23 MARCH 1918, Page 2

Herr von Bethmann Hollweg, the ex-Chancellor, has attempted to justify

himself for instructing the German Ambassador in Paris, on July 31st, 1914, to demand the occupation of Toul and Verdun in the event of France agreeing to remain neutral in a Russo-German war. He says that he did not expect French neutrality, but that he was bound to ask for guarantees if France made a provisional promise to desert her old Russian ally. " We had no intention," he says, " of assailing France's honour, let alone an attack on France." The German ex-Chancellor, unhappily, does not know what honour is. The plain meaning of his instruction was that if France were dishonourable enough to break her treaty with Russia, she was to surrender the rest of Lorraine or be forced into war. Germany knew, of course, that France would never yield Toul and Verdun voluntarily, so that the instruction was really intended to force war upon France in any event. It thus affords one more proof that Germany deliberately provoked this war at a given moment. That is the charge which the ex-Chancellor cannot answer.