The Russian Mobilisation of 1914


Sergei Dobrorolski, a former lieutenant general in the Tsarist army and in charge of the mobilisation section of the General Staff in 1914 was living in Belgrade when he wrote his article. It was published in 1921 in the first volume of a military journal, Voienny Sbornik. In 1922, it was republished in Germany in translation, the version upon which most of this note is based. Clearly, it was welcome to the German "war guilt" industry especially as von Eggeling below could rightly claim that since the author was living in Belgrade when he wrote it, "in the atmosphere of the Entente", he could not be accused of being being prejudiced in Germany's favour. The text was published again, about a year later in 1923, in the two issues of the French "Revue d'Histoire de la Guerre Mondiale". No significant differences have been found between the German and French translations but the second part of the French version does contain a number of comments by Dob on the German commentary and a few remarks by Danilov, the Quarter Master General of the Russian Army in 1914.

However it was obtained, it was most welcome to the German effort to discredit the war guilt clause of the Treaty of Versailles on which the payment of reparations was based. The commentary is far from impartial and it is regrettable that Dobrorolski was not asked to comment further since he may well have objected to many of the interpretations placed on his words. No consideration whatever is given to any alternative interpretation. For example, it does seem clear that the soldiers had very understandable misgivings about any attempt at partial mobilisation especially if a general mobilisation might have to follow. This is an aspect which the German commentators ignore completely. If they had taken it into account, it might have been difficult then to maintain that the Russian military were demanding general mobilisation because they wanted war with Germany.

It is only too understandable that the commentators should have seized on anything implying that, for the Russians, mobilisation inevitably meant war since that certainly was true of Germany with the adoption of Moltke's plan to take Liège by coup de main. Certainly standing down after a general mobilisation would have been a difficult exercise for which the soldiers were not prepared and would not have welcomed. Nonetheless, if it had been ordered, it would have been done.


Notes to the German text translated below.

(33) Indicates the page number in the original text.

If embedded in the text, the brackets are those of the original author as are phrased ending .....

There are two versions of the title page and another claiming copyright. The text itself begins on page 5. Nothing is known of pages 1 to 4. Page 8 is blank in the original and the text passes directly from page 7 to page 9 so that it seems nothing has been omitted.

Footnotes, indicated by brackets thus (....), are inserted into the text as nearly as possible where they belong.

[fff] means comments by the translator

DD means the "Die Deutschen Dokumente zum Kriegsausbruch" or "German Documents on the Outbreak of War" originally collected by Kautsky, later edited by Montgelas and Schücking and published in English by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

A particular difficulty has been to understand what Dobrorolski meant by "Reichswehr". It clearly did not mean the ordinary active army and so has been rendered by "Territorials" for want of anything better. The occasional reference to "Landwehr" is even more doubtful and has been left in German. "Sotnia" means a unit of Cossack cavalry and has been rendered as "squadron" but, for the territorial infantry, "Drushina" means only a unit of some sort and has been left untranslated.

For convenience, the English (British version) expression "call up" has been used. Its basic meaning is to be required to report for military service.

In general, nothing has been omitted. For convenience, as a rule, the name of the person is used rather than his office eg Janushkevich rather than Chief of Staff.

Most of the text is in proper type set printing but there are many passages inserted in typescript. They do not seem to be particularly significant passages.

Title Page

Contribution on the Question of War Guilt.

Published by the Central Office for Research into the Question of War Guilt.

First Volume

General Sergei Dobrorolski

The Mobilization of the Russian Army in 1914

With contributions by

Graf Pourtalès Formerly German Ambassador in St Petersburg

Retired Colonel D. von Eggeling Formerly German Military Attaché in St Petersburg

Retired General Graf Montgelas Military Consultant to the Parliamentary Enquiry Committee of the Reichstag

And a preface by

Dr Ernst Sauerbeck Leader of the Central Office for Research into the Question of War Guilt.

In Berlin. 1922

Published by Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft für Politik und Geschichte m.b.h in Berlin W8



With the present volume, the Central Office for Research into the Origins of the War begins a series of contributions on the question of war guilt which will make known especially important conclusions on German war guilt as well as important new material from foreign documents on war guilt and which will be examined critically.

The subject of the first contribution, the Russian mobilisation, is rightly thought , since the outbreak of the war, to be essential to the question of war guilt.

Without Russian mobilisation, there would have been no general mobilisation in Austria-Hungary, no German ultimatum, no German mobilisation, no German declaration of war and so no World War.

The facts of the Russian mobilisation have therefore been, since the outbreak of the war, obscured as much as possible by the Russian government and also by the French government which also carries much responsibility. Anyone who studies the published documents cannot avoid an impression that something decisive is being distorted or hidden.

After the collapse of the Kerensky government in August 1917, the famous Sukhomlinov trial made plain just how far the famous "colour books" ie those of the official defence documents of 1914, had falsified history.

[ True but as Albertini points out, the Germans were even less forthcoming than the other Powers]

The world then learnt, at least approximately, from the mouth of a close participant, the War Minister Sukhomlinov, answering allegations of failure to prepare for the war and from Janushkevitch, Chief of the General Staff, who gave evidence, what really did happen. One learnt particularly that Russian general mobilisation was not ordered on 31 July but on 30 July or even on 29 July and only because of an order from the Tsar, under the impression of a mediatory proposal from the Kaiser, was it cancelled at the last minute and replaced by partial mobilisation against Austria-Hungary only.

With that not only was some military data corrected but rather the whole diplomatic sequence appears


in a different light. All the reasons Russia gave earlier for general mobilisation were revealed to be pretexts. It was decided not only before the German decisive measures and before Austrian general mobilisation but even before hostilities between Austria-Hungary and Serbia had been decided. The sole reason was the declaration of war by Austria-Hungary on Serbia and this only because of the attitude of the Russian Foreign Minister, Sazonov. For the military party, it was only the last act of measures decided upon on 24 July, thus before the breaking off of diplomatic relations between Austria-Hungary and Serbia, as the Tsar indicated to the Kaiser.

It is not the purpose of these introductory remarks to examine the whole matter exhaustively. Some of what could be said here will be said in the essays attached to this new Russian contribution --- the most important since the Sukhomlinov trial! --- to the question of the Russian mobilisation. These essays are by men specially qualified to give an opinion: some were participants, such as the former German ambassador in St Petersburg, Count Pourtalès, and the former German military attaché there, Col. von Eggeling; others are scholars specialised in the subject, such as the former general and present expert witness for the Parliamentary Commission for Investigating the Question of War Guilt, Count Montgelas.

It remains for other contributions on the question to pursue and to arrive at a final verdict.

Here it remains to be said only that the statement of General Dobrorolski, the man most directly involved, the head of the Mobilisation Department of the Russian General Staff, confirms in all significant matters the evidence of the Sukhomlinov trial apart from the the fact that Janushkevich's dates, which throughout were one day later than Sukhomlinov's, are confirmed in Sukhomlinov's sense. That is 29 and not 30 July was the original appointed date and that 30 and not 31 July was the date finally fixed for general mobilisation are established, thus causing the complete collapse of the desperate defensive efforts of the opponents, in particular Grelling, in the notorious supplement in the "Freien Zeitung". Of course, Dobrorolski disputes that Sukhomlinov and Janushkevich did not actually carry out the order to change general mobilisation into partial mobilisation. On this point, Sukhomlinov, the only survivor of the two, must speak.

And should Sukhomlinov prevail over Dobrorolski, so much the worse for Russia and --- himself!


That we have here before us the final account may be drawn from the circumstance that overall, wherever circumstances allow, it accords with what Paléologue [the French ambassador at St Petersburg in 1914] wrote in "Revue des Deux Mondes" early in 1921 who in these matters is to be trusted since, apparently not entirely consciously, he witnesses against the Entente.

That this diplomat had such deep insight into these most secret and, for Russia, so onerous/incriminating matters, the French government must answer for it too is heavily compromised. On 31 July, when the German ambassador at the Quai d'Orsay made known the German countermeasures, he was told they knew nothing of Russia's general mobilisation; and it seems England first knew of the fateful event later the same evening and from German sources. The question imposes itself: how was this possible if this mobilisation had already been decided on during the morning of 29 July and prepared throughout that day and if, further more, on the evening of 29 July it was said, as Paléologue himself reports, that the general mobilisation had indeed been replaced by partial mobilisation against Austria-Hungary alone, but was nevertheless pursued "secretly", and if it was again decided on in the early afternoon of 30 July?

Last summer, these questions were put to Poincaré and Viviani by "Humanité" and by Demartial, Morhardt and others. A satisfactory answer has not yet emerged. The world waits, all the more impatiently now that Poincaré is again in power.

It concerns a very important question for France and the world. For by ignorance of the Russian mobilisation, the French people were led to believe in a German "attack" and in the "Peace" of 1919 too!

