Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

in relation to conduct which took place in the course of hostilities, prosecutions could be instituted, and if it decided that prosecutions could be undertaken, to prepare a report indicating the individual or individuals who were, in its opinion, guilty, and the court before which prosecutions should proceed.

This Sub-Commission selected Mr. Lansing as its Chairman.

When the reports of the Sub-Commissions had been considered, a committee, composed of Mr. Rolin-Jaequemyns, Sir Ernest Pollock and Mr. M. d'Amelio was appointed to draft the report of the Commission. This committee was assisted by Mr. A. de Lapradelle and Lieutenant-Colonel 0. M. Biggar.

The Commission has the honor to submit its report to the Preliminary Peace Conference. The report was adopted unanimously subject to certain reservations by the United States of America and certain other reservations by Japan. The United States Delegation has set forth its reservations and the reasons therefor in a memorandum attached hereto (Annex II) and the same course has been taken by the Japanese Delegation (Annex III).

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

On the question of the responsibility of the authors of the war, the Commission, after having examined a number of official documents relating to the origin of the World War, and to the violations of neutrality and of frontiers which accompanied its inception, has determined that the responsibility for it lies wholly upon the Powers which declared war in pursuance of a policy of aggression, the concealment of which gives to the origin of this war the character of a dark conspiracy against the peace of Europe.

This responsibility rests first on Germany and Austria, secondly on Turkey and Bulgaria. The responsibility is made all the graver by reason of the violation by Germany and Austria of the neutrality of Belgium and Luxemburg, which they themselves had guaranteed. It is increased, with regard to both France and Serbia, by the violation of their frontiers before the declaration of war.

1.-PREMEDITATION OF THE WAR

A.-Germany and Austria Many months before the crisis of 1914 the German Emperor had ceased to pose as the champion of peace. Naturally believing in the overwhelming superiority of his army, he openly showed his enmity towards France. General von Moltke said to the King of the Belgians: “This time the matter must be settled.” In vain the King protested. The Emperor and his Chief of Staff remained no less fixed in their attitude. 1

On the 28th June, 1914, occurred the assassination at Sarajevo of the heir-apparent of Austria. “It is the act of a little group of madmen," said Francis Joseph.” The act, committed as it was by a subject of Austria-Hungary on Austro-Hungarian territory, could in no wise compromise Serbia, which very correctly expressed its condolences and stopped public rejoicings in Belgrade. If the Government of Vienna thought that there was any Serbian complicity, Serbia was ready to seek out the guilty parties. But this attitude failed to satisfy Austria and still less Germany, who, after their first astonishment had passed, saw in this royal and national misfortune a pretext to initiate war.

At Potsdam a “decisive consultation” took place on the 5th July, 1914.5 Vienna and Berlin decided upon this plan: “Vienna will send to Belgrade a very emphatic ultimatum with a very short limit of time."

The Bavarian Minister, von Lerchenfeld, said in a confidential despatch dated the 18th July, 1914, the facts stated in which have never been officially denied: “It is clear that Serbia cannot accept the demands, which are inconsistent with the dignity of an independent state.7 Count Lerchenfeld reveals in this report that, at the time it was made, the ultimatum to Serbia had been jointly decided upon by the Governments of Berlin and Vienna; that they were waiting to send it until President Poincaré and M. Viviani should have left for St. Petersburg; and that no illusions were cherished, either at Berlin or Vienna, as to the consequences which this threatening measure would involve. It was perfectly well known that war would be the result.

1 Yellow Book, M. Cambon to M. Pichon, 22nd November, 1913. 2 Message to his people. 3 Serbian Blue Book, page 30. 4 Yellow Book, No. 15, M. Cambon to M. Bienvenu Martin, 21st July, 1914. 5 Lichnowsky Memoir. 6 Dr. Muehlon's Memoir. 7 Report of the 18th July, 1914.

The Bavarian Minister explains, moreover, that the only fear of the Berlin Government was that Austria-Hungary might hesitate and draw back at the last minute, and that on the other hand Serbia, on the advice of France and Great Britain, might yield to the pressure put upon her. Now, "the Berlin Government considers that war is necessary.” Therefore, it gave full powers to Count Berchtold, who instructed the Ballplatz on the 18th July, 1914, to negotiate with Bulgaria to induce her to enter into an alliance and to participate in the war.

In order to mask this understanding, it was arranged that the Emperor should go for a cruise in the North Sea, and that the Prussian Minister of War should go for a holiday, so that the Imperial Government might pretend that events had taken it completely by surprise.

