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August 4 1914 - England Declares War on Germany
NewYorkTImes ^ | August 4, 1914

Posted on 08/04/2002 11:10:30 AM PDT by swarthyguy

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On This Day

This event took place on August 4, 1914, and was reported in the The New York Times the following day.

Read the full text of The Times article or other headlines from the day.


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England Declares War on Germany

British Ship Sunk
French Ships Defeat German, Belgium Attacked
17,000,000 Men Engaged in Great War of Eight Nations
Great English and German Navies About to Grapple
Rival Warships Off This Port as Lusitania Sails
State of War Exists, Says Britain, as Kaiser Rejects Ultimatum
King George Issues Call to Arms and Thanks the Colonies for Their Support
British Foreign Office Makes Final Announcement One Hour Before Time Limit
VOTE $525,000,000 Fund
England Takes All Foreign Warships Building in Her Ports -- Two From Turkey
To Smash the Kiel Canal Probably English Fleet's First Attempt Against Germany

Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES
Special to The New York Times

Kaiser Hurls Two Armies Into Belgium After Declaring War: Liege Attack Repulsed: German Guns Are Reported to be Bombarding Both That City and Namur: Belgians Rush to Arms: Parliament Acclaims King's Appeal and Votes $40,000,000 for National Defense: French Border Clashes: Stronger German Forces Crossing the Border Near Marsla-Tour and Moineville: Russians Attack Memel: Seacoast Town of Germany Defeats Attempts of Enemy to Capture It

Over 17,000,000 Fighting Men of Eight Nations Now Engaged in the Colossal European War

Cunarder Slips Out; Will Pick Up British Cruisers as Escorts:

German Warships Near: Liner to Head for Newfoundland, Where Other English Ships Will Meet Her: French Cruisers Outside: Wireless Code Messages From Telefunken Station at Sayville Aid German Cruisers: To Be Sent to Washington: The Dresden Reported Off Cape Cod in an Attempt to Cut French Cable: Our Destroyers Put Out: Liner Olympic Sails in Under Convoy of Cruiser Essex -- German Warships Outclassed

German Fleet Sinks a British Mine Layer: Scoutship Pathfinder Is Chased by the Kaiser's Warships But Makes Its Escape

Two German Warships Taken, Another Sunk: French Fleet in the Mediterranean Reported to Have Won a Victory

Conspiracy Scare on the Vaterland: Talk of Plot to Blow Her Up Brings Launches With Searchlights, and 50 Policemen

British Declaration of War With Germany, Following Rejection of Her Demand

England Calls All Unmarried Men From 18 to 30 to Serve King and Country in This Hour of Need

London, Wednesday, Aug. 5-- War is on between England and Germany. An ultimatum to the German Government that the neutrality of Belgium must be respected was rejected by the Kaiser's Government and the British Foreign Office announced last night that a state of war existed.

The time limit for Germany's reply was set at midnight, but the Foreign Office announced that as Germany had given his passports to the British envoy at an earlier hour, the state of war existed from 11 o'clock.

King George has issued his proclamation mobilizing the army and has sent a message to the colonies thanking them for their hearty support in the hour of national emergency.

The Government has assumed control of all the railways and the Admirality has taken over all the foreign warships now building in English ports. The House of Commons has voted a fund of $525,000,000 for the emergency.

England Cool in Great Crisis

England is facing this, the greatest crisis in her history, with calmness and courage. Sir Edward Grey's exposition has made it clear that the war is none of her seeking, and that she goes into it because her honor and her self-preservation alike compel her to do so. There is neither any sign of panic nor flame of war fever. All parties and all classes present a united front. The few exceptions are not worthy of mention. The protests that the Labor members of Parliament and a few Liberals have made in the House of Commons do not represent the prevalent feeling either in the ranks of labor or among the avowed pacifists. The peace-at-any price advocates are submerged beneath the huge majority who would have welcomed peace with honor but prefer war to dishonor.

Liberal newspapers like The Westminster Gazette, The Daily Chronicle, and even The Daily News accept the situation as inevitable.

