Who started WW One?




Austria  29th June - 4th JulyGermany  29th June - 4th JulySerbia  29th June - 4th JulyRussia  29th June - 4th JulyBritain  29th June - 4th July

29 June and after Strong belief in Vienna that the Sarajevo assassinations were plotted in Belgrade and involve the Serbian government. There have been bad relations between Austria-Hungary and Serbia for over 10 years. It is the last straw.
A consensus quickly forms among Austro-Hungarian leaders and senior officials that only military action will put a stop to Serbia's agitation for a Greater Serbia. [More]

29 June Conrad tells Berchtold Austria-Hungary should immediately mobilise and attack Serbia.
Berchtold agrees the time has come to solve the Serb problem but he says time is needed to assess the situation and prepare public opinion.
Berchtold's previous policies regarding Serbia have failed and his associates believe he lacks sufficient will-power for his role.

30 June Though he expresses caution to Conrad, Berchtold takes a firm position for action throughout the rest of the crisis.
He talks to Tschirschky mentioning a "final and fundamental reckoning with Belgrade". Tschirschky reports the views in Vienna to Berlin and says "I take opportunity of every .... occasion to advise quietly but very impressively and seriously against too hasty steps".

30 June Berchtold sees the Emperor. He says the Monarchy's policy of tolerance has been badly rewarded. Its neighbours to the south and east will work even harder against it. The future of the Monarchy is at stake.
There is need for a clear programme of action. The Emperor agrees. He insists that Berchtold must discuss the next steps with Tisza and get his agreement.

30 June Tisza tells Berchtold the assassinations should not be used as a pretext for war with Serbia. He thinks Serbia should be given time to mend its ways. Tisza is not against war with Serbia but the present circumstances are not favourable.
Austria-Hungary must first have satisfactory alliances with its other Balkan neighbours, Romania and Bulgaria. They should especially obtain the co-operation of Bulgaria. Tisza is the only Austria-Hungary leader against immediate extreme measures. [More]

1 July Tisza sees the Emperor and again says it is a mistake to attack Serbia. It could start a great war in circumstances unfavourable to the Monarchy. The Monarchy would be internationally isolated. Romania had turned towards Russia and Bulgaria was weak. He emphasises his right as Hungarian Prime Minister to be consulted. He thinks Austria-Hungary must enlist the diplomatic support of Germany in obtaining the necessary Balkan alliances. [More]

1 July So far German advice has indicated Austria-Hungary should be cautious but Victor Naumann a well known German journalist calls on Hoyos and tells him in Berlin "the idea of a preventive war against Russia is regarded with less disfavour than a year ago".
If the Kaiser is spoken to in the right way he will support Austria-Hungary even if it leads to war.
Austria-Hungary will be finished as a Great Power if she does not take advantage of the moment.
Naumann has no official status but he is known to have good contacts with Jagow and Stumm in Berlin and Tschirschky. [More]

2 July Tschirschky calls on Berchtold who says Germany has not always given Austria-Hungary its support regarding Balkan problems. Tschirschky gives his opinion that Austria-Hungary's lack of a firm plan of action has been the cause of this. He mentions too that it is important to create a favourable diplomatic situation and ensure the support of Italy and Romania.

2 July Tschirschky has an audience with the Emperor. He passes on the Kaiser's regrets that he is unable to attend the Archduke's funeral.
The Emperor says he thinks the future looks very black and he hopes the Kaiser also sees the threat Serbia poses to the Monarchy.
In line with what he has said to Berchtold, Tschirschky tells the Emperor, Germany is resolutely behind the Monarchy defending its vital interests. And, he adds, the general political situation and the attitude of other powers has to be considered and the ground carefully prepared.

2 July Police reports from Sarajevo confirm the assassins got their weapons from Serbia and elements of the Serbian government were involved.

2-3 July German support is vital. To get German support Berchtold modifies a recently prepared memorandum discussing what must be done to strengthen the position of Austria-Hungary and Germany in the Balkans and to prevent Russia building on the success of Serbia and its allies in the recent Balkan wars.
In addition there is a personal letter from the Emperor to the Kaiser. Neither of these documents explicitly calls for war against Serbia, but that extreme measures, including war, are intended is clear. [More]

4 July Ganz, the Vienna correspondent of a German newspaper, who has just been to see Tschirschky, calls on Forgách at the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Office.
He says "Germany would support the Monarchy through thick and thin in whatever it might decide regarding Serbia". The ambassador had added that the sooner Austria-Hungary went into action the better.

4-5 July To ensure the memorandum and letter are understood and have the greatest influence they are taken to Berlin by Hoyos who is strongly in favour of military action against Serbia and who can give an additional verbal brief to the leaders in Berlin and answer questions.

4 July Tisza suggests changes to these documents. Instead of the phrase "eliminated as a power factor in the Balkans" Serbia is to be "required to give up its aggressive tendencies", but Hoyos has already left for Berlin so no changes are made.

29 June The Kaiser had been preparing to sail his yacht, the Meteor, at the Kiel regatta when he was given the news of the assassination. He decided to return immediately to Berlin.

