Germany, Thursday, 30th July
Morning, Potsdam The Kaiser receives wire from the Tsar [N3] mentioning his "military measures" started five days before aimed at Austria-Hungary.
Wilhelm thinks he has been tricked by the Tsar. Russia was mobilising even when the Tsar asked him to speak to Vienna and Russia is now that much ahead of Germany. He says "I must mobilise too! ... I regard my mediation action as brought to an end....". [More]
9.00 A.M. Goschen's dispatch containing Bethmann's proposal for British neutrality reaches London.
Crowe minutes "these astounding proposals ... reflect discredit on the statesman who makes them". He concludes Germany is practically determined to go to war and the one restraining influence is the fear that Britain will join in the defence of France and Belgium. Grey is equally aghast at the German proposal.
Morning, Potsdam The Kaiser has Prince Henry wire King George saying Wilhelm is "trying his utmost to fulfil Nicky's appeal to him to work for peace," but Nicky "today confirms news that military measures have been ordered by him".
France is taking military measures as well. Germany had taken none, "but may be forced to do so at any moment". Germany and England should work together "to prevent a terrible catastrophe". Henry begs the King to use his influence "on France and also Russia to keep neutral".
Morning Moltke tells the Austro-Hungarian liaison officer Russian partial mobilisation no reason for Germany to mobilise. It would only happen if Russia was at war with Austria-Hungary.
11.00 A.M. Bethmann gets a copy of the Tsar's telegram from Potsdam with the Kaiser's comments. Bethmann writes back advising the Kaiser not to end mediation while there is still no answer from Vienna and he drafts a telegram for the Kaiser to send to the Tsar saying that it is Russian mobilisation that endangers his mediation efforts. He remarks to the Kaiser that ".... this telegram will become a particularly important document for history". [More] [W3]
11.50 A.M. Urgent telegram arrives in Berlin from Pourtalès announcing Russia is mobilising in its military districts facing Austria-Hungary.
1.00 P.M., Potsdam The Kaiser is shown Lichnowsky's report of Grey's warning the previous evening that Britain will join its Entente partners if war breaks out between them and Germany. The Kaiser has another angry outburst and writes his comments on the report including "England shows her hand when she thinks we are cornered". [More]
1.00 P.M. An extra edition of the Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger, a semi-official publication, claims the Kaiser has ordered mobilisation of the German army and navy. It is immediately withdrawn but a few hundred copies are sold.
1.00 P.M. Bethmann, Falkenhayn, Moltke and Tirpitz discuss the latest information.
This time Moltke strongly supports Falkenhayn's demand that Germany proclaims "State of Imminent danger of War".
Moltke has undergone a dramatic change of attitude. He now wants immediate action. They also know Belgium is making military preparations and the Liege forts are operational. But Bethmann still insists on waiting developments. [More]
Afternoon Moltke learns from the Austrian liaison officer that Conrad is still implementing Plan B, the main army deployment against Serbia rather than, Plan R, the main deployment against Russia.
He is greatly alarmed and tells the Austrian military attaché that Austria-Hungary should immediately mobilise against Russia. The only hope for Austria-Hungary is a European war and English mediation proposals should be rejected. These views are wired to Conrad.
Later Moltke wires Conrad saying "Stand firm against Russian mobilisation. Austria-Hungary must be preserved, mobilise at once against Russia. Germany will mobilise". This is in completely the opposite sense to what Bethmann is trying to achieve, and shows how the German military reporting directly to the Kaiser are independent of the civilian leaders. [More]
Afternoon Jagow sees Jules Cambon who reminds him he has said Germany would not mobilise if Russia mobilised only against Austria-Hungary and not in the districts facing Germany.
Jagow admits this but now says the German army chiefs are insisting on action as any delay is a loss of strength for Germany. In any case his previous statement was not a binding engagement.
Afternoon Berlin learns by phone call to Tschirschky that the leaders in Vienna are waiting for Tisza to return to the city so that they can get his views but it is very unlikely that Austria-Hungary will limit its military operations as required by the "halt in Belgrade" proposal.
Afternoon Bethmann gets Pourtalès' report outlining the formula that Sazonov had drafted for Pourtalès in the early hours of Thursday morning: if Austria would recognise the European character of its dispute with Serbia and would declare its readiness to eliminate those points in its note that would infringe upon Serbia's sovereignty, Russia would suspend its military preparations. [More]
5.00 P.M. Bethmann briefs the Prussian cabinet "the greatest importance must be attached to presenting Russia as the guilty party". He is still against the proclamation of the "State of Imminent Danger of War" because he doesn’t want to abandon hope or give up his attempts to keep the peace, "as long as my demarche in Vienna has not been rejected". He thinks "the situation has got out of hand and the stone has started to roll". [More]
About 6.00 P.M. Telegram from Lichnowsky arrives about his conversation with Grey that afternoon. Grey is still trying to bring about an understanding between Vienna and St Petersburg.
7.00 P.M., Potsdam The Kaiser sees Pourtalès' report received early that morning that Sazonov says Russian partial mobilisation cannot be revoked. The Kaiser vents his feelings in a long footnote even accusing his dead uncle, King Edward VII, of plotting against Germany. [More]
7.15 P.M., Potsdam The Kaiser himself follows up on his "halt in Belgrade" proposal. He telegrams Emperor Franz Joseph saying he has had proposals put to his government that after occupying Belgrade or other places, Austria-Hungary should make known her terms. He would be most sincerely obliged if the Emperor would let him know his decision as soon as possible.
Before 9.00 P.M. Bethmann makes one more effort to influence Vienna. He telegrams Tschirschky (Telegram 200). He says "while Vienna declines everything, Vienna will be giving documentary evidence that it absolutely wants a war" and Russia would be "free of responsibility".
If this happens it "would place us, in the eyes of our own people, in an untenable position". Tschirschky is to see Berchtold, and if necessary Tisza, "at once" and in the "most emphatic language" put these points to the Vienna government. [More]
9.00 P.M. Bethmann has heated discussion with Moltke and Falkenhayn. Both generals believe mediation efforts in Vienna will fail. They want to proclaim the "State of Imminent Danger of War" immediately. Bethmann still wants Russia to be seen to make the first move but promises to make a decision by noon the next day.
11.00 P.M., Potsdam The Kaiser gets King George's reply to Prince Henry's message saying Britain is trying to get St Petersburg and Paris to suspend military activities if Vienna agrees to limit its military actions in Serbia. [More]
11.20 P.M. Zimmermann prepares an unencoded telegram for Bethmann to send Tschirschky telling him not to carry out the instructions of Telegram 200. It is unencoded so the recipient will see it as soon as possible.
Zimmermann drafts a second explanatory telegram for encoding. It says "I have suspended execution of Telegram 200" because the General Staff say "the military preparations of our neighbours, especially in the East, expose us to surprises" and they urgently need to know what military decisions are being taken in Vienna. [More]
Shortly after Bethmann does not send the second telegram prepared by Zimmermann. He now telegrams Tschirschky saying "I have suspended the execution of Telegram 200 in consideration of the following telegram from the King of England. You should communicate the telegram immediately to Count Berchtold and hand him a copy for possible submission to Emperor Francis Joseph. A definite decision from Vienna today is urgently requested".
Brief Control passes to the German military [More]
Brief German awareness of Russian military measures [More]