Countdown to Disaster:
27 July to 6 August 1914



In the earlier "Mediation Chronology", it was striking how events ran away in the last few days. This is an attempt to summarize those events based on published documents. Few comments are made apart from those needed to explain some of the documents.

No attempt has been made to include the many documents concerned with Germany's efforts to secure allies, ie Italy, Bulgaria, Rumania and Turkey. None of them seem to be have been of any real consequence.

Nor was it thought worthwhile to include the dozens of documents describing military preparations by likely enemies. Many are little more than gossip and of little consequence since none of the armies were capable of action until fully mobilized . A general mobilization required public proclamation to reach the millions of men involved and so could not be concealed. An exception is the assessments made by the German General Staff since it was on the basis of these assessments that decisions were taken or alleged to have been taken. The same applies to the German efforts to find adequate reasons for their declarations of war.



The "Deutsche Dokumente" as they are often called is by far the most important source used. First assembled by an historian. Karl Kautsky in 1919 and later edited by Montgelas and Schücking, they are most easily accessible in an excellent English translation "Outbreak of the World War" by the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace", published in New York by the Oxford University Press in 1924. They run from 13 June to 5 August and include a few supplementary documents obtained elsewhere such as from the Bavarian archives. In only one instance was part of a document suppressed in the original German collection, in DD 662.

I have also used the two compilations made by Imanuel Geiss.

"Julikrise und Kriegsausbruch 1914". Published 1963 by Verlag für Literatur und Zeitgeschehen GmbH, Hanover. No ISBN number. This is in two volumes and of course in German.

"July 1914". Selected Documents". Published 1967 by B. T. Batsford, London. Again, no ISBN number. One volume and in English.

While Geiss includes many Austrian, Russian, French and British documents, coverage of them is not good and needs to be improved.

"Int. Bez." Means "Die Internationalen Beziehungen im Zeitalter des Imperialismus" which contains the text of documents from the files of the Tsarist and Provisional Russian régimes. Published in German 1931-34.

"Dobrorolski" means extracts from Lt. General Dobrorolski's article on the Russian mobilisation in 1914, published first in Belgrade and later in Berlin and Paris in 1921-24.

"Albertini" means extracts and references from Luigi Albertini's book, in four volumes, " The Origins of the War of 1914". Published first in Italy 1942-43 and in English in 1952-57 and 1966.

Significant events are shown in bold type, as closely as can be in the correct time sequence.

HA indicates items proposed by our friend Hans Andriessen.



Abbreviations have been kept to a minimum.

TGM Telegram D Time of dispatch R Time of receipt


Note on Times

Times are given in the original style. In 1914, the normal rule was for even official telegrams to be sent via a post office and the times of dispatch and receipt are those noted by the operators. Items are inserted as nearly as possible chronologically according to the time of the actual dispatch noted by the operator. This is often a day later than that noted by the author. If these details are not available then in what appears to be the correct sequence.

Almost all the telegrams noted in this chronology were in code and enciphering and deciphering were done manually, often a slow process. It is impossible to give any indication of the average delay between the author completing the text and the final addressee receiving it in a readable form but in some cases, it could easily amount to hours. Moreover, in the last few days, there were serious difficulties and delays, mainly through the volume of traffic, particularly in communications between St Petersburg and Paris. In 1914, London, Paris and Brussels (up to 23 August) were on Greenwich Mean Time, Berlin, Vienna and Rome were an hour earlier and St Petersburg was two hours earlier.


Dramatis Personae

PM = Prime Minister or equivalent. FM = Foreign Minister AM = ambassador, Cda = chargé d'affaires ( senior diplomat present when ambassador is absent or dead). Note that many ambassadors were absent from their posts when the crisis began.


Position Post

AM Brussels

AM Berlin

PM &FS  
Bethmann Hollweg


(Minister of Justice deputizing for Poincaré and Viviani)  

Cda Berlin

AM Vienna

AM St Petersburg
Cambon, Jules

AM Berlin
Cambon, Paul

AM London
Conrad von Hötzendorff

Chief of General Staff  


AM Vienna

War Minister and General  

Cda London

AM Berlin


AM Paris


Cda Vienna

AM London

AM London

Chief of General Staff  

Head of State  


Head of State  

AM St Petersburg

Cda Berlin


AM Vienna


Cda Belgrade

Official Berlin

AM Berlin

AM St Petersburg

AM Berlin

AM Vienna


PM & FM  
Wilhelm II

Head of State  

Chief of General Staff St Petersburg


Summary of Events Prior to 27 July

Saturday 28 June Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife murdered in Sarajevo.

Monday 6 July Germany gives Austria promise of unconditional support, the "blank cheque".

Tuesday 21 July Poincaré and Viviani, having left Paris 15.7, arrive in St Petersburg

Thursday 23 July Austrian ultimatum delivered in Belgrade at 6 pm and published. 48 hour time limit, first to 5pm and then to 6 pm on 25.7. Copies to Germany, Italy, France, Britain and Russia delivered in their capitals morning of 24.7. An advance copy had been sent to Berlin two days earlier (DD 103).

Poincaré and Viviani leave St Petersburg at 23.00 ie 22.00 CET

Friday 24 July Dobrorolski warns Yanushkevich against partial mobilisation.

Saturday 25 July Moltke and Falkenhayn return to Berlin. Serbia mobilizes and Austria partially. Russia decides for "preparatory measures" and for partial mobilization but does not begin latter.

At 6 pm, Serbia replies to the ultimatum.


Monday, 27 July

Wilhelm II returned early morning to Berlin, having been away since 6 July.

Pourtalès to Jagow. Talked with Szápáry and Sazonov this afternoon. Latter happier now no question of conquest of Serbia Austrian note discussed. No objection to many points, others maybe only at their form. Maybe only words. Made a personal suggestion. If Vienna would agree to modify form of some demands, Russia would advise Serbia to accept them and Austria could be informed of this via some third power. I emphasised this was only my idea. Sazonov will speak his ambassador in Vienna along these lines. He seems to have lost some of his nerve and is looking for a way out.

(DD 238 D. 10.10 pm 26.7 R. 12.45 am 27.7)

Nb Footnote in Carnegie. Bethmann Hollweg copied this to the Kaiser but deleted part about how Russia would advise Serbia to accept. Jagow also copied it to Lichnowsky in London at 12.10 pm with the same omission and to Tschirschky in Vienna at 4.35 pm, again with the same omission).

Buchanan to Grey. Sazonov had long talk yesterday with Szápáry. Sazonov concluded Russia so much suspected in Vienna that useless for Russia to offer its good offices in Belgrade but maybe Britain and Italy could help in Vienna. I said threatening Germany that Britain would back up France and Russia would only stiffen Germany's attitude. I stressed importance of holding off mobilization as long as possible..

(TGM D. 10.06 am, R 1.15 pm)

(G3/107, p.249)

Bethmann Hollweg to Wilhelm II. Austria can do nothing militarily before 12.8. Serb reply not yet seen but said to amount to almost complete acceptance. Britain, France and Italy want peace. Russia not mobilizing yet and seems willing to talk to Austria. Have emphatically warned Russia against preparations directed against us.

(TGM D 11.20 am R 1.20 pm)


Bienvenu-Martin to J.Cambon. Germany backed Austria on Friday so on Saturday Powers advised Serbia to yield. Then on Sunday, Germany says wants to cooperate to maintain peace. Grey trying to get conference going. Russia will stand aside and Britain, France,

Germany and Italy will meet in London while Austria, Russia and Serbia abstain from active military operations. Germany favorable. Please speak to and support British colleague however you can.

(TGM. D.12.45 pm)

(G3/104, p. 246)

Berchtold to Franz Josef. Serbs answered skilfully. Entente may try again for a peaceful settlement. Serbs have fired on our troops. We need to declare war.

(Alb. II/460. Oe-U VIII,10855)

Pourtalès to Jagow. At invitation of Sazonov, military attaché went to see War Minister. Latter gave his word of honour that no mobilization order had been issued. A few preparatory measures had been taken but not one horse and not one reservist had been called up. If Austria invades Serbia, Kiev, Odessa, Moscow and Kazan will be mobilized but not Warsaw, Vilna and Petersburg. Seemed very worried and anxious to keep peace with Germany. Believe it is true that mobilization has not been ordered but the preparatory measures are far reaching. Think him sincere and trying to gain time for negotiations but also for continued arming.

