File No. 763.72119/1796

The Minister in the Netherlands ( Garrett ) to the Secretary of State


3436. … Wolff’s Bureau states Hertling spoke as follows concerning Belgium in second speech:2

With regard to future of Belgium, the occupation and present possession of Belgium means merely, as I said yesterday, that we have pledge for future negotiations. The word pledge implies something held in the hand but not intended to be kept when negotiations lead to favorable result. We have no intention of keeping Belgium in one form or another. We wish, as I said June 24 [February 25],3 that Belgium rise anew as independent state; after war shall not be vassal of any power and shall live in good friendly relations with us. This is standpoint regarding Belgian question which I assumed from very beginning and still take today. Gentlemen, this side of my policy is in full agreement with general principles I set forth to you yesterday. We are conducting war as war of defence and for this reason and because we have been far removed from any imperialistic tendencies or any tendencies aiming at world dominion from very beginning, our peace aims must also be in agreement therewith. What we want is integrity of our territory, free air for development of our people, especially in economic field, and [Page 287] of course, guarantees as well for difficult conditions of the future. This is quite consistent with standpoint I take regarding Belgium; it will depend on future negotiations, however, how this standpoint can be applied in detail. I cannot make any binding statement thereon now. I must rest content with again laying down with emphasis this general guiding principle …

  1. Before the Main Committee of the Reichstag, July 12.
  2. See telegram No. 2066, Feb. 25, from the Minister in the Netherlands, ante, p. 135.