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Austria  Tuesday, 28th JulyGermany  Tuesday, 28th JulyRussia  Tuesday, 28th JulyBritain  Tuesday, 28th JulyFrance  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]

Early morning, Potsdam The Kaiser now has a copy of the Serbian reply. He thinks it is a great moral victory for Vienna and with it every cause for war drops away. The few reservations that Serbia makes in regard to individual points can be settled by negotiation.
He thinks Austria should take Belgrade as a guarantee until the Serbs carry out their promises. This becomes known as the "halt in Belgrade" proposal. The Kaiser sends a note to Jagow saying these views should be transmitted to the Austrians. [More]

Morning Bethmann and Jagow send circular to the Associated Governments of the German Empire declaring the Serbian reply is not made in good faith and Austria-Hungary has no choice "but to enforce its demands by the use of heavy pressure, or, if need be, by resort to military measures". [More]

Lunchtime The Kaiser’s note gets to Berlin but is not acted on until the evening.

3.20 P.M. Bethmann replies to Vienna's first request for Russia to be threatened with German mobilisation if it mobilises against Austria-Hungary. He says rumours of Russian military measures have not been confirmed and it is premature to threaten Russia with military counter-measures.

3.45 P.M. A message arrives from Lichnowsky. He has been told by Mensdorff and his staff at the Austro-Hungarian embassy in London that Austria-Hungary intends to partition Serbia among the other Balkan states and turn the rump into a client of Austria-Hungary.
Since the beginning of the crisis Germany has been saying to the other powers that Austria-Hungary has no territorial ambitions with regard to Serbia. [More]

4.00 P.M. German military intelligence reports that Russian partial mobilisation against Austria-Hungary is underway in two military districts - Odessa and Kiev. However, the "Period Preparatory to War" is being implemented across the whole country, including the border with Germany.

Afternoon, Potsdam The Kaiser receives a letter from Prince Henry reporting his talk with King George two days earlier.
He says the King has given him an assurance the he and the British government will "leave no stone unturned" to localise the war between Austria and Serbia. The King thinks Europe is near to a major war and Britain will try to keep out. [More]

6.39 P.M. Word of the Austria-Hungary declaration of war on Serbia arrives in Berlin.

Evening Bethmann writes to the Kaiser in Potsdam suggesting he should send a personal message to the Tsar. It would make clear Germany is backing direct talks between Austria-Hungary and Russia.
He says "A telegram of this kind would if war were to come about, place the guilt of Russia in the strongest light". This becomes the first from the Kaiser in a series of telegrams between the German and Russian emperors. [More] [W1]

10.15 P.M. At last Bethmann takes action on the Kaiser’s "halt in Belgrade" proposal as he interprets it. He wires Tschirschky in Vienna (Telegram 174) first complaining about the lack of information from Vienna regarding its true intentions for Serbia.
Berlin now feels the Serbian reply largely meets Vienna's demands and if Austria-Hungary continues an uncompromising attitude it will be held responsible for a world war even in the eyes of the German people. The responsibility for any war should fall on Russia.
He says it is vital for Vienna to make clear its military preparations are solely aimed at a temporary occupation of Belgrade to ensure Serbia complies with Austro-Hungarian demands.
Tschirschky is instructed to discuss this with Berchtold but to avoid giving rise to the impression Germany wishes to hold Austria back. He does not communicate the Kaiser's emphatic view that "halt in Belgrade" is the right policy and war is now unnecessary. [More]

Morning Sazonov is worried and in a bad mood because Vienna has not replied to his proposal for direct talks. Buchanan calls on him and asks if Russia will accept Vienna's assurances on Serbian independence and integrity.
Sazonov says "No engagement that Austria might take on these two points would satisfy Russia". He tells Buchanan that Russia will mobilise when Austro-Hungarian troops cross the Serbian border.

Morning Sazonov sees Pourtalès and angrily accuses him of being part of a joint Austro-Hungarian and German plot to provoke war.
Pourtalès walks out of the meeting but returns later.
Sazonov says the Serbian reply gives Vienna all it could want. If it was not accepted it simply proves Austria-Hungary wants war. Pourtalès says he has reports that Russian military preparations are far more advanced than stated in the assurances given the previous day. [More]

Morning Sazonov sees Szápáry who still has no instructions from Vienna about the talks over the ultimatum that Sazonov wants to have. Szápáry repeats the pledge not to annex Serbian territory. Sazonov also asks to see the full dossier from the Austro-Hungarian government concerning Serbian complicity in the assassination.
Szápáry reports to Vienna that Sazonov clutches at straws and lays stress on Russia's interest that Serbia should not be reduced to a state of vassalage.

3.00 P.M. Sazonov sees Buchanan. Sazonov says Russia is no longer satisfied by Austria-Hungary's statements regarding Serbian independence.
In response to Buchanan asking what Russia would do to prevent further escalation of the crisis Sazonov says the only way to avert war is for Britain to say it will side with Russia and France. This would have the necessary deterrent effect.
Buchanan urges Russia to refrain from any measures that would provoke Germany into taking military preparations.

About 4.00 P.M. St Petersburg hears of the Austro-Hungarian declaration of war on Serbia.

St Petersburg Military intelligence on the size of the Austro-Hungarian mobilisation alarms the Russian general staff. It is larger than the force they have calculated Austria-Hungary would need to invade and subdue Serbia. Austria-Hungary must be preparing to ward of any Russian threat on its northern border.

Later Paléologue calls on Sazonov. Paléologue does not pass on the full message from Poincaré and Viviani of the previous day omitting the part about the two countries working together for a solution "in the interests of the general peace".
He tells Sazonov of "the complete readiness of France to fulfil her obligations as an ally in case of necessity". [More]

Later Sazonov talks to General Yanushkevich who now follows the advice of his military colleagues and argues strongly for general mobilisation as the only feasible option.
Sazonov understands the problem but is still inclined to partial mobilisation as a means of putting pressure on Vienna. Sazonov leaves to see the Tsar.

6.00 P.M., Peterhof Sazonov tells the Tsar about Austria-Hungary's declaration of war on Serbia. He also explains the mobilisation problem and proposes the preparation of two ukazes (orders), one for partial, and one for general mobilisation, so that a decision on which to use can be left to the last moment in light of the latest developments.
The Tsar agrees to this and the declaration of partial mobilisation the next day, Wednesday, 29 July. Nothing is to be finally decided without his further approval. He and Sazonov want to see the effect of the announcement of partial mobilisation. [More]

After return from Peterhof Sazonov telegrams Berlin, repeated to Vienna, Paris, London and Rome: "In consequence of the Austrian declaration of war on Serbia, we shall tomorrow (the 29 July) proclaim mobilisation in the districts of Odessa, Kiev, Moscow and Kazan. Inform the German Government of this and lay stress on the absence of any intention on the part of Russia to attack Germany".