Here questions will not be put but answers given.

So let the head of the Russian Mobilisation Department speak, and after him for the first time the men on the German side who deserve to be heard.

Professor Hoeniger, coincidentally Expert Consultant to the Parliamentary Enquiry Committee and especially expert in Russian armaments will give, in a later volume, a comprehensive contribution with documentary support,

Berlin January 1922 Dr Ernst Sauerbeck



On the Mobilisation of the Russian Army 1914



It was the prologue to a great historical drama which is not yet played out. Already in the background, one perceived foggy/doubtful points, precursors to the predominantly gloomy tone of the entire epoch. The investigation of the mobilisation procedure in all its details is therefore of great interest. It can be described only by the pen of a specialist, with the use of all the documents. This sketch does not claim to be a work of this kind: far from all sources, with no notes or documents, consequently without figures and the usual diaries, it is not possible to deliver a serious historical work. It is more modest and consists of the personal experience of one who, as leader of the relative organs, was required technically to light the fire under the world's oven.

The mobilisation of a state's armed forces occupies a very special place in the complicated machinery of war. Its course depends least of all on the personal will of the leader. It is worked out in full detail so that, when the moment is chosen, one has only to press the button and the entire state works like clockwork so as to transform the standing army into a people in arms.

(Some may doubt whether it is right to publish "secret" material. It should be remembered that all the secrets of the pre-revolutionary Russian government are now in the hands of a government installed with the support of the German General Staff and the military head of which is Trotsky-Bronstein. In their hands are now all the archives, documents and plans previously kept behind ten locks. It has long been known that anyone who wants these secrets can buy them just as the whole of unhappy Russia has already been bought.)


The leader chooses only the start date. Quickly done though many political factors are involved. Once fixed, it is all settled. There is no way back. It decides mechanically the start of the war.

The type of mobilisation must also be decided if various varieties of mobilisation have been provided for.

In July 1914, both decisions were taken only after much toing and froing. The details of these vacillations are little known although some phases have been written about in some journals.

I will try to go into these vacillations more deeply in view of the fact that they are without doubt of historical interest.

Before going further, it is necessary to say something about the basic dispositions of our mobilisation before the Great War.

About the Russian Mobilisation in General.

Three types of mobilisation.

General mobilisation: Simultaneously over the whole country all the trained manpower which has seen service is called up to bring the Army and the Navy to war strength. Some untrained or little trained reserves may also be called up ie some conscript years.

Gradual Mobilisation. Same object but by districts and provinces. May be used in the case of a strong but remote neighbour on whose frontier the mobilised army can be concentrated only slowly and gradually because of insufficient rail capacity.

Partial mobilisation: Against a weak neighbour when the whole strength of the Army and fleet is not necessary to achieve the war aims.


General mobilisation means the use of the entire war machine to the utmost, calling up all the fit, male population. As a result of such a general conscription which is like a people in arms, . second and third line armies are established. Such a mobilisation embraces the concepts of general and gradual mobilisation. This is the extreme form of general mobilisation --- let us call it the mobilisation of all the people. This is in the real sense of the words "the people in arms" The same may be done in Gradual Mobilisation. In the real sense of "the people in arms", the levée en masse.

Our basic military law, of 1912, permitted the call up of all fit men 20 --- 43 years old, that is 24 year classes, meaning about 12 million men, allowing for exemptions permitted by law and 15 million if not.

(In the whole of Russia in 1912, each year class of men in the age range, apart from nationalities and population groups exempted from service, averaged about 700,000 men.

Neither technically possible nor necessary in general mobilisation to call up all at the same time. On the contrary: here was Russia's general human reserve which in a certain gradual succession would be put to use during the whole course of the war.

So our general mobilisation provided for

  1. Mobilisation of the standing army by calling up reservists and ordering horses, vehicles and motor transport.
  2. Formation of troop units out of second category and reserve troops from the peacetime cadres.
  3. Formation of effectively second line units but those who had actively served or done the practices would go to the first line or the Field Army.

The resulting numbers?

Our peacetime army amounted to 1.3 million men.

The reserves from 15 year groups ie from 1897 to 1914 = 3.5 million men.


The whole remaining mass of conscripts consisted of "territorials" ("Reichswehr"), first and second class.The first was formed by those who had done their service or who had completed a short term military training in the exercises. The untrained formed the second category. In total, the territorials amounted to the colossal total of 7 --- 10 million men. All were included in the mobilisation plan, but not in detail, as an army reserve. Probably only the first group would be enough. Also registered were the four youngest year groups who, for one reason or another, had not done their service in peacetime. Then there were the older men who had finished their time in the reserves and who had to stay in the first category until they reached 43. From these "Territorials" were 900 "Drushinen" [?], "Sotnijen" [Cossack cavalry squadrons] and batteries formed. Around 1 million men. Destined mainly for Lines of Communications duties and garrisons replacing the Field Army.

About 1 million men from the second group of "Territorials" were formed into 500 battalions.

In all, the mobilisation plan covered 7.0 million men.

But not all were called at once.

The Army Reserve was called up by an order from the Tsar to the Directing Senate in which the relevant [provincial] Governments and Districts had to enumerate the men in their year groups. Through a special telegram, that had to be signed by three Ministers, War, Navy and Interior, the Tsar's order was promulgated. In the same order and telegram was ordered the call up of only those first category "Territorials" who had exceptionally been attached to the troops. This applied mainly to certain border districts there was the danger that the trained "territorials" who happened to be left behind might fall into the hands of the enemy.

The whole mass of the "Territorials" would be called up only later by a decree of the Tsar.

Our law provided for different reporting times for Reservists and for "Territorials" varied from 24 to 72 hours. For [other?] "Territorials" reporting times were staggered. Accordingly, mobilisation was gradual. Thus the timely preparation of the standing army and of the "Territorials" was very different.


The Plan, by hours not days, laid down the times, districts, units and authorities which regulated the application to communes [Gemeinen?], Reserve and horses.

In 1914, Mobilisation Plan 18 was in force. A new plan was made every year, replacing the old one after a delay, according to the alterations required by strategic considerations The numbering of the plans began in the period after the Russo-Turkish War 1877-78 when, under the influence of the Triple Alliance against Russia concluded by Bismarck for the first time in 1879, we moved towards the preparation of a general plan of defence for our western borders.

Plan 18 dated from 1910 when the reform took place of our field infantry and artillery and the reserve and fortress infantry were abolished.

Transition to a new plan was always difficult. Railways, local governments, police, administrative branches of the army were all deeply involved. The work took several months but went more quickly with practice and mobilisation times became shorter. In the transitional period, military preparedness suffered and misunderstandings could easily arise.

For the introduction of a new plan, one should choose a politically quiet time. There were almost no such times after 1910. Europe lived in an armed peace. 1909 annexation of Bosnia-Hercegovina and the "Knight in War Gear" reminded his friend that he was fully prepared to


support him. 1912 prelude to the Great War. Balkan Wars etc. The inevitability of the great fight thus ripened.

We saw we had to strengthen our forces but circumstances, not least the constant changes of Chief of Staff (5 in 5 years) meant the 5 Year Great Programme not started till 1913.

For these reasons, new Mobilisation Plan was to start 1.1.15. In consequence, the war found our army with Plan 18 which had been altered and completed in part and therefore since 1912 had borne the designation Revised Plan No 18..

On this plan, we mobilised. Besides it, there was also a row of draft plans for partial mobilisation.

The huge extent of the country, with 10 neighbours with 7 of whom we had been at war at some time in the 19th century, meant we had to provide for war with each, singly or in combinations.

Besides general mobilisation, partial mobilisations were foreseen for every political situation.

A particularly clear example was the Japanese war. Declared 27.1.04, first the Siberian military districts were mobilised and then, gradually district by district, the European districts. There were 11 such partial mobilisation plans. It was planned that the remaining troops in Europe should remain battle ready, complete and independent. That was not achieved. Every partial mobilisation was not separate from the then general mobilisation but rather torn out of different districts of the general mobilisation. We remember infantry divisions with "foreign" artillery brigades often from another


military district. This depended on the re-arming of our field artillery. Technical troops were taken from all over Russia.

A characteristic example of what disorganisation partial mobilisation imposed on troops remaining behind was the Landing Corps --- Expedition, carefully maintained at Odessa since the 1880s in case it was necessary to occupy the Bosphorus. Its accumulated matériel was sent to Manchuria in 1905 and not replaced. It might perhaps have been possible to carry out this expedition in 1914 and would have given us the possibility of covering the left flank of our strategic front.

In a word, partial mobilisations in the Japanese war completely disorganised a general mobilisation.

This practical experience was remembered in 1914 but was not fully taken into account. Why not? Deficiencies in military organisation needing decisive radical reform. Lack of reserve officers, very uneven distribution geographically of some categories of reservists especially technical personnel, chronic backwardness in logistics which could not meet the most basic and urgent needs of troops, extreme regional variations in density of the rail net, lack of rolling stock and poor utilisation of what there was.

