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Neutral Rights and Obligations in the Anglo-Boer War eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 146 pages of information about Neutral Rights and Obligations in the Anglo-Boer War.

CHAPTER II.

THE NEUTRALITY OF EUROPEAN POWERS.

The attitude of the European powers was generally observant of the requirements of neutrality in so far as governmental action could be proved.  The frequent charges which Great Britain made that the Transvaal was recruiting forces in Europe were not proved against the States from which the recruits came.  The numbers in the parties which perhaps actually joined the Boer forces were not large, and no formidable fitting out of an expedition or wholesale assistance was proved against any European government.

Germany, the power most nearly in touch with the Transvaal in South Africa with the exception of Portugal, early declared the governmental attitude toward the struggle.  The German consul-general at Cape Town on October 19, 1899, issued a proclamation enjoining all German subjects to hold aloof from participation in the hostilities which Great Britain at that time had not recognized as belligerent in character.  If insurgency be recognized as a distinct status falling short of belligerency, this was perhaps such a recognition, but it was in no sense an unfriendly act toward Great Britain.  It was merely a warning to German subjects as to the manner in which they should conduct themselves under the circumstances.  It did not recognize the Boers as belligerents in the international sense, but it warned German subjects that a condition of affairs existed which called for vigilance on their part in their conduct toward, the contestants.  Later, when the British Government announced that the war would be recognized retroactively as entitled to full belligerent status, Germany declared the governmental attitude to be that of strict neutrality in the contest.  An attempt of the Boers to recruit in Damaraland was promptly stopped by the German officers in control, who were ordered to allow neither men nor horses to cross the border for the purposes of the war.  All German steamship lines which held subventions from the Government were warned that if they were found carrying contraband they would thereby forfeit their privileges.  Stringent orders were also given by the different German ship companies to their agents in no case to ship contraband for the belligerents.  The attitude assumed by the German Government was not entirely in accord with the popular feeling in Germany.  On October 5 a mass-meeting at Goettingen, before proceeding to the business for which the conference was called, proposed a resolution of sympathy for the Boers:  “Not because the Boers are entirely in the right, but because we Germans must take sides against the English."[1] But despite popular sentiment, the position which had been taken by the Government seems to have been consistently maintained.

[Footnote 1:  London Times, Weekly Ed., Oct. 5, 1899, p. 626, col. 2.]

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