After return from Peterhof Sazonov also telegrams Benckendorff in London saying "It would be necessary for England with all speed to take action in view of mediation and for Austria at once to suspend military measures against Serbia. Otherwise mediation will only furnish a pretext for delay in bringing the matter to a decision and make it meanwhile possible for Austria to annihilate Serbia completely".

1.00 A.M. At Sazonov's suggestion the Tsar telegrams the Kaiser appealing to him to avoid the calamity of a European war by stopping his ally Austria-Hungary going too far. [N1]

7.20 A.M. next day On his own initiative Yanushkevich wires the commanders of all Russia's military districts giving them advance warning that general mobilisation will be ordered on 30 July. Such a message shows how the Russian military are independent of the civilian leaders as in Germany.

10.00 A.M. Churchill, Battenberg, the First Sea Lord, and the Chief of Staff decide that the First Fleet should move to its war stations and the Second Fleet assemble at Portland. Churchill obtains Asquith's approval for these moves.

Early afternoon A telegram arrives from Goschen saying a "conference" sounds too much like a "tribunal". Britain should ask Germany to put the proposal in another form or suggest a way to work with Britain on mediation.
However, this crosses a message already sent by Grey saying he believes the best way forward is a direct exchange of views between Austria-Hungary and Russia and as long as this might happen other suggestions should be suspended.

Rome San Giuliano tells Rodd the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum is a deliberate provocation to war or "le triomphe de l'imbecilite".
Italy supports Britain's mediation proposals. San Giuliano says the Serbian representative in Rome has said Belgrade might accept all the demands with some further explanations. San Giuliano thinks Serbia should do this, the Austro-Hungarians suspend hostilities, and then let the diplomats work out any difficulties. [More]

5.00 P.M. The Admiralty orders the ships of the First Fleet to proceed, during the night without lights, through the Channel and the North Sea to their war stations at Scapa Flow.

About 6.30 P.M. Grey again telegrams Goschen saying he is ready to ask Jagow to make his own suggestions on how to proceed with mediation but he will keep the idea in reserve till they know how the conversations between Austria-Hungary and Russia are progressing.

Afternoon News of the Austro-Hungarian declaration of war reaches London. Formal confirmation from Crackanthorpe in Nish arrives at 6.45 P.M.

7.45 P.M. Message from Bunsen informs Grey that Berchtold says Austria-Hungary cannot delay its proceedings against Serbia and therefore cannot negotiate on the basis of the Serbian reply. This means direct conversations between Austria-Hungary and Russia are unlikely to happen.

Late in the day Crowe thinks the situation is grave. "Austria at the very moment of using soft words at St Petersburg, has declared war on Serbia. Unless the Russians now decide to run away - which is always possible - we shall have the general war upon us very soon."

North Sea Viviani wires Paris his approval of the British proposal for mediation by a four-power conference and of Bienvenu-Martin's reply to Schoen that Germany should exercise restraint in Vienna.

Austria  Wednesday, 29th JulyGermany  Wednesday, 29th JulyRussia  Wednesday, 29th JulyBritain  Wednesday, 29th JulyFrance  Wednesday, 29th July

During the day The Austro-Hungarians start shelling Belgrade.

Afternoon Austro-Hungarian military intelligence detects signs of Russian military preparations along the border with Galicia, the province bordering Russia.

Probably late evening Telegram 174 concerning the "halt in Belgrade" proposal and opening direct talks with Russia has been in Vienna since 4.00 A.M. but Tschirschky talks to Berchtold about it much later in the day.
Berchtold is willing to repeat to Russia that Austria-Hungary will make no territorial acquisitions at the expense of Serbia but he needs time to consider the "halt in Belgrade" idea. This response doesn't get to Berlin until early next day. There is also doubt that Tschirschky presents these proposals with any conviction. [More]

1.00 A.M. next day Berchtold now has news of Russian partial mobilisation. He instructs Szögyény to tell the German government "for military reasons our general mobilisation must be put in hand at once if the Russian measures for mobilisation are not immediately suspended". The ambassador is also told although diplomatic action continues in St Petersburg and Paris "we shall naturally not allow ourselves to be dissuaded from our military action against Serbia".

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.

11.00 A.M. Pourtalès calls on Sazonov to tell him Berlin is still pushing Vienna to talk with St Petersburg and clarify "the aims and extent" of its actions in Serbia. Sazonov says he wants to talk with Vienna but there is no sign Vienna wants to talk.
He tells Pourtalès Russia is about to order mobilisation of the Russian military districts facing Austria and points out ".... in Russia, unlike western European states, mobilisation is far from being the same as war. The Russian Army could, at need, stand at ease for weeks without crossing the frontier".
Pourtalès warns him military measures are dangerous. They lead to counter-measures by the other side. [More]

Morning, Peterhof Yanushkevich takes the ukazes for partial and general mobilisation to the Tsar who signs both of them.

Morning Sazonov reads Shebeko's report that Berchtold has refused to authorise further direct talks with St. Petersburg. (Shebeko did not realise the refusal covered only talks on the Serbian reply, not other talks.)

Afternoon Sazonov tells Buchanan that Russia is not ordering general mobilisation though that is what the military recommend. He also says Russia now supports Grey's four-power mediation proposal as Vienna is rejecting direct talks with St Petersburg.

Afternoon Sazonov calls back Pourtalès to tell him Berchtold has rejected talks and Russia is now supporting the British proposal. Pourtalès emphasises that Austria-Hungary is not going "to submit to any kind of European court of arbitration" and repeats his warning that any form of Russian mobilisation would be "a grave mistake". [More]

Afternoon Szápáry calls on Sazonov. Though Austria-Hungary will not discuss the ultimatum or the Serbian reply, it is ready for a "far broader basis for the exchange of views" and does not wish to damage Russian interests. Sazonov says the Austro-Hungarian note infringes Serbian sovereignty though, oddly, he says it is "quarrelling over words". He also says "Russian interests are identical with the Serbian".
While they are talking news arrives Belgrade has been shelled and Sazonov takes it to mean the invasion of Serbia has begun. He tells Szápáry there can be no more discussion and ends the meeting. [More]

Afternoon Yanushkevich instructs Dobrorolski to obtain the signatures of the Minister for War, the Navy Minister and the Minister of the Interior needed to make the ukazes operative.