"Here we stand, and we can do no other. The Germans will recognize that famous phrase," says The Westminster Gazette, "and understand that it expresses the feelings of the vast majority of the British people."

The demeanor of the crowds last evening and this morning began to betray growing excitement . A procession of a thousand young men marched along by Whitehall and up the Strand, cheering. It was headed by a squad carrying the Union Jack of England and the tricolor of France. As it passed Trafalgar Square there was some booing, but the cheering outweighed it. Fleet Street last evening was jammed by crowds watching the bulletins. Occasionally they sang "The Marseillaise" and "God Save the King."

Soon after the announcement of Germany's declaration of war against Belgium was displayed on the bulletin board- the crowds, evidently believing no greater news was likely to come, quietly dispersed, and by 11 o'clock Fleet Street was as quiet as usual.

Would Smash Kiel Canal

Premier Asquith's statement in the House of Commons yesterday that the German Government had been asked to give satisfactory assurances on the question of Belgium's neutrality by midnight was generally regarded as meaning that England was prepared to strike at once if the reply was unfavorable.

The German fleet is concentrated for the defense of the Kiel Canal. Its destruction will be the first object of the British fleet. Germany's compliance with the British ultimatum was not expected. Germany, according to a statement emanating from her London embassy, would have consented to refrain from using Belgian ports and would have confined her violation of neutrality to the inland districts if Great Britain would agree to hold aloof. It is obvious that a compact on such lines would have been useless to Great Britain. Belgian neutrality is strategically important in two ways -- by sea to Great Britain and Germany and by land to Germany and France. If England abandoned it in its land aspect, nobody, not even the Belgians, would have been willing to defend it when it was threatened in its sea aspect.

It seemed unlikely from the start that Germany would desist, because it was a matter affecting the military plans of her General Staff. The whole German theory of war is to make plans years ahead and have everything down to the last railway siding ready for their execution, and to carry them out without deviation. It is probable that the present plan was made as long ago as when Anglo-German hostility was an axiom, and there was no question in German minds of so shaping their strategy as to keep Great Britain neutral.

German Ships in Peril

As was anticipated, Germany's first naval effort was to deal a heavy blow to the Russians in the Baltic, but as yet there is insufficient evidence that it succeeded or that the Russian fleet was rendered powerless. Germany's most urgent need, according to experts, is to assemble all her available naval forces on the west, principally in the North Sea, but, these experts say, the Germans are not likely to seek battle, hoping the strength of their adversaries may be reduced by the action of mines and torpedoes.

Two German cruisers seem to be in peril. The battle cruiser Goeben, on the way from the Mediterranean, is reported to have passed Gibraltar, steaming westward. She will not venture through the English Channel, and must travel homeward via the west coast of Ireland and north of Scotland. An attempt certainly will be made to intercept her, and the need of carrying assistance to her may bring about a fleet action. The German cruiser Brealau is reported to have shelled Bona before proceeding westward toward Gibraltar. Her position seems perilous in the extreme.

Control of Railway Lines

The Governmet took over the railways to complete the co-ordination of the railway facilities, in view of the military and naval requirements and the needs of the civil communities. The staff of each railway remains as before. Supreme control is vested in a committee composed of the General Managers of the chief railways.

The Acting Chairman is H. A. Walker, manager of the London & Southwestern, who is well known among American railway men. The committee was formed some days ago. The Great Eastern is not represented, possibly because its General Manager, H.W. Thornton, is an American.

News Flashed to Navy

When the announcement of the state of war was made by the Foreign Office, and the quietness of the Summer night was suddenly broken by the raucus cries of the news venders, the streets were practically empty. The ordinary troops of theatregoers were conspicuous for their absence. Midnight was considered the fateful hour when orders would be flashed by wireless to the British Navy to begin operations.

Reports which had spread during the evening that German warships had sunk a British mine finder and chased the destroyer Pathfinder, were taken as another instance of Germany's method of taking an unfair advantage and acting before war actually was declared.

