German Comment on Belgian Attitude Toward Scheldt Fortifications, 1911.

There was great uneasiness in Belgium during the last year in view of increased tension between the German Reich, France, and England, but plainly less consideration was given to taking measures for one’s own defense than to opening the doors to Germany’s enemies. Only for those countries would free access to Antwerp on the lower Scheldt be important. Indeed, it was these who saw such access endangered by the Netherlands government's intention to renovate the Vlissingen fortifications. There was an attempt to represent this as an violation of Belgian neutrality, and an appeal was made to the great power guarantors to block the project. There was no mention of the fact that not only had Vlissingen been fortified previously, but that there were even now fortifications on the lower Scheldt, and thus this was only a matter of the Netherlands’ previously unchallenged right to maintain its own neutrality by fortifying the mouths of the Scheldt and replacing obsolescent works with newer and more effective ones. The Belgians very openly claimed that the Scheldt should be kept open in case they were endangered and another belligerent power wanted to help them. Since without any grounds whatsoever they felt is was Germany that was a threat, it is clear in whose interest it would be for them to prevent any blocking of the river.

(Source: v. Löbell’s Jahresberichte über das Heer- und Kriegswesen. XXXVIII. Jahrgang: 1911. Page 339, “Annual military reports for 1911... 3. Developments in land fortifications.... b. Belgium.”)

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Translated by Mark Conrad, 2000.