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In this brief account of the causes of the War of 1914, it has been possible to touch upon only the more important points. After the war is over, the results of patient research may make clear the truth of accusations and counter-accusations. I have, however, made an effort to present the questions from a really impartial and neutral point of view, even though the result may not find approval from the partisans of either side. After all, man as a rational being is most deeply concerned in the rational efforts of mankind to avoid the ills the political body is heir to, and in the end will turn from the din of battle to that preliminary conflict of brains and policies as portrayed in the dispatches of the diplomats.
The importance of the official documents issued by the belligerent Governments has been questioned, and it is well to remember that they are specially prepared for publication, and further, that the diplomats, when reporting to their Governments, do not lose from sight the advantage of having their dispatches in a form suitable for publication at short notice. The most secret and delicate negotiations may occasionally be effected through the intermediary of a special and confidential messenger or by means of the telephone. Nevertheless, the basis and permanent structure of the British diplomacy is doubtless to be found in the papers laid before the Houses of Parliament and in the discussions and explanations given in Parliament. If any doubt as to the value of these public documents has existed, it must have been dispelled by the recent publication of the Austrian Red Book, which confirms in a most remarkable manner almost every important statement of the British White Paper.1
· Some of the official publications relating to negotiations preceding the war give evidence of having been prepared with great haste. No. 141
Documents do not, however, give adequate information of the personal factor which is so important in all matters of diplomacy. The documents are, as it were, the skeleton which needs to be built up with the living flesh of the personal characteristics of the actors; but any attempt to accomplish this successfully must await the results of long and careful investigations. It was only years afterwards, through the publication of letters and memoirs, that the world learned the truth in regard to Bismarck's diplomacy during the formative period of the German Empire.
I shall not attempt in this book to do anything more
of the French Yellow Book speaks of the time limit of the German ultimatum to Belgium as seven hours; the Belgian Gray Paper shows (no. 38) that it was twelve hours. Again, the French Yellow Book (no. 18) speaks of the Russian Ambassador as being about to leave for the country (pour la campagne), whereas he was really leaving for his own country, as is shown by no. 55.
In another case it is interesting to note how the same incident, M. Sazonof's proposal of the conditions for a peaceful settlement between Austria and Russia, is treated in the dispatches of three different countries. According to the French Yellow Book (no. 103), M. Sazonof said to the German Ambassador: “The Emperor Nicholas is so anxious to prevent war that I am going to make a new proposal to you in his name”; the Russian Orange Paper (no. 60) gives M. Sazonof's own statement that the German Ambassador asked him if he could not indicate upon what conditions Russia might yet agree to arrest her military preparations; in the British White Paper (no. 97) the British Ambassador at St. Petersburg reports: “German Ambassador had a second interview with Minister for Foreign Affairs at 2 A.M., when former completely broke down on seeing that war was inevitable. He appealed to M. Sazonof to make some suggestion which he could telegraph to German Government as a last hope. M. Sazonof accordingly drew up and handed to German Ambassador a formula in French of which following is a translation:..." The English account, though fuller, coincides with the Russian, while the French conveys a different impression.
In the course of the narrative of events I have referred to some other instances. No. 5 of the French Yellow Book, which was so severely criticized by Drs. Dernburg and Helfferich (post, p. 155), is not, as the criticism might lead us to think, a document containing material received July 30, 1913, but a statement drawn up at the French Foreign Office summarizing the correspondence received during the preceding two years in regard to opinion in Germany. An examination of the document in question will suffice to make this clear. (See Sun, February 2, 1915.) Another case of error is found in the case of enclosure 3 in no. 105 of the British White Paper (post, p. 285).
than draw attention to the more salient traits of the important personages, as disclosed in the documents themselves; and for the sake of clearness shall bring certain of the statesmen and diplomatists before the reader by their official titles only.
In the analysis of the documents, it has seemed better to bring out each successive link of the chain forged to involve the unhappy powers of Europe in this war. Some repetition has been necessary for the sake of clearness, and at times I have been obliged to sacrifice the chronological order so as to adhere to a logical exposition in the unfolding of the events of the opening scenes in the greatest drama of human history.
I have reduced as much as possible the extracts from the various official papers published by Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Belgium, Austria-Hungary, and Servia. It is my belief that the piecing together of the documentary evidence under logically arranged headings will be of value to all those with an interest in international affairs, since the perusal of the documents themselves to get at the gist of the material requires a considerable expenditure of time on the part of even an experienced diplomatist. Then, too, almost every one of the original documents treats of a number of different matters or negotiations which by their interrelation confuse the reader. No system of paraphrase and excerpt can, however, replace the use of the original documents. To facilitate comparison with the original source, in each case the reference has been placed in parentheses immediately after the extract, so as to save constant and irritating interruption through the use of footnotes. I must warn the reader that citations not referring to direct or "modified" quotations do not necessarily confirm the statements which they follow, as their purpose is rather to direct him to the documents which bear upon the matter under discussion.
In the "modified extracts” from the British White Paper, the German White Book, the Russian Orange Paper, the Belgian Gray Paper, the French Yellow Book, the Austrian Red Book, and the Servian Blue Book, the exact sense has been preserved as nearly as possible, although it has often been necessary to transpose or modify the quotation. When an extract has been so treated or modified, the fact is indicated by the marks (“'),—that is, one quotation mark at the beginning and one at the end, and in addition the source is given in parentheses immediately after, with the words, "modified quotation.” When the words of the documents are quoted verbatim, as in direct quotation, it has been shown by the ordinary quotation marks (" "), even when within a modified quotation. In the case of a quotation within a quotation, the usual system has been followed.
These extracts were made from the original documents, except in the case of the Servian Blue Book. I have made use of the official, authorized English translation of the German White Book except where the English was either too uncouth or else not clear, when I have retranslated the original German. In the same way I have used the various translations of the London Times, the New York Times, the official translation of the Austrian Red Book, and the translations published by the British Government as White Papers, attempting, where I have found the translation faulty, to make corrections or to substitute a better. The admirable enterprise of the New York Times in placing the important official documents before the general public has been of immense educational value to the whole country, and incidentally has rendered it unnecessary to encumber the appendix of this book by adding reprints of these publications."
1 The American Association for International Conciliation has also reprinted many of the most important publications, and has generously distributed them widely and free of cost. The American Journal of International Law prints the official publications in its Supplement, vol. 8, no. 4 (October, 1914); vol. 9, no. 1 (January, 1915). An official translation of the Austrian Red Book has been placed on sale.
Various other documents of general interest, bearing on the causes of the war, have been included in this volume.
I do not attempt to mention all those who have helped in the preparation of this material. I cannot, however, pass over without acknowledgment the assistance I have received from Professors Munroe Smith and John Bassett Moore, of Columbia University, to whom I owe more than one important suggestion, while Professor James T. Shotwell also has given me the benefit of his valued criticism of the subject-matter and the arrangement of the material. Mr. Henry F. Munro has been kind enough to go over the proof, and Miss Isadore G. Mudge, of the Columbia University Library, has greatly facilitated my search for material and examination of sources.
E. C. S. New YORK, May, 1915.