7.00 P.M. Pourtalès calls on Sazonov for their third meeting that day. He carries out Bethmann's instruction and tells Sazonov that "further progress of Russian mobilisation measures would compel us to mobilise and that then European war would scarcely be prevented".
Sazonov sees the German message as an ultimatum. It convinces him that Berlin is behind Austro-Hungarian actions.
He had thought partial mobilisation against Austria-Hungary was a sufficient response. He now thinks a European war is inevitable and Russia therefore must start general mobilisation immediately. [More]

Soon after The Tsar phones Sazonov to tell him about the message from the Kaiser [W1] which sounds friendly. It contrasts with what Pourtalès has just said to Sazonov. The Tsar telegrams the Kaiser thanking him for his conciliatory telegram and asks why the ambassador's official message is in such a different tone. [N2]

8.00 P.M. Austria-Hungary's refusal of direct talks, the bombardment of Belgrade, the latest message from Pourtalès, which sounds like an ultimatum, together with the military reasons against partial mobilisation persuade Sazonov war cannot be avoided and Russia must order general mobilisation.
He meets Yanushkevich and Sukhomlinov and they decide "in view of the small probability of avoiding war with Germany" to recommend immediate general mobilisation to the Tsar. The Tsar approves the decision over the phone. [More]

Shortly after Sazonov telegrams Izvolsky so he can inform the French.

9.00 – 10.00 P.M. General Dobrorolski completes the collection of signatures for the mobilisation order and goes to the St Petersburg Central Telegraph Office to wire the order across the country. The telegrams are ready shortly after 10.00 P.M.

9.40 P.M. The Tsar gets a message from the Kaiser [W2] asking for Russian restraint while he tries to mediate in Vienna. The Tsar decides he cannot ignore this appeal and immediately countermands the order for general mobilisation. Instead, he orders partial mobilisation. [More]

Shortly after 10.00 P.M. Dobrorolski gets the new order just in time to stop the telegrams going out. He collects them and orders new ones for partial mobilisation. These go out at midnight.

11.00 P.M. and shortly after Paléologue is told about the decision for general mobilisation and prepares a telegram for Paris saying the Russian government has decided ".... to order the mobilisation of thirteen corps destined to operate against Austria and secretly to commence general mobilisation".
At the last minute news arrives of the Tsar's change to partial mobilisation and the words "and secretly to commence general mobilisation" are removed from the message. Paléologue does not tell Paris Russia first ordered general mobilisation. [More]

Around midnight Sazonov sees Pourtalès for the fourth time to tell him of the Russian decision for partial mobilisation. He asks Berlin to take part in four-power talks aimed at persuading Vienna to drop demands detrimental to Serbian sovereignty. Pourtalès is not optimistic, saying that talks are almost impossible "now that Russia had resolved on the fatal step of mobilisation". [More]

1.20 A.M. next day The Tsar wires the Kaiser thanking him for his message [W2]. He says Russia's military measures started five days before are on account of Austria-Hungary's actions and are defensive. He hopes with all his heart they won't interfere with the Kaiser's role as mediator which the Tsar greatly values. [N3]

About 2.00 A.M. next day Pourtalès asks to see Sazonov. He has a more positive message from Bethmann than the one delivered that afternoon warning that Russian mobilisation would compel Germany to mobilise.
Bethmann is trying to get a fresh formal assurance of Austria's "désintéressement" in Serbian territory. Sazonov is still very doubtful about Vienna’s intentions so Pourtalès asks him to make his own proposal.
Sazonov suggests that if Vienna declares that because the dispute has taken on a European dimension it is "ready to eliminate from its ultimatum those points which infringe on Serbia's sovereign rights" then "Russia agrees to suspend all military preparations". [More]

Morning Grey asks Lichnowsky if Germany itself can make a mediation proposal as the British ambassadors' conference proposal has been rejected and direct talks between Russia and Austria-Hungary seem unlikely.
Lichnowsky repeats the German view that Russia should not interfere in a fight between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. Austria-Hungary does not intend to annex Serbia. Grey points out it is possible to turn Serbia into a vassal state without annexation.
Grey also asks if it might be possible to bring about an understanding as to the extent of Austro-Hungarian military operations and political objectives so some reassurance can be given to Russia.

11.30 A.M. - 2.30 P.M. Cabinet Meeting Reflecting the military view that if Germany attacks France it will be through Belgium the cabinet discuss the Belgium treaties of 1839 and 1870.
Each signatory of the 1839 Treaty is obliged to act to maintain the neutrality of Belgium even if the others do not but what the action should be is not specified. The cabinet decides British action will be based on policy rather than any treaty obligations. In effect they "decide not to decide" what they will do.
They agree Grey continues his ambiguous stances with France and Germany. He says he will tell Paul Cambon "Don't count upon our coming in" and he will tell Lichnowsky "don't count on our abstention".
Though some members are keen Britain should do nothing "of a provocative character" the cabinet agrees the "Warning Telegram" should be sent to all naval, military, and colonial stations, ordering a state of readiness. [More]

Afternoon The chairman of the Liberal Foreign Affairs Group, an unofficial committee of backbench Liberal MPs, writes to Grey saying Britain should tell Russia and France "Great Britain in no conceivable circumstances will depart from a position of strict neutrality". [More]

Afternoon Mensdorff finally gives the British Foreign Office the Austro-Hungarian dossier on Serbian involvement in the Sarajevo assassination. It is too late to have any influence.
Grey points out to Mensdorff if the other powers are to ask Russia to refrain from action it is equivalent to giving Austria-Hungary a free hand. Russia will not accept this.

Afternoon Following what the cabinet agreed Grey tells Paul Cambon the dispute between Austria and Serbia, even if it brings in Russia, is not one in which Britain feels involved. British policy has always been not to be drawn into a war over a Balkan question.
If Germany and France become involved Britain has not decided what to do. France would have been drawn into a quarrel which was not hers. Britain is free from engagements and would have to decide what British interests required.

Afternoon Grey sends for Lichnowsky. He tells him even though it is too late to stop Austro-Hungarian military action it might be possible to have mediation after they occupy Belgrade. This resembles the Kaiser's "halt in Belgrade" idea even more than Grey's earlier suggestion to Lichnowsky that Austria-Hungary limit its military operations. This comparison is picked up in Berlin.
Grey goes on to say he wishes to make a private communication to Lichnowsky. He says if Germany and France become involved in a conflict the British Government would find itself forced to make up its mind quickly.
In that event it would not be practicable to stand aside and wait for any length of time. Grey is finally making it as clear as he can Britain will come to the aid of France. [More]

8.00 A.M. The French Presidential party returns to France. They dock at Dunkirk and go by train to Paris. At the quayside and at stations on the way they are met by large cheering crowds. The French public are reacting to the Austro-Hungarian declaration of war on Serbia which the Presidential party now hear about.

