A “German Paperchase”: The “Scrap of Paper” controversy and the problem of myth and memory in international history

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The dismissal, in 1914, of the Belgian neutrality treaty as a “scrap of paper” by the German chancellor has become one of the enduring images of the First World War. Widely used by Allied propaganda during the war, the remark contains certain elements of “myth.” Utilising hitherto untapped archival material, this article examines the final interview between the German chancellor and the British ambassador on 4 August 1914 through the prism of contemporary sources and the later ‘“scrap of paper’ controversy” in the mid-1920s. Beyond the reconstruction of actual events, the article contends that the controversy has epistemological significance for diplomatic historians.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-87
Number of pages35
JournalDiplomacy and Statecraft
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2007

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