Sir John Jellicoe, who has been long regarded as predestined to head the fleet in case of war, has taken supreme command, with Rear Admiral Madden as Chief of Staff. Sir John Jellicoe, who is familiarly known as "J. J.," is a typical, keen-faced officer, distinguished for his personal courage as well as for scientific gunnery. He has the German decoration of the Red Eagle. Lord Kitchener is taking the Administrative part of the work of the War Office, where Lord Haldane is assisting Mr. Asquith.

The only panicky note which struck the English press hard came from The Evening News, which came out in a poster headed "Treachery" and stating that Lord Haldane's German sympathies made his apointment to the War Office a matter of suspicion to France. The New York Times correspondent saw Lord Haldane at Whitehall yesterday afternoon walking toward Westminster. When accosted he said there was nothing he could say.

Lord Haldane did yeoman service when at the War Office, and a Liberal paper says the worst news Germany could receive is that he has returned to the department.

England's war with Germany is likely to be purely a naval conflict for the time being. Germany will keep her fleet sheltered at Wilhemshaven and trust to her submarines and torpedo boats to reduce the strength of the British investing fleet. The reported sinking of a mine-layer probably is due to this. The feature of the Anglo-German war will be the strewing of the North Sea with floating mines.

Asquith's Impressive Speech

The first chapter of the critical events of the day was unfolded when Premier Asquith read his statement in the House of Commons. The Premier read in a firm and measured voice, and his hand shook as he held the typewritten copy. His words were listened to in a silence that was almost uncanny, so tense and overwrought was the crowded House.

After he had read the telegrams exchanged between London and Berlin and London and Brussels, Mr. Asquith's announcement of the ultimatum to Germany demanding an answer by midnight was greeted with prolonged applause. There was a strange note of solemnity in the deep cheers that rolled up from all sides like thunder waves beating on a rockbound shore. Plainly enough the telegrams had eaten deep into the feelings of the audiences, revealing Germany's disregard of the law of nations in browbeating Belgium.

Until yesterday afternoon a strong minority of the Liberal Party was in favor of British neutrality. Sir Edward Grey's speech reduced the minority to small proportions. Today's events almost extinguished it.

Even the Labor members, despite their sworn devotion to neutrality, were unfavorably impressed by this sample of German methods. A Scotch Radical member, who hates war, said: "Germany leaves us no alternative but to fight. We are standing for public law; she is trampling upon it.

"It is another struggle in the incessant conflict between right and force, wherein the rival champions in the last generation were Gladstone and Bismarck. Mr. Gladstone, who was a most peaceful statesman, said he would spend every shilling of the British exchequer and employ every soldier in the British Army in the defense of the independence of Belgium."

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TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: greatwar; historylist

1 posted on 08/04/2002 11:10:30 AM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: belmont_mark; xJones; Tropoljac; ianync; PsyOp; aristeides
2 posted on 08/04/2002 11:11:54 AM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: swarthyguy
Defeat the Huns bump...
3 posted on 08/04/2002 11:14:07 AM PDT by StoneColdGOP
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To: swarthyguy
thanks for the post. i fell asleep in high school history class...
4 posted on 08/04/2002 11:15:16 AM PDT by mlocher
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To: mlocher
Hyper evolution...darwin-marx triggered off this monstrosity---the next one too!
5 posted on 08/04/2002 11:44:33 AM PDT by f.Christian
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To: swarthyguy; *History_list
Index Bump
6 posted on 08/04/2002 12:03:57 PM PDT by Free the USA
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To: f.Christian

i guess i slept through science class too!

