Слике страница

in 1913

wanted. In the Balkan War of 1912-1913, however, Serbia burst her boundaries to the south and gained considerable territory. But her ambition to secure a seaport on the Adriatic was blocked by her ancient enemy on the north. The Serbians were bitterly angry at this frustration of their plans by Austria.

Nevertheless, Serbia gained considerable territory and greatly increased her power and influence by the Balkan War. It was Turkey, the friend of Germany, and Bulgaria, the friend of Austria-Hungary, that were defeated and lost prestige. That Germany appreciated the serious blow which had been dealt Teutonic influence in the Balkans was indicated by the passage

of a new army bill appropriating over $250,000,000 to increase Germany's standing army to a peace footing of over 700,000 and a war footing of nearly 10,000,000. Then it was the turn of France to be alarmed. She lengthened the term of compulsory military service from two years to three. Russia and Austria made similar moves, none of them completed in 1914.

Economic Causes. Some people have declared that the present war is a dispute over pigs, meaning that Serbia's market for her principal product was under the control of Austria-Hungary. This is a very much exaggerated way of saying what many economists believe, that this war, like many others, has been produced chiefly by economic causes, and is, in essence, a struggle for markets. The Industrial Revolution, which introduced the factory system into England in the eighteenth century, had helped make Great Britain the leading commercial nation of the world. The effects of the Industrial Revolution were not felt in Germany until after 1880, since which time German industries have made marvelous progress, and goods "made in Germany" have appeared in every market. Great Britain and Germany thus became dangerous commercial rivals. Germany's Drang nach Osten was interpreted as an effort to secure some or all of the rich trade with India. Germany's increasing navy was undoubtedly intended to dispute Great Britain's supremacy on the seas and help German merchants secure wider markets. Likewise, the hostility between Russia and Germany may be partly explained by the conflict of economic development. Russia, seriously needing more seaports to develop her resources, has long coveted Constantinople, whose control or possession was also a keystone in Germany's eastward expansion. In pursuance of her policy Russia has played the godmother to the various Balkan states and could hardly be indifferent to their humiliation or extinction.

What has been said ought to make it clear that the European situation in 1914 was a hair-trigger situation, which needed only a slight disturbance to produce tremendous effects.

Outbreak of the War. The hostility of the Serbs against Austria because of her annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908 and her attitude toward Serbian expansion in 1912–1913, has been noted. In spite of this hostility toward everything Austrian, on June 28, 1914, the Austrian Crown Prince and Princess made a visit to Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. While riding through the streets of this city they were both slain by the bullets of a young Austrian Serb, who was an enthusiastic supporter of the Pan-Serbian ideals. This murder of the Austrian Crown Prince was interpreted in Austria-Hungary as a part of the Pan-Serbian movement, which aimed at the inclusion of Bosnia and Herzegovina in a Greater Serbia. In what followed, two motives actuated the Austrian rulers: (1) Serbia, much stronger as a result of the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, lay in the path of the Drang nach Osten ambition; (2) the success of the Pan-Serbian movement might encourage other racial groups to seek independence and completely disrupt the Empire. Some have said that Austria's choice thus lay between a civil war and a foreign war. Austrian investigators "satisfied” themselves that the murder at Sarajevo had been planned in Belgrade with the knowledge and connivance of high Serbian officials. Wherefore, on July 23, 1914, Austria presented to Serbia an ultimatum, couched in the most vigorous language and demanding compliance within forty-eight hours. It was the sort of ultimatum which no nation presents to an equal unless it desires war; presented to a smaller nation like Serbia it could mean only war or the reduction of the smaller state to the position of a dependent vassal.


Realizing that another crisis had arisen, the statesmen of Great Britain, France, and Russia strove first to secure an extension of time. It is a striking fact that all three of these countries were confronted by serious internal difficulties. Great Britain was threatened with civil war in Ireland over Home Rule; Petrograd was involved in a great strike; in France a government scandal had called from the Minister of War a declaration that the

army was in a deplorable state of unpreparedness. Austria flatly refused any extension of time, and the British and Russian ministers persuaded Serbia to make as great a concession as possible.

The Serbian reply was presented just two minutes before the expiration of the time limit. It yielded practically everything which Austria had demanded, so much so that the Russian minister declared that the crisis was over. The demand that Austrian officials should be allowed to sit in Serbian courts at the hearings was not yielded, but even this question Serbia offered to submit to the Hague Court for arbitration. Austria professed to find the answer unsatisfactory and on July 28 declared war on Serbia. In the meantime the Russian ambassador in Vienna had stated that "any action taken by Austria to humiliate Serbia could not leave Russia indifferent.” Austria's action in declaring war, then, is explicable on only two grounds: either she was convinced that Russia was bluffing and would back down, or else Austria was prepared deliberately to bring on a general European war.

Germany and Russia. Throughout all these negotiations Germany had backed Austria fully, refusing to make any move which might have helped in preserving the peace.

. Now Russia began to mobilize her armies. It became plain that the only hope for peace was to secure some agreement between Russia and Austria. Many efforts to this end were put forth, and on July 31 Austria finally agreed to discuss with Russia the terms of the ultimatum to Serbia. This slim chance of preventing a break at the eleventh hour was immediately nullified by an ultimatum delivered by Germany to Russia at midnight on July 31, demanding that Russia should cease military preparations and begin to demobilize her armies within twelve hours. Russia made no reply; and at 5 P. M. on August 1 Germany declared war on Russia. This action necessarily involved war also on France, for France could hardly refuse to aid her ally.

Germany and Belgium. In 1839 Great Britain, France, Austria, Russia, and Prussia joined in guaranteeing the independence and perpetual neutrality of Belgium. Treaties between Great Britain and France and between Great Britain and Prussia, signed just before the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, pledged Great Britain to aid in defending the neutrality of Belgium if either belligerent violated it. In July, 1914, when war again became imminent, Great Britain tried to secure a renewal of this agreement of 1870. France expressed a willingness to make such an agreement; but the German Government refused to agree to respect the neutrality of Belgium, and two days later, on August 2, demanded the right of passage through Belgian territory. Belgium returned a flat refusal and was invaded on August 4. Later, the same day, Great Britain declared war on Germany. That the German authorities realized the seriousness of this step is evidenced by the efforts of Chancellor von Bethmann-Hollweg and of the Kaiser to condone what each frankly admitted was a breach of international law and a wrong, insisting, however, that military necessity demanded it. Von Bethmann-Hollweg added “Necessity knows no law.”


The Invasion of France. The plan of campaign of the German general staff was for Austria together with a small number of German troops to hold the Russians in check while Germany crushed France, the two then uniting for a later campaign against Russia. Following this plan, the German armies, by a surprise thrust through Belgium in August, 1914, sought to paralyze the French armies. The German advance through Belgium was much slower than had been anticipated on account of the stiff fight put up by the little Belgian army. So it was August 24 before the frontier between France and Belgium was crossed. This delay gave the French time to rearrange their armies, and the surprise element was lost. General Joffre, who took command of the French armies on August 20, outmaneuvered the German field officers and, aided by the British, defeated the Germans in the great battle of the Marne, September 6-10, 1914. The Germans had nearly reached Paris, but now they retreated for some

« ПретходнаНастави »