2/8/1914 Germany demands right of passage through Belgium

Belgium sees the winds of war blowing in its direction. Luxembourg has been invaded and reports have come from its consul in Cologne of packed troop trains moving out continuously, not south towards France but west to the Belgian border. As a precaution, Belgium has mobilised its army and readied the fortifications at the border town of Liège.

At 8.00 pm the Below-Selaske, Germany’s ambassador, arrives at the foreign ministry with an ultimatum. Germany proposes to send its troops into Belgium tomorrow to secure it from the French. The note promises to respect Belgium’s sovereignty but the Germans will use force against any resistance to their invasion. The Belgians have until 8.00 am tomorrow to say whether they will accept Germany’s occupation.

King Albert presides over a cabinet meeting and a meeting of the army chiefs. Despite the juggernaut coming their way, they agree to reject the German ultimatum and fight for their nation’s survival.

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