(TGM D. 1.00 R.2.35) (HA)

(DD 242)

Jules Cambon to Bienvenu Martin. Saw Jagow. Wants to join in to preserve peace but has obligations to Austria. Says will not be bound to mobilize if Russia does so only on Austria's frontier.

(TGM D. 12.55 pm. R. 3.45 pm)

(G3/103 p. 245)

Bethmann Hollweg to Lichnowsky. No proposals from Grey here yet. Cannot mediate between Austria and Serbia, only Austria and Russia. You should urge localisation in London.

(TGM. D 1.00 pm)

(DD 248)

Grey to Buchanan. Pleased there may be direct talks Russia and Austria. Would be glad to help but what does Sazonov propose ministers at Belgrade should do?

(TGM D 1.25 pm Repeated to Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Rome, Nish)

(G2/624 p 219)

Bienvenu-Martin to Fleuriau, Chargé d'Affaires, London. We support Grey's proposals and you are authorized to take part. But all depends on Germany's influence with Austria.

(TGM D. 1.30 pm)

(G3/105, p. 247)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Grey has just seen text of Serbian reply to ultimatum. His pleas to Russia for moderation seem to have borne fruit. So Germany must now influence Austria to accept Serbian reply. All here convinced key to situation lies in Berlin.

(TGM D., R.4.37 pm)

(DD 258)

Bertie to Grey. French government accepts your proposal and has instructed its ambassadors accordingly. Germans advise terms like "mediation", "intervention" and "conference" likely to upset the Austrians. Better to speak of conversations, moderating influences etc

(TGM D 2.45 pm, R 4.45 pm)


27.7 cont.

Grey to Goschen. Lichnowsky says they now accept mediation Austria-Russia. Serbia reply went further than expected, probably because of Russia's influence.. Will continue to work with Berlin while they try to keep the peace. Moderation in Vienna now needed.

(TGM D. 3.00 pm)

(G3/109, p. 252)

Grey to Buchanan. Benckendorff here says Germany and Austria think we will stand aside whatever happens. Reminded him that British fleet had not dispersed after manoeuvres but also that we do not promise anything more than diplomatic action. Also said that we keep hearing from Germany and Austria that Russia will do nothing if no Serbian territory is taken and it would be absurd if we appeared at Berlin and Vienna to be more Serbian than the Russians.

(TGM D. 3.30pm)

(G2/550 p 150) (HA)

Tschirschky to Jagow. Austria has decided to declare war tomorrow or latest day after mainly to cut the ground from any intervention attempts.

(TGM D 15.20, R. 16.37)

(DD 257)

Schoen (Bavarian Chargé d'Affaires in Berlin) to Bavarian Prime Minister. Less critical today. Russia preparing but not mobilizing. Judging from French Press, France will try to keep Russia out. Grey trying to mediate but can do nothing re Austria and Serbia.


(DD Supplement IV No 11)

Bethmann Hollweg to Wilhelm II. Report. Attached Lichnowsky's TGM (most likely No 97 above). As you wished, Grey's suggestion was passed on to Berchtold. Austria must decide. If we refuse any role as intermediary, especially while Britain and France influencing Russia, we would be seen by England and the whole world as responsible for the conflagration and as the real warmongers. That would make it impossible to maintain in Germany. the present public support and would deflect Britain from its neutrality.

( R. Neues Palais 27.7, 5.00)

(DD 283)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. If Grey. now succeeds in his efforts, in which backed by entire nation, relations with Britain will remain good. Otherwise not and we will have England against us

.(TGM D. 5.08 pm,

(DD 265)

Goschen to Grey. Jagow had said mediation would amount to arbitration and so impossible unless both Austria and Russia agreed. Thought direct contact Sazonov and Berchtold best. If R mobilized only in south, Germany would not but must be careful about surprise. Goschen added that no sign of Jagow having said anything at all to Vienna about restraint or moderation.

(TGM D.6.17 pm, R. 9.00 pm)


Lichnowsky to Jagow. Localisation impossible unless Austria and Serbia settle. If not, English think mediation hopeless. Essential we ie Germany press Austria to settle.

(TGM D. 6.17 pm, R.8.40 pm)

(DD 266)

27.7 cont.

Pourtalès to Jagow. Saw Sazonov. He wanted exchange of views amongst the Powers to "build a golden bridge". Sazonov much more conciliatory now. (Bethmann Hollweg added, not sure if should pass this to Lichnowsky. He tells Grey far too much and Grey might support Russia more if he sees that Berlin and St Petersburg are still speaking).

(TGM D. 8.40 pm, R 28.7 4.36 am)

(DD 282)

Austrian Naval Attaché in Berlin to Admiralty Vienna. Asked yesterday (ie 26.7) re policy if war against Russia and France only. Will attack Russian fleet in Baltic but no move in Mediterranean to avoid upsetting Britain whose neutrality is hoped for and expected. Cruisers will be sent on on trade protection duties and may need to seize the Faroes. Britain will

protest and so will Denmark but no need to bother about latter. Everyone here strongly supports us and think moment ideal for a settling of accounts.

(Conrad memoirs)

Szögyény to Berchtold. Jagow said "in strictest secrecy" that very soon he would send on Grey's mediation proposals. He does not support them and advises Austria to disregard them. Jagow had sent on Grey's note to Tschirschky but had not instructed Tschirschky to present it to Berchtold. Can therefore say to Grey that he had done as promised.

(TGM. D. 9.15 pm, R. 28.7, 9.00 am)

(G3/95, p. 236)

Bethmann Hollweg to Lichnowsky. We began immediately Grey's desired mediation operation in Vienna. We have also told Berchtold that Sazonov wants direct talks.

(TGM. R. 23.50)


Bethmann Hollweg to Tschirschky. Copy of Lichnowsky's TGM ( DD 265 above). Having refused Grey's suggestion of a conference, we cannot refuse also this request. (very similar then to report to Kaiser ie seen by all world as warmongers etc) And in impossible position in Germany where we must present ourselves as being forced into war.( Wo wir als die zum Kriege Gezwungenen dastehen müssen). So get Berchtold's views on Grey's proposals and also Sazonov's wish for direct talks.

(TGM D. 23.50,R. 28.7, 5.30)

(DD 277)


Tuesday, 28 July

Germany began rail, road and coast security measures, recalling men on leave and bringing troops back from training areas.(Hermann Rahne "Mobilmachung" Militärverlag. Der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik).

Bethmann Hollweg to Lichnowsky. Grey distinguished between Austria-Serbia and Austria-Russia and said could mediate only for latter but now asks us to use influence on Austria. (see No 97 above) We can't. Austria has already rejected Serbian reply to ultimatum. Tell Grey so.

(TGM D. 2.00 am)

(DD 279)

Wilhelm II to Jagow (manuscript note). After reading Serbian reply (of 25.7), clear that all cause for war has vanished. Austria ought to be satisfied with Serbian reaction provided real guarantees obtained eg partial occupation and payment of three sets of mobilisation costs. (Austria had also mobilised partially against Serbia in 1908-9 and 1912-13).

(Neues Palais D. 10.00 am)

(DD 293)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Mensdorff and his staff are talking freely to us about Austria's intention to break up Serbia and to transfer some of its territory to Bulgaria and possibly Albania. Don't know if they are talking similarly to others. Ms note of Bethmann Hollweg dated 28.7 says it is intolerable that Austria refuses to inform us about their programme but talks like this in London.

(TGM D 12.58. A 15.45)

(DD 301)

Austria declares war on Serbia at 11.00 am.

(Declaration omitted claim that Serbs had fired on Austrian troops, referring only to "safeguarding of rights and interests". On 22.7, Vienna had asked Berlin to deliver the declaration (DD 138) but on 24.7, Berlin refused (DD 142). It was therefore sent by telegram and some confusion resulted).

Grey to Buchanan. Pleased there may be direct talks Russia and Austria. Would be glad to help but what does Sazonov propose ministers at Belgrade should do?

(TGM D 1.25 pm Repeated to Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Rome, Nish)

(G2/624 p 219)

Goschen to Grey. Jagow has now refused proposed conference to me and to France and Italy but still wants to work with us to maintain peace. If sincere, perhaps he is objecting only to "conference" and another word should be chosen. Could ask what he proposes. Note. Grey says he will suspend efforts if Russia and Austria talk directly.