29 June and immediately after The top civilian and military leaders are absent from Berlin. Zimmermann suggests to foreign diplomats the assassinations are linked to Serb agitation but not to the Serbian government who he expects to condemn the murders and help in their investigation.
He tells Szögyény he thinks the whole world will sympathise with Austria-Hungary and energetic steps are understandable but caution is needed in addressing demands to Serbia.

3 July, Potsdam The Kaiser makes his views known. On reading Tschirschky's first report that he has advised the leaders in Vienna "against too hasty steps" the Kaiser makes the irate marginal note:
"Who authorised him to do so? That is utterly stupid! It is not his business, since it is entirely Austria’s affair, what she intends to do. Later on, if things went wrong, it would be said Germany was not willing! Will Tschirschky have the goodness to drop this nonsense! The Serbs need to be sorted out, and soon".
The Kaiser dismisses Tschirschky's suggestion Vienna ought to consider the wider European situation as "commonplace sentiments".

3 July Waldersee, deputy to the German Chief of the General Staff, expresses his views to a military colleague that Germany could become "involved in a war from one day to another".
The German military think the situation is very serious. He thinks everything will depend on the attitude of Russia to the Austro-Serbian business.
He gives his colleague the impression that the military favour a war if it were to come about now. Conditions and prospects would never become better for Germany.

30 June The Austro-Hungarian chargé calls at the Serbian Foreign Ministry to ask unofficially if the Government does not consider it advisable to investigate possible Serbian involvement in the assassinations at Sarajevo.
Gruić replies that "nothing had been done so far and the matter did not concern the Serbian Government".

See below

Brief The British position [More]

Austria  5th July - 10th JulyGermany  5th July - 10th JulySerbia  5th July - 10th JulyRussia  5th July - 10th JulyBritain  5th July - 10th July

5 July Conrad sees the Emperor and tells him war against Serbia is inevitable. The Emperor points out Russian intervention might prevent it. Conrad replies Austria-Hungary has German support and the Emperor asks "Are you sure of Germany".
The Emperor tells Conrad of the note sent to Germany. Conrad asks "if Germany takes her stand on our side, do we then make war on Serbia?". The Emperor replies, "in that case, yes".

6 July Berchtold has Szögyény's telegram reporting his meeting with the Kaiser. He sees Conrad and asks what the Emperor has said. He tells Conrad the Kaiser has said "yes" but he must first have word from Bethmann.
He also notes that Tisza is against a war because he believes the Russians will attack. He suggests that Austria-Hungary starts with a test mobilisation but Conrad insists if there is to be mobilisation it must be total.

7 July, morning On his return to Vienna Hoyos immediately meets Berchtold, Tisza, Stürgkh and Tschirschky and tells them about his meeting with Zimmermann.
Tisza is furious at hearing of the discussion of a surprise attack on Serbia and the partition of the country. He says this must be considered purely as Hoyos' personal suggestion not official policy. Tschirschky leaves so the others can hold a Joint Ministerial Council.

7 July, morning Berchtold asks the Ministerial Council "whether the moment had not arrived to render Serbia innocuous once and for all by a display of force?" He mentions the unconditional support of Germany and says that intervention in Serbia makes war with Russia very likely.
Immediate military action is ruled out because of Tisza's objections and the fear it would isolate Austria-Hungary diplomatically.
They agree the first step will be the presentation of a diplomatic note making demands on Serbia and if these demands are not met to issue an ultimatum. With the exception of Tisza they want the demands to be so harsh they will be refused so "the way is open to a radical solution by means of military intervention".
They believe a purely diplomatic success even the "sensational humiliation" of Serbia, will be worthless. Tisza agrees the note can be stiff but it must not be unacceptable. Serbia must be given the opportunity of avoiding war and accepting a severe diplomatic defeat. [More]

7 July, afternoon Conrad joins the meeting. He discusses the military options. He says he needs to know if Russia is going to enter the conflict by the fifth day of mobilisation. This will enable him to reconcentrate his forces against Russia in the north in time. [More]

7 July and after Rapid action from Vienna, as desired by the Germans, is highly unlikely. As well as the need to persuade Tisza to agree to an unacceptable ultimatum, many regular troops are on harvest leave. Future leave is cancelled. Those on leave are not recalled because of the negative economic impact it would have.
Also, by co-incidence the French President is on a State visit to Russia from the 20-23 July and it is best to deliver the ultimatum after he has left so the Russians and French do not have the chance to co-ordinate their reactions. [More]

8 July Tisza prepares another memorandum for the Emperor setting out his objections to the majority view in the Joint Ministerial Council.
He does not agree with the determination to invade Serbia because it will bring Russian intervention and a world war. After giving the memorandum to Berchtold to present to the Emperor Tisza returns to Budapest. [More]

8 July Berchtold tells Tschirschky about the Joint Ministerial Council meeting. He says even if the Emperor accepts Tisza's view it is still possible to make the note unacceptable to Serbia. Tschirschky gives Berchtold the latest message from Berlin that "an action of the Monarchy against Serbia is fully expected and that Germany will not understand why we should neglect this opportunity of dealing a blow".
Berchtold communicates this to Tisza hoping it will change his mind.

