Learning Curve, The Great War
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Message from the German ambassador in Britain to the British government on the German invasion of Belgium in August 1914
(Catalogue ref: FO 371/2161)
THE WAR.
 
[August 4.]
 
CONFIDENTIAL
 
SECTION 14.
[35748]
No. 1.
 
Herr von Jagow to Prince Lichnowsky.–(Communicated to Foreign Office, August 4.)
(No. 226.)
(Telegraphic.)

En clair.

Berlin, August 4, 1914.

PLEASE dispel any mistrust that may subsist on the part of the British Government with regard to our intentions by repeating most positively formal assurance that even in the case of armed conflict with Belgium, Germany will under no pretence whatever annex Belgic territory. Sincerity of this declaration is borne out by fact that we solemnly pledged our word to Holland strictly to respect her neutrality. It is obvious that we could not profitably annex Belgic territory without making at the same time territorial acquisitions at expense of Holland. Please impress upon Sir E. Grey that German army could not be exposed to French attack across Belgium, which was planned according to absolutely unimpeachable information. Germany had consequently to disregard Belgic neutrality, it being for her a question of life or death to prevent French advance.

['En clair' means this is written in ordinary language, not in code]

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