(TGM D 2.03 pm, R 2.45 pm)

(G3/119, p. 262)

The following item is the TGM 1521 which HA has already drawn to the attention of the list since it was not included in the original British "Blue Book" and in an apparently manipulated version in the original Russian "Orange Book". However, the later "British Documents" gives it in full and with some explanation. The British concluded that what had happened was that Benckendorff received a telegram from Sazonov the first three paragraphs of which referred to the proposals communicated to Sazonov by Buchanan in St Petersburg while the next two paragraphs were intended only for Benckendorff and his colleagues in Paris and Berlin. It seems that in error, the Russian Embassy clerk cut the document at the wrong point so that the British were given, besides the three paragraphs they were intended to receive, the fourth which they were not. The fifth, which completed the full text sent by Sazonov was not available until after the war.

Thus Grey saw paras 1, 2, 3 and 4 but not para. 5.

Communication Benckendorff to Grey. ( Paras. 1, 2 and 3)Sazonov and Buchanan have talked and former wants Grey to organize a four Power (Britain, France, Germany and Italy) conference to find a way out. Sazonov has started to talk to Austria and it looks hopeful. If we get no further, Sazonov accepts British proposal or any other which could resolve the conflict.

(Para 4 ) I (Sazonov) wish to prevent a misunderstanding which (the French) reply to Germany about advice re moderation to be given to us. (Para. 5) We must refuse in advance such counsels since we have already gone as far as we can in accepting Austria's demands.

(BD/206) HA

Schoen to Bethmann Hollweg. Talked to Bienvenu-Martin. He said best means of avoiding general war was to stop a local one. Austria ought to be satisfied with Serbia's reply. Schoen replied Germany had had no part in Austria's actions, that Russia had done nothing to restrain Serbia. Had said from start that it ought to be localized and Austria not prevented from following up her just demands.

(TGM 113 "afternoon")

(DD 350)

28.7 cont.

Szögyény to Berchtold. Jagow tells me he has heard from Tschirschky that Conrad says we cannot move before 12.8. Jagow expressed his regret that our military operations must be so long postponed.

(GM D 17.50 A 28.7 3.00)


Bethmann Hollweg to Tschirschky. Do not know what Austria is doing now. Delay is exposing us to mediation efforts and further delay will expose Austria to war guilt even amongst German people. Essential blame for eventual extension falls on Russia.(NB eventuel in German means only possible). Russia seems to be understanding Austria point of view. Austria must repeat no territorial ambitions but needs guarantees eg partial occupation etc of Serbian performance of undertakings. Talk suitably with Berchtold. Do not give the impression that we wish to hold back Austria. We seek only to cut the vital cord of Greater Serbia without bringing on a world war and,if war is inevitable, then to wage it under the best possible conditions.

(TGM D. 10.15 pm, R 29.7 , 4.30 am)

(DD 323)

Berchtold to Szögény. Please get Germans to warn Russia that if Russia mobilizes, we will have to go to full mobilization and so will Germany. Conrad needs to know very soon.

(TGM d. 11.00 pm)

(G3/111. P. 254)

Bethmann Hollweg to Wilhelm II. Had to send your démarche (see DD 293 above) by telegraph because there is no longer a regular rail connection to Vienna. ( troop movements?) Please send the attached draft of TGM to the Tsar (see DD 335 29.7). We are telling Sazonov you are trying to persuade Austria to talk to Russia. Declaration of war on Serbia need make no difference.

(Report D ? R. 1015 pm)

(DD 308)

Berchtold to Szápáry. Schebeko came, wanting to talk about the Serbian reply. Refused.

(TGM D. 11.40 pm)

(Alb II/464. Oe-U. VIII,10915)

Sazonov to Bronewski. Following declaration of war by Austria on Serbia, we will tomorrow declare mobilization in the districts of Odessa, Kiev, Moscow and Kazan. Tell Berlin so and say no hostile intent towards Germany. Copies to Vienna, Paris, London, Rome.

(TGM no times)

(G3/118. P.262)

Orders for both partial and general mobilisation prepared in Russia.



Wednesday 29 July

Austrian bombardment of Belgrade began.

(News reached St Petersburg about 3 pm. See G3/137 below).

Nicholas II to Wilhelm II. Please try to hold back Austria.

(TGM D. 1.00 am R. 1.10 am)

(DD 332))

probably crossed with DD 335 below.

Wilhelm II to Nicholas II. I am trying to get Austria to sort it out directly with you.

(TGM D. 1.45 am

(DD 335)

29.7 cont.

Bethmann Hollweg to Pourtalès. Tell Sazonov that if Russia goes further with mobilization we will be obliged to mobilize and then a European war can hardly be avoided.

(TGM D. 12.50, R 16.35)

(DD 342) (HA)

Bethmann Hollweg to Schoen. More frequent reports of French preparations for war. Warn French government.(See DD 372 below)

(TGM D 12.50)

(DD 341)

(Nothing known about these "reports". Latest staff assessment not delivered before 4 pm. See DD 372 below)

Morning. Yanushkevich gives Dobrorolski the order for general mobilisation signed by the Tsar.

Poincaré and Viviani return Paris at 13.20.

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Grey has heard that Berchtold refused to let Szápáry talk directly to Sazonov. Asks what could we suggest if no conference? Grey pleased that Jagow trying "with some success" to mediate between Austria and Russia and is willing to help. Lichnowsky urged Grey to warn R against mobilising on Germany's borders. Grey understands from Italy that Serbia now disposed to further concessions to Austria.

(TGM D 2.08 pm, R 5.07 pm)

(DD 357)

General Staff Third Report to foreign office. Copies to Bethmann Hollweg, Jagow and Zimmermann. France --- more border activity. Rail stations under guard. No general call on

reservists. No war enthusiasm. Russia --- Border activity but still no proof of mobilization in Vilna and Warsaw districts. No call up of reservists in great numbers. England --- officers and men being recalled from leave, as usual in times of tension. Some naval preparations. Belgium --- army being increased from 55,000 to 100,000 by call up of three year classes. Forts being equipped. Other works prepared for demolition. Belgium will resist both Germany and France.

(Report. Delivered about 4 pm)

(DD 372)

NB 29.7 is headed "Third Report" so presumably the first was on 27.7 and the second on 28.7. Nothing is known of the content of either. DD 524 on 31.7 is described as the fifth and DD 609 on 1.8 as the sixth. The missing fourth report must have been delivered 30.7.

Chelius to Jagow. To yesterday, Tsar's court hoped for peaceful solution. Think Serb reply very compliant. Now convinced Austria wants war. Russia wants to avoid it but now more determined to support Serbia.

(TGM D 2.30 pm R 3.15 pm) (but time difference?)

(DD 344)

(Chelius was the Kaiser's personal military representative to the Tsar).

Goschen to Grey. Saw Bethmann Hollweg. Had passed to Vienna your view that Serb reply could be basis for discussion but Vienna says now too late. So he had said to Vienna that Serbs seemed placatory but could understand Vienna would need guarantees. He presumed present operations aimed at securing those guarantees especially as no annexations planned. He had advised Vienna to say so openly. He begged me to ask you to keep all this secret. Had not even told Lichnowsky. Proves how he values your efforts and is trying to support you.

(TGM )

(Alb. II/494 BD XI/264)

29.7 cont.

Several meetings in Germany that afternoon and evening ie Bethmann, Moltke and Falkenhayn early afternoon, these three plus Lyncker (head of Kaiser's military cabinet) and Wilhelm II at 4.40 pm at Potsdam, at 6.10 pm the Kaiser with his brother Prince Henry, just returned from England, at 7.15 pm they were joined by the naval chiefs, including Tirpitz. On their return from Potsdam to Berlin, Bethmann, Moltke and Falkenhayn were joined by Jagow.

The outcome of these meetings was that "Threatening Danger of War" should not be proclaimed so as to give time for Bethmann's pressure on Berchtold to make some concession such as the "Halt in Belgrade" proposal. Bethmann would also make an offer to Britain (see Goschen to Grey at G3/139 below) since there was still some hope of British neutrality. Bethmann insisted on waiting for Russian attack on Austria so as to activate the casus foederis, get support of public opinion and keep Britain neutral.

