HANDOUT – WEEK 3
Appeal to the civilised nations Declaration signed by 93 German academics and intellectuals, 4 October 1914
In our quality as representatives of German science and art, we the undersigned solemnly protest before the civilised world against the lies and calumny with which our enemies attempt to dirty the just and good German cause in the terrible struggle which has been forced upon us, and which threatens nothing less than our existence. The course of events has refuted this untrue propaganda, which proclaimed nothing but German defeats, as a result of which the effort to undo the truth and to make us odious has been stepped up. It is against these machinations which we protest with a loud voice: and that voice is the voice of truth.
1) It is not true that Germany provoked this war. Neither the people, nor the government, nor the Emperor wanted it. Germany struggled to keep the peace until the last moment, until the very limit of the possible. The whole world can judge on the basis of the proof provided by authentic documents. Many times in his twenty-six year reign has William II safeguarded peace – a fact admitted many times even by our enemies. They forget that this Emperor – whom they dare compare to Attila, was for many years the object of their satire because of his steadfast love of peace. Only when first threatened and then ambushed by three large powers did our people rise as one man.
2) It is not true that we criminally violated Belgium’s neutrality. We have irrefutable proof that France and England, sure of Belgium’s complicity, were resolved to violate that neutrality. For our Fatherland it would have been suicide not to act first.
3) It is not true that our soldiers have threatened the life of a single Belgian citizen without having been forced by the hard necessities of self-defence. This is because, despite our warnings, the population did not cease to shoot treacherously at our troops, mutilated our wounded and slit the throats of our doctors as they carried out their merciful task. No greater infamy can be committed than to remain silent before the atrocities of those murderers and to call the just punishment imposed by the Germans a crime.
4) It is not true that our troops brutally destroyed Louvain. Perfidiously set upon in their quarters by an enraged population, they were forced, against their wishes, to counter-attack, and to bombard part of the town. The greater part of Louvain was kept intact. The famous town hall was entirely preserved: our soldiers protected it from the flames, putting their own life at...