Germany, Friday, 31st July

Early morning German military intelligence has reports Russian general mobilisation is underway. Moltke asks for firm evidence and by noon the Germans have a copy of the Russian red mobilisation notices posted up in Russian villages.

10.00 A.M. Goschen calls on Bethmann to inform him Britain has rejected his bid for neutrality. Bethmann tells him about the Russian general mobilisation and says Germany will probably have to take serious steps later in the day.

11.40 A.M. Telegram from Pourtalès confirms Russia has begun general mobilisation.

Late morning, Potsdam Before leaving for Berlin the Kaiser writes telegrams for the Tsar and King George. He tells the Tsar that Russia's measures on Germany's Eastern frontier force him to take preventive measures, and the threatened disaster will not be his responsibility. Russia can avert it if it stops its military measures. [W4]

Midday Bethmann meets with Moltke and Falkenhayn. Moltke wants to order immediate German mobilisation and opening of hostilities. Instead, it is decided to first send an ultimatum to Russia to cease its mobilisation, and to proclaim the "State of Imminent Danger of War". The Kaiser joins them from Potsdam and approves these measures. [More]

Shortly after Germany proclaims "State of Imminent Danger of War".

1.45 P.M. Bethmann telegrams Tschirschky telling him "After the Russian total mobilisation we have proclaimed imminent danger of war, which will probably be followed within forty-eight hours by mobilisation. This inevitably means war. We expect from Austria immediate active participation in the war against Russia".

Early afternoon The German military appear pleased with developments. Russia can be blamed. According to General von Wenninger, in the afternoon he found in the War Ministry "…. everywhere beaming faces, people shaking hands in the corridors, congratulating one another on having cleared the ditch".

2.45 P.M. Telegram from the Emperor says threatening attitude of Russia will not stop Austria-Hungary acting against Serbia.

2.52 P.M. Telegram from the Tsar to the Kaiser arrives promising him though Russian mobilisation cannot be stopped Russian troops will "not make any provocative action".

3.25 P.M. Berlin has telegram from Lichnowsky reporting that Grey says if Austria-Hungary can make a concession that Russia would be wrong to reject it would influence the attitude of Britain if war broke out after all.

3.30 P.M. Germany sends ultimatum to Russia. Pourtalès instructed to tell the Russian government that German mobilisation must follow "unless within twelve hours Russia suspends all war measures against ourselves and Austria-Hungary and gives us a definite assurance to that effect. Please notify M. Sazonov of this at once and wire hour of notification".
It does not make clear for Germany mobilisation means immediate military action and war. [More]

3.30 P.M. Germany demands to know what France will do. Schoen instructed to "ask the French Government if it intends to remain neutral in a Russo-German war". Germans require handing over of fortresses of Toul and Verdun as a pledge of neutrality. French given until 4.00 P.M. next day to reply.

4.05 P.M. The Kaiser telegrams Franz Josef telling him Germany is preparing to mobilise. He says Germany will fulfil its alliance obligations and it is of the "greatest importance that Austria directs her chief force against Russia and does not split it up by a simultaneous offensive against Serbia".

4.15 P.M. Telephone message from Conrad arrives. He says "Austro-Hungarian mobilisation against Russia is only for the purpose of taking precautions against attack from Russia, without any intention of declaring or beginning war".

Early evening Moltke sends telephone message to Conrad. "Germany will proclaim mobilisation of entire military forces probably 2 August and open hostilities against Russia and France. Will Austria leave her in the lurch?"

8.30 P.M. Bethmann telegrams Lichnowsky explaining that Russia's general mobilisation "cut short Austria's pending reply to our mediation proposal. ... We have told Russia we should have to mobilise, which would mean war, unless, within twelve hours, the military preparations against Austria-Hungary and ourselves are suspended .... Please use every means to insure this course of events is duly recognised in the English press".

Late evening Goschen sees Jagow to urge him to accept Grey's peace ideas. He also asks if in the event of war Germany will respect the neutrality of Belgium. A similar question has been asked of the French. Jagow says he cannot answer such a question as it would reveal Germany's intentions.

Very late evening and early hours of next day. After more telephone messages Conrad informs Moltke that Austria-Hungary will go to war with Russia as well as Serbia. [More]