Not worth going into details. Enough to say that any partial mobilisation must hinder a general mobilisation. To make this clear, we must examine the objectives of each mobilisation. Nor are these undertaken only for the intimidation of a restless neighbour.

In the first quarter of the 20th century, what wars could Russia expect? Clearly a war with the Triple Alliance, the Central Powers, would be a life and death struggle to the exhaustion of one side or the other. Any mobilisation plan had to treat this as the most serious possibility.


Various others could happen, in Asia, Far East, Japan where we could not, even if we tried, use all our forces. Turkey also possible. For the last 200 years, we had had a war with Turkey every 25 years. Expeditionary actions were also possible --- Afghanistan, Persia, China.

For all such eventualities, partial mobilisation plans were needed. Those plans had to ensure they did not hinder general mobilisation.

Altered Plan 18 attempted to do just that so far as men and horses were concerned. But our military systems were as described above and so wrecked, in practice, any attempt at partial mobilisation without damaging general mobilisation. One must remember this when learning about mobilisation in 1914.

The year 1914 began.

The central administration of the military planned important measures for this year.

The Great Programme, adopted end 1913, covered five years and would add considerably to our power in 1914. Especially in field artillery with organisation into regiments. Infantry divisions were to have an artillery brigade in four batteries in three regiments, 8 light and 2 howitzer batteries and one "cadre" battery for second category divisions. Corps artillery would have a section of field howitzers, another of heavy guns and another of heavy howitzers. This would give the infantry divisions significantly more combat power. The extent of the "closed cadres" for the second category infantry regiments would be strengthened. To the 36 existing corps, two new ones would be added.

At the end of 1914, Mobilisation Plan 19 would come into force by which, for the first time, except for the Amur district, all districts could be mobilised with their own reservists.


Our artillery park in guns and ammunition, which was well below establishment, would in the course of the year be improved.

A large part of this programme was to be carried out in 1914 and so it was important to remain at peace.

In 1915, our army would have a strong heavy artillery which really was the mistress of the battlefield in the Great War. I can witness to that. In April 1915, Mackensen attacked our 3rd Army and broke through, using 200 heavy guns against our 10th Corps while in the 7 corps of 3rd Army, over a front of 200 versts, there were 4 heavy guns, 2-42L and 2-6 inches and both 42L guns were out of use.

In the course of 1914, the Tsaritsyn was to begin work at full speed.

Amongst many other reasons, our enemy could not have wanted to delay the war until after 1915 when tactically our army would have been much stronger. In our past, we were often forced into war while rearming. At the time of the Crimea, we planned to re-equip the infantry with a long range rifle, on the eve of 1877 with the Berdan rifle, on the eve of the Japanese war the field artillery was being re-equipped......

My Personal Recollections

On the eve, all was quiet in St Petersburg. Poincaré was ceremoniously accompanied. On 24 July, Janushkevich called me urgently to his office.

He said the situation was very serious and that Austria-Hungary had sent a totally unacceptable ultimatum to Serbia


and we could not remain uninvolved. It was decided to say this often and clearly. Tomorrow, the "Russki Invalid" would carry a short official warning that all Russia would, with excited attention, watch the course of the Austrian-Serbian dealings and would not remain indifferent if the honour and integrity of the blood related Serbian people were endangered. Is everything ready for the mobilisation of the army?

I said yes and was then told to bring in an hour all the details of the war preparedness of the troops because a partial mobilisation against Austria-Hungary was in prospect. That would give Germany no occasion to see anything hostile in it.

I reported that a partial mobilisation could not be considered. Again I had to report in an hour. General Ronshin, head of military transport, was there and the General Quarter Master, Danilov, was absent on duty in the Caucasus. The total impossibility of a partial mobilisation was clear. What must drive strategy? Politics. What was then the political constellation in Europe? Two competing groups. While it was still possible to doubt whether the Franco-Russian Alliance could be regarded as unshakeable, given the two totally different forms of government no doubt could arise as to the unity and solidity of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Their treaty of alliance was regularly renewed and officially published. Only 6 years before, the head of the Triple Alliance had solemnly assured Austria-Hungary, at the time of the annexation of Bosnia, that the faithful knight in shining armour would do his duty.

What purpose then would a partial mobilisation against Austria-Hungary only serve? A threat, not supported by a convincing display of force,


must tempt them to disregard it. A partial mobilisation must result in precisely the opposite result of that intended.

Strategically, a partial mobilisation was simply folly. It was envisaged to mobilise 4 districts, Moscow, Kiev, Odessa and Kazan. 13 army corps were based in those districts. They must be moved immediately to their deployment places. Suppose this were done? What about the Warsaw District? This should remain undisturbed so as to give Germany no occasion for mistrust. So the whole of the southern boundary of the Warsaw District bordering on Austria-Hungary would be uncovered and unprotected. And what consequences if later general mobilisation was necessary?

The current mobilisation plan did not provide for mobilising individual districts and many units drew reservists from other districts, a consequence of the variations in pacification [?], population density of the different regions of Russia. Also some of our field troops had been withdrawn from the western borders to the interior; but the most populated districts of central Russia and the Volga regions were in the Moscow and Kazan districts where there were fewer troops. They supplied reservists to Turkestan, Siberia and the Caucasus and could be called up only by general mobilisation. This meant that the railways, irrespective of the announcement of partial mobilisation, must be ready to put into operation the Military Travel Plan only with the proclamation of general mobilisation.

For the railways, this required a quite special combination, partial mobilisation of a few European districts with general mobilisation to follow, one which was not prepared, as already mentioned


because the possibility of a partial mobilisation against only Austria-Hungary had never been foreseen.

(Rail traffic could not, according to the Military Travel Plan, be by regions and military districts. A blockage would have been unavoidable. A long and tiresome preparation would have been essential.)

Even more strategically dangerous would have been a concentration of the mobilised troops at the frontier.

Only one Deployment Plan had been prepared. Under it, troops from the Moscow and Kazan districts were destined for the Warsaw District. Under the planned partial mobilisation, these troops would have had to be sent to other concentration areas which would have had to be selected in the Kiev District.

It was probable that partial mobilisation would be followed by general mobilisation and one had to assume that, afterwards, deployment would begin and, if it were in two stages, a delay would result of, at best, the number of days between the partial and general mobilisations. This could have very serious consequences especially if the Triple Alliance saw the results of a gradual mobilisation on our part and were to do everything to cause us to make such a combination.

All these disadvantages were brought home in detail to Janushkevich in a report. At the same time, a memo listing some measures necessary in view of the possibility of a mobilisation ie

  1. Troops were in training areas, often far from their bases and their mobilisation equipment reserves. They must be brought back.
  2. Shortage of officers --- about 3000 below peacetime strength. Officer cadets must be commissioned at once. Ditto


  1. officers on staff courses etc.
  2. Commanders of fortresses and some border districts must get war powers to ensure mobilisation not disturbed by spies and ill disposed persons.
  3. The Period Preparatory to War must be declared for the whole country by which certain local decentralised preparatory measures would be carried out.

(Re Period Preparatory to War. Introduced in February 1913 after a conference of all interested parties presided over by General Lukomsky, checked by ministerial adviser and confirmed by the Tsar.)

On this day, 25 July, Janushkevich attended a meeting of the Council of Ministers at Krasnoye Selo and at 8 pm a meeting of the General Staff Committee ie all the department heads. At this, Janushkevich said that the decision for partial mobilisation was unalterable, that Russia, as protector of the Slavs, would send a suitable reply to Austria-Hungary. All planned measures were confirmed. Already, next day, the Guards regiments returned to barracks and the cadets were commissioned.

The General Staff Committee was devoted to the draft regulation appointing officers to their wartime commands, the most significant omission in our preparations and which was completed under the thunder of the approaching storm.

The following days are all well known because of the official "colour books" and documents. The war was already decided upon and the whole flood of telegrams between the governments of Russia and Germany was only the staging [ "mise en scène"] of an historical drama....

[ This statement was clearly very welcome to German apologists who claim to understand it to mean that Russia had determined to go to war. Is that really justified? Could it not also mean that it was clear that Germany had so decided and Russia knew it? Or that relations between the two countries had been precarious for so long that sooner or later a war could not be avoided? "Staging" in the sense of preparing a theatrical production for performance is as good a translation as any but it is anyone's guess what a Tsarist general meant by it. Note that on original page number 44 below, von Eggeling uses the word "Inszenierung" in the same way.]


.......The protraction of the decisive moment was certainly useful for the preparations but it did raise the tension on both sides of the border. The Period Preparatory to War did not authorise mobilisation type measures but it was clear that in the border zones, where the people and the local authorities were nervous, some exceeded their authority. Especially on the German border where risk that supply of horses and call up of reservists could be exploited by the enterprising neighbour.

