Story This Week: "A Mighty Fate Descends Over Europe" - Ettlingen Reports On The Declaration Of War By England

Ettlingen's state newspaper, the Badischer Landsmann, reports on the declaration of war on Germany by England on August 4, 1914.

The War.
England Declares War.

Berlin, August 4, 1914: Shortly after 7 o'clock, the English ambassador appeared in the Foreign Office to present the declaration of war and to demand the pass papers.

[England declares war on Germany in retaliation for Germany's violation of neutral Belgian territory].

Regarding Mobilization.

Berlin, August 4. An official announcement states that the mobilization of our army and our fleet has proceeded excellently up to this point. The conscription of the drafted men, their transportation to the assigned positions, in short, everything has functioned very smoothly. The people's trust in our military organization is completely justified. The mood among the drafted men must be particularly praised. Full of enthusiasm and commitment, but also infused by the gravity of the hour, all followed the order to report for service. The German people may be confident that future military measures will also be executed with the same order and systematic planning. It has also been reported that we are absolutely innundated with spies and persons from abroad intending to perform criminal attacks. Numerous attempts have already been made to explode important engineering structures, railway bridges, tunnels and similar, to disrupt the march of our troops. All such attempts will be strictly punished by death in the prevailing circumstances. However, all attempts to date by French and Russian agents in this regard have been unsuccessful. The perpetrators were all executed immediately. The people are requested to do everything in their power to ensure that such criminal attacks will continue to be rendered ineffective. For we are surrounded by spies. Even the most insignificant incident could be of importance. Whoever fulfills their duty in this regard will be performing a service for the Kaiser and the Empire.

The Session.

Berlin, August 4.
Today’s session of the Reichstag was opened by the President Dr. Kämpf at a quarter to 4, and the House and the galleries were extremely heavily attended. The Reichskanzler appeared with the Secretaries of State and Ministers. The present Presidium was reelected to loud applause.
President Dr. Kämpf reported that the Kaiser has consented to receive the Presidium this evening and to accept the announcement of the constitution of the House. (Bravo!) He hopes to be able to inform the Kaiser that drafts received have met with approval.

Reichskanzler von Bethmann Hollweg

rose to speak. A breathless silence prevailed throughout the room. A mighty fate – thus began the Kanzler – has befallen Europe. Russia has lit the tinder of the fire in the house. The Kanzler then outlined the immensely dramatic development of the last few days, in particular of Russia’s conduct and the violation of the border by France. We find ourselves, continued the Kanzler, in a position of self-defense. And necessity knows no laws. Our troops have occupied Luxembourg and possibly entered Belgian territory. This contravenes international law. But a French invasion in our flanks at the Lower Rhine could have been disastrous. We will, however, right this wrong once we have achieved our goal. We have issued a declaration to the English government that, as long as England remains neutral, our fleet will not attack the North coast of France, and that we will not infringe the territorial integrity of Belgium. I repeat this declaration publicly for the whole world.

[Apparently, Bethmann Hollweg does not consider the neutrality of Belgium to have been violated at this point, or at least only violated to the extent that it was necessary as an action of self-defense against the French attack without declaration of war (see below). Bethmann Hollweg's speech takes place during the late afternoon/early evening of August 4. At 7 o'clock in the evening, as reported above, the English ambassador arrives at the Foreign Office to present the English declaration of war, which is in retaliation for Germany's violation of neutral Belgian territory].

August 3: Ettlingen's newspaper the Mittelbadischer Courier reports on the state of war with France.

War In The East And In The West.

State of War with France
Berlin, August 3 (official report). Up to now, German troops have not trespassed over the French border, in compliance with the commands issued. In contrast, French troops have been attacking our border posts since yesterday without any declaration of war. They have trespassed over the German border at various points, although the French government assured us a few days ago that an unoccupied zone of 10 kilometers would be observed. Since last night, French companies have occupied the German towns of Doppeltal, Wetzeral and Markirch as well as the Schluchten Pass. Since yesterday, bomber planes have been flying over Baden, Bavaria, and, violating Belgian neutrality, over Belgian territory to the Rhein Province and are attempting to destroy our railways. France has thus opened the attack against us and compounded a state of war. The security of the Empire forces us to take countermeasures. His Majesty the Kaiser has issued the necessary commands. The German ambassador in Paris has been instructed to demand his pass papers.

Metz, August 3
A French doctor yesterday attempted, with the assistance of two disguised French officers, to infect wells with cholera germs. He was court-martialled and shot.

[Once again reports are received of French troops attacking without declaration of war. According to the official report from Berlin, French bomber planes have in fact been violating the neutrality of Belgian territory one day earlier than the reported violation by Germany].

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