August 4, 1914 – Germany’s Chancellor Justifies Invasion of Neutral Belgium

On this day in history, 7000,000 German troops marched into Belgium. That same day, German Chancellor Theobald Bethmann-Hollweg spoke to a cheering Reichstag, giving the rationale for Germany’s actions:

We are in a state of legitimate defense. Necessity knows no law. Our troops have occupied Luxemburg and have perhaps already penetrated into Belgium. This is against the law of nations. France, it is true, has declared to Brussels that she is determined to respect the neutrality of Belgium as long as her adversary respects it, but we know that France was ready to invade Belgium. France can afford to wait; we cannot. A French attack on our flank in the region of the lower Rhine might have been fatal. It is for that reason we have been compelled to ignore the just protests of the Governments of Luxemburg and Belgium. The injustice which we thus commit we will repair as soon as our military object has been attained.”

German Chancellor Theobald Bethmann-Hollweg

German Chancellor Theobald Bethmann-Hollweg

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