(Mainly based on notes made by Falkenhayn and published in Zwehl's biography of him)


Mensdorff to Berchtold. Grey thinks danger of general war increasing but is in constant touch with Bethmann Hollweg who is also seeking means to mediate between Vienna and St Petersburg. Britain cool about Russia's interests but cannot keep out if France endangered.

(TGM D. 4.32 pm R 30.7 9.00 am)

(G3/122, p. 276)

Sverbeyev to Sazonov. As instructed, saw Jagow and told him of partial mobilization. Amazingly, he now says Germany also obliged to mobilize, contradicting what he said to Cambon yesterday. Jagow claimed we are also preparing on German frontier and that so far all Germany had done was to recall officers on leave and troops on training.

(TGM "evening")

(Alb. II/499. Int. Bez. I, V, p.336)

Bethmann Hollweg to Tschirschky. Began with most of DD 301 of 28.7. Increasingly astonished by Austrian statements. To St Petersburg they say they do not want any part of

Serbia and in London, Mensdorff talks of giving away bits of Serbia to Bulgaria and Albania. Do tell Berchtold to avert suspicion re maintaining integrity of Serbia.

(TGM D 8 pm)

(DD 361)

Bethmann Hollweg to Tschirschky. Report immediately by wire if telegram 174 (see DD 323 of 28.7) received.

(D 10.18 pm Mentioned in a footnote to DD 377. Sent in clear)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Spoke Grey. Sazonov wants Grey to take up mediation again but hostilities must cease. We have already accepted in principle. Grey thought suitable basis would be if Austria were to occupy Belgrade and announce her conditions. Grey thought Serbia would then be punished etc. But Grey also warned that if Germany and France became involved, Britain would have to decide very quickly

(TGM D 6.39 pm, R 9.12 pm)

(DD 368)

Pourtalès to Jagow. Military attaché v. Eggeling saw Russian Chief of Staff, Yanushkevich, this afternoon at latter's request. Assured all as was two days ago. Up to 3 pm no mobilisation begun anywhere. No guarantees for future but Tsar does not want mobilisation on German borders. Thought it an attempt to mislead. More details of troop movements.

(TGM D 7 pm R 9.45 pm)

(DD 370)

Nicholas II to Wilhelm II. Thanks but your official messages sound very different. Wants Austro-Serbian problem referred to the Hague.

(TGM D 8.20 pm, R 8.42 pm)

(DD 366)

29.7 cont.

Wilhelm II to Nicholas II. You could still stay out. Military measures by you will prevent me mediating.

(TGM "evening" --- but after DD 366 above)

(DD 359)

9.00 pm Dobrorolski goes to the Telegraph Office with the order for general mobilisation. About 9.30 pm, partial mobilisation is substituted. Order sent about midnight, local time.

Bethmann Hollweg to Tschirschky. Await immediate reply to my 174.

(TGM D 22.30 R 30.7 6.00 am !!)

(DD 377)

NB 174 = DD 323 --- see above in 28.7.

Jagow to Below. Please store securely the attached document and open it only when telegraphic authorization received. Please confirm safe receipt by telegram.

(ie the draft ultimatum to Belgium)

(Letter 29.7. R 30.7)

(DD 375)

Jagow to Below. We know France will come via Belgium and Germany may have to enter Belgium in self protection. If Belgium is benevolently neutral, Germany will restore Belgium afterwards and [ will help re territorial compensation at expense of France]. If Belgium resists then will be treated as an enemy to whom Germany has no obligations. Tell Belgian government and get reply in 24 hours.

(Dispatch 88)

(DD 376)

Compiler's note to DD 376 shows that this version follows very closely the draft, dated 26.7 but not sent to the foreign office till 29.7, originally drafted by Moltke. The phrase in brackets was deleted in the final version. See DD 648 of 2.8 below.

Minute. Russian Foreign Ministry. 9.30 am Pourtalès came. Said they were trying to get Vienna to concede something but wanted it kept secret and with no "premature mobilizations" (.by Russia). We thought that if Germany was sincere, then they cannot have much influence with the Austrians. 3pm ----He came again and read out Bethmann Hollweg's telegram (see DD 342) warning that Germany would mobilize and would take the offensive if Russia did not end preparations even if no actual mobilization. Told Tsar who gave permission to discuss mobilization with the generals. At this moment, news of bombardment of Belgrade arrived. Discussion followed. Decided little chance to avoid war with Germany and so could not risk partial mobilization. Told Tsar who agreed. Also told Paris and London. 11 pm Tsar ordered stop to general mobilization (but the minute itself nowhere has a specific authorization from the Tsar for general mobilization). About 1 am Pourtalès got Sazonov out of bed with offer that Austria Hungary would respect Serbian integrity. Sazonov refused and listed his own conditions. ( ie Austria to accept Serbian problem now European matter, eliminate from ultimatum clauses which infringe Serbia's sovereignty and Russia will suspend military preparations.)

(Minute. St Petersburg 29.7)

(G3/137. P. 296)

NB Two time problems. DD 342 above was not received until 16.35 and Pourtalès says Sazonov produced his draft only on the morning of 30.7.

Berchtold to Szögény. Russian ambassador has told us of mobilization in Odessa, Kiev, Kazan and Moscow. Please pass news to Germans and tell them our full mobilization and theirs must follow. Our representatives in St Petersburg and Paris are being instructed to say this as soon as the German representatives receive their instructions.

(TGM Dated 29.7 but 30.7 D 1.00 am)

(G3/124 p. 280)

29.7 cont.

Tschirschky to Jagow. Instructions carried out. Berchtold grateful. Will repeat no interest in annexations of Serbia. Could not reply re military measures.

(TGM D.11.50 pm. R 30.7, 01.30 am)

(DD 388)

Moltke to Bethmann Hollweg. Russia has backed the criminal Serbia. Has prepared to mobilize 12 army corps ie Kiev, Odessa, Moscow. Says will mobilize when Austria enters Serbia. Austria must then mobilize rest of army. Collision with Russia then inevitable and casus foederis arises. Germany must then mobilize followed by rest of Russia. Claiming attacked by Germany, Russia will get support from France. Russia can thus shift blame to Germany. France already preparing. Must know as soon as possible if France and Russia intend war. Our military situation from day to day more unfavourable.

No times but noted by Bethmann Hollweg 29.7

(DD 349)

Wenninger (Bavarian Military Plenipotentiary in Berlin) to Kress (Bavarian prime minister). Much dispute between Falkenhayn and Moltke on one side and Bethmann Hollweg and Jagow on other. Moltke reckons moment favourable and should start the war now. France is in military difficulties and Russia militarily insecure. Harvest mostly in and troop training completed. Bethmann resists so as not to cause start of preparations in France and Britain. Agreed reluctantly to recall of troops from training areas.




Thursday 30 July

Bethmann Hollweg to Tschirschky. Russia tells us that Moscow, Kazan, Kiev and Odessa are being mobilized because Austria has mobilized 8 corps a step which must be seen as at least partly against Russia. Unlike W. Europe, Russian mobilization certainly does not necessarily mean war. Their army can stand there for a long time without crossing the frontier, connections with Vienna can continue and Russia wants, if at all possible, to avoid war. We have warned Russia that mobilization will probably call forth counter measures from Austria and thus set the avalanche in motion. Russia complains that conversations via neither Schebeko nor Szàpàry have gone forward. Therefore we must, to prevent a general catastrophe or at least to put Russia in the wrong, urgently desire that Vienna begins and carries forward conversations as in my 174 (See DD 323 of 28.7 above).

(TGM Dated 29.7 but D. 30.7 0.30 R 6.00)

( DD 385 )

( NB according to Geiss and Carnegie, the first draft of the above ran "Russia told us today that Russia would mobilize against Austria tomorrow. To put Russia in wrong before all the world, important that Austria should give to Russia and other Powers the recommended clarification. Our advice not intended to discourage, only to improve our moral position with European public opinion".)

Goschen to Grey. Bethmann Hollweg has just returned from meeting at Potsdam and is bidding for British neutrality. He assumes that Britain would not allow France to be "crushed" and this was not Germany's intent. Germany would seek no territorial acquisitions at the expense of France but could not guarantee French colonies. The Netherlands could remain neutral but could not say the same for Belgium only that Belgian integrity would be respected at the end of the war. Hoped that this might lead to a general neutrality agreement between Germany and Britain. I said you would probably prefer to retain freedom of action. Astounding proposals. Germany practically determined to go to war and virtually admits will violate Belgian neutrality.

