Shortly after: The Chancellor is very agitated and he harangues Goschen for about twenty minutes.He says it is “intolerable” that when Germany is trying to save itself Britain “should fall upon them just for sake of the neutrality of Belgium”. Goschen’s account of the meeting says Bethmann used the notorious phrase that Britain was going […]
7.00 P.M.: Goschen calls on Jagow again. This time he has the British ultimatum sent in the afternoon.He reads it to Jagow. “Unless Imperial Government can give assurance by 12 o’clock that night that they will proceed no further with their violation of Belgian frontier and stop their advance, I have been instructed to demand […]
Afternoon: Goschen calls on Jagow with the British request sent that morning that Germany does not violate Belgian neutrality. Jagow says the answer must be “no” and he explains German troops have already crossed the Belgian border that morning and the Belgians are resisting.
3.00 P.M.: Bethmann addresses the Reichstag. He admits the invasions of Luxembourg and Belgium are breaches of international law but says “necessity knows no law”. He also says Britain has been told Germany will not attack the northern French coast and the territorial integrity and independence of Belgium will be respected at the end of […]
Morning: Austria has still made no move to fight Russia and that afternoon Bethmann will be explaining to the Reichstag that Germany is forced to go to war to defend its Austro-Hungarian ally.He wires Vienna: “We have been compelled to go to war on account of Austria’s procedure, and have a right to expect that […]
Chancellor addresses the Reichstag. He admits the invasions of Luxembourg and Belgium are breaches of international law but says “necessity knows no law”. British ambassador tells German leaders unless Germany halts its invasion of Belgium the British government will do all in its power to uphold the neutrality of Belgium. He must have this assurance […]
Afternoon 1.05 P.M.: Schoen in Paris is instructed to deliver the German declaration of war on France to the French government at 6.00 P.M. It contains accusations of French frontier infringements and bombing raids on Germany. There have been no bombing raids.
9.30. A.M.: Tirpitz approves suggestion that Germany refrains from naval actions that might provoke the British. Jagow telegrams Lichnowsky saying “We can definitely state that a threat to the French north coast on our part will not take place as long as England remains neutral”.
German government receives news Belgium has rejected the ultimatum. They don’t declare war on Belgium hoping the Belgians will offer only token resistance to the German army. German ambassador in Paris instructed to deliver the German declaration of war on France at 6.00 P.M. It contains accusations of French bombing raids on Germany. There have […]
Late afternoon: In response to Lichnowsky’s message that it is most likely Britain will oppose Germany if it violates Belgian territory Jagow tells him to explain to the British government the actions being taken in Belgium are “self-defence against French menace” and the integrity of Belgium will be restored in the peace settlement.He is not […]
Morning: At a meeting with the Kaiser the German military strenuously repeat their opposition to a formal declaration of war on France. Bethmann says it is a legal requirement and the ultimatum to Belgium does not make sense unless Germany is at war with France. His view prevails. [More]
Morning: Tschirschky in Vienna is sent the news about war with Russia and told “we expect of Austria fulfilment of her allied obligations and immediate vigorous intervention against Russia”. Moltke sends similar message to Conrad. Austro-Hungarian military efforts should concentrate against Russia, the “mortal enemy”. “Serbia can be kept in check with limited forces”.
2.30 A.M.: Bethmann calls a meeting with Moltke, Falkenhayn, Tirpitz, Jagow and foreign ministry officials. Berlin has not received Pourtalès’ message that he has given the declaration of war to Sazonov. The Russians have cut communications. They do not know if they are at war with Russia. There is also a heated discussion over the […]
Just after dawn German troops invade and occupy all of Luxembourg. German minister in Brussels instructed to give ultimatum to Belgium 7.00 P.M. local time. It is in the envelop he received from Berlin on 29 July.
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.
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.
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 […]
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]
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”.
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 […]
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]
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 […]
There is no reply to the ultimatum to Russia. Germans send declaration of war to Russia. The Kaiser signs the German mobilisation order. Luxembourg Late evening German infantry company seizes the railway station and telegraph office.
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.
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 […]
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?”
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”.
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”.
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.
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 […]
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.
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”.
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”.
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]
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]
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.
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.
Germany has confirmation of Russian general mobilisation. British ambassador informs the Chancellor Britain rejects his proposal for British neutrality. The Kaiser joins the civil and military leaders in Berlin. German military are pleased with developments. Russia can be blamed for the outbreak of war. Germany instructs its ambassador in St Petersburg to tell the Russian […]
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 […]
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 […]
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]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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]
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 […]
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 […]
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: 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 […]
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: 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 […]
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 […]
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., 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]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
Germans get confirmation of Russian partial mobilisation. German Chief of the General Staff is greatly alarmed Austria’s main army deployment is in the south against Serbia. He wires his Austrian counterpart saying mobilise at once against Russia. Germany will mobilise. Chancellor tells Prussian cabinet it is of the greatest importance that Russia is seen as […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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”.
