German ultimatum to Belgium
Catalogue reference: FO 371/1910 no. 400

Brussels, 2 August 1914
Imperial German Embassy in Belgium


The Imperial Government possesses reliable information of the intended deployment of French forces on the Givet-Namur stretch of the Meuse. This information leaves no doubt about France's intention to advance against Germany through Belgian territory.

The Imperial Government cannot help but be concerned that without assistance Belgium, in spite of its good intentions, will not be able to repel a French attack with sufficient prospects of success to provide an adequate guarantee in the face of the threat to Germany. It is essential for Germany's survival to pre-empt this enemy attack.
The German Government would therefore consider it with utmost regret if Belgium saw an unfriendly act in the fact that measures taken by its enemies force Germany for defence purposes likewise to enter Belgian territory.

To exclude the possibility of misinterpretation, the Imperial Government makes the following declaration:

1. Germany has no hostile intentions towards Belgium whatsoever. If Belgium is willing to adopt a position of benevolent neutrality towards Germany in the imminent war, the German Government promises to fully guarantee the kingdom's possessions and independence at the conclusion of peace.

2. Subject to the conditions laid down above, Germany is committed to withdrawing from the kingdom's territory as soon as peace is made.

3. If Belgium co-operates, Germany is prepared, with the agreement of the Royal Belgian authorities, to pay for the requirements of its troops in cash and to compensate for any damage that might have been caused by German troops.

4. If Belgium should take a hostile stance against German troops, especially if she obstructs their advance by resistance from her forts on the Meuse or by destroying railways, roads, tunnels or other structures, Germany will regrettably be forced to consider the kingdom an enemy. In this case Germany would be unable to undertake any obligations towards the kingdom, but would have to leave the later resolution of relations between the two states to be decided by military force.

The Imperial German Government hopes that this eventuality will not occur, and that the Royal Belgian Government will take suitable measures to prevent the events mentioned from taking place. In which case, the friendly bonds between the two neighbouring states would undergo further and lasting consolidation.

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