(TGM Dated 29.7 but sent 30.7. D. 1.20 am. R. 9.00 am)


30.7 cont.

Bethmann Hollweg to Tschirschky. Repeated first half of Lichnowsky's first paragraph ie down to "what could we suggest if the plan for conference collapsed?" ( DD 357 of 29.7 above). Please pass to Berchtold and add that a Serbian concession such as this seems to us a suitable basis for negotiations for an occupation of Serbian border districts as a security.

(TGM Dated 29.7 but D 30.7 00.30 R "early")

(DD 384)

( Above two TGMs probably sent in that order judging from the German telegraph numbers, 187 and 190 respectively)

Nicholas II to Wilhelm II. Present military measures were decided on five days ago because of Austria's preparations. Need your pressure on Austria. (Wilhelm misunderstood, believing that it meant that the measures had actually begun five days ago and so Russia had gained "almost a week").

(TGM D 1.20 am, R 1.45 am

(DD 390)

Bethmann Hollweg to Tschirschky. We now face a war of us two against four. Austria ought to be satisfied by occupying Belgrade and other places. Must urge Austria to accept mediation on these "honourable conditions".

(TGM 192 D. 2.55 am, R "midday".)

(DD 395)

Bethmann Hollweg to Tschirschky. Understand from Sazonov via Pourtalès that Austria has refused direct dealings with Russia. Serious error. Would "be direct provocation of Russia's armed interference. Please speak to Berchtold seriously.

(TGM D. 3.00 am, R 7.10 am)

(DD 396)

Bethmann Hollweg to Wilhelm II. Pourtalès spoke Sazonov who says mobilization in four districts does not mean war and connections to Vienna not cut off. Told Pourtalès to warn him of probable consequences of mobilizing against Austria. (Wilhelm's annotations --- Czar has lied to me).

(Note Sent 6 am, annotated copy returned 7 am)

(DD 399)

About 10 am, Moltke talked to Fleischmann, liaison officer from Austria's General Staff. Russia's partial mobilization not enough and Germany would mobilize only when Austria and Russia at war. Must wait for Russia to attack to keep Britain neutral. TGM to that effect sent to Conrad that pm.who agreed and replied saying so (see G2/759 ie Conrad's memoirs)

(Article by von Schäfer in "Die Kriegsschuldfrage" 1926. Corroborated by Conrad's memoirs).

Bethmann Hollweg to Lichnowsky. French preparations and Russian mobilization against Austria are endangering hoped for mediation. Austria will have to reply by mobilizing and we cannot tell French to stop except by an ultimatum. Grey must lean on France and Russia.

(TGM D 11.30 am)

(DD 409)

Russia proclaims partial mobilization.

Pourtalès to Jagow. Mobilization proclaimed for Kiev, Odessa, Moscow and Kazan districts, Cossack armies of Don, Kuban, Terek, Astrakhan, Orenburg, Ural. Except for fleet mobilization, no reservists recalled for Warsaw, Vilna and Petersburg districts.

(TGM D 11 am A 11.50 am)

(DD 410)

30.7 cont.

1 pm. Yanushkevich called Dobrorolski to say Sazonov had persuaded the Tsar to go to general mobilisation.


Pourtalès to Jagow. Spoke Sazonov. Austria won't accept it and a compromise will be necessary but what do you really want.? He then wrote "If Austria accepts problem is now a European one and will drop those points which infringe Serbia''s"' sovereign rights, Russia will suspend military preparations". Remarkable no mention of Austria's punitive expedition. (Bethmann Hollweg note "But what has Serbia really rejected? )"

(TGM D 1.01 pm, R 3.52 pm)

(DD 421)

About 1 pm. Bethmann Hollweg, Falkenhayn and Moltke meet. Latter two both now demanding declaration of Threatening Danger of War Bethmann Hollweg insisted on continuing pressure on Austria to negotiate. Probably at this meeting that Bethmann Hollweg agreed to decide, one way or another, by tomorrow midday about declaring Threatening Danger of War.

(Jannen "The Lions of July" p. 220)

Sazonov to Sverbejev. Copies to Paris, London, Vienna. This is what I proposed to Pourtalès. get reactions from Germans as soon as possible.

(TGM "very urgent" No times)

(G3/146. P. 309)

Probably early that afternoon, Moltke talked again to the Austrian Military Attaché, Bienerth. . Discovered that instead of preparing a serious offensive in Galicia, Conrad was giving priority to Serbia and would mount only a rather weak defence against Russians, thus increasing the danger to East Prussia. Moltke then telegraphed direct to Conrad --- see 31.7.

Berchtold to Szápáry. Sazonov seems to have misunderstood. Suggest as if it came from you that we are willing to talk. What does he want to talk about? Act at once and report.

(TGM D. 1.20 pm)

(G3/140, p 301)

About 2 pm a few hundred copies of the "Lokal Anzeiger", always regarded as a German government mouthpiece, appeared on the streets of Berlin announcing German mobilization. The authenticity of the report was denied and the copies were hastily withdrawn.

Goschen to Grey. Spoke Jagow. He asked Austria if mediation acceptable given occupation of Belgrade but fears Russia's mobilisation will upset things. Could Grey get Russia to agree to such mediation and to refrain from mobilisation ?

(TGM D 1.45 pm, R 3.35 pm)

(G3/150, p 314)

Tschirschky to Jagow. Szápáry told to begin talking to Sazonov. He may explain the note, now superseded by war, to Serbia and all other Austria/Russia questions. Russia should not complain at Austria mobilizing 8 corps as Serbia has 400,000 men. Berchtold will talk to Schebeko on similar lines. Will emphasize that Austria will take no Serbian territory. When peace returns, Austria will continue in occupation only long enough to obtain guarantees for future.

(TGM D 2.30 pm R 5.25 pm)

(DD 433)

(Wilhelm II noted "This is all too late I fear. Russia is now prepared. Begin! Now!" and "This is practically what I proposed").

30.7 cont.

Tschirschky to Jagow. Instructions carried out (see DD 384 of 29.7). Berchtold told de Bunsen that he would not discuss Austria/Serbia with Russia but would discuss everything directly affecting Austria and Russia. He added wrong to think that Serbia had rejected only points 5 and 6 of Austrian note. Integral acceptance would then have been enough but now state of war and Austria's conditions would be different.

(TGM D 3.20 pm R 5.20 pm)

(DD 432)

Grey to Goschen. Rejected Bethmann Hollweg's bid for British neutrality (see G3/139 above) but hoped that if present crisis surmounted, would be possible to devise means of assuring Germany of no hostile intent by Russia, France and Britain.

(TGM D. 3.30 pm)

(G3/151. P. 315)

Wilhelm II to Nicholas II. Austria's mobilization is limited. It will be all your fault.

(TGM D. 3.30 pm)

(DD 420)

Szögény to Berchtold. People here in Berlin getting nervous. Italy may be against us. Germany wants us to be ready to offer "compensations" to Italy to keep her on side and to be able to enter conflict with safety. More concessions needed than offered so far. I agree with German government.

(TGM D 5.30 pm R. 7.20 pm)

(G3/141. P.302)

Chelius to Jagow. Russian court circles alarmed at prospect of German mobilization. Interrupting theirs would cause chaos and anyway would be very slow. I think they mobilized out of fear and are now frightened at what they have done.

(Chelius was the German military plenipotentiary ie the Kaiser's personal representative in St Petersburg)

(TGM D 5.46 pm R 10.05 pm)

(DD 445)

Russia: order for general mobilisation goes out at 6 pm

(Dobrorolski) Proclamation posters then appeared overnight on the streets of St Petersburg.

Wilhelm II to Franz-Josef. I could not refuse the personal request of the Tsar that I should mediate and my ambassador has made suggestions to your government. Amongst others, one is that after occupying Belgrade or other places, you should make known your conditions. Please let me know your decision quickly.

(TGM D 19.18 R 20.10)

(DD 437) (Reply DD 482 below)

Szögény to Berchtold. Bienerth just sent very important TGM to Conrad about talk with Moltke who says "mobilize now".

