Austria, Tuesday, 28th July

Morning As agreed on the 25 July Austro-Hungarian partial mobilisation Plan B begins. About two-fifths of the Austro-Hungarian army is to be deployed to the south along the border with Serbia. One reserve army corps is also being mobilised.
So as not to give the Russians any reason to intervene there are no military preparations in the north along the border with Russia.

Just before 11.00 A.M., Bad Ischl The eighty-four-year-old Emperor Franz Joseph signs the declaration of war on Serbia. Shortly after midday the declaration is telegrammed to Nish.

Late morning Bunsen calls on Berchtold. He says that as the Serbian government has gone a long way to meet Vienna's demands it might be possible for the four powers suggested by Grey to devise a solution that would be acceptable to Austria-Hungary.
Berchtold makes it clear that Austria-Hungary cannot delay its military preparations and hints that war is to be declared. He says he is aware of the wider European implications but only a Russian intervention would turn a regional dispute into a European crisis.

Late morning Tschirschky calls on Berchtold to urge Austria-Hungary to offer Italy territorial compensation according to the Triple Alliance. If Italy does not support the Alliance it upsets Germany's military plans.
Berchtold says they will consult with the Italian government if Austria-Hungary occupies any part of the Balkans even if only temporarily. The Italians want to have the Italian speaking Trentino from the Empire but the Austro-Hungarians are completely against that.

Afternoon Berchtold sees Shebeko who he has been deliberately avoiding because he doesn't want to discuss Sazonov's proposal for direct talks between the two countries before Vienna declares war.
Berchtold tells Shebeko that Austria-Hungary refuses to enter into any negotiations on the Serbian reply, which has already been rejected as unsatisfactory.
He is thinking of Grey's proposal that the Serbian answer serve as a basis for negotiation. This is not what Russia is proposing. The Russian proposal is that Sazonov and Szápáry review the original Austrian note to make it unconditionally acceptable to Serbia. [More]

Afternoon Shebeko compounds the confusion reporting to Sazonov that Austria-Hungary "cannot retreat and enter into a discussion of its note" which Sazonov takes to mean a complete rejection of direct talks between Austria-Hungary and Russia.

Afternoon Austrian leaders discuss the military situation following the declaration of war on Serbia. Berchtold asks whether war with Russia can be carried on if the army is attacking Serbia.
That Berchtold asks this shows for him the declaration of war is a diplomatic move designed to increase the pressure on Serbia and has no military implications.
This is a disastrous miscalculation and ignores the impact the declaration of war will have in St Petersburg. Conrad tells the meeting with partial mobilisation starting that day he needs to know by 1 August whether there is going to be a war with Russia so he can decide where to send his reserves. [More]

Afternoon They again look to Germany for help. They believe that if Austria-Hungary is engaged in operations against Serbia, then even if Russia only mobilises against Austria-Hungary Germany should mobilise too, even though this makes European war inevitable. They telegram Szögyény telling him to ask Germany to consider issuing "a friendly reminder" to Russia along these lines by 1 August at the latest.

Evening Tschirschky finally acts on Bethmann's Monday evening telegram asking for Berchtold's opinions on Grey's suggestion that Berlin mediate in Vienna and Sazonov's desire to have direct talks. Berchtold says he will let Tschirschky have his views very soon though he thinks the British move comes too late. Berchtold claims Serbia has already opened hostilities.
Berchtold also asks Szögyény to thank Jagow for his message regarding any British proposals that Berlin might forward to Vienna. [More]