8 July Conrad calls on Berchtold and they discuss what might follow the planned note. If the Serbs give way at the last moment the country will still be occupied until the cost of Austria-Hungary's mobilisation is reimbursed.
Conrad says the occupation of territory alone will not settle anything. It is necessary to beat the Serbian army or to demobilise and disarm it.

8 July At a meeting with Berchtold, Conrad, Hoyos, Forgách, and Macchio, Burián, the representative of the Hungarian government at the Imperial Court, and a close confidant of Tisza, and a Hungarian like him, comes to the same view as the majority in the Council and decides to go to Budapest to try to persuade Tisza to drop his objections.
Conrad insists army mobilisation happens only if war is definitely decided.

9 July, Bad Ischl Berchtold reports the results of the Joint Ministerial Council meeting to the Emperor. The Emperor believes Berchtold's and Tisza's positions can be reconciled and that "concrete demands should be levelled at Serbia".

10 July Updated by Berchtold, Tschirschky reports to Berlin on the meeting with the Emperor who has thanked the Kaiser for being ".... now entirely of our opinion that a decision must be made to put an end to the intolerable situation in regard to Serbia".
Berchtold also believes placing demands on Serbia avoids the odium of a surprise attack, and should facilitate the neutrality of Romania and England.

10 July Tschirschky also reports the formulation of the demands to make on Serbia is the main concern in Vienna and Berchtold would like to know what Berlin thinks.
One demand might be for a unit in Belgrade to monitor pan-Serb agitation. Berchtold is also turning over in his mind what demands would render acceptance by Serbia absolutely impossible. [More]

5 July Hoyos arrives in Berlin early morning and briefs Szögyény on the Emperor's letter to the Kaiser and the revised memorandum.
Szögyény takes the two documents to the Kaiser in Potsdam. Hoyos goes to see Zimmermann at the German Foreign Office.

5 July Following Tschirschky's advice to have a plan and his and Berchtold's views Hoyos says Serbia is to be invaded without prior diplomatic steps and the country partitioned between Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and Albania. What remained would become a client state of the Empire.
Zimmermann says it is for Austria-Hungary to decide what to do but it is necessary to act immediately so as not to alert the Entente. Zimmermann has the impression that Austria-Hungary will act quickly.
He also tells Hoyos he thinks there is a 90 percent probability of a European war. [More]

5 July, Potsdam After reading the documents the Kaiser expresses some caution mentioning the possibility of "a serious European complication" and that he needs to hear the opinion of the Chancellor.
After lunch Szögyény again presses the seriousness of the situation and the Kaiser authorises him to tell the Emperor "Austria-Hungary may reckon on full support from Germany". As he had said, he must first hear the Chancellor’s opinion but did not doubt he would entirely agree with his own view.
He says "... there should be no delay. Russia's attitude will be hostile in any event, .... we should be confident that Germany will stand by our side with the customary loyalty of allies. .... if we had truly recognised the necessity of a military action against Serbia, then he would regret it if we failed to exploit the present moment, which is so advantageous to us".
The Kaiser thinks that as things stand today, Russia is not prepared for war and will think long and hard over whether to issue the call to arms. [More]

5 July 5.00 P.M. and after, Potsdam Bethmann and Zimmermann have been summoned to Potsdam and join the Kaiser already in conference with available German military leaders.
The Kaiser briefs them on the documents from Vienna. He says it is Austria’s affair for her to settle in her own way. The preservation of Austria is a vital German interest and "Emperor Franz Joseph must be assured in this critical hour we shall not abandon him".
They believe Austria is getting ready for war on Serbia. The prevailing opinion of the meeting is "the sooner the Austrians make their move against Serbia the better, and that the Russians - though friends of Serbia - will not join in".
Falkenhayn asks if any preparatory military measures should be taken. The Kaiser is clear. No preparations are necessary. A war with Russia and France is unlikely though it is something to keep in mind. [More]

5 July After the meeting Falkenhayn writes to Moltke saying he does not need to return to Berlin. He has now had the chance to read the two documents himself and thinks the Austro-Hungarians have not yet come to a firm decision.

6 July, morning The Kaiser leaves for his annual North Sea cruise on his yacht. By continuing with the Kaiser's planned schedule the intention is not to cause any alarm.
Before leaving he repeats to the acting Navy Minister his belief that there will be no major military complications. The Tsar will not take the part of regicides and in any case Russia and France are not prepared for war.

6 July Bethmann and Zimmermann meet with the two Austro-Hungarians, Szögyény and Hoyos, to formalise the discussions and decisions of the previous day.
According to Szögyény "It is the view of the German government that we must judge what ought to be done to sort out this relationship [with Serbia]; whatever our decision turns out to be, we can be confident that Germany as our ally and a friend of the Monarchy will stand behind us. .... the Chancellor and his Imperial master view an immediate intervention by us against Serbia as the best and most radical solution of our problems in the Balkans. .... the present moment as more favourable than a later one". [More]

Brief What did the Germans expect [More]

7 July Serbian government gets report from its minister in Vienna warning Austria-Hungary might take strong action.

8 July Pašić tells the German minister in Belgrade of his horror and indignation at the crime in Sarajevo.
He goes on to say ".... that a civilised government could not possibly be held responsible for the excesses of callow and overwrought lads".
The surveillance of nationalistic associations at home and abroad is most difficult for a liberal and democratic government such as Serbia's. [More]

9 July In a report to Paris the French minister says "The announcement that Austro-Hungarian diplomacy is planning a demarche with the Royal Government following the close of the Sarajevo preliminary inquiry in order to secure the pursuit of the criminals shown to be on Serbian territory greatly disquiets the Government and public opinion".