(TGM d 19.40 A 22.20)


Bertie to Grey. Saw Poincaré this evening. He learnt middle of last night that Russia had been told by Germany that if Russia did not cease preparations, Germany would mobilize. This midday he heard that Germany was now asking on what conditions Russia would stop. Answer was if Austria would assure respect of Serbian sovereignty and that unaccepted

terms of ultimatum should be subject to international discussion. Poincaré thought Austria would not accept and that only a declaration of British support for France would avert war.

Crowe noted on above "must not induce France and Russia to go to war by an unconditional declaration of British solidarity".

(TGM D. 8.15 pm R 10.30 pm)

(G3/152 p. 316)

30.7 cont.

Bethmann Hollweg to Tschirschky. Urgent. Sent on no. 130 (see 29.7) above. Austria must concede something. If not, if Grey's efforts in Paris and St Petersburg succeed, Vienna will bear full responsibility and make our position with our own people untenable. Austria must accept Grey's proposals. Speak emphatically to Berchtold.

(TGM D 9.00 pm R 31.7, 3.00 am) This is the Telegram 200.

(DD 441)

30.7 cont.

King of England to Prince Henry of Prussia. Glad Wilhelm and Nicky trying to preserve peace. We are suggesting to France and Russia to suspend military preparations if Austria accepts occupation of Belgrade as hostage for satisfactory settlement. Trust Wilhelm will get Austrians to accept this to avoid international catastrophe.

(DD 452 D. 8.54 pm R 11.08 pm ) Kaiser noted "Austria has this evening made the same proposals".

Bunsen to Grey. Russian ambassador reported fairly friendly talks with Austrians. They do not object to Szápáry and Sazonov talking in St Petersburg.

(TGM R 9.00 pm)

(G3/153, p 318)

About 9 pm another meeting in Berlin of Bethmann Hollweg, Falkenhayn and Moltke. May have been when Bethmann Hollweg promised a decision on Threatening Danger of War by midday 31.7.

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Grey has just shown me his instruction to Buchanan. At my request, it does not mention changes to Austria's ultimatum, only how to assure Austria satisfaction if Austria takes Belgrade and then stops. Grey's TGM runs "Lichnowsky tells me Berlin will try to persuade Austria to stop after taking Belgrade and the Powers will then try to secure satisfaction for Austria without impairing Serbia's sovereignty. Try to persuade Russians to accept this".

(DD 439 D 6.10 pm R 8.45 pm. Grey's TGM sent separately by Lichnowsky. DD 460 D. 9.56 pm R 31. 12.52 am)

Bethmann Hollweg to Tschirschky. Draft --- never sent.

I cancelled instructions in Telegram 200 because General Staff tells me speedy decision needed if not to be taken by surprise. They want to know Vienna's intentions especially re military. Do your utmost to get an answer tomorrow.

(DD 451) See also DD 464 31.7 below.

Tschirschky to Jagow. Seems Schebeko told by Berchtold that Szápáry not authorized to discuss with Sazonov individual points in the Austrian note- "its justification etc" and jumped to conclusion that Austria did not want to talk at all so "appropriate instructions" sent to Szápáry (See DD 433 above)

(TGM d 8.50 pm R 10.25 PM)


Bethmann Hollweg to Tschirschky. Do not carry out instructions in telegram 200 for the present. (note that TGM 200 --- see DD 441 above --- did not arrive in Vienna till 3 am next day)

(DD 450. In clear. D. 11.20 pm.

Tschirschky to Jagow. Was asked by telephone to cease all mediation activity here because (stress in original) news of Russian mobilization just received.

(Letter. 11.11.14)

(Fischer "War of Illusions" p. 498. Source AA Bonn Geh. III, Ganz Geh. Affairs)

30.7 cont.

Minutes of meeting of Prussian Ministry of State. Austria was seeking no territorial acquisitions nor to shake stability of Serbian state. Sought only temporary occupation to secure future good behaviour. Of greatest importance to make Russia the guilty party. Serb reply had accepted Austria's demands except in minor points. Kaiser was trying to mediate but Russia had mobilized so Austria's proposals illusory. Grey's proposals similar and still pending. True Russian troops could stand on border for weeks but Austria's mobilization not aimed at Russia. So must wait for Vienna. England will probably not remain neutral. Italy not clear. Austria uncompromising. Measures taken in France and Russia similar to "Threatening Danger of War". All governments concerned peaceable in themselves but control lost and the stone was rolling. He would continue to try to avert war. Discussion went on to practical measures to be taken. (DD 456)

30.7 cont.

Minute. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. AM Tsar refused to rescind ban on mobilization. 3 pm, Sazonov met Tsar. Urged that Germany was determined on war because had rejected all proposals and could easily have held back Austria-Hungary. Mobilization now essential and will not increase risk. Tsar finally agreed. Sazonov immediately informed Yanushkevich so that he could withdraw the order for partial mobilization.


(G3/147. P. 309)

Szerbejev to Sazonov. Went to see Jagow to get his reaction to the news from Pourtalès (see DD 421 above). He summarized your proposal as follows. "Austria recognizes that the dispute with Serbia is of concern to Europe and declares itself ready to remove from its ultimatum those items which touch on Serbia's sovereignty. Russia undertakes that it will then end its military preparations". He thinks Austria will not accept this humiliation and that matters have worsened since our mobilization against Austria. Nonetheless, Szápáry is authorized to continue conversations with you and there is also Grey's proposal which is probably already known in St Petersburg.

(No times)



Friday 31 July

Tschirschky to Jagow. Read your TGM (G3/133) to Berchtold and Forgách this am. Spoke very seriously. Austria can and must accept proposals. Incalculable consequences of refusal. Berchtold went to see Franz Josef. Forgach thought could not stop military operations. Spoke again to Forgách and Hoyos later. They thought feeling in army and amongst people made it impossible to stop. But Tisza comes tomorrow am and must be consulted.

(TGM Dated 30.7 but D 31.7 1.35 am R 4.35 am)

(DD 465)

Bethmann Hollweg to Tschirschky. Instructions in Telegram 200 cancelled because of telegram from King of England to Prince Henry (DD 452 30.7 above). Tell Berchtold and Franz Josef and get a decision.

(DD 464. D 2.45 am R 9 am) But see DD 451 30.7 above.

In Supplement VI to the Carnegie collection of German documents, a Memorandum written by Pourtalès on 13.8.14 states as follows. "Early on 31 July, I received the information from Berlin that we had been able to persuade the Vienna cabinet to resume direct conferences with Petersburg". No such document has been found, whether early on 31.7 or late on 30.7. Surprising since Pourtalès seems a model of exactitude.

Pourtalès to Jagow. Mobilization ordered. First day is today.

(TGM D 10.20 R 11.40)

(DD 473)

31.7 cont.

Conrad meets Berchtold. Another TGM from Moltke which arrived 7.45 am. "Russian mobilization continuing. Austria must mobilize at once against Russia. So will Germany. Offer compensation to Italy to keep in alliance." And a more detailed one from Bienerth. " Moltke says critical now if Austria does not mobilize in reply to Russia. Justified in view of Russia's statements about its mobilization. Then our alliance can come into effect. Secure Italy's support by compensations. Leave not a man on the Italian frontier. Refuse Britain's efforts for peace. European war is now the only way to save Austria. You have Germany's unconditional support". Berchtold "Who rules in Berlin, Bethmann Hollweg or Moltke? Had feared Berlin was weakening but this is a most comforting explanation". So decided for full mobilization. Explain via diplomats and Press only for self protection and that Austria will neither declare nor begin war.

(Conrad memoirs)


Austrian Council Meeting. ie official version of above. Discussed pressure from Germany and Britain to accept arbitration. Must reply politely but three considerations. 1. Operations against Serbia must continue. 2. Re British offer --- no negotiation until Russian mobilization stopped, 3. Austria's demands must be met integrally and are non negotiable. Germany wants compensation to Italy ie means South Tyrol, to keep Italy in the Triple Alliance. Again a vague reply decided --- yes if the result is a long occupation of Serbia and Italy fulfills its duty as ally.

(Minutes G/869 & G3/154)

Austria proclaims general mobilization..

Tschirschky says Austria has ordered general mobilization.
(Note of telephone call. Time "am")

(DD 468)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. For first time, have impression England may adopt "watchful waiting" but we must kill suspicion we have unconditionally supported Austria by getting Austria to make a real concession.

