Willy to Nick and Nick to Willy

Set out below are all the telegrams exchanged between the Tsar and the Kaiser in the course of the July crisis. They were all originally written in English and many were sent uncoded. The texts are given verbatim in the Carnegie version of the Kautsky documents.

It must be borne in mind that St Petersburg time was one hour ahead of Berlin time.

There are two problems of sequence.

Willy sent two telegrams, DD 335, which crossed with DD 332 from Nick, and DD 359. Nick then answered with DD 366, probably intended as a reply to DD 359. A few hours later, during which nothing had come from Willy, Nick sent DD 390, thanking Willy for his "quick answer". Did something "ging verlustig" ie got lost between 366 and 390?

The texts of all these telegrams follow.

DD 420, from Willy to Nick, refers to only one telegram from Nick when two, DD 366 and 390, had been received and talks about a matter raised in DD 366 and ignores the subject of DD 390 which had provoked, mistakenly, his indignation. Could there be something missing?

Tuesday 28 July

DD 335. Willy to Nick. Drafted by Stumm and much altered by Willy who noted time as 10.45 pm. Sent at 1.45 am 29 July via German ambassador.

It is with the gravest concern that I hear of the impression which the action of Austria against Serbia is creating in your country. The unscrupulous agitation which has been going on in Serbia for years has resulted in the outrageous crime to which Archduke Ferdinand fell a victim. The spirit that led Serbians to murder their own king and his wife still dominates the country. You will doubtless agree with me that we both, you and me, have a common interest, as well as all Sovereigns, to insist that the persons responsible for the dastardly murder should receive their deserved punishment. In this politics play no part at all.

On the other hand I fully understand how difficult it is for you and your Government to face the drift of your public opinion. Therefore, with regard to the hearty and tender friendship which binds us both from long ago with firm ties, I am exerting my utmost influence to induce the Austrians to deal straightly to arrive to a satisfactory understanding with you. I confidently hope you will help me in my efforts to smoothe over difficulties that may still arise.

Your very sincere and devoted friend and cousin. Willy

Wednesday 29 July

DD 332 Nick to Willy. D 1 am, R 1.10 am at New Palace. Willy's annotations dated 29.7,

7.30 am.

Am glad you are back. In this most serious moment I appeal to you to help me. An ignoble war has been declared to a weak country. (AH had declared war on Serbia 11.00 am 28.7). The indignation in Russia, shared fully by me, is enormous. I foresee that very soon I shall be overwhelmed by the pressure brought upon me, and be forced to extreme measures which will lead to war. To try and avoid such a calamity as a European war, I beg you in the name of our old friendship to do what you can to stop your allies from going too far. Nicky

(Heavily annotated and addressed to Chancellor. "Must have crossed with mine of yesterday evening. Wait for its effect. Copies of both to King of England? Tsar must talk to Franz Josef. Ensure no socialist anti-military demonstrations.)

Wednesday 29 July

DD 359. Willy to Nick. Noted on draft 29 Jully, 6.30 pm. Sent directly from Potsdam. (Cannot have arrived in St Petersburg before 7.30 local time).

Drafted by Jagow and submitted to Kaiser in English. Much altered.

I received your telegram (presumably DD 332 above) and share your wish that peace should be maintained. But as I told you in my first telegram (presumably DD 335 above) I cannot consider Austria's action against Serbia and "ignoble" war. Austria knows by experience that Serbian promises on paper are wholly unreliable. I understand its actions must be judged as trending to get full guarantee that the Serbian promises shall become real facts. This my reasoning is borne out by the statement of the Austrian Cabinet that Austria does not want to make any territorial conquests at the expense of Serbia. I therefore suggest that it would be quite possible for Russia to remain a spectator of the Austro-Serbian conflict without involving Europe in the most horrible war she ever witnessed. I think a direct understand between your Government and Vienna possible and desirable and as I already telegraphed to you, my Government is continuing its exertions to promote it. Of course military measures on the part of Russia which would be looked on by Austria as threatening would precipitate a calamity we both wish to avoid and jeopardize my position as mediator which I readily accepted on your appeal to my friendship and my help. Willy.

Wednesday 29 July

DD 366. Nick to Willy. Filed at Peterhof 8.20 pm. Arrived New Palace 8.42 pm.

Thanks for your telegram conciliatory and friendly.( But which? DD 355 or DD 359?) Whereas official message presented today by your Ambassador to my Minister was conveyed in a very different tone. Beg you to explain this divergency. It would be right to give over the Austro-Serbian problem to the Hague conference. Trust in your wisdom and friendship.