In the Suvalki Government, horses were assembled prematurely which gave Pourtalès, German ambassador in St Petersburg, chance to complain to our government especially via the military agent [military attaché?] to the War Minister. Sukhomlinov rejected roundly all accusations of premature mobilisation measures but one cannot conceal that no military border chief or district chief would not show his own initiative once the Period Preparatory to War was declared. Border incidents are always possible especially at such a time.

The unfortunate idea of partial mobilisation had not been given up and had its supporters but not amongst the military authorities. Janushkevich was naturally fully and completely aware of all the dangers but, as we shall see, his reports to the Sovereign failed to create the same conviction.

25, 26 and 27 July were days of anguish for the optimists. Sazonov was one such at first. Only through that can one explain the espousal of partial mobilisation and his confidence at the Peterhof in its salutary effect. The dominant opinion there was understandable. The consciousness of great responsibility and premonitions brought internal dispute and noticeable vacillations. As a direct result, salvation was sought by partial mobilisation against Austria-Hungary. But for Sazonov and Sukhomlinov, it must have


....been clear that it would only give our enemies a further occasion to be insolent. This decision created the most unfavourable conditions imaginable for our start operations.

A good example of the friendly behaviour of Germany was the case of the German ship in Kronstadt 27 July. It aroused the suspicion of the fortress commandant and was found to be equipped with wireless. Under Period Preparatory to War, the use of such equipment in the fortress district was forbidden. The captain was arrested and the ship detained. Pourtalès protested. The Tsar ordered the ship and the captain to be released and in his own hand wrote to the Grand Duke to condemn such treatment of a ship of a friendly power.

On 28 July, the day Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Sazonov's optimism suffered a blow and he was driven to the conclusion that a general war was unavoidable. He advised Janushkevich to delay mobilisation no longer and, as Janushkevich said, was surprised it had not already begun.

On the evening of 28 July, two orders were prepared for the Tsar's signature, one for general and one for partial mobilisation. The general one provided for the call up of the reservists of all age classes in all districts and regions of European Russia excepting only the Amur District and ten counties of the Vyatka ...


[something of a muddle. By no conceivable definition can the Amur district be considered as part of European Russia]

.....and Perm Governments.

It was decided to undertake the mobilisation of the troops in the Amur district and the ten counties two weeks later as the 1st and 11th Siberian corps in peacetime were already at their war strength. The final mobilisation of these corps should be completed [why, if they were already at war strength?] with reservists from the ten counties. While these two corps moved to the western frontier, the reservists would be assembled by the railways so that they would not have to traverse the whole of Siberia twice.

The order for partial mobilisation covered the Moscow, Kiev, Kazan and Odessa districts. For the call up of the "Territorials", a manifesto was prepared but the "Landwehr" would be called only after the reservists.

On the morning of 29 July, Janushkevich gave me the general mobilisation order, signed by the Tsar, fixing the first day as 30 July. This decree had to be presented to the Directing Senate for publication but first it was necessary to go to the Ministers of War, Navy and Interior to obtain their signatures on the telegram through which, according to the law, the mobilisation was to be communicated to the troops commanders and regional and district governors only when duly signed.

I remember well my visits to the to the ministers. During these fateful days, War Minister Sukhomlinov was very reticent and, as though this was his intention, the leading role in the War Ministry passed to Janushkevich. In these days, he represented the leader of the most important ministry with a vigour one would not have expected of him at all.

Sukhomlinov evidently grasped that Russia was being drawn into a war which would exceed her strength and...


.....plainly wanted to forget shrill articles he had prompted in "Birshewja Wjedmosti" about our preparedness. "Russia does not want war but does not fear it". In these serious days, he left it all, apparently deliberately, to Janushkevich who would become Chief of Staff to the High Command. If there had been at this time at the head of the military function somewhat different people: one who had more patriotism and statesmanlike thinking, such as D. A. Milyutin, and another with greater knowledge of the mysteries of successful warmaking and more understanding of the army and its needs, such as N. N. Obrushchev, the war could have been delayed to a better moment for us.

The Navy Minister was astonished. "What! War with Germany! The Fleet is not ready. Kronstadt could not protect the Residence from a bombardment." He called Sukhomlinov to confirm that he had to sign and did sign with a heavy heart.

In the office of Maklakov, the Interior Minister, there was a prayerful atmosphere. Opposite his desk, where he sat, was a small table covered with a white cloth. On it, there was a large icon before which a church lamp glowed and some church candles were burning. He began to speak about the revolutionaries who were awaiting the war impatiently, hoping to finish then what they had started during the Japanese war. "The war cannot be really popular with the masses and the ideas of the revolution mean more to them than a victory over Germany. But fate cannot be denied". He crossed himself and signed.

Then I went to the main Telegraph Office to send the historic telegram.


It was almost 9 pm on 29 July. The head of the Post Office had been warned so I went to the office of the head of the Petersburg Telegraph Office, gave him the telegram and remained to see its dispatch all over the Russian Empire. In my presence, it was typed ready to be sent out to all the Governments and border towns. A special instruction laid down that during the sending of the mobilisation telegram, no other telegrams were to be sent.

The vast room of the Petersburg Telegraph Office was all ready, with its some dozen machines, to accept the mobilisation telegram.

But, at that moment, about 9.30 pm, Janushkevich telephoned and ordered me to stop the telegram until the arrival of Staff Captain Turgan-Baranovski. He arrived, explained that he had chased me through the town to bring me an order from the Tsar not to send the mobilisation telegram. G general mobilisation was cancelled and partial mobilisation substituted.

I immediately gathered up the original telegram and all the copies, told the head of the Telegraph Office about the withdrawal and left. This change was due to a telegram from Kaiser Wilhelm to the Tsar which said "If Russia mobilises against Austria-Hungary, my role as mediator, undertaken at your urgent request, will be compromised if not impossible. The whole weight of the decision lies on your shoulders and you bear the responsibility for peace or war".

[This is DD 359 but contains some elements of the Kaiser's telegram of 30 July, DD 420. Were they published in the German and/or Russian "colour books" and so became known to Dobrorolski? In any case, how would substituting partial mobilisation for general mobilisation have met Wilhelm's point?]

I sent the telegram ordering partial mobilisation to the commanders of the military districts of Moscow, Kazan, Kiev and Odessa later, towards midnight on 29 July, through Captain Tugan-Baranovski.


I went back to Janushkevich's office and could not conceal the pain of the whole alteration. It was plain that the whole weight of the coming misunderstandings and confusion --- because it was clear general mobilisation would follow a few days later, would fall on us, the General Staff.

Janushkevich explained that His Majesty had said that he took the responsibility entirely upon himself: the soldiers had done everything they could to ensure general mobilisation but the Tsar had decided against it.

The above must make plain the falsity of the description by Vladimir Nabokov in "Rul" at the time of the Sukhomlinov trial. (The same appeared in the Sukhomlinov diary published in Helsinki and in extracts in "Posledniya Izvestia"). [Dobrorolski's brackets]

(It seems to me that the diary, if not apocryphal, at least was written afterwards, after his dismissal and after or directly before the trial).

Namely that Sukhomlinov and Janushkevich, without authority had not altered the order for general mobilisation and that both had betrayed the Tsar. This idea dates from 1917 after the collapse of the monarchy. In reality, neither one nor the other had been disloyal to the Tsar in 1914.

(The Tsar would have known of such disobedience the next morning since the general mobilisation of millions of men could not have been kept secret).

So 30 July was the first mobilisation day for the four districts. Troops of the Petersburg, Vilna, Warsaw, Caucasus, Turkestan and the three Siberian districts received no mobilisation orders. The North, North West of Russia, the Don region, Caucasus, Turkestan, all Siberia and all the Cossack districts were not affected. Nor was the Fleet mobilised.

[This may not be quite right. Some Cossacks may have been included. Pourtalès certainly thought so. See DD 410. Why should Dobrorolsky be wrong about such a detail?]

About 11 am on 30 July, Janushkevich called me to say that things might improve and I was to be ready with all the documentation when he sent for me immediately after midday.


Janushkevich had persuaded Sazonov and then the Tsar of the political dangers of partial mobilisation in that it was a breach of our alliance obligations towards France and would allow Kaiser Wilhelm to extract from the French a promise of neutrality. And when we were stuck in our partial mobilisation, he would then declare war and exploit our unreadiness.

[But what became of the obligation to consult with France before ordering mobilisation? It may not have been in the treaty but certainly was accepted as an obligation in 1912]

About 1 pm, Sazonov telephoned Janushkevich to say that the latest news from Berlin had convinced the Tsar in favour of general mobilisation of the Army and the Fleet. "So give your orders, General, and then disappear for the day" added the minister.

Directly after, Janushkevich called me and told me of this discussion.

