Germany, Friday, 17th July
18 July Zimmermann summarises how matters stand. The note might bring on war between Austria-Hungary and Russia which will pull in Germany. It would have been better if Vienna had acted immediately.
The conflict might be localised but complications are inevitable if Austria-Hungary takes territory for herself. He assumes Britain and France will moderate Russian reaction as neither country could want war in the present circumstances.
18 July Jagow responds to warnings from Lichnowsky. In a private letter he argues Germany must stand by Austria-Hungary.
Moving closer to Britain is not possible given Britain's growing intimacy with Russia and Russian hegemony in the Balkans cannot be permitted.
He believes an Austro-Serbian war can be localised. Localisation depends on France and Britain restraining Russia but "the more boldness Austria displays, the more strongly we support her, the more likely is Russia to keep quiet". [More]
19 July, Balholm, North Sea On learning that the Austro-Hungarian note making demands on Serbia is to be delivered on the 23 July, the Kaiser orders that the German fleet exercises should be organised to allow its immediate concentration for returning home.
This greatly concerns Bethmann who wants to avoid premature conspicuous naval movements. He asks the naval staff to report to the Kaiser about the political factors that must be taken into account.
19 July, Balholm, North Sea The Kaiser instructs that Berlin is asked if the time had not come to secretly let the directors of Germany's two biggest shipping lines know about the forthcoming Austrian ultimatum.
If there is a conflict it would give them time to make plans for their ships in foreign ports. The directors are told the following day.
19 July Jagow begins a press campaign for "localisation" with an article in the semi-official North German Gazette.
It says "... more and more voices are heard admitting that the desire of Austria-Hungary to bring about a clarification of her relations with Serbia is justified." To maintain the European peace "... the settlement of differences which may arise between Austria-Hungary and Serbia should remain localised".
21 July Bethmann sends instructions to the German ambassadors in St Petersburg, Paris and London. They are to stress the investigations into the Sarajevo crime have established beyond doubt strong links between the assassins and "official" Serbia and say that unless Austria-Hungary wishes to renounce its position as a Great Power it must press its demands on Serbia and if necessary enforce them with military measure of its choosing.
They are to stress that Germany "…. anxiously desires the localisation of the conflict, as any intervention by another Power might in consequence of the various alliances bring incalculable consequences in its train".
22 July, 7.00 P.M. Szögyény gives a copy of the ultimatum to Jagow. Though they know what is intended the Germans see for the first time the final version of the note, in effect an ultimatum, that is going to have such disastrous consequences for Europe.
In memoirs written after the war both Jagow and Bethmann claim they thought the note was too strong. [More]
Brief German localisation policy [More]