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Lusitania Sinking - FATAL RUMORS

FATAL RUMORS (Illustration) Famous Historical Events World History Disasters World War I

To send its troops to France, Germany violates Belgium's neutrality.  In the process, many Belgian refugees flee their country. This image depicts Belgian refugees arriving in nearby Holland (The Netherlands). Image online via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Belgium was neutral. The Kaiser says her "neutrality had to be violated by Germany on strategical grounds."

What strategic reasons did Germany have to send soldiers, like Peter Kollwitz, into a country which didn't want to take sides in a war?

A potential war with France was a significant reason, according to the German ruler himself (in his personally penned letter to President Wilson):

...news having been received that France was already preparing to enter Belgium, and the King of Belgians having refused my petition for a free passage under guarantee of his country’s freedom...

Germany's troops rolled through Belgium, without permission, on their way to fight against France because France was "preparing to enter Belgium" to fight against Germany. Or...so the Kaiser said.

But ... did he know for certain French troops were "preparing to enter Belgium," on their way to Germany ... or ... was the "news," which he referenced, just a rumor (convenient or otherwise)?

To answer that question, let's examine all the words which Wilhelm II personally selected as he wrote his letter to the American president.

When text is printed, crossed-out words (from the original manuscript) are not included. Sometimes those deleted words tell us more than the words which remain. When the Kaiser wrote to President Wilson, he initially said:

...knowledge having been received that France was already preparing to enter Belgium...

"Knowledge" is a fact one knows with certainty. (The Kaiser deleted that word from his letter.)

"News" may, or may not, be fact. (The Kaiser used that word, instead of "knowledge," in his letter.)

So ... German troops were sent into Belgium based on news, not on knowledge. And ... as it happened ... the news was wrong. Wars, and rumors of wars, once again pushed people toward a seemingly unstoppable, man-made disaster.

King Albert and his Belgian troops tried to resist the German invasion. Their efforts did little good. Thousands of neutral Belgians, with little choice but to flee their country, became refugees.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5124stories and lessons created

Original Release: Apr 01, 2004

Updated Last Revision: Jan 09, 2016


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"FATAL RUMORS" AwesomeStories.com. Apr 01, 2004. Oct 22, 2017.
       <https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/132926>.
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