11.15 A.M. Izvolsky informs the French government Russian partial mobilisation against Austria-Hungary will shortly be announced. This is not the consultation the Franco-Russian alliance requires. Also, it creates no immediate alarm because Jagow has told the French ambassador that mobilisation against only Austria-Hungary would not cause German mobilisation.

Late afternoon The French cabinet meets chaired by Poincaré. They discuss the situation and decide to hold daily meetings.

During the cabinet meeting As the meeting starts Viviani is called out to see Schoen who has a message from Bethmann.
Though France is at liberty to take what measure it believes necessary, continued military preparations will mean that Germany will have to declare a "State of Imminent Danger of War". Viviani says the French preparations are very limited and the best way to decrease tension is to pursue the British mediation proposal.

Afternoon and later Izvolsky sends Sazonov several telegrams about events in France.
He mentions the attitude of the French press which is very pro-Russian and the very warm welcome given to Poincaré on his return from the French visit to St Petersburg.
He also reports that after the cabinet meeting Viviani told him of the determination of the French government to proceed in unity with all French parties.

Evening Joffre asks Messimy for authorisation for French covering forces to take up their positions on the French border with Germany.

Austria  Thursday, 30th JulyGermany  Thursday, 30th JulyRussia  Thursday, 30th JulyBritain  Thursday, 30th JulyFrance  Thursday, 30th July

Early part of morning The first of the late night early morning telegrams from Bethmann have arrived. The tone is different from previous messages and it is clear Berlin now wants Vienna (1) to pursue the "halt in Belgrade" proposal and associated mediation, the general idea of which has now been proposed by the British, and (2) to have direct talks with St Petersburg. Tschirschky informs Berchtold of their content.

Morning Now concerned that Germany is pulling back from its policy of total support for Austria-Hungary's plan to deal with Serbia, and seeking a peaceful solution, Berchtold decides Austria-Hungary should declare general mobilisation without waiting for German approval or warning the Russians. He sends Hoyos to ask Conrad to be ready to see the Emperor later that day to discuss ordering general mobilisation.

Morning Conrad too is in favour of general mobilisation and he has already prepared a draft statement saying Austria-Hungary is extending its mobilisation without any intention to attack or threaten Russia but to make provision against an attack by Russia.

1.20. P.M. Berchtold wires Szápáry telling him to see Sazonov immediately and explain he is ready to elucidate any points in the note to Serbia and amicably discuss relations between Austria-Hungary and Russia. This is not what Russia is asking. It wants to change the note so it can be accepted by Serbia.

Early afternoon Tschirschky reports back to Berlin. He says Austria-Hungary is willing to discuss with Russia all questions directly affecting the two countries, but not the Serbo-Austrian conflict.
In the case of Serbia now that a state of war exists Austria-Hungary's terms would be different. Berchtold has instructed Szápáry to talk to Sazonov and will himself talk to Shebeko. Tschirschky does not mention that Austria-Hungary intends to order general mobilisation. [More]

Early afternoon Tschirschky now has the Telegram from Bethmann that warns Britain will not be neutral. "... we should be two against four Great Powers. Germany, as the result of England’s hostility, would have to bear the brunt of the fighting. .... we must urgently and emphatically recommend to the consideration of the Vienna Cabinet the acceptance of mediation on the honourable terms indicated".
He shows it to Berchtold who appears shocked. Berchtold says he will have to talk with the Emperor and leaves for his meeting with Franz-Joseph.
Tschirschky continues talking with Berchtold's colleagues. They do not believe that Austria-Hungary's military operations can be restricted.

Afternoon Stumm at the German Foreign Ministry phones Tschirschky. He tells Stumm that the Austrians are so far unwilling to limit their military action against Serbia. Tschirschky goes again to talk with Berchtold's colleagues.

Afternoon Berchtold, Conrad and Krobatin meet the Emperor who has come from Bad Ischl to Vienna to see them and brief him on the messages from Berlin and the military position.
They agree Serbia must meet the demands of the note in full and now pay the cost of the mobilisation and military operations against her.
Despite German pressure they resolve to continue the war against Serbia, to give a courteous reply to the English proposal without accepting it, and to order general mobilisation.
They agree to discuss matters the next day when Tisza will be back in Vienna before formalising their decisions. [More]

Late afternoon Berchtold talks to Shebeko. He says he had not intended to break off direct talks with Russia. Szápáry has been instructed to give Sazonov any explanations he requires regarding the demands of the note, and to explore ways of maintaining friendly relations with Russia. Shebeko reports to St Petersburg he thinks Berchtold really wants to arrive at an understanding. [More]

5.00 P.M. Tschirschky wires Berlin saying his "Instructions emphatically executed. Count Berchtold will reply by return after receiving Emperor Francis Joseph’s commands".

Evening Stumm again phones Tschirschky who confirms Austria-Hungary's determination to reject all compromise and mediation. He doesn't mention the Austro-Hungarians are about to order general mobilisation.

7.30 P.M. In response to Moltke's question that morning of what Austria-Hungary will do in response to Russian partial mobilisation Conrad prepares a reply saying "On the basis of His Majesty’s decision the resolve is: to go forward with the war against Serbia. To mobilise remainder of army, assemble in Galicia. First day of mobilisation 4 August. Mobilisation order issued today 31 July. Request intimation of your first mobilisation day".

1.35 A.M. next day Tschirschky sends fuller report of his discussions with the Austro-Hungarian leaders before and after his first call with Stumm.
He says "I begged [them] to bear in mind the incalculable consequences of a rejection of mediation".
In the last paragraph he states "Conrad von Hotzendorf this evening was to submit the order for general mobilisation to the Emperor as the answer to the measures already taken by Russia. It was not quite certain whether in the present situation mobilisation was still the right course".

Brief Tschirschky's and Vienna's response to Bethmann's telegrams [More]

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]

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]

Morning Sazonov is still in favour of general mobilisation. He asks Krivoshein to put pressure on the Tsar to change his mind.

Morning Sazonov then sees Yanushkevich and Sukhomlinov. They are worried that partial mobilisation will wreck the plans for general mobilisation. Yanushkevich phones the Tsar who refuses to reverse his decision. However, he agrees to see Sazonov at 3.00 P.M. [More]

Morning Sazonov tells Paléologue and Buchanan about the solution he discussed earlier with Pourtalès. He also says for strategic reasons Russia cannot postpone converting partial mobilisation into general mobilisation as she knows Germany is preparing.

