Great Britain when the war broke out in 1914. The fact that Portugal owes the security of her African possessions to British friendship makes her value the more highly her alliance with the mistress of the seas.

When Britain became involved in the war, Portugal declared her willingness to act on her obligations to her ally whenever the latter should desire it. This policy announced by the Government received the approval of Parliament and the support of the press and of all political parties. The Portuguese premier even offered to send an expeditionary force to aid the Allies in Belgium. There were, however, strong military and financial objections to Portugal's participation in the war, and it was decided best for the Allied cause for her not to break with Germany at this time. She, therefore, maintained a formal neutrality toward the Teutonic powers, but her heart was all the time with the Entente Allies.

The rôle that had been imposed upon Portugal by her friends was a difficult one to fill, and Germany charged her with numerous violations of neutrality. The final break did not come,

however, until March 9, 1916, when Germany declared war on Portugal. Austria-Hungary followed the German example on March 15. The immediate cause of the rupture was the seizure by the Portuguese Government of thirty-six interned German merchant vessels on the ground that her commercial needs urgently demanded an increase in her shipping facilities. Germany claimed, in her declaration of war, that the shortage in Portuguese tonnage did not justify the requisition of so many ships and that the Government had taken no steps toward satisfying the shipowners as to compensation. Sir Edward Grey, however, contended that the vessels would have been duly paid for if the German Government had had the patience to wait.

Rumania had an ambition to incorporate in her dominions the three and one-half million Rumans living in Transylvania, Bukovina, the Banat, and Bessarabia. As these territories now belong to Austria-Hungary and Russia, it follows that her aspirations can be realized only at the expense of these two neighboring powers.

When the Great War broke out, both groups of belligerents were thus in a position to make attractive bids for Rumanian neutrality or support. Each could offer territory already under its control and also lands that it hoped to

wrest from the enemy. Both sides were favored by advantages and hampered by disadvantages in the bargaining contest.

The Teutonic allies could start with an official friendship that had lasted for forty years. Russia had appropriated Rumanian Bessarabia after defeating Turkey in 1878 and had thereby destroyed the cordial feeling that had existed toward her among the Rumanian people. The Teutonic powers thus found it easy to extend their influence over Rumania. The present King of Rumania is a Hohenzollern, and her ruling aristocracy has been guided by German ideals.2

Despite all of this, however, at the outbreak of the great conflict, public sentiment in Rumania seemed to be overwhelmingly in favor of the Entente Allies, and she was expected to go into the war on their side. Entente diplomacy had, however, failed to win her over until August 27, 1916, when she entered the war against the Teutons. The Rumanian Government was induced to take this step partly by the fear of Bulgaria and partly on account of Allied suc

2 Since this chapter was written a good many other countries have either declared war on or broken diplomatic relations with the Central powers. As they have taken little or no part, however, in the activities of the war it has not been thought advisable to discuss their reasons for breaking with the Teutonic allies. For a list of these declarations with dates up to the end of 1917, see the Statesman's Year Book for 1917,

p. xxvi.

« ПретходнаНастави »