Germany invaded Belgium on 3 April 1414. There is evidence from these sources that both supports and contradicts the claim that Germany’s invasion of Belgium was unjustifiable. In both Source C and Source D, they agree that Germany’s invasion was unjustified, although Source D agrees to this to a limited extent only. Source C describes the invasion in almost personal tones by the use of the word ‘painful’. It is clear that the Belgian Government was unsympathetic to the German army’s request of free passage through their country to reach France.
Germany’s advance is an “attack on her independence”, and this is emphasized by “no military or strategic interest justifies such a violation”. Therefore Source C is of the view that the invasion was completely unjustifiable. Source D makes the point that the British Government was in support of the Belgian Government. The British Government were bound by the Washington Treaty of 1839 to come to the aid of Belgian should she be invaded. Germany’s advancement was clearly a ‘violation of law’, and so the British were bound ‘in honour’ to declare war on Germany.
Source D, however, does not claim the German invasion to be justifiable or not. Source D only makes the point that the British Government condemns the invasion, and would not allow it to happen. The Source makes no mention of the German’s possible motives. It is important to consider the provenances of both sources. Source C is a message between the Belgian and German governments, and will therefore accurately reflect the point of view from the Belgian government. Source D, on the other hand, is from a British newspaper.
It is viable to assume that the report may contain bias, but because the article only reports facts and direct quotes from politicians and the writer makes no opinion himself, it can be considered reliable. In total contrast, Sources B and E share a similarity with the view that the German invasion was completely justified. Source B offers the view that Germany is on the defensive against France, and that the German Government fears that Belgium will be unable “to resist such a considerable French invasion” without the aid of Germany.
This puts the blame of the Belgium invasion squarely on France, as Germany is portrayed as a friend of Belgium who seeks only to help them. The source fails to mention that France was not hostile to Belgium at all. The reliability of this Source is thus questionable. The Schlieffen Plan depended on France declaring war on Germany. However, this had not yet occurred by 2 August, and the Schlieffen Plan was doomed if France did not lead an attack. Therefore, to ensure the Schlieffen Plan worked, Germany had to engage France in war and the only way they could do this was to invade Belgium to cross into France.
Source E follows on from Source B. Bethmann-Hollweg’s claim that Germany only invaded Belgium as the “greatest necessity”. This corresponds to Source C, which states that Germany’s opponents “forced Germany… to enter Belgian territory”. There is also the similarity between the two sources that German was ‘ready to make compensation’ towards Belgium. Source B is a message to the Belgians from the German government, and is considerably biased in favour of the Germans. Source E, the German chancellor’s interview with a newspaper in Germany, is equally biased.
Bethmann-Hollweg would be anxious to justify their invasion of Belgium, and the source should therefore be treated as an unreliable source of factual information. Source A further damages the reliability of Sources B and E. The German Secretary of State’s promise that ‘Belgian neutrality is guaranteed’ and the Minister of War’s statement that ‘Belgium plays no part in the plans for the German army’ are shown to have been false. Therefore the source contradicts strongly with Source B and E.
It appears that the neutrality promised on 29 April 1913, was no longer a viable option for the government on 2 August 1914. The Source may be interpreted as being fairly reliable. The report being printed in a German newspaper, and the writer not having injected any personal opinion but only writing down the exact words of the German politicians, shows that there is no bias in the report. However, it is unlikely that ministers and politicians would announce aggressive policies candidly. Source B and E both show a similarity in claiming that the Germans advancement into Belgium as a ‘wrong’ that they commit.
This is corroborated by all the other sources. However, only Source B and E maintain that it is justifiable for several reasons. In conclusion, although there is evidence in the Sources both to challenge and support the claim that Germany’s invasion of Belgium in 1914 was completely unjustifiable, I believe that there was no real cause for the invasion. It was because of the Schlieffen Plan that demanded France’s declaration of war that hadn’t come yet, that led to the invasion. Therefore they invaded for no real justifiable reason.