File No. 763.72/130
The Ambassador in Great Britain (Page) to the Secretary of State
London, August 4, 1914, 10 p.m.
[Received August 5, 1:15 a.m.]
265. Sir Edward Grey has just informed me that his Government has this afternoon sent an ultimatum to the German Government expiring at midnight to-night. The ultimatum is that Germany must withdraw her demands made of Belgium and respect the treaty insuring the integrity of Belgium. (The hour of the expiration of the ultimatum was given in strict confidence to me.)
Sir Edward explained at length the designs of Germany. If Belgium were acquired, then of course Holland would be, then Denmark. The Swedish Minister had informed him to-day that Germany had made overtures to his country to join the German side. The Germans had made proposals to England to secure English neutrality which England regarded impossible. Sir Edward said: “All governments must rest on mutual agreements and the sacredness of treaties is all that separates us from unorganized society. England’s position becomes impossible if we accede to the violation of the treaty insuring Belgium’s neutrality.”
During his long explanation made in the most impressive way tears came into his eyes as he declared that he was heart-broken to think that what he had so long and earnestly striven for had now failed. “It gives one the feeling of a life [of] wasted effort.”
He asked me to convey this information to the President and he hoped that he might ask the attitude and courtesies of neutrality on our part. He accepted with thanks your offer to take over British interests in Berlin and Vienna when the time comes.