Courtesy Reuters

Holland and Belgium in the German War Plan

GENERALOBERST HELMUTH VON MOLTKE: ERINNERUNGEN, BRIEFE, DOKUMENTE. EDITED BY COUNTESS VON MOLTKE. Stuttgart: Der Kommende Tag, 1922.

OVER ROERMUND. BY CAPTAIN VAN VOORST TOT VOORST. The Hague: de Swart & Zoon, 1923.

DEFENSE DE LIEGE, NAMUR ET ANVERS EN 1914. BY COLONEL ROBERT NORMAND. Paris: L. Fournier, 1923.

DU HAUT DE LA TOUR DE BABEL. BY LT. GENERAL DE SELLIERS DE MORANVILLE. Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1925.

COUNT VON WALDERSEE, who became Chief of the German General Staff in 1888, records that in the course of that year he was asked by Bismarck,

"whether it would be desirable for us to march through Belgium, committing thereby a breach of neutrality. I explained that my advice would be against doing this, whereas it seemed very much to be desired that France should operate through Belgium. The best thing for us, I maintained, would be that we were at war with France and Russia simultaneously. With Austria and Italy as allies the chances would be very good for us, whereas in a war with France alone Russia might be in a position to dictate to us the terms of peace."

Bismarck's reply to this politico-military speculation is not recorded, but Waldersee at least had good grounds for his confidence in regard to Belgium. His predecessor, the elder Moltke, had examined this hypothesis of a French advance through northern Belgium, and found in it no cause for concern. Such a move would bring up short in any case against the lower Rhine, and he arranged a maneuver to meet it -- taking it in the flank by a counter-attack northward through Luxemburg. Reassured in this quarter, Moltke had reversed his earlier war plan, and arranged in case of war against France and Russia together to take the offensive against the latter. In the course of this same conversation with Bismarck the prospects of this plan were touched on, and Waldersee notes: "We agreed that in the event of war we must take the offensive into Poland, but not beyond Poland."

Even this limited

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