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]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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: 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]
German Chief of the General Staff warns the Chancellor Russian and French military preparations are putting Germany at a disadvantage. Given Germany’s alliance with Austria-Hungary German mobilisation is inevitable. Germany tells Russia further military preparations will force Germany to mobilise and a European war could scarcely be prevented. Germany gets the news of Russian partial […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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.
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]
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 […]
The Kaiser thinks the Serbian reply is moral victory for Austria. Every cause for war drops away. Austria should take Belgrade as a guarantee until the Serbs carry out their promises. This becomes known as “halt in Belgrade”. He forwards his proposal to the German leaders in Berlin. The Kaiser gets letter from Prince Henry […]
Very late evening: Bethmann has decided Germany should not reject the latest British mediation proposal out of hand as this will alienate Britain and Germany will be blamed for any conflict.He wires Tschirschky in Vienna saying Germany must appear as the one being forced into war. He asks Tschirschky to obtain Berchtold’s views on the […]
9.30 P.M.: Jagow sends a copy of the Serbian reply to the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to the Kaiser in Potsdam by special messenger.Only now does Germany take any interest in this document. Jagow has had a copy given to him by the Serbian chargé d’affaires since late morning. [More]
9.15 P.M.: Szögyény wires Vienna. Jagow has told him the German government is against any British mediation proposal that it might forward to the Austrian government in the immediate future. It only passes it on to conform to the British request as it is vital to ensure that Britain does not side with France and […]
Evening: Lichnowsky’s telegrams arrive recording his talk with Grey that morning. Britain thinks Germany holds the key to Vienna’s actions and should use its influence to have the Serbian reply regarded either as satisfactory or as a basis for negotiation.Grey believes Russia will take Austro-Hungarian military action against Serbia as a direct challenge and it […]
4.37 P.M.: Telegram from Tschirschky arrives informing Berlin that Vienna has decided to send out the declaration of war on Serbia the next day, or the day after at the latest, to frustrate any attempt at intervention.
Afternoon: Jules Cambon calls on Jagow who repeats the reasons for rejecting Grey’s four-power conference proposal. Germany is only willing to intervene in an Austro-Russian dispute, not one between Austria and Serbia.Cambon points out a dispute involving Russia is a consequence of the one between Austria and Serbia. Jagow says talks between St Petersburg and […]
Afternoon: Goschen is back in Berlin from London and calls on Jagow to formally submit Grey’s conference proposal. Jagow says a conference is tantamount to a “court of arbitration” and Austria-Hungary will not accept that.Jagow repeats his warning that Germany must respond to a Russian mobilisation but as with Cambon he qualifies it saying “if […]
Afternoon, Potsdam: No decisions are taken at the meetings and despite the mixed news from Russia the participants are confident about the course of events. German policy is working.There is time for more diplomacy as the Austro-Hungarians cannot start military action until the 12 August, and Sazonov wants to talk with Vienna. And, if there […]
Afternoon, Potsdam: The Kaiser calls for the Chancellor and his military advisors including Moltke to meet him at Neues Palais. Bethmann has his first audience with the Kaiser since 5 July.The latest reports from Russia are contradictory. Russian mobilisation in some military districts is near certain, yet Pourtalès reports Sazonov seems to have lost his […]
Berlin: Zimmermann sums up Germany’s position in a conversation with the Belgian envoy. For Austria-Hungary, suppressing the pan-Serb movement was now “an existential question, of being or not being”. Serbia “had to receive a severe and salutary lesson by means of a military expedition”.It was thus impossible now to avert an Austro-Serbian conflict.Germany would support […]
Late morning: Bethmann replies to Lichnowsky’s telegram about Grey’s four-power ambassadors’ conference proposal.He rejects the idea. He says a conference is too close to summoning Austria before a European court of justice in her case with Serbia.Germany will consent to international mediation only in the event of an Austro-Russian crisis. He thinks that Sazonov’s suggestion […]
Morning: Jules Cambon sees Jagow. Cambon says if there is war England will stand by France and Russia. Jagow replies “You have your information. We have ours which is quite to the contrary. We are sure of English neutrality”.Jagow is worried by early signs of Russian military preparations. He tells Cambon “We shall mobilise at […]
Kiel-Potsdam: Bethmann wires his latest report to the Kaiser on his train journey from Kiel to his palace at Potsdam.Austria-Hungary is unable to take military action before the 12 August. Serbia has accepted most of the points in the ultimatum. England, France and Italy want peace. Russia not yet mobilising and is willing to start […]