7 posted on 08/04/2002 12:10:39 PM PDT by mlocher
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To: mlocher
"The 18th and 19th centuries witnessed the rise of positive(evo-commie/nazi) sciences, and with this an intensification in skepticism about God and the claims of traditional religion, especially among the educated classes. This inclination became most marked after the publication of The Origin of the Species and The Descent of Man by the naturalist Charles Darwin. Darwin ascribed man's immediate ancestry to the anthropoids, supposedly through a process of gradual evolution. Man was no longer a creature made in the image of God, but merely a natural extension of certain lower forms of life, a refined gorilla, as it were. It was these circumstances, and this intellectual milieu, that led philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to declare that "God is dead" and to predict the rise of new and terrible manisfestations of barbarism in the century that was to come. As he put it, "For ... we shall have upheavals, a convulsion of earthquakes, a moving of mountains and valleys, the like of which have never yet been dreamed of ... there will be wars the like of which have never yet been seen on earth." The non-believer Nietzsche would agree wholly with the Christian believer Dostoyevsky about one thing: Without faith in God, all horrors, all of man's worst nightmares, would become possible. And so they did. What men... believe---really matters."
8 posted on 08/04/2002 12:19:16 PM PDT by f.Christian
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To: swarthyguy
A "Has it been 88 years Already?" BUMP!!! Wow.. Thanks
9 posted on 08/04/2002 12:26:29 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
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To: swarthyguy
Talk about your fascinating blunders; the Goeben and Breslau not only never even got near the Straits of Gibraltar, but actually headed EAST where both of them were "given" to Turkey (but retaining German crews). This led to Turkey joining the Germans in the war (Prior to that, two dreadnoughts being built for Turkey in Britain were basically just taken for the Royal Navy, which also contributed to Turkey joining the Central Powers.)
10 posted on 08/04/2002 1:04:29 PM PDT by John H K
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To: swarthyguy
Statement attributed to Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scout movement. They ring the bells now. Soon they will ring their hands . He was referring to the great British public and the wild scenes of joy in August 1914.

The conscription act of 1916 was passed because of a marked reluctance of the would be 'eroes to enlist. This followed horror stories of the trenches, the carnage, the lice, the horror,by those that had enlisted with gusto previously.

In answer to the new conscription act there were Applications for deferrals,numbering 1,600,000. .

My two grandfathers served, one with much less distinction than the other. My paternal grandfather did three and a half years as a prisoner of the Germans. He could not get a decent job on his return to England and died just a week, before he could collect his old age pension. "Oh what a wonderful war".

11 posted on 08/04/2002 1:43:46 PM PDT by Peter Libra
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To: swarthyguy
Looking this over- how impolite of me. Just would like to say that to tell the truth, I, of all people would have passed this day by. Your posting was most timely- thanks and---- cheers anyway.
12 posted on 08/04/2002 2:00:34 PM PDT by Peter Libra
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To: swarthyguy

WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! Wait a second! Why didn't Britain consult the US before it declared war?

13 posted on 08/04/2002 4:02:43 PM PDT by Bommer
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To: f.Christian
thanks. i think i am glad that i slept through science class.

during the 1800s period, too, the socialist movement in europe laid the foundation of antisemitism that ultimately led to the holocaust (i was awake for ww-II history). the socialists picked on the rothschilds, perhaps the richest family to walk the face of the earth, and tied anti-semitism with wealth hatred. while the socialists wealth hatred message never caught on with a majority, their anti-semitic remarks did. by 1870 most major newspapers were picking on the wealthy jews, and personified great wealth in the name of the rothschilds. ultimately, hitler used this message to the ultimate and a desensitized europe had a hard time initially believing that hitler was really doing something all that bad.

sounds like the 1800s in europe were not 'the good old days'

14 posted on 08/04/2002 5:32:28 PM PDT by mlocher
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To: Peter Libra; a_Turk
>My paternal grandfather did three and a half years as a prisoner of the Germans

Same of mine spent WW1 serving with the Royal Imperial Indian Army in Northern Iraq in campaigns against the Ottomans.
15 posted on 08/04/2002 9:31:07 PM PDT by swarthyguy
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To: swarthyguy
Our joining the Germans was a big mistake. The arrogant leaders of the Young Turk movement (Enver, Talat, Cemal) were duped. I am going to lay a black wreath on the grave of Hans Freiherr von Wangenheim (1859-1915) one day.
16 posted on 08/05/2002 10:44:33 AM PDT by a_Turk
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