File No. 763.72/252
The Minister in Belgium (Whitlock) to the Secretary of State
Brussels, August 9, 1914, 1 a.m.
[Received 5 a.m.]
I have received a telegram apparently from my colleague at The Hague in French and German without cipher code or other evidence of authenticity saying that German Minister there had asked him to send to me for communication to Belgian Government the text of a proposal of German Government in which that power after promising [praising?] Belgian military spirit and conduct offers in order to prevent further effusion of blood to agree to any condition which would allow Germany to hold Liége as a base of operations provided that Belgium will detach herself from France and cease to oppose Germany’s further operations against that nation. The proposal solemnly assures Belgium that if she complies Germany will bind herself to respect integrity of Belgian territory. It is in effect a repetition of the ultimatum that Belgium rejected. The telegram says that our Ambassador at Berlin approved the suggestion that I present the proposal.
The proposal was so remarkable that I have telegraphed my colleague at The Hague asking whether the telegram is authentic, stating my disinclination to present proposal which in its present form is open to repudiation.
While not prepared to assume the grave responsibility of presenting so important a proposal without Department’s authority or proof of authenticity, I have ventured in a purely personal and confidential way to allow the Minister for Foreign Affairs and his immediate advisers to read original copy of the telegram as received by me and from their remarks I am convinced that the formal communication of this proposal would be deeply resented by the Belgian Government.
I cannot too strongly impress upon the Department my profound conviction that the formal communication of the proposal would deeply offend national susceptibilities in this tense hour. While preserving of course the strictest neutrality and holding ourselves ever ready to render all possible service in the rôle which we shall be called upon ultimately to assume in arranging a peace, I am persuaded that our prestige [and] power for good in Belgium would be seriously impaired by any semblance of identification with so cynical a proposal.[Page 52]
It will be observed that this is not in any sense a proposal on which an honorable mediation could be undertaken. It is not a proposal for peace but of new alliances for war.