10 July, 9.00 P.M. Hartwig calls on Giesl who has just returned to Belgrade. Hartwig first expresses his condolences for the assassinations and then asks about Austria-Hungary's intentions towards Serbia.
Giesl says that with goodwill on the part of the Serbian government a satisfactory solution will be found. Hartwig starts to give his response and collapses and dies of a heart attack.
This is later considered a blow to the hopes for peace. Though Hartwig was an ardent pan-Slav he understood the weakness of Serbia following the Balkan wars and would have advised conciliation. [More]

Brief Serbian reaction to the assassinations [More]

8 July Czernin, the Austrian chargé d'affaires in St Petersburg, mentions to Sazonov the possibility that the Austro-Hungarian government might demand the support of the Serbian government in an investigation within Serbia of the assassinations.
Sazonov says this would make a very bad impression in Russia. The Austrians should drop this idea "lest they set their foot upon a dangerous path".

Early July Sazonov is also mindful of a previous Austro-Hungarian investigation in 1909 that notoriously used forged documents to incriminate Bosnian Serbs accused of agitation against the Empire.

6 July On returning from Germany, Lichnowsky calls on Grey. There is anxiety and pessimism in Berlin about the attitude of Russia and Russia's growing military strength.
He knows the Austrians intend to do something and might take military action against Serbia. In response to Grey, he says there would be no annexation of territory.
Grey says he understands it would be difficult for the Austro-Hungarian leadership to refrain altogether from vigorous measures.
Lichnowsky also says a rumoured Anglo-Russian naval agreement directed against Germany adds to German worries. There is feeling in Germany that it might be better not to restrain the Austrians as trouble now would be better than trouble later.
Grey recognises the danger to European peace. He says he wants to bring the two groups of powers closer together and he will talk to the Russians.

8 July Grey sees Benckendorff and repeats the substance of Lichnowsky's remarks. Grey says that discoveries made during the inquiry into the assassination might give the Austro-Hungarians cause to act against Serbia.
Benckendorff believes that would arouse Russian public opinion and he hopes Germany will restrain Austria-Hungary.
He notes Grey's comment that the Germans feel threatened by Russian armaments and might therefore support Austria-Hungary. Benckendorff says he will talk to Sazonov.
In response to a question from Benckendorff as to seriousness of the situation Grey says it "made his hair stand on edge".

9 July Grey sees Lichnowsky again. Grey admits there have been naval talks between Britain and Russia but everything has been on the basis that the hands of the British government are completely free.
He goes on to report the Russian ambassador has said St. Petersburg has no hostility toward Germany.
Grey says if Austria-Hungary's action is reasonable and doesn't provoke pan-Slav feeling it would be comparatively easy to encourage patience in St. Petersburg. If, however, Vienna went too far then pan-Slav feeling would force St Petersburg to act. [More]

Austria  11th July - 16th JulyGermany  11th July - 16th JulySerbia  11th July - 16th JulyRussia  11th July - 16th JulyBritain  11th July - 16th July

11 July In a private letter, Tschirschky tells Jagow more details about some of the demands being discussed in Vienna, and if Serbia's reply is unsatisfactory mobilisation will follow.

11 July Berchtold, his colleagues, and Burián meet again and make good progress on drafting the note.
It is now decided to do everything in one step; a note with a time limit rather than as Tisza wants in two steps, a note making demands, followed by an ultimatum if they are not accepted. He has been wired for his input but has not replied.

11 July Tschirschky calls on Berchtold to impress upon him once more that quick action is called for. Berchtold tells him the note will not be presented before 23 July after the French president has left St Petersburg. They do not want the Russians and French co-ordinating their response to the ultimatum at a high level.

11 July Austro-Hungarian intelligence has broken the Italian diplomatic code and learns the German ambassador in Rome has told the Italian Foreign Minister Austria-Hungary intends to take strong action against Serbia and the Minister has passed this information to the Italian ambassador in St Petersburg.
The Austrians suspect the Russians have also broken the code and will now have this information.

12 July, Bad Ischl Burián sees the Emperor. The Emperor says he wants the demands on Serbia to allow no excuses and to fix guarantees. He realises this is difficult but he hopes the Austro-Hungarian leaders will soon reach unanimity on what is required. As a further gesture to Tisza he says there is no question of annexing Serbian territory after the war.

12 July Conrad writes to Berchtold telling him a protracted or piecemeal diplomatic action with Serbia must be avoided because it will give the Serbs time for military measures that will place Austria-Hungary at a disadvantage. A peaceable appearance should be maintained.