A new mobilisation telegram was needed, the first day to be 31 July. No confusion would result in the four partial mobilisation districts because no troop movements or loadings of troops and horses would happen on the first day. In fact, the reservists were allowed 24 hours to put their own affairs in order. For those districts, general mobilisation would simply supersede partial mobilisation and the only consequence would be the loss of 24 hours.

Again, the three ministers had to sign, fixing 31 July as the first day.


There happened to be at that time an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers, chaired by Goremykin. Janushkevich and I went there and got all the signatures. At 5 pm, I went to the Telegraph Office. The procedure was the same as the day before. I wondered if the telegram would really go this time, remembering Sazonov's words about disappearing for the day. All the machines were ready by 6. I walked into the hall. A solemn silence reigned. The telegraphists sat by their equipment and waited for the duplicate of the telegram which would send to all parts of the Russian land the meaningful news of the rising of the Russian people to the great fight.

A few minutes after 6, in total silence, the machines began to chatter. That was the beginning of it all. The telegram was prepared with an acknowledgement of receipt and I waited for them.

About 7 pm all the directly connected places had acknowledged good receipt.

The matter had irrevocably begun. All the big towns of our immeasurable fatherland knew. The Prologue had begun.

Late in the evening, the Kiev District had a few questions but no one else.

Early next morning, in the streets of St Petersburg there appeared many red posters calling up the reservists. White notices announced....


.....the state of war throughout St Petersburg and suburbs.

On the same day, 31 July, agents reported mobilisation in Germany and Austria-Hungary. The latter had mobilised some corps earlier at the time of the ultimatum to Serbia.

On 1 August, the German Kaiser declared war on Russia. On Sunday 2 August, there took place in the Winter Palace the Tsar's unforgettable acceptance of the German challenge.

On mobilisation Day 2 (1 August) reservists began to report and the collection started of horses and, where provided for by the state of war, of the population's carts, motor trucks and cars.....

The time limits for mobilisation and war preparedness were different for units and authorities, some hours only for cavalry border regiments and up to some weeks for 2nd category troops and supply units. Special limits were set for "Territorials".

The call up of the "Territorials" began after mobilisation. The Manifesto for the call up of the 1st category was one week after the start of the call up of the reservists, signed 7 August. It was left to the discretion of Sukhomlinov to do it gradually --- by year groups and districts --- according to need. There were 3 million reservists and in all 10 million "Territorials" Their call up depended on the practical possibilities of equipment, weapons and supplies. This was really an enormous job and one never before carried out. We had no previous history of "The People in Arms" and although many "Special Books" had been prepared, in practice this general conscription was without precedent and it caused severe difficulties. In essence, these had to be solved as follows: for strategic reasons it was necessary to fix the extent of the army and ancillary formations and in order to achieve success the state had to set these up in the shortest time. For this, the whole remaining contingent of defence capable male population must be devoted to filling the gaps in the ranks of the standing army. It must be trained, prepared and then sent as needful as reserve units to the front.


For successful training and to avoid useless disturbance of the population, one needed to fix 1. the length of training needed and 2. the number required per unit of time, say monthly.

This could be learnt only from practical experience which pre-war we had not had. Plainly, too many would be better than too few. It follows that during the war, a network of troop depots would be needed across the country in which the reserves could be assembled and trained. This network should have been planned and prepared in good time in peacetime for the especially important task of processing the human material that was to be sent to the army's front line in order to maintain this at the desired level qualitatively and quantitatively. This is a well known system for reserve troops. Sadly, we had prepared no such system. The Mobilisation Plan called for 188 reserve formations, excluding cavalry. Of these, only the Field Troops had complete officer cadres. Their figure was minimal. If one wanted to take only units with 10,000 (impossible in practice) this gave fewer than 2.0 million men. The reserve units varied in their capacity to absorb further men and one should make units of 10,000 out of them?

The Great Programme, mentioned above, planned 500 reserve battalions 2nd category but they were not ready by the outbreak. All we had was a register of the people in the Mobilisation Plan.

And so it happened that in the early days, the field troops were chronically short of men while in the communications zones behind ten thousands of healthy men were being held back on all sorts of pretexts. This running sore in the People's War could have been avoided only by a carefully prepared system for the reserves. In a dense network of reserve formations should have been held all surplus "Territorials", all wounded and sick and the recruits from the latest call up. Not the Territorial Drushinen but the reserve troops should have made up the second line whose task was to send an unbroken stream of reserves to the front so as to keep the active army constantly at full strength.


For various reasons, which must be spoken of for instructional reasons, the General Staff had done nothing to prepare this dense network of reserve troops which had then to be improvised during the war, when conditions made careful, methodical work impossible. Everyone will recall the distorted form of our reserve battalions in which up to 10 companies each with 1000 men assembled.

So, yet again, what about the mobilisation of the standing army?

The first reports showed all was well. One could certainly be content with the troop units and the "Cadre Army". Besides profound patriotism and the knowledge that the hour had struck when finally the long years of training were over and the hard test had begun, our troops had had enough practice in mobilisation in peacetime.

In the last years before the war, close attention had been paid to the battle readiness of the troops. Apart from camp manoeuvres and recruit training in all military districts, test mobilisations had been carried out. Every time, a detailed report resulted so that shortcomings could be put right.

Test mobilisations were also carried out of reservists and horse collection. Enough money was available and the local authorities benefited as well as the troops.

Two months before the war, such test mobilisations had been carried out in the Odessa district and for the 34th Artillery Brigade in Ekatineroslav. The results of both were satisfactory.


But, during the actual mobilisation, alarming reports began to come in of disturbances amongst reservists at the collecting points in the military districts.

In Barnaul in the Tomsk Government and in the Governments of Perm, Orel and Mogilev there were serious riots of reservists wholly due to excess of brandy.

[Dobrorolski says "Weinbrand" but most likely he meant vodka]

This had been expected and the regulations of 1912 provided for the closure of the brandy trade from the beginning to the end of mobilisation. Being a state monopoly, it was resisted by the Finance Ministry and was finally limited to the period when the reservists were taken into troops and was not state wide but only in the places where reservists were assembled and the associated rail zones. This was not enough and on 26 July, Sukhomlinov demanded closure over the full period.

The Finance Minister agreed on the eve of mobilisation and the Tsar ordered the closure of the trade for the whole period of mobilisation and over the whole country.

The booze hunting revolt of the reservists allowed the government to ban the sale of wine and schnapps for the whole period of the war. This was the beginning of a period of sobriety that was very beneficial for the people and some local authorities considered a permanent ban on the brandy trade.


Revolutionary freedom destroyed all these beneficial measures and the Bolshevik revolution is notable for a new schnapps bacchanalia.

During the booze revolt, some groups broke into and looted the closed monopoly shops and depots.

Petrograd ordered the strongest measures and two Governors were replaced for being too complaisant.

This was the main shortcoming in the general course of the mobilisation but there were no serious consequences.

The second problem was the flood of demands for exemption and the conscription law indeed provided for many such. The unique institution the Countryside Hussars that became so famous during the war had its roots in the law and began during the mobilisation.

I am thinking inter alia of how during these days a flood of requests and applications, written and verbal, arrived in the Mobilisation Department and were sent on to the War Minister. They requested exemption or at least postponement of call up.

These requests did not come from the mass of the people but from persons from our cultural society and from the middle of the bourgeoisie. People tried to pull every string in order to get their requests fulfilled. In the first place naturally was influence in the form of letters of request and recommendation from people who by birth and rank in the world of bureaucracy belonged to the very highest class.

The struggle against this evil was carried on but, it must be confessed, predominantly without success. Influence is one of the basic evils of our Russian life which can be fought only by the united forces of society ....and in the hot days of July, we had other things to do.

During the mobilisation, a certain patriotism appeared amongst the people and these problems were not as serious as they later became as the war went on. They tended to be directly proportional to our military failures.


The enormous wealth of our human resources meant that these defects had no detectable effect on the results of our mobilisation and the field army.

War strengths were quickly achieved and all units entered punctually into the deployment zone.

(The average intelligence level would no doubt have been better if there had been no evasion of conscription and efforts to use these more intelligent people in staff jobs. Nor did we ever satisfactorily solve the problem of the supply of junior officers. More needs to be said about this.)

The timing of the mobilisation varied greatly by unit and for 2nd and 3rd category troops took over a month.

Our field armies in the deployment areas were ready on the 20th day. The 3rd Army, under General Russki, and the 8th Army, under General Brusilov, began their offensive in East Galicia 20 August ie the 21st day, came in contact 23 August and on 26 August, the 3rd Army was heavily engaged which led to significant success.

The period of wars in the world is by no means concluded ...yes, it can furthermore be said and this should not be taken as a paradox that the World War which began in 1914 is still is still going on......The last act of the great historical drama which was mentioned in the opening lines of this essay has not yet been played out......