Austria suddenly sent Serbia an ultimatum that she had carefully prepared in such a way as to make it impossible to accept. Nobody could be deceived; "the whole world understands that this ultimatum means war. :"8 According to M. Sazonof, “Austria-Hungary wanted to devour Serbia."9

M. Sazonof asked Vienna for an extension of the short time limit of forty-eight hours given by Austria to Serbia for the most serious decision in its history.10 Vienna refused the demand. On the 24th and 25th July England and France multiplied their efforts to per. suade Serbia to satisfy the Austro-Hungarian demands. Russia threw in her weight on the side of conciliation. 11 Contrary to the expectation of Austria-Hungary and Germany, Serbia yielded. She agreed to all the requirements of the ultimatum, subject to the single reservation that, in the judicial inquiry which she would commence for the purpose of seeking out the guilty parties, the participation of Austrian officials would be kept within the limits assigned by international law. “If the Austro-Hungarian Government is not satisfied with this,” Serbia declared she was ready "to submit to the decision of The Hague Tribunal." 12

8 Lichnowsky Memoir. 9 Austro-Hungarian Red Book, No. 16. 10 Blue Book, No. 26. 11 Yellow Book, No. 36; Blue Book, Nos. 12, 46, 55, 65, 94, 118.

A quarter of an hour before the expiration of the time limit, at 5.45 on the 25th, M. Pachich, the Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs, delivered this reply to Baron Geisl, the Austro-Hungarian Minister. On M. Pachich's return to his own office he found awaiting him a letter from Baron Geisl saying that he was not satisfied with the reply. At 6.30 the latter had left Belgrade, and even before he had arrived at Vienna, the Austro-Hungarian Government had handed his passports to M. Yovanovitch, the Serbian Minister, and had prepared thirty-three mobilization proclamations, which were published on the following morning in the Budapesti Kozlöni, the official gazette of the Hungarian Government. On the 27th Sir Maurice de Bunsen telegraphed to Sir Edward Grey: “This country has gone wild with joy at the prospect of war with Serbia.” 13 At midday on the 28th Austria declared war on Serbia. On the 29th the Austrian Army commenced the bombardment of Belgrade, and made its dispositions to cross the frontier.

The reiterated suggestions of the Entente Powers with a view to finding a peaceful solution of the dispute only produced evasive replies on the part of Berlin or promises of intervention with the Government of Vienna without any effectual steps being taken.

On the 24th of July Russia and England asked that the Powers should be granted a reasonable delay in which to work in concert for the maintenance of peace. Germany did not join in this request.14

On the 25th July Sir Edward Grey proposed mediation by four Powers (England, France, Italy and Germany). France15 and Italy16 immediately gave their concurrence. Germany refused, alleging that it was not a question of mediation but of arbitration, as the conference of the four Powers was called to make proposals, not to decide.

12 Yellow Book, No. 46. 13 Blue Book, No. 41. 14 Russian Orange Book, No. 4; Yellow Book, No. 43. 15 Yellow Book, No. 70.

On the 26th July Russia proposed to negotiate directly with Austria Austria refused.18

On the 27th July England proposed a European conference. Germany refused.19

On the 29th July Sir Edward Grey asked the Wilhelmstrasse to be good enough to “suggest any method by which the influence of the four Powers could be used together to prevent a war between Austria and Russia.” 20 She was asked herself to say what she desired.21 Her reply was evasive.22

On the same day, the 29th July, the Czar Nicholas II despatched to the Emperor William II a telegram suggesting that the AustroSerbian problem should be submitted to The Hague Tribunal. This suggestion received no reply. This important telegram does not appear in the German White Book. It was made public by the Petrograd Official Gazette (January, 1915).

The Bavarian Legation, in a report dated the 31st July, declared its conviction that the efforts of Sir Edward Grey to preserve peace would not hinder the march of events.

As early as the 21st July German mobilization had commenced by the recall of a certain number of classes of the reserve, 24 then of German officers in Switzerland,25 and finally of the Metz garrison on the 25th July.26 On the 26th July the German fleet was called back from Norway.27

23

16 Yellow Book, No. 72; Blue Book, No. 49.
17 Blue Book, No. 43.
18 Yellow Book, No. 54.
19 Ibid., Nos. 68 and 73.
20 Ibid., No. 97; Blue Book, No. 84.
21 Blue Book, No. lll.
22 Yellow Book, 97, 98 and 109.

23 Second Report of Count Lerchenfeld, Bavarian Plenipotentiary at Berlin, published on the instructions of Kurt Eisner. 24 Yellow Book, No. 15.

26 Ibid., No. 106. 25 Ibid., No. 60.

27 Ibid., No. 58.

« AnteriorContinuar »