13 July Berchtold gets the results of a rapid three day investigation in Sarajevo by a legal counsellor from the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Ministry.
In a strict legal sense there is "nothing to prove or suppose that the Serbian Government is accessory to the inducement for the crime" but there is evidence suggesting that elements in the Serbian government are responsible.
General Potiorek adds his comment to the report that it is the "alternative government" in Serbia, made up of elements in the army, that is responsible for the assassinations. [More]

14 July Tisza has changed his mind and returns to Vienna. He now accepts the note making demands on Serbia should be designed to be rejected.
He sets two conditions, that special defensive measure are taken on the Hungarian border with Romania and that Austria-Hungary itself does not annex any Serbian territory except for minor border modifications. [More]

14 July and after Following this agreement the Austro-Hungarians set about finalising the note. They also wish to give the rest of Europe the impression that nothing alarming is about to happen and Conrad and Krobatin go on leave as planned and the newspapers are told not to comment on Serbia. [More]

11 July Jagow replies to Berchtold's request, made via Tschirschky, for Berlin's ideas on the demands to be made on Serbia.
He says it is a matter for Austria though it seems desirable that Vienna should collect enough material to prove that in Serbia pan-Serb agitation exists and is a danger to the Monarchy. [More]

11-17 July The German military attaché in Vienna keeps Moltke and Waldersee informed about Vienna's intentions, even though they are on holiday.
An Austro-Hungarian staff officer tells the attaché Austria-Hungary will send an unacceptable note to Serbia and war is certain. He has the date of the note so Moltke and Waldersee know when to return to Berlin.
On one letter Moltke makes the marginal note "Austria must beat the Serbs and then make peace quickly, demanding an Austro-Serbian alliance as the sole condition as Prussia did with Austria in 1866".

12 July In a report to Berchtold, Szögyény gives a summary and explanation of why "authoritative German circles and not least [the Kaiser] himself - one might almost say - press us to undertake possibly even military measures against Serbia".
"Germany [believes] Russia is arming for war against her western neighbours ... but is not at the present moment sufficiently forward with her preparations".
"[Germany] believes it has sure indications that England would not join in a war over a Balkan country even should this lead to [war] with Russia and eventually even with France. [And] Anglo-German relations have so far improved that Germany no longer fears a directly hostile attitude on England’s part". [More]

12 July Jagow telegrams Lichnowsky. The issue between Austria and Serbia might lead to complications.
He should use his influence with the British press to recognise there exists in Serbia "a criminal political mentality" and it is understandable the Monarchy should rise in self-defence against the menace from Serbia. He should avoid giving the impression that Germany is "hounding the Austrians into war".

16 July Jagow writes to Tschirschky. He thinks it would be helpful if Germany knew what the Austro-Hungarian leaders intended for the future shape of Serbia.
They had dissociated themselves from Hoyos' view but had not followed up with their territorial plans.
It could influence the attitude of Italy and public opinion and attitude of England.
Tschirschky should not give any impression that Germany wished to prescribe limits for Austrian action.

15 July, Vienna The French ambassador mentions to the Serbian minister the possibility that Austria will ask the Serbian government to dissolve various nationalist associations.
He responds saying ".... the whole of Serbia will have to be dissolved. Not one of us but cherishes the hope of a union of all Serbs".

13 July In a conversation with Pourtalès, Sazonov denies the Austro-Hungarian press assertions that the Sarajevo outrage is the result of a pan-Serb plot.
He says there is till now not the slightest proof and it is utterly unjust to hold the Serbian government responsible for the acts of a few callow youths.

14 July Russian intelligence has broken the Austro-Hungarian diplomatic code. It learns that Vienna is asking its embassy in St Petersburg when the French President will be leaving St Petersburg after his State visit.
The Russians have also broken the Italian diplomatic code and they know the contents of the message sent by the Italian Foreign Minister to the Italian ambassador in St Petersburg telling him Austria-Hungary intends to take strong action against Serbia.

14 July Sazonov leaves St Petersburg for his country estate to take a few days rest before the French State visit.
While he is away there are more warnings concerning Austria-Hungary's intentions.

16 July Shebeko reports from Vienna information he has received from the British ambassador that the Austro-Hungarian government is planning to make demands on Serbia that would be unacceptable to any independent State.
The original source of the information is a retired Austrian diplomat Count Lutzow, who has been told this in a long and surprisingly candid conversation with Berchtold and Forgách.

16 July Carlotti, the Italian ambassador, gives his impression to Schilling that Austria-Hungary is capable of taking an irrevocable step in regard to Serbia in the belief that Russia will not take any forcible measures to protect Serbia.
Schilling says Russia will not permit any weakening or humiliation of Serbia.

16 July Shebeko also sends details of a speech by Tisza in the Hungarian Parliament. Tisza had said the clarification of relations between Austria-Hungary and Serbia did not necessarily mean warlike complications but every state must be ready for war if all peaceful solutions are exhausted.

15 July After another meeting with Grey Lichnowsky reports to Berlin that Grey believes everything depends on the form of the Austro-Hungarian intervention might take. In no case should there be a reduction of Serbian territory.
Britain is not in a position to influence Russian policy if Austro-Hungarian military measures upset Russia.