3.10 P.M., Peterhof Sazonov sees the Tsar. Despite the proposal he has made to Pourtalès in the early hours that morning he tells the Tsar there is no hope of peace.
Germany is determined on war and is well advanced in its military preparations (this is not true).
Sazonov talks at length, and finally, the Tsar gives way and agrees to general mobilisation. Sazonov asks permission to telephone the news to Yanushkevich immediately. He doesn’t want to give the Tsar time to change his mind again. [More]

4.31 P.M. Paléologue has a wire from Viviani asking him to urge Russia to do nothing to give Germany a pretext for mobilisation. Paléologue responds "this very morning I have recommended to M. Sazonov to avoid all military measures that might furnish Germany with a pretext for general mobilisation". He adds in the course of the past night Russia deferred secret precautions that might have alarmed the German general staff. This is an indirect reference to the cancelled Russian general mobilisation.

5.00 P.M. Dobrorolski is again at the Central Telegraph Office. He waits until 7.00 P.M. until all military districts confirm receipt of the mobilisation order. Russian general mobilisation begins.

9.15 P.M. Paléologue has confirmation from Sazonov. He wires Paris that Russia has intelligence that German war preparations are far advanced (this is not true, they are not) and has decided to proceed secretly to the first measures of general mobilisation.

Brief Russian mobilisation [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.

London Labour Party adopt resolution if there is a European war Britain should remain neutral in all circumstances.

Afternoon The Conservative Party leaders have suggested to Asquith that legislation on Ireland is put-off in view of the international situation. The Liberal leaders are pleased to agree with this.
Accordingly Asquith announces to the Commons the postponement of the second reading of the Bill on Irish Home Rule in light of the "almost unparalleled" gravity of European affairs.

3.30 P.M. Grey instructs Goschen to give Britain’s formal response to Bethmann's neutrality proposal. He says "You must inform the German Chancellor that his proposal that we should bind ourselves to neutrality on such terms cannot for a moment be entertained". [More]

Afternoon Grey tells Harcourt, a leading neutralist in the cabinet, about his rejection of Bethmann's "shameful" neutrality proposal.
Harcourt says Grey has done the right thing but Harcourt again meets with other cabinet neutralists to discuss what they might do. As many as seven or eight might resign.

Afternoon Telegram from Goschen says Jagow is asking Britain to do something to restrain St Petersburg while Germany tries to put pressure on Vienna for a "halt in Belgrade". Jagow has also remarked Bethmann would not have made his neutrality proposal if Grey's warning to Lichnowsky had arrived in Berlin earlier.

Afternoon Lichnowsky calls on Grey. Following a telegram from Bethmann he is also trying to get Grey to put pressure on Russia to stop its mobilisation against Austria-Hungary and to persuade France to stop its military preparations at once.
Grey tells Lichnowsky he believes the French are not making real war preparations such as calling up reservists. He says he is going to talk to the Paul Cambon and will also talk Benckendorff in the sense desired. He hopes that Bethmann's mediation efforts are successful.

Afternoon Cambon calls on Grey. He reminds Grey of their exchange of letters in 1912 which formalised the agreement that Britain and France would immediately discuss whether they should act together if either country or the general peace was threatened.
He draws Grey's attention to the French decision to pull its covering forces 10km back from the frontier with Germany. It is France that is threatened and war could break out at any moment. It is urgent to agree joint action. Grey says he will get a response from the cabinet the next day.

6.00 P.M. Liberal Foreign Affairs Group sends letter to Asquith saying they will withdraw their support from the government if Britain goes to war.
The letter claims nine tenths of the Liberal Party supports the group's stand.

7.35 P.M. Grey makes another effort to solve the crisis. He telegrams Buchanan saying as Berlin is trying to persuade Vienna to halt military action after taking Belgrade, and wait as the Powers arrange for Serbia to satisfy Austrian demands, it is hoped Russia will agree to discussions and suspend further military preparations. He does not yet know that Russia has declared general mobilisation.

Later Grey talks to Mensdorff saying he cannot intervene in Russia unless Vienna gives him something to offer.

8.45 P.M. King George replies to a message from the Prince Henry. He says he is glad to hear that William is working for peace.
He puts forward Grey's "halt in Belgrade" formula. "My Government is doing its utmost suggesting to Russia and France to suspend further military preparations, if Austria will consent to be satisfied with occupation of Belgrade ... as a hostage for satisfactory settlement of her demands, other countries meanwhile suspending their war preparations".

2.00 A.M. Izvolsky has a message from Sazonov sent before the Tsar changed general back to partial mobilisation.
It explains Germany has warned it will mobilise if Russia does not stop her military preparations. "As we cannot meet the German wish, all we can do is to speed up our armaments and reckon with the probable inevitability of war".
Sazonov thanks the French for the "declaration which the French ambassador made in his government's name that Russia may count in full measure on the support of France under the alliance".
"Speed up our armaments" is Sazonov's way of saying Russia is ordering general mobilisation. It is not clear all the French understand this thinking it means preparatory measures such as the French themselves are taking.

2.00 A.M. Izvolsky realises the importance of this message and immediately has its contents communicated to Viviani and Messimy.

Very early morning Viviani and Messimy wake Poincaré and discuss this important news with him.
Viviani thinks Sazonov is giving a very wide meaning to any assurances that Paléologue may have given him.

7.00 A.M. As a result Viviani wires Paléologue saying "France is resolved to fulfil all the obligations of her alliance,"
"but .... in the interest of the general peace .... in taking any precautionary measures of defence Russia should not immediately take any step which may offer Germany a pretext for a total or partial mobilisation of her forces". [More]

Before 9.30 A.M. After Ignatiev, the Russian Military Attaché, asks Messimy how to translate into military terms Viviani's recommendation to Sazonov, Izvolsky wires Sazonov saying "the French Government has no intention of interfering in our military preparations but thinks it extremely desirable, in view of the further pursuance of negotiations for the preservation of peace, that these preparations should be of as little overt and provocative a character as possible". [More]

9.30 A.M. French cabinet meets. Their main concern with Russia is not to stop Russian military preparations but to ensure Germany cannot blame Russia for provoking war.
They agree covering troops take up positions but on condition no train transport is used or reservists called up and most importantly, troops are to approach no closer than ten kilometres to the frontier to avoid contact between German and French patrols.
It is important for the sake of public opinion in France and the support of Britain that Germany is seen as the first country to take military action. [More]

Morning Telegram to Paul Cambon explains cabinet's decision to leave part of French territory undefended. "In doing so we have no other reason than to prove to British public opinion and the British government that France, like Russia, will not fire the first shot".

Austria  Friday, 31st JulyGermany  Friday, 31st JulyRussia  Friday, 31st JulyBritain  Friday, 31st JulyFrance  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.