The 150 million Russian people cannot avoid involvement just as they could not in all the earlier phases.

The future national government of our great reconstructed homeland must make the restoration of the national army one of the first cornerstones for its rebuilding activity.


Without an army no state can exist.

Then must be taken into account, in all details, the experience of the 1914 mobilisation.

The mobilisation was successful, even brilliant, as the whole Russian society as its best representatives recognised...

(In the formal session of the Duma in 1914, the unpopular Sukhomlinov won unanimous approval --- under the impression of a successful mobilisation. One important deputy told me Sukhomlinov had made good all his mistakes)

…..because it was so well prepared.

No time must be lost in collecting the results of the practical experience of that mobilisation so that "when the hour strikes" without delay, shortcomings in fully utilising the living strength of Russia may be avoided.

3 July 1921 Sergei Dobrorolski


1- Remarks of Graf Pourtalès

In 1914 German Ambassador to St Petersburg


Dobrorolski's piece is a valuable contribution to the literature on the outbreak of war in 1914. It brings interesting new elements and illuminates remarkably the influence of the decisive personalities in the July days.

He is obviously well informed. His account of the vacillations over general mobilisation is convincing. The more military aspects I leave to an expert and wish only to touch on some political aspects.

We learn from him, who was in close contact with the highest military authorities, that they forced towards war from the beginning of the political crisis although fully aware that war with Austria-Hungary must also lead to a breach with Germany.

Most noteworthy and most significant for the question of war guilt is Dobrorolski's statement that when Janushkevich on the evening of 24 July called a meeting of the committee of the General Staff on his return from the Council of Ministers, that war "was already a decided matter".

No less important is Dobrorolski's statement that once the mobilisation date is fixed, there is no way back and war mechanically follows. So much for the repeated assurances of Sazonov


that mobilisation did not mean that Russia wanted war.

When Dobrorolski remarks that the postponements of the decisive moment were useful for the preparations and, later, that Milyutin and Obrushchev would have understood how to hold off until a more favourable time, one cannot help seeing a justification for the criticised as premature German declaration of war.

Dobrorolski believes that in the first days of the crisis, Sazonov did not want war, a view I have always shared. Ministers began to change on 28 July when Russia's threat failed to deter Austria-Hungary from declaring war on Serbia. This step certainly had an effect on Sazonov. But one should not forget that he had that day received a telegram from the Russian ambassador in London that Berlin and Vienna could no longer be confident of British neutrality.

[Benckendorff sent only one telegram to Sazonov on 28 July, No 604 in Geiss Vol. 2. It did not say what Pourtalès says above. No. 712, of 29 July, comes closer but went no further than reporting a rumour "from other sources".]

Dobrorolski further confirms that from 28 July, Sazonov was one of those who most ardently urged a warlike solution. To his efforts and his influence is to be attributed that the Tsar, after much hesitation, finally approved general mobilisation. Here Dobrorolski's account agrees exactly with that of Paléologue.

Dobrorolski is interesting on the role of the unhappy Tsar. One could see how the weak monarch, who certainly did not want war, swung to and fro under the influences acting on him and how Janushkevich, rightly judging the Tsar's character, appealed to his loyalty to the French alliance.

Sazonov's words on the telephone to Janushkevich "and now disappear for the day" speak volumes. His worry, that the Tsar might change his mind again, explains his advice to Janushkevich.


Of special importance is Dobrorolski's confirmation that Janushkevich gave him the Tsar's signed order for general mobilisation on the morning of 29 July and that the withdrawal of that order came from the well-known telegram of the Kaiser to the Tsar. Thus it is again confirmed that, on the afternoon of 29 July, gave on his word of honour, false information to the German military attaché.

[See below in von Eggeling's remarks]

Dobrorolski further admits that mobilisation measures were begun very early and attributes them to decisions of the local authorities.

From the German standpoint, we can only welcome new light on the events of July 1914. One therefore hopes that Dobrorolski's text will be widely published. Whoever reads it, impartially and attentively, will find in it new proofs that it was Russia which set the world on fire since, thanks to German mediation efforts, there was still a possibility and even a well founded hope that the conflict could be settled peaceably.

Graf F. von Pourtalès

Retired Ambassador

2. Remarks of Colonel v. Eggeling


In 1914, German Military Attaché in St Petersburg

Dobrorolski's text is extraordinarily important.

As former head of the mobilisation Department of the General Staff, Dobrorolski is one of the most competent personalities to explain what happened.

There is nothing to suggest that he has tried to conceal or to falsify anything. Much more, one gains the impression that he tells the truth, convinced that he acted in the best interests of his country.

He wrote without the help of notes, much less of any authentic materials. He does not claim any historical accuracy. Certain discrepancies do not permit any ill will or deliberate concealment.

We cannot expect from this text a complete explanation of events. But, for the war guilt question, what it does give is some new and valuable confirmations which is sufficiently meaningful.

Nor did he desire this result. He is free of painful resentment against the old foe. He lives in Belgrade, in the atmosphere of the Entente. He could wish nothing less than to relieve us of the burden of war guilt. His text aims at how far the Russian Army on the outbreak of war discharged its duty. That it is on the road of truth can only be welcome to us. Only truth will give us justice!

The article contains a wealth of interesting information about the Russian army in general, about the available manpower and organisational questions. For the military man this is extremely valuable because it confirms in all essential points, and to some extent complements, the opinions we had gained about the Russian army before the war. But here it concerns us only in so far as it bears directly on the question of war guilt.

We must distinguish between


mobilisation itself and the events of the decisive week.

According to Dobrorolski, the Great Programme for the army (Spring 1914 voted and confirmed) dated back to the crisis of 1909 and the Balkan Wars. This confirms what we already knew. Dobrorolski says that it was the constant changes of Chiefs of Staff that delayed matters. But, in the winter of 1913-14, I was repeatedly told by Russian general staff officers that it was the German army increase of 1913 that caused the Great Programme. It suffices to put these remarks against one another.

Dobrorolski reckons the Great Programme would have taken 5 years so reaching peak strength in Autumn 1917 or Spring 1918. We see also Dobrorolski saying that a large part of the Programme was achieved


in 1914, at least all of the required organisational changes. That indicates haste!

Dobrorolski relates with justified satisfaction how steps were taken in peacetime to secure mobilisation (control and test mobilisations). Thus was war preparedness improved, which he does not say.

The Russian army administration, rightly understanding the European situation, did all it could to raise army preparedness. That was its duty. The people's representatives warmly supported it. That was entirely their right. Let those weep who do not so behave!

In spite of these efforts and that haste, I hold --- and have always said so --- that there was no intention to decide on war in about 1915. Quite probably, some people so thought but the military had no such power of decision.

This runs counter to Dobrorolski's belief that the Central Powers would scarcely have intended to postpone the war until 1915, a belief that is unfounded and is to be rejected. But it is typical of the objectionable behaviour of the Russian military especially when it had won some influence over events.

Dobrorolski's data about partial mobilisation is very important. It could be done for wars with Japan, Turkey, Afghanistan, Persia and China for which general mobilisation was not envisaged.

But not for Austria-Hungary. Nor a part deployment on the Austria-Hungary frontier. Here Dobrorolski is clear and convincing. It suffices to refer to it and to bring out the following.

Partial mobilisation must hinder a later general mobilisation --- and especially deployment. But partial mobilisation is thinkable if the troops remain at their bases. Improvised part deployment would wreck completely a later total deployment.

Of course, given meticulous preparation, both partial mobilisation and part deployment were technically possible.


Now it is in the highest degree surprising, if one listens to Dobrorolski, that these facts were known only initiated officers. Even Janushkevich did not know. Agreed, he had not been many months in the job of chief of staff but one would have thought that informing himself about mobilisation plans would have been his first priority. But only from 24 July onwards did he know of the risks of partial mobilisation.

One could understand it if partial mobilisation had been the brainchild of some lay person.

But certainly not! It was long planned to use partial mobilisation to frighten Austria-Hungary. The plan played a special role in the Franco-Russian preparations for war. Closer examination must await a later publication. We want here only to point out that partial mobilisation against Austria-Hungary would have been an excellent way to provoke the Central Powers into military counter measures and so to set the ball rolling while being able to push all the war guilt on to the Central Powers! That must have been their intention all along!

[ The "later publication" would be of interest because no other proof is known of any such intention.]

But not on the part of the Russian General Staff or they would have prepared for it. That it did not happen was not from careless neglect.

But Dobrorolski says nothing about partial mobilisation other than that it would have been unconvincing and likely to have produced the opposite result to that desired. But just that, the provocation of the Central Powers, was the motive of those who devised partial mobilisation!

However, as Dobrorolski tells us, the General Staff went all out. It saw, from the beginning of the crisis, salvation in an early general mobilisation. The whole diplomatic procedure is described by Dobrorolski as only a mise en scène and "the war was already a decided thing"!