16 July Bunsen wires alarming report from Vienna. An informant has told him the Austro-Hungarians will require the Serbian government to adopt measures to stop nationalist and anarchist propaganda, and the Austro-Hungarian government is in no mood to parley and will insist on immediate compliance, failing which force will be used.
Germany is said to be in complete agreement with this procedure. [More]

16 July Lichnowsky writes privately to Bethmann. He repeats his earlier warning that if Vienna resorts to force against Serbia it will turn public opinion in Britain against Austria-Hungary.
He also offers his analysis that military measures will not solve the underlying problem of pan-Slav agitation in parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Austria  17th July - 22nd JulyGermany  17th July - 22nd JulySerbia  17th July - 22nd JulyRussia  17th July - 22nd JulyBritain  17th July - 22nd July

19 July The Joint Ministerial Council meet in secret to agree the final wording of the note and decide the diplomatic steps to be taken against Serbia. The note is to be presented to Serbia on the 23 July after the French leaders have left Russia. There is a forty-eight hour time limit for a response.
Tisza gets the meeting to agree that Vienna will announce in due course that Austria-Hungary does not intend to annex any Serbian territory. He hopes this will keep the Russians out of the conflict. It leaves open other possibilities for the dismemberment of Serbia. [More]

20 July Giesl, the Austro-Hungarian minister in Belgrade, is told he is to present the note to the Serbian government at 5 P.M. on the 23 July. The time is later changed to 6 P.M.
The ambassadors to the great powers are told they are to present it to the respective governments on the morning of the 24 July.
This helps limit the scope for diplomatic action during the 48 hour time limit for the Serbian reply to the note. Giesl is to sever diplomatic relations and leave Belgrade if he judges the reply to be unsatisfactory.

20 July Tschirschky tells Berchtold he thinks Italy, the third member of the Triple Alliance, will claim compensation if Austria-Hungary expands its influence in the Balkans.
Italy has an eye on the Trentino, an Italian speaking part of the Empire. Berchtold counters by saying Italy needs a strong Austria "as a bulwark against the Slav flood". As a small sop to Italy Berchtold agrees to inform the Italian Foreign Minister of the note to Serbia on the afternoon before it is delivered.

21 July, Bad Ischl The Emperor sees Berchtold and Hoyos and gives his assent to the note. He comments on the harsh nature of the demands to be made on Serbia and says he thinks Russia cannot possibly tolerate it.
The text of the note is picked up from Vienna by Giesl's legation counsellor and taken to Belgrade.

22 July A copy of the note is forwarded to Berlin.

Brief Time taken by Austria-Hungary to decide its response and the consequences [More]

Brief Tschirschky's role [More]

18 July Zimmermann summarises how matters stand. The note might bring on war between Austria-Hungary and Russia which will pull in Germany. It would have been better if Vienna had acted immediately.
The conflict might be localised but complications are inevitable if Austria-Hungary takes territory for herself. He assumes Britain and France will moderate Russian reaction as neither country could want war in the present circumstances.

18 July Jagow responds to warnings from Lichnowsky. In a private letter he argues Germany must stand by Austria-Hungary.
Moving closer to Britain is not possible given Britain's growing intimacy with Russia and Russian hegemony in the Balkans cannot be permitted.
He believes an Austro-Serbian war can be localised. Localisation depends on France and Britain restraining Russia but "the more boldness Austria displays, the more strongly we support her, the more likely is Russia to keep quiet". [More]

19 July, Balholm, North Sea On learning that the Austro-Hungarian note making demands on Serbia is to be delivered on the 23 July, the Kaiser orders that the German fleet exercises should be organised to allow its immediate concentration for returning home.
This greatly concerns Bethmann who wants to avoid premature conspicuous naval movements. He asks the naval staff to report to the Kaiser about the political factors that must be taken into account.

19 July, Balholm, North Sea The Kaiser instructs that Berlin is asked if the time had not come to secretly let the directors of Germany's two biggest shipping lines know about the forthcoming Austrian ultimatum.
If there is a conflict it would give them time to make plans for their ships in foreign ports. The directors are told the following day.

19 July Jagow begins a press campaign for "localisation" with an article in the semi-official North German Gazette.
It says "... more and more voices are heard admitting that the desire of Austria-Hungary to bring about a clarification of her relations with Serbia is justified." To maintain the European peace "... the settlement of differences which may arise between Austria-Hungary and Serbia should remain localised".

21 July Bethmann sends instructions to the German ambassadors in St Petersburg, Paris and London. They are to stress the investigations into the Sarajevo crime have established beyond doubt strong links between the assassins and "official" Serbia and say that unless Austria-Hungary wishes to renounce its position as a Great Power it must press its demands on Serbia and if necessary enforce them with military measure of its choosing.
They are to stress that Germany "…. anxiously desires the localisation of the conflict, as any intervention by another Power might in consequence of the various alliances bring incalculable consequences in its train".