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]

Early morning Notices on red paper announcing the mobilisation call-up appear throughout St Petersburg.

Early morning Pourtalès protests to Sazonov. Vienna has agreed to resume direct talks. Germany had been assured Russia would take no military steps. Sazonov tries to explain that the measures are entirely precautionary and that Russia is not making any irrevocable moves. Pourtalès asks to see the Tsar.

10.20 A.M. Pourtalès sends an urgent message to Berlin reporting that Russia has begun general mobilisation.

10.43 A.M. Paléologue telegrams Paris saying "An order has been issued for the general mobilisation of the Russian army". He had known of the decision to mobilise the previous evening. For security reasons the message goes via Sweden and doesn’t get to Paris until 8.30 P.M.

Morning Sazonov amends the latest peace proposals from Grey and circulates his new version to the other Great Powers.
If Austria-Hungary agrees to stop its invasion of Serbia, recognises the European nature of the crisis, and agrees the other Powers shall enquire how Serbia can satisfy Austria-Hungary's demands, "Russia engages to maintain her waiting attitude". He suggests to Buchanan the discussions take place in London.

Morning Szápáry telegrams Vienna saying there is no point in holding discussions with Sazonov.

Afternoon Szápáry changes his mind and goes to see Sazonov. He explains his instructions predate Russian mobilisation. Sazonov again says that as the Russian army will not attack "mobilisation has no significance".
Szápáry says that Vienna welcomes talks and is even ready to discuss the text of the ultimatum as far as interpretation is concerned. Sazonov suggest talks in London during which Austria-Hungary should stop military operations "on Serbian territory". These diplomatic ideas are being over taken by military events. [More]

Afternoon Pourtalès sees the Tsar. Russian mobilisation will have a terrible impact in Berlin and will end the mediation efforts.
Pourtalès says ".... the only thing which in my opinion might yet prevent war was a withdrawal of the mobilisation order".
The Tsar says on technical grounds a recall of the order issued is no longer possible.
The Tsar shows Pourtalès a wire he is about to send the Kaiser saying Russian troops will not make any hostile moves. [N4]

Midnight Pourtalès calls on Sazonov to deliver the German ultimatum.
Unless within twelve hours Russia begins to demobilise against Germany and Austria-Hungary, the German government will be compelled to give the order to mobilise.
Sazonov says this is a "technical impossibility" and Germany is "overestimating the significance of a Russian mobilisation". He asks Pourtalès if German mobilisation is equivalent to war and Pourtalès replies ".... we should find ourselves on the brink of war".
Sazonov gives the Tsar's assurance on his "word of honour" that the Russian army will not move, though it will continue to mobilise. This assurance is worthless to Germany. [More]

Early morning Report from Bertie says Poincaré believes the preservation of peace is in the hands of Britain. If Britain announces it would come to the aid of France in a conflict between France and Germany, Germany would modify her attitude, and there would be no war.
Crowe minutes the report saying though Britain is refusing to give France and Russia unconditional support so as to discourage them from choosing war, if it becomes certain they cannot avoid war then "British interests require us to take our place beside them as Allies" and to act immediately.

Morning Lichnowsky calls on Grey with the news that Berchtold has authorised resumption of talks between Vienna and St Petersburg. Grey assumes Berchtold is sincere.
Grey is delighted and adds if Germany can get Austria to agree to a reasonable proposal then Britain would support it in Paris and St Petersburg and "if Russia and France would not accept it His Majesty's Government would have nothing more to do with the consequences". Neither man knows about the Russian general mobilisation. [More]

11.00 A.M. Cabinet Meeting Grey tells the cabinet about Bethmann's proposal for British neutrality and his rejection of it. They agree Grey was right to reject the proposal but it does not change the minds of the cabinet members who think Britain should be neutral. Lloyd George warns that business is strongly against war.
They discuss what Grey should say to Paul Cambon. Grey admits that Britain is not bound by the same obligation of honour to France as binds France to Russia.
The general feeling is British opinion will be against joining a war in support of France though a violation of Belgian neutrality might alter public opinion.
In any case the cabinet cannot promise assistance without the assent of House of Commons. Harcourt is pleased and writes a note to sympathetic colleague "It is now clear that this Cabinet will not join the war". [More]

Afternoon Grey tells Paul Cambon the cabinet is unable to guarantee Britain will intervene in support of France at the present time. It could not pledge Parliament in advance. Further issues such as the preservation of the neutrality of Belgium might change attitudes.
Cambon says Britain has pledged its support and asks Grey to again put the matter to the cabinet. Cambon knows that Grey himself is very supportive of France.

4.30 P.M. News of the Russian general mobilisation reaches London.

Shortly before 5.00 P.M. A German embassy official delivers message that as Russia has declared general mobilisation Germany has declared "State of Imminent Danger of War" and that if Russia does not withdraw her mobilisation proclamation Germany will mobilise in her own defence. The message does not say for Germany mobilisation means war.

5.30 P.M. Grey wires Goschen in Berlin and Bertie in Paris saying in view of the existing treaties on Belgian neutrality, he wants pledges from France and Germany "to respect the neutrality of Belgium so long as no other Power violates it". He wants an early reply.

7.30 P.M. Grey telegrams Bertie rebutting Poincaré's view that Germany believes Britain will be neutral and this is a decisive factor. He says he has made it clear that Britain might not be neutral and Germany is not counting on British neutrality.

Evening General Wilson, the Director of Military Operations, has seen the news of Russian mobilisation and phones his contacts in the Conservative Party.
They should urgently recruit sympathetic Conservative leaders and newspaper editors to shock the government into action in support of France and Russia. Those Conservative leaders who have left London for the holiday weekend should be called back.

Evening Churchill privately on his own initiative has asked a conservative friend, F. E. Smith, if Bonar Law, can suggest conservatives who might replace Liberal cabinet ministers who resign. Smith tells Bonar Law. He is not ready to suggest names but agrees Smith should write to Churchill expressing Conservative Party support for the government in taking military action.

Very late evening Lichnowsky receives wire from Bethmann informing him of the German ultimatum to Russia to stop mobilising and if Germany has to mobilise it means war.
It mentions the enquiry in Paris asking what the French will do if Germany and Russia are at war.
Grey is unavailable and Lichnowsky gives a copy to Tyrrell.

Early hours next day Tyrrell takes it to Asquith and they prepare a message for King George to send to the Tsar appealing to him to stop Russian mobilisation. They drive to Buckingham Palace and get the King out of bed. He agrees to the message addressing it personally to "My Dear Nicky". It is wired to St Petersburg at 3.00 A.M.

