Primary Source
International | East Europe | Poland
18th/19th C. | Germany | Second Kaiserreich
Protest of the Governments of Great Britain, France and Italy, against the Austro-German Proclamation of Nov. 1916
In a proclamation issued at Warsaw and Lublin on the 6th instant, the German Emperor and the Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, announced that they have agreed to create 'in the Polish districts occupied by their troops' an autonomous State under the form of an hereditary and constitutional monarchy, and there to organize, train, and dispose of an Army which shall be considered as appertaining to the State thus created.
It is an established principle of modern International Law that military occupation resulting from operations of war cannot, in view of its precarious and de facto character, imply a transfer of sovereignty over the territory so occupied, and cannot, therefore, carry with it any right whatsoever to dispose of this territory to the advantage of any other Power whatsoever.
In giving de jure application to their occupation of these territories, the German Emperor and the Emperor of Austria have not only committed an illegal act, but (p.144) have also disregarded one of the fundamental principles on which the constitution and existence of the society of civilized nations are based.
Moreover, in proposing to organize, train, and dispose of an army levied in those 'Polish districts' occupied by their troops, the German Emperor and the Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, have once more violated the engagements which they have undertaken to observe, and by which, in accordance with the most elementary principles of justice and morality, 'A belligerent is forbidden to force the subjects of its opponents to take part in operations of war directed against their own country'. (Article 23 of the Provisions annexed to the 4th Hague Convention of 1907, as ratified by the German Emperor and the Emperor of Austria, King of Hungary, November 29th, 1909).
The Allied Powers, in submitting these fresh violations of law, equity, and justice to the unbiased condemnation of neutral Powers, announce that they will not accept these violations as justification for any future action which the enemy Powers may wish to take in Poland, and they reserve to themselves the right to oppose this action by every means at their disposal.

Foreign Office, Nov.18, 1916

R.B. Mowat, Select Treaties and Documents 1815-1916, Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1916, pp.143-144

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