Austria, Friday, 31st July
Early morning Tschirschky has told Berchtold of the Kaiser's message to the Emperor sent the previous evening which gives the impression he still wants a peaceful solution and to avoid war. The Kaiser wants to know the Emperor's decision regarding the "halt in Belgrade" proposal.
Early morning Conrad and Krobatin go to see Berchtold. Tisza, Stürgkh and Burián are also present.
Conrad reads out the messages he has from Moltke urging Austria-Hungary to mobilise against Russia. They contrast starkly with Bethmann's appeals and the Kaiser's latest message. Berchtold exclaims who "Who runs the government, Moltke or Bethmann?!".
The meeting decides to submit the general mobilisation order to the Emperor for his signature and Conrad can send Moltke his message saying the mobilisation order is being issued today, the 31 July.
Morning Berchtold convenes the Joint Ministerial Council. He reviews all the latest diplomatic exchanges.
They discuss and approve the basis of a formal reply to Germany. "(1) War operations against Serbia must be continued, (2) We cannot negotiate on the English proposal unless Russian mobilisation is suspended, and (3) Our terms must be integrally accepted [by Serbia] and we could not consent to any negotiations on them".
They believe any mediation would inevitably work against them. They are intent on destroying the Serbian Army to avoid another problem arising with Serbia in a few years time. [More]
12.23 P.M. Bad Ischl. The Emperor has signed the orders for general mobilisation and they are returned to Vienna.
1.00 P.M. Bad Ischl. The Emperor sends a message to the Kaiser stating he has ordered general mobilisation following news of Russia's partial mobilisation. The latest British mediation proposal came too late. The army operations against Serbia "can suffer no interruption" and any "fresh rescue of Serbia by Russian intervention" would have the "most serious consequences" for Austria-Hungary and therefore Vienna "cannot possibly permit such intervention".
4.10 P.M. Vienna gets message from Berlin that Germany has proclaimed imminent danger of war and this inevitably means war. Germany expects immediate participation of Austria-Hungary in war against Russia.
Evening Berchtold wires Austria-Hungary's formal response to Bethmann's urgent messages of the 29/30th July to Szögyény in Berlin.
It says "... we are ... prepared to examine more closely Sir E. Grey’s proposal ... The premises of our acceptance, however, are of course that our military action against the Kingdom shall in the meantime take its course and that the English Cabinet shall prevail upon the Russian Government to arrest the mobilisation of its troops directed against us".
This does not get to there until 3.45 A.M., nearly two days after Bethmann's communication. There is no meaningful change in Austria-Hungary's position and in any case the reply has been overtaken by events.