(TGM D 12.13 R 2.50 pm)

(DD 484)

13.00 Germany declares "Drohendes Kriegsgefahr" = Threatening Danger of War.

(Falkenhayn note)

(DD 499)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Spoke Grey. He says he must have some "tangible concession" from Austria. Implied if not would be forced to back France. I think useless for Berchtold to say the same as before. But extreme pressure needed on him.

(TGM D 12.15 pm R 3.25 pm)

(DD 489)

Franz Josef to Wilhelm II. Thanks etc. Just after Tschirschky had told us of Grey's proposals, we heard that Russia had ordered mobilization on my borders. Szögyény tells me you had told Tsar in appropriate terms that Russia's preparations must be cancelled or he would be responsible. Conscious of my duty I have ordered general mobilization. Action in hand against Serbia must not be hindered by Russia. If Russia saves Serbia again, serious consequences for us. I realize what all this means and am relying on support of you and your army.

(TGM D 13.06, R 14.45)

(DD 482)

Bethmann Hollweg to Tschirschky. Since Russian mobilization, we have declared "Threatening Danger of War" presumably to be followed by mobilization 48 hours later by mobilization. We expect from Austria immediate ACTIVE participation in the war with Russia.

(TGM D 1.45 pm R 4.20 pm)

(DD 479)

31.7 cont.

Goschen to Grey. Spoke Jagow. He asked Austria if mediation acceptable given occupation of Belgrade but fears Russia's mobilisation will upset things. Could Grey get Russia to agree to such mediation and to refrain from mobilisation ?

(TGM D 1.45 pm, R 3.35 pm)

(G3/150, p 314)

Grey to Goschen. Suggest to Jagow that if Germany would speak Austria and Italy should ditto Russia, Austria might accept that the Four Powers would guarantee satisfaction to Austria re Serbia without impairing Serbia's integrity and sovereignty. But military actions must be suspended. Told Lichnowsky this am that if Germany and Austria made any reasonable proposals to preserve peace, then we would support them in St Petersburg and Paris. If France and Russia refused, Britain would "have nothing more to do with the consequences". Otherwise, if France were involved, Britain would be drawn in.

(TGM D. 2.45 pm)

(G3/163, p 329)

Wilhelm II to Nicholas II. I began to mediate. You mobilized but I am still trying. Must now mobilize myself. Just stop your military measures.

(TGM D. 2.04 pm)

(DD 480)

Probably crossed with DD 487.

Nicholas II to Wilhelm II. Can't stop military measures now for technical reasons. But we do not wish war and will do nothing provocative.

(TGM D. 2.55 pm. R 2.52 pm)

(DD 487)

Bethmann Hollweg to Pourtalès. Russia has now mobilized entire army and navy. We are compelled to declare Threatening Danger of War which is not yet mobilization. But it will follow if Russia does not tell us within 12 hours that Russia's mobilization has stopped.

(TGM D 3.30 pm, R 11.10 pm)

(DD 490)

Bethmann Hollweg to Schoen. Threatening Danger of War declared. Mobilization and war must follow if Russia does not suspend all preparations within 12 hours. Ask French if they will stay neutral. Answer in 18 hours. Secret --- yes unlikely but if so then Toul and Verdun to be surrendered. Will be handed back when war with Russia over.

(TGM D 3.30 pm)

(DD 491)

Fifth Report from German General Staff. (usually seems to have been delivered about 4 pm). Belgium proceeding with mobilization. Work on Liège forts and preparations for demolition of railway tunnels. Apparently a treaty of alliance with France. France- Toulon fleet ready and ships warned for troop transport from N. Africa. Rail cars being collected but frontier guards not posted but some of their reservists being called up. Work on some forts. England. Bragging about obligations and interests. Preparations everywhere. First Fleet at Hull-Grimsby ready to attack Germany. Russia. Mobilization ordered now in border districts and many cavalry units now ready. Infantry in strength near East Prussian border.

(DD 524)

Wilhelm II to Franz Josef. Our general mobilization very soon, 1st day will be 2.8. I stand ready to fulfill my obligations to you by starting war with Russia and France immediately. Must concentrate on Russia and not divert forces to Serbia. Greater part of my forces will be against France. Serbia is a sideshow. Please do all possible to get Italy on our side.

(TGM D 16.40, R 19.00)

(DD 503)

31.7 cont.

Grey to Bethmann Hollweg. Cannot accept proposal that Britain bound to neutrality. France may become "subordinate to German policy" and bargain at expense of France would be shameful. Nor can bargain away obligation to Belgium. No general neutrality agreement possible at moment. But could be if present crisis surmounted and if Germany works for peace.

(Memo via Goschen

(DD 497)

7 pm Germany's ultimatum delivered in Paris --- 18 hours to reply.

(See DD 491 above and DD 528 below)

Moltke to Conrad. Will Austria leave Germany in the lurch ? Conrad received this telegram 7.15 pm. Replied saying general mobilization and assembly in Galicia shows our will to war. We were holding off because we thought you wanted us to while English mediation had a chance and it all might end peacefully. Have you now decided to go to war immediately?

(Conrad memoirs)


Schoen to Jagow. Message delivered 7 pm. Viviani said had no news of Russian mobilization. Would answer by I pm on 1.8.

TGM D 8.17 pm R 12.30 am 1.8)

(DD 528)

Memo. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Tried to keep mobilization secret to avoid exciting Germans but posters this am made it impossible. Pourtalès told by Sazonov that only precautionary measure and Russia would do nothing irrevocable. Peace could still be maintained if D would hold back Austria.

(Memo. 31.7)

(G3/161. P.326)

Midnight. Germany's ultimatum delivered in St Petersburg --- 12 hours to reply.

(See DD 490 above and DD 536 of 1.8)


Saturday, 1 August

Pourtalès to Jagow. Ultimatum delivered as instructed at midnight. Sazonov again said technically impossible to suspend mobilization, and that not same as in Germany and that Tsar's TGM to Kaiser (DD 490) should be enough. I asked if guarantee applied if no chance of composing quarrel between Russia and Austria. No reply so no one can blame us.

(D 1.00 am R 1.8 no time)

(DD 536)

Berchtold to Szögyény. Grey will have to be told that we will be willing to "enter more closely" into his proposals provided the present action against Serbia goes ahead and he persuades Russia to stop mobilization.

(TGM Dated 31.7 but sent 1.8 D 3.45 am)

(G3/155. P. 323)

Goschen to Grey. Jagow sympathetic but could do nothing until Russia replies to German demand to suspend mobilisation.

(TGM ,Dated 31.7 but D.1.8 2.00 am, R 3.45 am)

(G3/165, p. 332)

Szápáry to Berchtold. Spoke Sazonov. Still seems to be some chance of diplomatic negotiations. Sazonov prefers neutral ground of London. Nothing I have said committed you.

(TGM D 10.45 am, R 1.00 pm)

(G3/168, p 340)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Tyrell says Grey will speak after Cabinet meeting. Possible hint that if Germany did not attack France, Britain would stay neutral and would guarantee French neutrality. Grey phoned --- assured him that if France did stay neutral, Germany would not attack her.

(TGM D 11.14 am R 4.23 pm)

(DD 562)

"General mobilization of the Belgian Army ordered for today"

From Below in Brussels.

(TGM D 12.26 pm R 5.21 pm)

( DD 565)

Jagow to Pourtalès. Declaration of war to be delivered at 5 pm German time. Summary text: while we were trying, with Britain, to end the crisis by mediation, you did not wait but went to general mobilization although no preparations by us, thus endangering the "security and very existence of Germany". So we asked you to stop. You refused/did not reply which makes clear policy directed against Germany. So we are now at war.

(TGM D 12.52 pm)

(DD 542)

Schoen to Jagow. Asked repeatedly if France would stay neutral, Viviani replied "hesitatingly" that France would act in accordance with her interests. Explained hesitation by latest news. Grey's proposal for general suspension of military preparations accepted by Russia and Austria declares will not infringe Serb sovereignty.
(TGM D 1.05 pm R 6.10 pm)

(DD 571)

Falkenhayn induced Moltke to come with him to Jagow to delay the "foolishly premature" declaration of war on Russia but Jagow said it was too late.(Sent 12.52 pm to be presented at 5 pm German time so why too late?).