22 July, 7.00 P.M. Szögyény gives a copy of the ultimatum to Jagow. Though they know what is intended the Germans see for the first time the final version of the note, in effect an ultimatum, that is going to have such disastrous consequences for Europe.
In memoirs written after the war both Jagow and Bethmann claim they thought the note was too strong. [More]

Brief German localisation policy [More]

17 July A leading German newspaper publishes an interview with Pašić. He denies any Serbian involvement in the assassinations at Sarajevo and speaks of Austro-Hungarian oppression of Serbs. He says if Serbia is attacked by a great power then other states would come to its aid. Pašić disavows the interview.

17 July Crackanthorpe reports to London that Pašić has unofficially told Giesl the Serbian government is prepared to comply with any request for a police investigation and to take any other measure compatible with the dignity and independence of Serbia.
But the concern in Belgrade is that Austria-Hungary might demand a mixed commission of inquiry which would imply foreign intervention in domestic and legislative affairs.

17 July Boskovic, the Serbian minister in London, reports that a "well-informed source" has advised that Austria-Hungary's peaceful statements should not be believed and that it is planning "momentous pressure" on Serbia which may develop into an armed attack. This source is almost certainly Bunsen.

18 July Crackanthorpe has a copy of Bunsen's report. He asks Gruić if it might be a good idea for Belgrade to launch an independent investigation into the alleged South Slav conspiracy on Serbian soil.
Gruić says they must wait for the findings of the Austro-Hungarian investigation in Sarajevo. The Serbian government will comply with "whatever request for further investigation the circumstances might call for and which would be compatible with international usage".
Gruić also says should Austria-Hungary attack Serbia, Serbia would have the support of Russia, and this would lead to a European conflagration.

19 July, early hours Pašić sets out the Serbian government position in an urgent telegram to all Serbian legations apart from Vienna.
Evidence suggests Vienna is planning a demarche that will accuse Serbia and pan-Serbianism of the assassinations.
While Serbia would agree to any Austrian requests to bring accomplices of the assassins to justice, "she could not accede to demands unacceptable to any state which guards its independence and dignity".
This was to be emphasised to foreign governments with the request that they might support reconciliation when opportunity or necessity arose. [More]

20 July Pašić leaves Belgrade for an election campaign tour of north-east Serbia.

Brief Pašić's reluctance to launch an inquiry in Serbia [More]

18 July In light of the alarming information Schilling himself goes to meet Sazonov at the train station on his return to St Petersburg and updates him. They agree a way has to be found to make it clear to the Austro-Hungarian leaders that Russia will oppose any move against Serbia’s independence.

18 July Sazonov sees Pourtalès. He counters Pourtalès' claim the assassination originated in Serbia and Austria-Hungary cannot tolerate the agitation coming out of Belgrade
He says the problems with the Serb subjects of the Empire are mainly the result of Austro-Hungarian misgovernment. And, if the Austro-Hungarian government intended to break the peace it would have to reckon with Europe.

18 July Sazonov shortly after tells Buchanan that anything in the shape of an ultimatum at Belgrade cannot leave Russia indifferent and she might be forced to take some precautionary military measures. Buchanan wires this information to London.

18 July Szápáry calls on Sazonov. Following Berchtold's instructions not to say anything that might reveal what was being planned in Vienna Szápáry says his government is interested only in putting an end to terrorism and is convinced the Serbian government will prove itself to be accommodating with respect to demands from Vienna.
In light of Szápáry's peaceful assurances and reasonable attitude Sazonov gives him no warnings about how Russia might react.

19 July Sazonov shows Shebeko's report of the 16 July to the Tsar. The Tsar comments that a State should not present any sort of demands to another unless it is bent on war.

20 July, 2.00 P.M. The French Presidential party arrives at Kronstadt harbour. Poincaré has a one-to-one conversation with the Tsar on his yacht as they go ashore.
They discuss matters concerning the alliance between the two countries including the French efforts to maintain a large army. Both men are keen to reaffirm the diplomatic and military solidarity of the alliance.

21 July, morning The Tsar and Poincaré meet again. They talk about the tension between Britain and Russia in Persia. They believe local interests are the cause and neither Britain nor Russia can be blamed.
The Tsar says he will not allow Persia to cause a division between Britain and Russia.
According to Poincaré, the Tsar is preoccupied by what Austria-Hungary might do regarding Serbia and says ".... that under the present circumstances, the complete alliance between our two governments appears to him more necessary than ever".

21 July, afternoon During a diplomatic reception Buchanan tells Poincaré he fears Austria-Hungary is looking for a pretext to attack Serbia and suggests direct talks between Russia and Austria-Hungary in Vienna.
Poincaré rejects this as "very dangerous at the present" and suggests instead a joint Anglo-French demand for moderation in Vienna.

21 July, afternoon Poincaré also speaks to Szápáry at the reception and expresses his sympathy concerning the assassinations in Sarajevo.
While talking about the Austro-Hungarian judicial inquiry he implies the results will be suspect by mentioning two earlier Austro-Hungarian inquiries that produced false evidence.
He points out to Szápáry that if demands are made on Serbia that Serbia has a friend in the Russian people, and Russia has an ally, France.
Szápáry is deeply offended by these remarks made in public and in his report to Vienna refers to the "tactless, almost threatening demeanour" of the French president. [More]

21 July Poincaré talks to Sazonov during an embassy dinner and finds him reluctant to take a firm line. Saznov thinks the timing is bad for Russia. The harvest is in progress.

