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Reports of the Belgian Representatives in Berlin, London and Paris to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Brussels, 1905-1914

Reports of the Belgian Representatives in Berlin, London and Paris to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Brussels, 1905-1914

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Excerpt from Reports of the Belgian Representatives in Berlin, London and Paris to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Brussels, 1905-1914: European Politics During the Decade Before the War as Described by Belgian Diplomatists

The titanic drama to-day being enacted in Europe invests with tragic interest the details of diplomatic history during the decade in which the storm was gathering. Each of the Powers has given out an edition of official documents representing its version of the events immediately preceding the outbreak of hostilities. But the genesis and explanation of the war lie further back, nor are they to be sought in the White Books or Blue Books, or Red or Gray Books, with whatever honesty and sincerity, or the lack of it, prepared. To attain any degree of understanding of the cause of the tragedy it is of course necessary to go back at least to the beginning of the century and to seek contemporaneous records, spontaneously made and innocent of design. The historians of the war will scrutinize innumerable documents and reconstruct the political and social life of Europe from the beginning of the century, studying in particular the diplomacy of the period, and listening to the gossip of the courts and chancelleries, and parliaments where, for a dozen years, the guardians of Europe's fate sought, consciously or unconsciously, some to provoke, and some to prevent, the catastrophe which at last has fallen.

Among the Sources to which the historian will resort, the documents which are herewith presented to the world will rank high. They consist of reports made to the Belgian Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Baron de Favereau and M. Davignon, by the Belgian Ministers at the chief European Capitals - Count de Lalaing at London; M. A. Leghait and later Baron Guillaume at Paris; Baron Greindl and then Baron Beyens at Berlin - from the year 1905 to 1914.

The correspondence was found in the archives of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the occupation of Brussels by German forces. It is printed in this volume in its original French and in an English translation. A few facsimile reproductions exhibit sample pages of the manuscripts.

These papers provide a running commentary on European history during the past decade, throwing light which, once shed, could by no means ever be spared, on the causes of the cataclysm through which Europe is now passing. All is here. Early testimony of a decade ago of the growth of anti-German jealousy, soon amounting to hatred, in England; the retirement of Delcasse; the Algeciras Conference; the incidents of Scutari and Nancy; the early and the later Balkan crisis; the ripening of the Anglo-French Entente; the first rumors, gathering into certainty, of the Anglo-Russian rapprochement and the Anglo-Japanese alliance; the inclusion of Italy in the Anglo-French plans; the return to power of Delcasse, the election of the chauvinist Poincare, the institution in France of the three-years' military service law, the exchange of the Barthou for the Ribot Cabinet - all is here.

But it is the peculiar interest of these reports, voluminous as they are and coming as they do from a half dozen distinct sources, that they coincide precisely in the account they give of the causes of Europe's unhappiness.

The picture which these Ministers unite in drawing is that of the sinister figure of England moving with ever malevolent purpose among the courts and chancelleries of Europe, everywhere fomenting suspicions and inspiring hatred of the Power which it has set its mind to destroy. In the pursuit of this purpose we see King Edward in the closing days of his reign devoting himself to the dissipation of the long-standing Anglo-French antipathy and the creation of the rapprochement which Lord Lansdowne and Sir Edward Grey strengthened into an alliance. We see the British Government intervening at Paris again and again, with suggestion, innuendoes, demands, always calcula
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