Whether the other decision takers, above all the Tsar and Sazonov, were informed about the technical impossibility of partial mobilisation, we must doubt. It is in any case very significant that partial mobilisation emerged immediately with the increased tension .....


.....following the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia. That proves how common the idea was amongst these decisive men --- precisely on the basis of earlier discussions. These were probably known to Janushkevich but not to his subordinates from whom he first heard of its impossibility.

The champion of the idea was Sazonov who, according to Dobrorolski, "supported the faith in the salutoriness of partial mobilisation at the Peterhof". This conduct, against the advice of the General Staff, shows that the idea can only have come from the diplomatic workshop.

This also points to a significant remark by Sukhomlinov. Under instructions from Sazonov, he told me, on the evening of 26 July, that there were only peaceful intentions towards Germany, that apart from some general preparations and no mobilisation measures had been taken. All that was envisaged, if Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia, was a partial mobilisation.

I accepted that but reminded him that, for all the friendly assurances concerning Germany, a partial mobilisation against Austria-Hungary would make a very serious impression. An attack on our ally could be its only purpose. With a shrug of his shoulders, he replied that that was the diplomats' business. This is another meaningful clue as to the origin of the plan!

We still do not know whether he, as an experienced soldier, thought partial mobilisation was possible. Dobrorolski gives us a hint in his mention of Sukhomlinov's remarkable detachment in those days. "Sukhomlinov left it all to Janushkevich". That was not usually his way! He had brought all the other branches of the War Ministry under his sole control. Under his experienced and energetic management, the Russian army had brilliantly reorganised after the Japanese war. And now, at the decisive moment, he should deliberately have withdrawn? Dobrorolski gives us a clue about this remarkable conduct. He had become timid, he had grasped that the oncoming war would exceed Russia's strength; the confidence he had so loudly expressed in Press articles shortly before in Russia's preparedness had left him.

(Publisher refers to "Deutsche Dokumente" of 1919, Vol 1 no 2f and the German White Book of June 1919, p. 182 et seq.) [ DD 2 is the account in a German newspaper of 13 June of the Sukhomlinov inspired article published in Russia a little earlier. The other reference is unknown)


This was in my mind at the interview on 26 July. It seemed to me that Sukhomlinov was oppressed by heavy cares, as if the duties of the hour found him out of his depth.

So he may have been in two minds over the question of partial mobilisation. On one side the knowledge that it was not feasible and on the other the consciousness of the obligation to the French ally concerning the staging of the war. The result could only be vacillation --- and psychologically understandable --- a fear of responsibility and so a general withdrawal.

Dobrorolski then judges harshly the two most senior representatives of the Russian army. He names two men from the past whom he would have preferred and thinks would have postponed the war to a better moment. Does that mean a later year? Certainly not! That would have been a political decision and not one for the soldiers. And right away, Dobrorolski, then the leading representative of the General Staff, drives from the first moment for general mobilisation. On its scope, he is completely clear. "The commander chooses the moment to start. Once fixed, the moment determines mechanically the start of the war".

No doubt is possible. Competent men in the highest military posts should not delay the start of their mobilisation to a more favourable moment but rather, by clever behaviour, to the start of the enemy's mobilisation!

Herewith, Dobrorolski admits openly the efforts of the General Staff to deceive us, at least for a short time, as to the start of mobilisation.

But then there was less need to press for a mobilisation order. The ordered preparatory measures needed time to be implemented. They were introduced in 1912. Dobrorolski was, if not their originator, from his then duties at least a main creator. They can be compared with our "Threatening Danger of War" but, in many respects, go much further.....


.....Dobrorolski says they were ordered on 24 July.

If the first day was 25 or 26 July is not clear. "Threatening Danger of War" was declared in Germany on 31 July, the first day of Russian general mobilisation. Now one would think that the measures to be taken in the Period Preparatory to War were so unambiguously connected that all doubt must be excluded. For Dobrorolski, it was "clear" that, in border zones, nervous authorities, to ensure mobilisation in good order, would exceed their powers. The central military offices were obliged to prevent such behaviour by clear and strict orders. Seen in the light of other circumstances, in practice the central offices found such excesses hardly unwelcome.

From 28 July, things came to a head. Sazonov gave the impulse. It is known that just then, his mood changed. How far that change was prompted by, as Dobrorolski suggests, Austria-Hungary's declaration of war on Serbia and how far by news from London is not my business. "Sazonov now thinks war is inevitable" and is "astonished" that mobilisation not already begun and thinks they must wait no longer! Why the astonishment? He knew no mobilisation order had been put to the Tsar. Did he think a mobilisation was possible without the Tsar's consent? A strange belief for a leading statesman!

Anyway, from then on, Sazonov was an energetic supporter of the general mobilisation that the General Staff wanted. No one spoke now of partial mobilisation. Very remarkable! Sukhomlinov had said partial mobilisation only if Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia. Now, when Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia, the answer is general mobilisation! It will be advisable for this attitude of Sazonov's to be borne in mind at home and abroad when the further diplomatic negotiations are judged.

Thanks to Sazonov's efforts, on the morning of 29 July, Janushkevich had the signed order for general mobilisation in his hands.

About 3 pm on 29 July, Janushkevich repeated to me the assurances given by Sukhomlinov on 26 July that only partial mobilisation against Austria-Hungary was envisaged, that the Tsar wanted no mobilisation against Germany, that the same peaceful intentions.......


.....towards Germany continued, no reservists called up, no horse taken. All this reinforced by being given on his honour. In the Sukhomlinov trial, Janushkevich said he gave the assurances calmly because the mobilisation order was still in his briefcase. So was it in fact. Now the world can judge what his word of honour was worth!

[ See DD 343 when Sazonov told Pourtalès that partial mobilisation order would be issued that day, DD 365 when said that mobilisation did not mean war and DD 370 reporting the above meeting with Sukhomlinov. Eggeling said he thought Janushkevich was trying to mislead him.]

Thanks to Dobrorolski's valuable revelations, we now know what order was in Janushkevich's briefcase. Until now, thanks to the confused evidence given in the Sukhomlinov trial, it was doubtful. We now know it was the general mobilisation order!

I reported it by telegram to von Moltke as an attempt to mislead us. That I was right is now clear! Obviously, by this means, war would be postponed to a more favourable moment.

On the evening of 29 July, the Tsar changed the order from general mobilisation to partial mobilisation. Here again, Dobrorolski throws light on the Sukhomlinov trial. Until now (according to the alleged statements of Sukhomlinov and Janushkevich) there were contradictory versions of the Tsar's order namely that he withdrew an alleged partial mobilisation order or that he changed a general mobilisation order into one for partial mobilisation. Now we see that the latter was true.

The other version was either a deliberate attempt to mislead or an error in Press reports that were full of errors.

Allegedly, the two generals did not act on the Tsar's objection. We see now that this was not so. It may be that Sukhomlinov and Janushkevich advised doing nothing. Perhaps they spoke vaguely. That would accord with their previous behaviour. Anyway, Janushkevich did carry out the Tsar's order. As to that, after the convincing presentation of Dobrorolski, there can be no further doubt.

How each version came about we cannot explain. Janushkevich is dead. Sukhomlinov lives, we believe in Berlin. Perhaps he will at least take up his pen to clarify the detailed events day by day.

But none of this is of decisive importance. What is, for the war guilt question, is further confirmation of the results of the Sukhomlinov trial; from the very first, the soldiers energetically ...


and in full knowledge of the consequences drove for general mobilisation and finally achieved it. The most active at first were the junior officers of the General Staff, then Janushkevich himself was won over. From 28 July, Sazonov threw his weight on their side.

Dobrorolski's lively presentation makes clear how the change to the order disappointed and depressed them.

Next day, 30 July, it changed again. Between them, Sazonov and Janushkevich brought the Tsar round. The fatal order was at last given! Obligation to the French ally was decisive. Only much later, during the war, was "latest news from Berlin" a motive, as Dobrorolski declares.

[But see Geiss Vol 2 No 715, of 29 July, in which the Russian chargé d'affaires in Berlin reports Jagow's retraction of his earlier statement that partial mobilisation on the borders of Austria-Hungary would not oblige the Germans to respond.]

It is an empty, subsequently invented pretext which many, perhaps Dobrorolski himself, believe in still today. I have already described elsewhere that as one then in Russia, neither Sazonov nor Graf Frederick nor the Tsar in the last discussions gave as the reason for Russian general mobilisation.....


that wretched special issue of the "Lokalanzeiger", as exact time checks show.

[See Montgelas below]

All attempts to mislead are settled by asking; if the Tsar's original order for general mobilisation had gone through, would then the information from Berlin have come into it? What then would have been the reason for the order?