12.30 P.M. Viviani wires Paul Cambon the false rumour that German reservists are being called up and German troops are advancing on the French frontier. Viviani wants Cambon to impress upon the British the Germans are being aggressive not the French.

Afternoon Shortly before a cabinet meeting Joffre sends Messimy a note saying every 24 hour delay in France putting its covering forces in position means a loss of 10 to 12 kilometres of French territory. He is unwilling to carry this responsibility. He claims Germany is secretly mobilising.

Afternoon In response to Joffre's latest statement the cabinet allows the positioning of covering forces by train but reservists are still not to be called up.

Afternoon In two telegrams from Berlin an hour apart, Jules Cambon reports (1) the German ambassador in St Petersburg has said Russia has decided on general mobilisation, and (2) Germany has declared the "State of Imminent Danger of War" in response to Russian general mobilisation and will ask Russia to demobilise failing which Germany will mobilise.

Afternoon Schoen has an appointment with Viviani at 7.00 P.M. Viviani consults Poincaré as to what he should say. He expects to be asked about France's intentions. They agree they will put off the answer until the next day and say only France will look after its own interests.

7.00 P.M. Schoen calls on Viviani and tells him of the German ultimatum to Russia that if she does not demobilise Germany will mobilise, and for Germany mobilisation means war.
He wants to know what France will do in a Russo-German conflict. He wants an answer within 18 hours.
Viviani says he has no news of Russian general mobilisation, only of precautionary measures. He will not give up hope of avoiding the worst. He promises to give Schoen an answer by 1.00 P.M. the next day. [More]

Evening Viviani telegrams Paléologue summarising the meeting with Schoen. He asks the ambassador to report "as a matter of urgency" on Russian mobilisation. He also says "I do not doubt that the Imperial Government, in the overruling interests of peace, will on its side avoid anything which might open up the crisis". [More]

Evening Izvolsky reports French government's "firm resolve to fight" to St Petersburg.

8.30 P.M. A very brief message from Paléologue sent that morning announcing Russia has declared general mobilisation finally arrives in Paris.

Evening On learning of Schoen's announcement that Germany will mobilise if Russia doesn't demobilise, Joffre tells Messimy that France must mobilise at once.

Late evening The cabinet meet again. They have Paléologue's telegram confirming Russian general mobilisation. They discuss Joffre's demand for immediate mobilisation and agree to wait until 4.00 P.M. the next day.
This is the latest time at which the announcement can be made if 2 August, the earliest practicable date, is to be the first day of mobilisation. The Cabinet are also keen to be seen as responding to German action rather than initiating military measures.

During the meeting Viviani is called out of the meeting to see Bertie. The British want to know if the French will respect Belgium neutrality. A little later Bertie wires London that the French government is resolved to respect Belgium neutrality.

1.00 A.M. next day Izvolsky forwards a message from Messimy to St Petersburg asking the Russian General Staff ".... to confirm the hope of the French General Staff that all .... efforts will be directed against Germany and that Austria will be regarded as a negligible quantity".

Brief French reaction to Russian mobilisation measures and Paléologue's role [More]

Austria  Saturday, 1st AugustGermany  Saturday, 1st AugustRussia  Saturday, 1st AugustBritain  Saturday, 1st AugustFrance  Saturday, 1st August

Morning As war has not been declared Shebeko talks to Berchtold. He argues that Russian military measures "bare no hostile character". Austria-Hungary must "not solve the conflict with Serbia without consulting Russia". He suggests talks in London.

Military strategy Vienna now has to abandon its attack on Serbia. Conrad assures Moltke that Austria-Hungary will now "employ the main weight of our strength in the north" towards Russia, despite the difficulties in moving troops from the Serbian frontier.

Morning There is no official Russian response to the German ultimatum. Berlin prepares a declaration of war. As Russia is not attacking either Austria-Hungary or Germany the declaration says "His Majesty the Emperor, my August Sovereign, accepts the challenge in the name of the Empire, and considers himself as being in a state of war with Russia".

Morning Bethmann addresses the Bundesrat. [More]

Shortly after 1.00 P.M. German declaration of war sent by telegram to German embassy in St Petersburg. It is to be given to the Russians at 5 P.M. Berlin time, 7 P.M. St Petersburg time.

2.05 P.M. Message to the Kaiser from the Tsar says he understands why the Kaiser is obliged to mobilise but he wishes to have the same guarantee that he gave the Kaiser "that these measures do not mean war and we shall continue negotiating". [More]

5.00 P.M. The Kaiser signs the mobilisation order.

Immediately after the signing A telegram arrives from Lichnowsky. Grey is proposing that if Germany does not attack France, Britain will remain neutral in a Russo-German war and also guarantee the neutrality of France. The Kaiser is delighted. He declares that Germany must now deploy all its forces in the East. Moltke says this is impossible and a very heated argument ensues.
They finally agree the British proposal should be accepted, but mobilisation along the French frontier will continue, and they will study the possibility of redeploying forces to the East. The Kaiser sends a personal message to King George supporting the British proposal.

During this meeting Without reference to Moltke who is very upset the Kaiser orders the halting of the 16th Division which is about to invade Luxembourg.

About 6.10 P.M. Berlin receives news from Schoen that in response to definite and repeated requests, Viviani has "stated to me, hesitatingly, that France would act in accordance with her interests".

Shortly after 10.00 P.M. Szögyény delivers a message for the Kaiser from Emperor Franz Joseph. The Emperor assures Wilhelm that as soon as he heard Germany was "determined to commence war against Russia ... we here came to the firm determination, too, to assemble our principal forces against Russia".

10.30 P.M. The Kaiser replies to the Tsar's earlier telegram. He says that as Germany has not yet received a reply to the noon deadline demand that Russia stops mobilising he cannot discuss the Tsar's telegram. [More]

Late evening King George replies to the Kaiser’s telegram. There must have been "some misunderstanding as to a suggestion that passed in friendly conversation between Prince Lichnowsky and Sir Edward Grey this afternoon when they were discussing how actual fighting between German and French armies might be avoided while there is still chance of some agreement between Austria and Russia".
The Kaiser tells Moltke he can now do whatever he wants. All hope of peace has gone. Moltke immediately telegrams the army to resume the attack in the West on France. [More]


7.00 P.M. Just across the border in Luxembourg a German infantry company seizes the railway station and telegraph office. Within thirty minutes more troops arrive telling them the invasion is a mistake. The British proposal being discussed in Berlin has led to the invasion being halted.

11.00 P.M. On discovering the British proposal is the result of a misunderstanding the Kaiser has told Moltke he can continue with the invasion. By midnight the railway station and the telegraph office are back in German hands. The rest of Luxembourg is occupied by German forces during Sunday, 2 August.

