This short section covers the first days of the First World War in Paris, London, and Brussels. As democracies, French and British faced the risk of entering the war with divided governments and populations. This necessarily had an impact on how they entered the war. Adding to the complications was the status of Britain and France’s relationship as entente powers rather than allies. France counted on British support, but there was no guarantee that Britain would come in on their side. Hence the nickname, “perfidious Albion.”
Then there was Belgium. The only way Germany could guarantee that Britain would fight them was to invade Belgium, which they proceeded to do anyway. Pay attention to the decision making process in Belgium in the face of certain invasion and conquest. I have always been an admirer of King Albert I, a far cry from his infamous predecessor Leopold II.
Why was it vital for France that Britain come into the war as an ally?
What potential political divisions existed in the French government on the eve of war?
What differences arose between France’s military and civilian leadership about the process of mobilization? Why were French troops pulled away from the border with Germany?
What were the major political divisions in the British Cabinet? What was Sir Edward Grey and Winston Churchill’s foreign policy stance?
Why was it significant that Britain only had an entente with France, not an alliance?
What were Churchill’s actions on the eve of war?
What effect did Belgium’s neutrality have upon its planning and preparedness for invasion?
What divisions concerning defensive strategies existed between the Belgian military and King Albert?
Assess King Albert of the Belgians as a political and military leader? How well did he do in facing the prospect of German invasion?
What impact would Belgian resistance have on German strategy?