Germany, Wednesday, 29th July
Morning Bethmann reads a memorandum from Moltke. It mentions the Russian and French military preparations and says the military situation is becoming more unfavourable to Germany.
Moltke says Germany's alliance with Austria-Hungary and the military circumstances make German mobilisation inevitable and only a miracle will avoid war. [More]
Morning Bethmann sees Falkenhayn and Moltke. Falkenhayn wants Germany to proclaim Kriegsgefahrzustand ("State of Imminent Danger of War"). Bethmann is against this as it will escalate the crisis. Despite the concerns expressed in his report Moltke agrees with Bethmann. They need to know more about Russian and French intentions.
Morning, Potsdam The Kaiser gets the message from the Tsar [N1] warning he might have to take extreme measures and appealing to the Kaiser to "do what you can to stop your ally from going too far".
Morning Bethmann sends instructions to Pourtalès to impress on Sazonov "further continuation of Russian mobilisation measures would force us to mobilise, and in that case a European war could scarcely be prevented".
He also asks Schoen to warn the French that their military measures will force Germany to proclaim "State of Imminent Danger of War" which will heighten tension.
Morning Szögyény sees Jagow to ask that Germany mobilises if Russia carries out partial mobilisation against Austria-Hungary. Jagow is in a bind. Such a move would make a war inevitable and he has previously told the Russians that Germany would not mobilise in those circumstances. He asks Szögyény to put the request into writing.
Afternoon Following the information received Tuesday about Austro-Hungarian intentions regarding Serbia, Bethmann telegrams Tschirschky complaining of confusing policies coming from Vienna. It says it will not take Serbian territory yet it might let other Balkan countries take parts of Serbia.
He softens the impact of his complaint by telling Tschirschky he is only to indicate to Berchtold that it is "advisable to take precautions to avert mistrust of his declarations to the Powers on the subject of Serbian integrity".
4.40 P.M., Potsdam Bethmann, Falkenhayn, Moltke, and Lyncker meet with the Kaiser to discuss the military position. The Kaiser supports Bethmann and Moltke in not proclaiming "State of Imminent Danger of War".
It is important to get Austria-Hungary's response to Telegram 174 concerning the Kaiser's "halt in Belgrade" proposal. It is also better Russia makes the first move and appears as the aggressor.
Bethmann proposes that Germany makes a bid for English neutrality in the event of Germany attacking France. Germany would guarantee the territorial integrity of France and offer England a naval agreement that would end the naval race. The Kaiser rejects the naval proposal.
They agree to implement military protection of the railways. This is Germany's first military measure. [More]
5.00 P.M. While the meeting takes place in Potsdam Sverbeev implementing his instructions of the previous day calls on Jagow to tell him Russia is going to mobilise against Austria-Hungary. While they talk a wire arrives from Pourtalès confirming that news. Jagow says this is the end of diplomacy. Sverbeev protests that Jagow had earlier said Russian partial mobilisation against Austria-Hungary would be accepted by Germany. [More]
5.07 P.M. Lichnowsky's report of his talk with Grey that morning reaches Berlin. Grey asks if it might be possible to bring about an understanding as to the extent of Austro-Hungarian military operations and demands (this is similar to the Kaiser's "halt in Belgrade" proposal) and to involve other powers in mediation.
6.10 P.M., Potsdam Prince Henry briefs the Kaiser on his discussions in London with King George. [More]
6.30 P.M., Potsdam The Kaiser replies to The Tsar's telegram [N1]. He says he thinks an agreement is possible between the Russian government and Vienna but Russian military measures are jeopardising his position as mediator which he readily accepted on the Tsar's appeal. [W2]
7.15 P.M., Potsdam The Kaiser sees Tirpitz and the other naval chiefs. Tirpitz has reports from the German naval attaché in London and thinks the news does not correspond with King George's comment about British neutrality. The Kaiser is not concerned because he has "the word of a King".
Evening Back in Berlin Bethmann gets the news of the Russian partial mobilisation and meets with Jagow, Moltke and Falkenhayn to decide what to do. Moltke and Bethmann are still against German mobilisation and even the proclamation of "State of Imminent Danger of War".
Russian partial mobilisation does not necessarily mean war. Nevertheless, they dispatch the ultimatum to Belgium to the German embassy in Brussels so it is available if needed.
Shortly after 10.00 P.M. Bethmann wires Tschirschky demanding to know by return of the discharge of Telegram 174 setting out the Kaiser's mediation proposals based on the "halt in Belgrade" idea sent nearly 24 hours earlier.
10.30 P.M. Bethmann sees Goschen to make a bid for British neutrality. If Britain will remain neutral in a war between Germany and France, Germany will not acquire French territory. Goschen asks about French colonies and Belgium. The chancellor's replies are unsatisfactory. Goschen says he thinks Britain will want to keep its options open but he immediately telegrams the proposal to London. [More]
Immediately after Bethmann gets another report from Lichnowsky recounting what Grey said to him that afternoon. Grey repeats his proposal that Austria-Hungary limits its military operations, a proposal similar to the Kaiser's "halt in Belgrade", but he makes it clear that Britain will join France and Russia if a European war breaks out. If Germany and France were involved in the war, Great Britain would not be able "to stand aside and wait for any length of time". [More]
Late evening, early hours next day In response to the bad news, Russia is mobilising and Britain is likely to support its Entente partners, Bethmann sends a series of telegrams to Tschirschky in Vienna which in contrast to previous German encouragement appear to seek to hold Austria-Hungary back from triggering a European war.
Two go about midnight. Bethmann wants Vienna to consider Grey's proposal that Austria-Hungary limits military operations. Vienna must also renew its conversations with St Petersburg.
Two more about 3.00 A.M. He sends Lichnowsky's report of Grey's warning and adds "if Austria rejects all mediation, we are faced with a conflagration in which England will go against us". The last telegram repeats the need to reopen discussions with Russia and ends by saying "Germany will fulfil its alliance obligations but must decline to be drawn into a world conflagration by Vienna, without having any regard paid to our counsel". [More]
1.30 A.M. While his telegrams are being encoded Bethmann receives one from Tschirschky saying Vienna wants more time to consider the "halt in Belgrade" proposal. It is not very encouraging.