Sazonov's contentment at having wrung this order from the Tsar and his great worry over another change is shown by his cynical advice to Janushkevich "to disappear for the rest of the day". He sought to remove from the Tsar the ability, by again objecting, to stop the disaster.

We keep strictly to Dobrorolski's words and draw our conclusions directly and only from his words. It should therefore --- and be obvious to those who knew of the events of those days --- and leaving aside combinations, what influences in those days overwhelmed [?? einstürmten] the hesitant monarch. Anyway, we all see him hesitating again, the unlucky Tsar Nicholas, well aware of the monstrous dimensions of his decision. He fell victim to his weakness.......


.....But there was no lack of desire to comply trustingly with the emphatic warnings from Kaiser Wilhelm.

Sazonov said then and often to Pourtalès that mobilisation did not mean war. One could stand there with ordered arms and continue to negotiate. The Tsar too was induced to say the same. We see now from Dobrorolski what this really meant. Not for a moment was it meant seriously. It was only an attempt to delay the start of hostilities to gain time to complete war preparations.

Dobrorolski unambiguously makes it clear that for Russia, as for other countries, mobilisation meant war.

"Masking one's own measures with diplomatic flummery to lull to sleep one's enemy's fears" had, as we know from secret Russian documents, long been an objective of the Russian military leadership.

That is exactly the same spirit of lies and deceit that, after the armistice, struck the sword out of our hands. And, as Dobrorolski so exactly shows, a war forced on us then in the same spirit, the blame was fixed on us and the Versailles peace was dictated.

von Eggeling

Colonel (Retired)


Remarks of Graf Max Montgelas


General of Infantry z.D

[ Meaning of z.D?[

The presentation depends not on documents but upon an apparently reliable memory. It is valuable not only because the writer, as head of the mobilisation department of the Russian General Staff knew more than anyone else about the details of mobilisation and deployment but also because, as a patriotic Russian officer, no one can suspect him of being prejudiced in favour of Germany.


His exposition falls into two parts, the military and political situation before the war and the detailed events of 24 to 31 July.


Dobrorolski says the inevitability of strengthening Russian armaments was recognised years before the war as well as the significance of a general mobilisation. Only because of special circumstances was the Great Programme first framed in 1913 and so was not prompted by the German Army Law of 1913. It stemmed rather from political decisions long before.

[Does this follow? If the Russians had been that anxious, would they not have appointed a permanent Chief of Staff? And would not the German Army Law of 1913 have made it easier to get the approval of the Duma just as it helped with the return to 3 years service in France?]

Dobrorolski says the Balkan Wars of 1912 were "the prelude to the Great War and inevitably it drew nearer". According to this Russian fatalism a European war was inevitable even if there had been no Austrian ultimatum to Serbia.

[ This hangs rather a lot on a post facto judgement. Neither we nor Montgelas know if Dobrorolski thought so at the time.]

The Great Programme should have been completed by 1918. This agrees with the view held in Berlin that, in the event of action against Serbia, Russia was not, in spite of many loud claims in the Press, militarily ready to intervene on behalf of Serbia.

(Refers to DD pages XIV and XVI [ie some version other than the known published version]. It also refers to the "recently published" report of Izvolski [then Russian ambassador in Paris] of 18.12.12. In it he described the "consternation of Poincaré and all the French ministers at the view of the Russian General Staff that even in the unlikely case of an Austrian attack on Serbia, Russia would not go to war".)

[A two edged argument in relation to war guilt although Montgelas does not seem to realise it].

Dobrorolski argues that the start of mobilisation decides the outbreak of war. That is exactly the view in 1892 of the French general Boisdeffre, Russian general Obrushchev and Tsar Alexander III and carried into practice in the deployment plan of 1892 that "on......


the first day of mobilisation, two Russian cavalry divisions should attack Allenstein" [In East Prussia].

(For Obrushchev's view see French Yellow Book 1918 "The Franco-Russian Alliance" page 88. Remarks of Obrushchev and Alexander III page 150. Deployment Plan 1892 page 121)

The Russian General Staff did not change its view about mobilisation since the days of Obrushchev who was Chief of Staff from 1888 to 1896 and who trained a whole generation of staff officers, the leaders of 1914, and who was the military teacher of Nicholas II.

Special Part

Of 24 July, Dobrorolski wrote "War was already a decided thing and the whole flood of telegrams was only......the mise en scène of an historical drama". That was the view of the Russian General Staff. They reckoned only on war whatever objections existed because of the uncompleted Great Programme were not loud. They knew they already had a huge numerical superiority over their enemy.

But two days later, the German General Staff reckoned on a peaceful outcome and telegraphed to Metz

"The situation is optimistic"

(Refers to 2nd volume of the 1st subcommittee of the Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry page 69, annex 14, paragraph 3)

[Nothing like it in DD for 26 July]

and a day later, on 27 July, it informed the German Military Attaché in St Petersburg that

"On the basis of Sazonov's explanation, from this side, no military measures are envisaged".

(Refers to a document in A. a. O.S 59. Abs.3)

[Source not known. AA usually means Auswärtiges Amt, the Foreign Office. DD has nothing like it for 27 July. Why was it not included in Kautsky's collection?]

On 28 July, just when the General Staff in Berlin began to worry seriously about the maintenance of the peace, Sazonov, who up to then had angered the Russian General Staff with his "optimism" and who was then "driven to accept the inevitability of general war" and that "general mobilisation could no longer be delayed" expressed his surprise that "it had not already begun".

(It had actually begun on 26 July with the Period Preparatory to War which applied to the whole of Russia).

In Berlin however, on 28 July and up to 30 July by acceptance of the more and more urgent advice ....


......given to Austria-Hungary, it was thought that war could be avoided. ...

(See DD 293 and 323 for 28 July and 395 and 396 for 30 July)

[DD 293 is the Kaiser's wish to hold back Austria-Hungary and 323 is Bethmann Hollweg's leisurely first message to act on that instruction. DD 395 and 396 are his further attempts to get Austria-Hungary to accept mediation. Montgelas does not mention Moltke's urging on of Conrad 30/31 July but he may not have known about it since there is nothing in DD and it is known only from Conrad's memoirs. See Geiss Vol 2, Nos 858 and 869]

It was only on 31 July, when the first news came of Russian general mobilisation, that hope sank almost to zero.

It was not in Berlin but rather in St Petersburg that, from 28 July, the pernicious thought of the "inevitability of war" reigned. The peaceful protestations and assurances of the harmlessness of Russian mobilisation measures from Sazonov received thereby the correct illumination and can no longer deceive history researchers.

On the morning of 29 July, Janushkevitch gave the order for general mobilisation, signed by the Tsar, to Dobrorolski for further processing. Already, early on 29 July, the Tsar and Sazonov wanted this measure as is shown by the Tsar's telegram of 1.0 am that day "would lead to war"....

(Refers to DD 332) [Tsar's telegram to Kaiser asking him to stop Austria-Hungary]

.....The feeling of responsibility which burdened the Tsar now first becomes fully understandable.

Dobrorolski does not mention that information in Entente reports about the grossly exaggerated bombardment of Belgrade or about Austrian or even German mobilisation measures which were irresponsible in view of the then diplomatic situation. It confirms much more fairly that Austrian mobilisation was first announced on 31 July.

[ So it was only a little bombardment of Belgrade? That's alright then]

Only a telegram from the Kaiser saved the situation at the last moment. ...

(Dobrorolski mistakenly gives the text of the telegram of 30 July --- DD 420 --- instead of that of 29 July --- DD 359) [In fact, as noted above, Dobrorolski gives elements of both]

......Dobrorolski describes how, at 9.30 pm, the Telegraph Office was ready to send out the disastrous order when the Tsar's counter order arrived. Instead of general mobilisation, partial mobilisation only in four districts, Kiev, Moscow, Odessa and Kazan.

Dobrorolski thereby reveals that the worldwide announcement of partial mobilisation on 29 July was a deceitful manoeuvre to disguise that from the morning to 9.30 in the evening, they had wanted general mobilisation.

On 30 July, towards 1 pm, Sazonov managed to get the Tsar to change his mind and return to general mobilisation. On this day, there was no word of German or Austrian mobilisation, even the special issue of the "Lokalanzeiger" had not appeared by 12 midday Berlin time.

(Illegible footnote) [The reference is to a special edition of the newspaper announcing German mobilisation which was briefly on sale before it was stopped].

And so that another telegram from the Kaiser could not affect the Tsar's decision, the allegedly so peace loving Sazonov told Janushkevich to "give his orders and then disappear for the day"!

The order went out at 6 pm and first acknowledgements came an hour later. Only 18 hours later in Vienna and 48 hours later in Berlin were the first conscripts called up.

Those who still do not believe what Russian general mobilisation meant need only consider the words of Dobrorolski.

"The thing had inevitably begun. It was already known in all the big towns of our vast country. No change was now possible. The prologue of a great historical drama had begun".




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