4/8/1914 Germany rejects Britain’s ultimatum

The British cabinet meets again and agrees to send an ultimatum to Germany, demanding its withdrawal from Belgium. The ultimatum is to expire at midnight (German time). If rejected, the British ambassador is to leave Berlin immediately.

Goschen presents the ultimatum to Jagow at 7.00 pm. Germany’s foreign minister says that it cannot be accepted but asks the British ambassador to present it to Bethmann Hollweg personally.

The ultimatum seems to trigger some kind of breakdown in Bethmann Hollweg. He is shocked that Britain could go to war with a country that always desired its friendship, dismissing the treaty guaranteeing Belgian independence as a scrap of paper. But there is no question of him acceding to the ultimatum.

At midnight German time, 11.00 pm British time, the ultimatum expires. Germany and Britain are now at war.

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