Sadly for the Belgians, their declared neutrality was ignored by the Germans. By August 2, 1914, the Germans had given Belgium an ultimatum. They asserted that the Belgians must allow German troops to pass through their territory unopposed. This would allow Germany to access its bitter rival, France.
The Germans’ approach to the war was simple. First, they must defeat the French. With this in mind, they planned to take Paris within four weeks. To do this they needed to cross Belgium, sandwiched between Germany and France. Having vanquished the French, they could then turn their attention to the Russians.
After the German ultimatum had been issued to Belgium at the beginning of August, events moved quickly. Unsurprisingly, Belgium refused to give the Germans permission to tramp through their country to attack France. And so, because of this defiance, the Germans invaded Belgium the very next day.