Your loving Nicky

Thursday 30 July

DD 390 Nick to Willy. Filed at Peterhof 1.20 am. Arrived New Palace 1.45 am.

Thank you heartily for your quick answer. Am sending Tatistcheff this evening with instructions. The military measures which have now come into force were decided five days ago for reasons of defence on account of Austria's preparations. I hope from all my heart that these measures won't in any way interfere with your part as mediator which I greatly value. We need your strong pressure on Austria to come to an understanding with us. Nicky.

(But which "quick answer"? Kaiser misunderstood thinking that Russia was "almost a week ahead of us". Would abandon attempts at mediation.)

Thursday 30 July

DD 420 Willy to Nick. Drafted by Kaiser and sent on by Chancellor at 3.30 pm with a copy to the Ambassador.

Best thanks for telegram. It is quite out of the question that my Ambassador's language could have been in contradiction with the tenor of my telegram. (See DD 366 above). Count Pourtalès was instructed to draw the attention of your government to the danger and grave consequences involved by a mobilisation; I said the same in my telegram to you. Austria has only mobilised against SERBIA and only a PART of her army. If, as it is now the case, Russia mobilises against Austria, my role as mediator you kindly intrusted me with, and which I accepted at you(r) express prayer, will be endangered if not ruined. The whole weight of the decision now lies on you(r ) shoulders now, who have to bear the responsibility for peace or war. Willy.

( Looks more like a reply to DD 366 than to DD 390. It refers to only one telegram when two had been received and expresses no indignation at what the Kaiser had understood to be Russia's early mobilisation).

Friday 31 July.

DD 480 Willy to Nick. Drafted by Count Wedel, altered by Kaiser. Sent 2.04 pm. Crossed with DD 487 below.

On your appeal to my friendship and your call for assistance began to mediate between your and the Austro-Hungarian Government. While this action was proceeding your troops were mobilised against Austria-Hungary, my ally. Thereby, as I have already pointed out to you, my mediation has been rendered almost illusory.

I have nevertheless continued my action. I now receive authentic news of serious preparations for war on my eastern frontier. Responsibility for the safety of my Empire forces preventive measures of defence on me. In my endeavours to maintain the peace of the world I have gone to the utmost limit possible. The responsibility for the disaster which is now threatening the whole world will not be laid at my door. In this moment it still lies in your power to avert it. Nobody is threatening the honour or power of Russia who can well afford to await the result of my mediation. My friendship for you and your Empire, transmitted to me by my grandfather on his deathbed, has always been sacred to me and I have honestly often backed up Russia when she was in serious trouble, especially in the last war.

The peace of Europe may still be maintained by you, if Russia will agree to stop the military measures which must threaten Germany and Austria-Hungary. Willy.

Friday 31 July

DD 487. Nick to Willy. Filed in Petersburg Palace 2.55 pm. Arrived Berlin palace office

2.52 pm. Crossed with DD 480 above.

I thank you heartily for your mediation which begins to give one hope that all may yet end peacefully. It is technically impossible to stop our military preparations which were obligatory owing to Austria's mobilisation. We are far from wishing war. So long as the negotiations with Austria on Serbia's account are taking place my troops shall not take any provocative action. I give you my solemn word for this. I put all my trust in God's mercy and hope in your successful mediation in Vienna for the welfare of our countries and for the peace of the world.

Your affectionate


Saturday 1 August.

DD 546. Nick to Willy. Filed in Peterhof 2.06 pm. Arrived Berlin palace 2.05 pm.

I received your telegram (presumably 480 above). Understand you are obliged to mobilise but wish to have the same guaranty from you as I gave you, that these measures DO NOT mean war and that we continue negotiating for the benefit of our countries and universal peace dear to all our hearts.Our long proved friendship must succeed, with God's help, in avoiding bloodshed. Anxiously, full of confidence await your answer.


Saturday 1 August

DD 600. Willy to Nick. Draft submitted to Kaiser 9.45 pm who returned it 10 pm with instruction to send it urgently, uncoded. Sent to Telegraph Office 10.30 pm and dispatched 10.45 pm.

Thanks for your telegram (presumably DD 546 above). I yesterday pointed out to your Government the way by which, alone, war may be avoided. Although I requested an answer for noon today, no telegram from my Ambassador conveying an answer from your Government has reached me as yet. I have therefore been obliged to mobilise my army.

Immediate, affirmative, clear and unmistakable answer from your Government is the only way to avoid endless misery. Until I have received this answer, alas, I am unable to discuss the subject of your telegram. As a matter of fact, I must request you to immediately order your troops on no account, to commit the slightest act of trespassing over our frontiers.


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