Early afternoon The Tsar responds to the Kaiser's last message. He says "Understand you are obliged to mobilise but wish to have some guarantee from you that these measures do not mean war and that we shall continue negotiating for the benefit of our countries and universal peace" [N5].

7.00 P.M. Pourtalès calls on Sazonov and asks him whether the Russian Government is ready to give a favourable answer to the ultimatum presented the night before.
Sazonov replies in the negative and says Russia wants to continue talks.
Pourtalès asks him twice more but to no avail. He then hands over the German declaration of war. Pourtalès is in tears. The two men embrace and Pourtalès asks for his passports.

10.00 P.M., Peterhof Buchanan delivers King George's urgent message to the Tsar. Even if it would have had some influence it has come too late.
The Tsar replies reporting Germany's declaration of war and says he hopes Britain will support France and Russia in fighting to maintain the balance of power in Europe.
He also says that he was compelled to mobilise in consequence of Austria-Hungary's complete mobilisation. [This is wrong. Austria-Hungary had mobilised only against Serbia when Russia mobilised.]

Early morning Telegrams arrive from Paris and Berlin with the responses to the British enquiry about attitudes to Belgian neutrality. The French say they will respect Belgian neutrality.
Jagow refuses to reply, saying that if he did so it "could not fail, in the event of war, to have the undesirable effect of disclosing to a certain extent part of the German plan of campaign".

Morning Belgian government replies to inquiry from Grey made the day before that Belgium "will to the utmost of her power maintain neutrality .... that the relations between Belgium and the neighbouring Powers were excellent .... no reason to suspect their intentions, but that Belgian Government believed that in case of violation they were in a position to defend the neutrality of their country".
Shortly after news follows that Belgium has decided to mobilise.

Morning King George uses a draft provided by Grey to reply to a letter from Poincaré. It maintains Britain's non-committal attitude regarding support for France but the King is as friendly as possible, expressing admiration for the care France is taking not to make provocative military moves and promising Britain will continue discussions on all matters concerning the two countries.

Morning Grey sends Tyrrell to talk to Lichnowsky and make an unexpected and extraordinary proposal. If France is neutral in a war between Russia and Germany, would Germany pledge not to attack France. The ambassador takes it upon himself to offer such a pledge.
Grey himself phones Lichnowsky and repeats the question. Grey proposes to use this information at the cabinet meeting later in the morning. Lichnowsky telegrams Berlin with this amazing development.

11.00 A.M. – 1.30 P.M. Cabinet Meeting Grey reports the replies from France and Germany on Belgian neutrality to the cabinet. They agree the words of the warning that Grey wants to give to Lichnowsky.
"The reply of the German Government with regard to the neutrality of Belgium is a matter of very great regret .... if there were a violation of the neutrality of Belgium by one combatant while the other respected it, it would be extremely difficult to restrain public feeling in this country."
Churchill reads the letter from F. E. Smith assuring the cabinet of Conservative support for British intervention in a European war. The cabinet knows if they split up and resign they will be replaced by the Conservatives or a coalition that supports war on the side of France. Grey says that if the cabinet declares it will be neutral he will resign. Asquith says that he would go to.
The cabinet refuses Churchill's request to fully mobilise the Navy by calling up reserves.
The neutralists in the cabinet recognise Britain might become involved in a European war if Germany invades Belgium to attack France but get the cabinet to agree even then the British Expeditionary Force will not be sent to the continent. This decision is reported on Monday in the British press. [More]

Afternoon As agreed in cabinet Grey tells Lichnowsky that the German position on Belgian neutrality is a matter of "very great regret". The neutrality of Belgium affects public opinion in Britain.
In response to a question from Lichnowsky he also says if Germany did pledge not to violate the neutrality of Belgium, Britain could not promise British neutrality.
He explains he has not used Lichnowsky's pledge (given at their morning meeting) during the cabinet meeting.

Afternoon Grey tells Paul Cambon the cabinet has agreed "we could not propose to Parliament at this moment to send an expeditionary force to the continent". This did not mean under no circumstances would Britain assist France, but it did mean France must take her own decision without reckoning on assistance from Britain.
Cambon reminds Grey the French fleet is concentrated in the Mediterranean as a result of understandings with the British and the French Channel and Atlantic coasts are undefended.
Cambon is shocked and distressed. He thinks the British are going to abandon France. A discussion with Nicolson helps him recover.
Nicolson goes to see Grey and tells him angrily "you will render us a by-word among nations". [More]

Evening Grey is called to Buckingham Palace. The King has received a telegram from the Kaiser saying Germany agrees with the British proposal that Britain and France remain neutral in a war between Germany and Russia.
Grey says there is no such proposal and drafts a message for the King to send to the Kaiser saying there must have been a misunderstanding.

Evening Grey, Haldane and Lord Crewe go to see Asquith at Downing Street. They all agree a pledge of Naval support to the French must be obtained from the cabinet the next day.

Late evening News of Germany's declaration of war on Russia reaches London.

Late evening Churchill has heard of Germany's declaration of war on Russia and he too comes to Downing Street. He says he intends without waiting for the cabinet to immediately fully mobilise the Fleet by calling up reserves. Asquith offers no objections.

Very late evening and early morning Conservative leaders meet including those who have returned to London. They hear from General Wilson and there is great concern that the British Expeditionary Force is not being mobilised to support France. They try to contact Asquith but he is not available until the morning.

Brief Grey and Lichnowsky – the proposal that never was [More]

Brief The Military Conversations [More]

Brief The British and French naval deployments [More]

8.00 A.M. Joffre sees Messimy and claims that Germany will be entirely mobilised by 4 August "even without the order for mobilisation having been issued". (This is nonsense.) He again threatens to resign if mobilisation is not ordered by 4.00 P.M.

Morning The cabinet meet with Joffre present. He repeats his argument that the Germans are well advanced secretly mobilising.

Morning Viviani is called out of a cabinet meeting to see Schoen who has called at the Quai d'Orsay to get the answer to the German question asked the day before whether France will remain neutral. Schoen repeats the question several times and Viviani finally answers that France will look after its own interests.

Morning The cabinet decides to issue the mobilisation order.

4.00 P.M. Telegrams announcing general mobilisation are dispatched across France and MOBILISATION GENERALE notices posted up outside main Paris post offices. France mobilises one hour before Germany.

11.00 P.M. Izvolsky receives news from St Petersburg of the German declaration of war on Russia and immediately goes to Poincaré to ask how France will respond. Poincaré does not want to declare war on Germany. He prefers Germany to declare war on France so as to appear as peaceful as possible to the French public and Britain, but he assures Izvolsky there is no question of France not fulfilling its alliance obligations.