North Sea, Kiel, in the early hours: Bethmann radios the Kaiser dispatch from St Petersburg reporting Russian military exercises have been cancelled and troops recalled to barracks.On arrival at Kiel the Kaiser receives report from Chelsius in St Petersburg. There is a very angry mood at the Tsar’s court. The Tsar’s entourage are making clear […]
French ambassador tells the German Foreign Minister Britain will stand by France and Russia if there is a war. He says Germany believes Britain will be neutral. Germany rejects the British ambassadors’ conference proposal. It is too close to summoning Austria before a European court of justice in her case with Serbia. Germany forwards the […]
North Sea: News from Bethmann that he and England are working to localise the conflict keeping Russia out of it give the Kaiser and his staff an optimistic picture. The Kaiser even talks of going to his next holiday location.He continues his marginal comments on dispatches saying in regard to Grey’s comment a country that […]
North Sea, early in the day: The Kaiser receives a telegram from Bethmann. It implies the Kaiser has ordered the Fleet to prepare to return home on the basis of a news agency report. Bethmann begs him to hold back on ordering the Fleet to return. As had been hoped the Royal Navy had not […]
Evening: Bethmann telegrams Pourtalès again. He is now alarmed by Russia’s military preparations. He wants Pourtalès to warn Sazonov that Russian preparatory military measures directed in any way against Germany will force Germany to take counter measures and mobilise the army. He says mobilisation means war.He again stresses Austria-Hungary does not want Serbian territory.
Afternoon: Bethmann uses Sazonov’s statement that Russia would go to war if Austria-Hungary swallowed Serbia, as a means of avoiding war or blaming Russia. Austria-Hungary has already said to Russia it has no intention of taking territory from Serbia.He telegrams Pourtalès to say to Sazonov “that Count Berchtold has declared to Russia that Austria plans […]
Berlin: Stumm talks to the representatives of the smaller German states. The best policy is “quiet perseverance”. Britain desires peace and is taking steps in that sense at St Petersburg.Russia is not ready for war and the poor state of French armaments recently revealed in the Senate would make Paris incline towards peace as well.Germany […]
Berlin: Bethmann telegrams Lichnowsky. According to unconfirmed news from a reliable source Russia is about to call-up several classes of reserves. Such a move must lead to Germany taking counter measures. To preserve European peace the conflict must be localised. He is to ask Grey to use his influence in this sense at St Petersburg.
Berlin: Bethmann and the vice-chancellor have a secret meeting with the leaders of Germany’s largest political party, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). To ensure their support Bethmann wants to convince them that German policy is defensive and pacific.The German socialist are suspicious of Tsarist Russia and Bethmann is doing everything to put Russia in […]
Berlin: With the Russian “Period Preparatory to War” underway Berlin receives numerous reports on Russian military activities. Especially disturbing is news that some reserves have been called up. The general staff decides to initiate its own intelligence gathering.
Berlin: The German general staff is planning for all eventualities. It prepares an ultimatum to be given to the Belgian government in the event that Germany implements its military plan and attacks France through Belgium.
German military prepare an ultimatum to Belgium in the event Germany has to attack France through Belgium. German Chancellor warns Russia that any Russian preparatory military measures directed at Germany will force Germany to mobilise and mobilisation means war.
Balholm, North Sea, 3.00 P.M.: The Kaiser’s personal cabinet agree he should return home. That the Kaiser is engaged in a pleasure trip at such a critical time is not acceptable. The Kaiser agrees and they set sail for home at 6.00 P.M.
Balholm, North Sea, 9.30 A.M.: The Kaiser issues a secret order to speed up the coaling of the battleships and to prepare them to leave port.Later that afternoon he gives his consent for the Fleet to return to its bases in Germany.
Late evening: In response to Lichnowsky’s telegrams about the British four-power mediation proposal and his warning that rejection of the British proposal or an unaccommodating German attitude would probably drive Britain to the side of France and Russia, Jagow replies that he can tell the British government that if an Austro-Russian conflict arises Germany, subject […]
Evening: Szögyény sends report to Berchtold saying Berlin believes Austria-Hungary should declare war and start military operations immediately if the Serbian reply is unsatisfactory. Any delay gives other powers the opportunity to intervene. It is best to present the world with a fait accompli. [More]
After 4.30 P.M.: Jagow sees Bronevski and tells him Vienna will not give way over the time limit. Jagow refuses to discuss any other matters, saying Russia will have to be satisfied by Austria-Hungary’s pledge not to seek territorial acquisitions.