21-22 July Poincaré gets worrying reports from Paris. Jules Cambon has reported from Berlin that Germany will not act as a mediator and will give its full support to Austria-Hungary's demarche at Belgrade.
A report from Italy says Germany will make no effort to restrain Austria, and Vienna believes Russia will let Serbia be violated.
A further report from Jules Cambon says Jagow claims Germany has no idea what the Austro-Hungarian note to Belgrade will contain.

22 July, Krasnoe Selo During a dinner held by Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich, the commander of the Imperial Guard and a cousin of the Tsar, for the French visitors, his wife and sister-in-law talk openly and enthusiastically about war with Germany and Austria and the recovery of Alsace-Lorraine by France.
In his diary Poincaré contrasts their enthusiasm with Sazonov's caution.

17 July Bunsen wires again saying his informant is Count Lutzow, a former Austro-Hungarian ambassador in Rome, who has been in conversation with Berchtold and Forgách at the Austro-Hungarian foreign ministry.
Lutzow had asked Bunsen if he realised how grave the situation was. If Serbia did not at once cave in, force would be used to compel her. Berchtold was sure of German support.

17 July Lichnowsky sees a leading article in the Westminster Gazette which says strong action by the Austro-Hungarian government can be understood given the negative Serbian influence among Serbian citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Serbia should be ready to allay the fears of her great neighbour. Lichnowsky suggests to Berlin the article might have been inspired by Grey. A few days later Grey makes a statement that the article has nothing to do with him.

20 July Grey sees Lichnowsky and asks if he has any news of what Vienna intends to do regarding Serbia. Lichnowsky has no news but he thinks the situation is very uncomfortable.
Grey repeats his view that if Austria-Hungary keeps its demands within reasonable limits there is a chance of things being smoothed over. He hates the idea of war between any of the great powers on account of Serbia.

20 July, 7.00 P.M. Grey wires Buchanan saying it is possible the Serbian government has been negligent and if Austria-Hungary's demands are reasonable every effort should be made to prevent any breach of the peace.
To this end it would be a good idea if Austria-Hungary and Russia had direct talks if things became difficult. He can mention this if occasion demands.

20 July Bunsen's information is corroborated when Haldane receives a letter from Hoyos trying to justify the action Austria-Hungary is about to take.
Haldane forwards the letter to Grey with the comment: "This is very serious. Berchtold is apparently ready to plunge Europe into war to settle the Serbian question. He would not take this attitude unless he was assured of German support".

21 July Grey sees Benckendorff and presses his idea for direct talks between Russia and Austria-Hungary. Grey thinks direct talks are "the surest means" of avoiding a clash and keeping Vienna’s demands "within reasonable limits".
Grey makes clear to Benckendorff that it is not Britain's business "to take violent sides in this matter". Grey says Britain is willing to urge Belgrade to give the utmost assurances for the future prevention of further plots if the assassination plot originated in Serbia.

22 July Benckendorff writes privately to Sazonov reporting a conversation with Lichnowsky.
Lichnowsky fears the Austrian demarche will be unacceptable to Serbia. He thinks Berlin is unlikely to restrain Austria-Hungary. He suggests Russia communicates its concern to Vienna but Benckendorff doesn't think this will help.
Benckendorff tells Sazonov that if war breaks out it will be important for Russia to show it has done everything possible to avoid it, to win the support of the British government.

22 July A letter arrives from Rodd in Rome who says San Giuliano, the Italian Foreign Minister, who is in constant touch with the Austrian Embassy, fears the communication to be made to Serbia has been drafted in unacceptable terms. He is convinced a party in Austria is determined to take the opportunity of crushing Serbia.

22 July A report from Rumbold says Jagow has admitted he practically drafted an article in a leading German newspaper stating what may arise between Austria-Hungary and Serbia should remain localised.
He insists the question at issue should be settled by those two countries alone without interference from outside. That being his view, he has not considered it opportune to say anything to the Austro-Hungarian government.

22 July Crowe adds a comment to Rumbold's report. "It is difficult to understand the attitude of the German government. On the face of it, it does not bear the stamp of straightforwardness. If they really are anxious to see Austria kept reasonably in check, they are in the best position to speak at Vienna".
Crowe believes the German government knows what the Austro-Hungarians are going to demand and has promised its support should dangerous complications ensue.

22 July After meeting Grey, Lichnowsky reports to Berlin that Grey will advise Mensdorff that the British government will use its influence for Serbia to accept Austro-Hungarian demands provided they are moderate and reconcilable with the independence of Serbia.
It is vital that the Austro-Hungarian government is in a position to prove beyond doubt the connection between the Sarajevo murders and political circles in Belgrade.
Lichnowsky adds that the British assume Germany would not support any policy to use the assassinations as a pretext for Austria-Hungary to extend its influence in the Balkans.