Berlin: Bethmann has returned to Berlin from his country estate where he has been since the 5 July. He has been kept informed of the main international developments but has not been involved in day to day policy management.He telegraphs the Kaiser, still on his North Sea cruise, that Britain’s “direct participation in a possible […]
Late morning: Rumbold sees Jagow to ask Germany to support a British request to extend the time limit. Jagow says he has already asked the German ambassador in Vienna to do this.Jagow admits Serbia cannot accept the ultimatum but believes the dispute can be localised because Austria-Hungary is promising Russia it won’t annex Serbian territory.He […]
Morning: Theodor Woolf, the editor of a leading Berlin newspaper, warns Jagow that Russia might not yield and there would be a European war.Jagow claims that neither Russia nor France nor England want war but war is likely to come in the future anyway when Russia would be stronger.Woolf also talks to Stumm who says […]
German Foreign Minister tells newspaper editor neither Russia nor France nor England want war but war is likely to come in the future when Russia would be stronger. Germans tell the Austrian ambassador Austria should start military operations against Serbia immediately it receives an unsatisfactory response to the ultimatum. Germany tells Britain that it would […]
Evening: Following warnings from Lichnowsky and Schoen that London and Paris believe the German government is behind the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia Jagow wires Paris, London, and St. Petersburg declaring that Germany had nothing to do with the ultimatum and knew nothing of its contents.
Rome: Flotow meets with San Giuliano and Salandra. He insists only Triple Alliance unity can prevent other powers intervening and escalating the crisis.San Giuliano doesn’t agree and says Italy will keep her options open.He also explains that Italy’s political system makes it necessary for the government to give the country some advantage if it is […]
Berlin: Cambon tells his diplomatic colleagues he believes the Austro-Hungarians are going to use the assassination to try to salvage their position in the Balkans and Berlin will support them because Germany does not want Austria-Hungary weakened any further. Vienna and Berlin “are playing a dangerous game of bluff, and they think they can carry […]
Berlin: Jules Cambon calls on Jagow. Jagow tells him Germany was not aware of the terms of the ultimatum before they were published though it supports them.He says Serbia’s friends should give her “wise advice”. Cambon responds saying Germany should give similar “wise advice” in Vienna. Jagow says the problem has to be localised between […]
Italian Foreign Minister tells the German ambassador in Rome that Italy is not obliged to support Austria-Hungary under the Triple Alliance. It will keep its options open. In response to opinion in Paris and London that Germany is behind the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum Germany says it had nothing to do with the ultimatum and knew nothing […]
Balholm, North Sea: In view of the political tension the Kaiser forbids the dispersal of the German fleet to Norwegian harbours. On his orders Berlin is asked if the Fleet should return home.Berlin later replies recalling the Fleet ahead of schedule could give rise to general concern and be regarded as suspicious, especially in England.
Balholm, North Sea: The Kaiser agrees with Jagow’s intention to say in a wire to Lichnowsky “…. we had no knowledge of the Austrian demands and regarded them as an internal question for Austria-Hungary in which we had no competence to intervene”.The Kaiser notes “Grey is making the mistake of putting Serbia on a level […]
Balholm, North Sea: A copy of a dispatch from Lichnowsky gets similar treatment. Grey’s statement that the British government will exercise its influence in favour of a peaceful settlement of the Austro-Serbian conflict, provided that Vienna’s demands were compatible with Serbian sovereignty makes him very cross.Whether the demands made on Serbia were moderate or not […]
Balholm, North Sea: The Kaiser receives a report of a heated discussion between Pourtalès and Sazonov about the threatening conflict between Austria-Hungary and Serbia.As is his habit he makes marginal comments on the report. He thinks the “annihilation of Serbia” by Austria would “be the best thing”.He rejects Sazonov’s warning Austria would have to reckon […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Germans begin diplomatic efforts to keep a conflict between Austria and Serbia local. “Intervention by another Power might in consequence of the various alliances bring incalculable consequences in its train”.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
The Kaiser gives Germany’s unqualified support to Austria-Hungary in any action it wishes to take against Serbia. The Kaiser thinks it likely Russia will stay out. The Tsar will not take the part of regicides and Russia and its ally France are not prepared for war. A senior German official tells the Austrian envoy he […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
The Kaiser thinks it’s time to settle with the Serbs. German deputy Chief of the General Staff thinks the situation is very serious. Everything will depend on the attitude of Russia to the Austro-Serbian business.