(Falkenhayn notes)


Lichnowsky to Jagow. Tyrrell called to say Grey wants to speak this pm re British neutrality even if we have war with France as well as Russia. Will see him 3.30 and will telegraph at once.

(TGM D 2.10 pm R 6.04 pm)

(DD 570)

Sixth intelligence summary from German General Staff. "News up to 4 pm". Belgium --- nothing new. France- order to occupy border positions given 31.7. Some troop movements on eastern frontier. Britain --- will enter war now to overcome economic disaster. People against. Expeditionary force being planned. Admiralty planning troop landings in Dutch and Belgian ports and close blockade of German Bight. Russia --- Lots of troop movements reported. Evacuation of west of Vistula probable.

(DD 609)

The ultimatum having expired at 12 noon and there being no answer by 4 pm, Falkenhayn went to Bethmann Hollweg who jibbed at first but then agreed to go to Wilhelm II to get

mobilization order signed. Kaiser then called and ordered them to come to him. At 5 pm, Kaiser, Bethmann Hollweg, Falkenhayn, Tirpitz, Lyncker and Plessen met. The order was signed. Motlke and Falkenhayn left to put it into effect but were recalled almost immediately because of a TGM from Lichnowsky saying that Britain would stay out and would guarantee French neutrality if we did not attack France (DD 562 above). Falkenhayn dictated reply to

1.8 cont.

Jagow (DD 578 below) Violent scene ensued between Moltke and Bethmann Hollweg. In end, Moltke called to stop 16th Division entering Luxemburg. Said he was completely broken because it showed Kaiser still hoped for peace. Falkenhayn consoled Moltke but did not think it mattered that much because he did not believe anything would come of the British offer. Soon after, another TGM (DD 570 above) from Lichnowsky said Grey would shortly state British conditions for staying neutral if Germany were at war with France and Russia. No reply was sent to this TGM.

(Falkenhayn notes. G2/ 1000 a)

Note. Berchtold spoke Schebeko. Latter wanted direct negotiations in London. Berchtold "did not go any further but began friendly unofficial conversation". Dumaine then came and spoke in "just as peaceful a strain".


(G3/169, p 342)

Nicholas II to Wilhelm II. Re your TGM.(DD 480 above) I understand but our military measures do not mean war. Want same guarantee from you.

(TGM D 2.06 pm R 2.05 pm)

(DD 546)

5 PM Germany declares mobilization.

(DD 620)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Grey regrets that, unlike France, Germany gave no guarantee re Belgian neutrality. But he says he could not declare British neutrality even if Germany were to respect that of Belgium. He had no hostile intentions towards Germany but if Germany invaded Belgium, public feeling will change. Could we and France not remain under arms without either attacking? I asked if France would agree. He will enquire. I think Britain is trying to keep out.

(TGM D 5.47 pm R 6.10 pm )

(DD 596)

4 pm Paris. France declares mobilization

7 pm St Petersburg. Germany's declaration of war delivered.

( ie one hour late. See DD 542 above and DD 588)

Wilhelm II to George V. Your government has offered French neutrality under your guarantee. Came too late and our mobilization in East and West must go ahead. But if France confirms, we will not attack and will use troops elsewhere. Troops being told now not to cross into France.

(TGM D 7.02 pm)

(DD 575)

Schoen to Jagow. Spoke Viviani at 5.30 pm. Same reply. Still hoped negotiations could continue on Grey's proposals which France warmly supported. Mobilization ordered today but no aggressive intentions. 10 km pull back to avoid accidents. Still hoped for peace.

(TGM D 7.05 pm R 10.17 pm)

(DD 598)

Bethmann Hollweg to Lichnowsky. We accept English proposal if will pledge security with all her armed forces that France will stay neutral till we say war with Russia ended. We mobilized today but will guarantee not to cross French border before Monday 3 August at 7 pm.

(TGM D 7.15 pm)

(DD 578)

1.8 cont.

Lichnowsky to Jagow. My TGM 205 (DD 562) superseded by my TGM 212 (DD 596). Positive British proposal not in prospect so your TGM 204 (DD 578) settled. Have done nothing more.

(TGM D 8.26 pm R 11.10 pm)

(DD 603)

Aide Mémoire British Embassy to Jagow. Grey has heard from Russia that Austria willing to talk to Russia. Must try to gain time. We will do nothing to precipitate matters.

(No times)

(DD 595)

Franz Josef to Wilhelm II. As soon as my General Staff know you have decided to start war against Russia and with full force, I too will bring my main force against Russia. You can be sure we will do our utmost. Glad to hear from my Military Attaché that you are trying to get more allies. Am also telling Rome that we accept their interpretation of Article VII of the Treaty provided they fulfill their duty as allies. Am also sending personally to King that after 30 years of peaceful collaboration, we are counting on his full support.

(TGM R 22.30)

(DD 601)

Wilhelm II to Nicholas II. No reply from your government and so have mobilized. You could still answer and call it all off.

(TGM D 10.30 pm)

(DD 600)

Bethmann Hollweg to Lichnowsky. France mobilized at same time as us. Can keep our promise to respect French boundary only up to 7 pm Monday afternoon if France does likewise.

(TGM 11.30 pm)

(DD 605)

King George V to Wilhelm II. Must be a misunderstanding. Grey intended only to talk about how to avoid actual fighting between France and Germany while still some chance of agreement between Austria and Russia. Grey will see Lichnowsky early tomorrow.

(TGM Times unknown. Although dated 1.8 was probably received very early on 2.8)

(DD 612)

Moltke memoirs. Kaiser recalled me at 11 pm. Gave me DD 612 above and said "now you can do what you want". Ordered 16th Division into Luxemburg immediately.

(G2/1000 c )


.Sunday 2 August

Bethmann Hollweg to Wilhelm II. Cossacks attacked railway at Johannisberg this am. Have told Austria and Italy (TGM to Italy said war with Russia "would unquestionably" lead to an attack by France). No military reasons for declaration of war on France so will wait in hope that France will attack us.

(No times but forwarded by Wilhelm II to navy at 9 am)

(DD 629)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Violation of Belgian neutrality almost certain to bring in Britain. Cabinet meeting today.

(TGM D 9.10 am R 11.47 am)

(DD 641)

2.8 cont.

Bethmann Hollweg to Lichnowsky and Schoen. Move into Luxemburg solely to protect railway. Compensation promised. Explain to British and French.

( 2 TGMs about midday)

(DDs 642 & 643)

Jagow to Below. Open immediately the annex 88 (sent on 29.7 DD 375 above). Make some changes. Most important was time limit reduced from 24 hours to 12. Belgians must believe all these instructions received by you for first time today. Hand over 8 pm tonight so expiry is 8 am tomorrow. Want reply here by 2 pm German time so telegraph reply and send copy to General von Emmich at Aachen.

(TGM D 14.05)

(DD 648)

(See DD 376 of 29.7 for the deletion to be made).

Moltke to Jagow. Various suggestions. Switzerland has mobilized, must assure them German help available if attacked by France. Secret arrangement with Swiss Chief of Staff. Draft treaty ready, only needs signature. Turkey to declare war on Russia. England --- must stimulate risings in Egypt, India etc If Britain makes neutrality depend on our assurance of "acting with moderation in victory over France" this can be given unconditionally. We do not seek to ruin France, only vanquish her. Sweden --- mobilize and threaten to attack Russia. Belgium-time limit to be 12 hours. Assure Britain that we will restore Belgium even if a hostile clash. Russia --- declaration of war no consequence in view of invasion across our eastern frontier. France- no need yet to declare war. Hope France will enter Belgium as soon as our ultimatum known. (Comments on various other countries too. First part, about the secret agreement with Swiss Chief of Staff suppressed when first edition of the Kautsky documents appeared).

(DD 662)

Tirpitz to Jagow. The British have cut the cable. Are we at war with England? (Had they? See TGMs above and below). Informally told "no".

(2.8 pm)

(DD 654)

Jagow to Flotow (ambassador n Rome). French aircraft dropping bombs near Nuremberg. French patrols violating our border ( DD 663 so reported but needed corroboration. No report re bombing).Russia too opened hostilities before declaration of war. (Still trying to get Italian support)

(TGM D 4.35 pm)

(DD 664)

Jagow to Lichnowsky. French preparing to attack Belgium. Counter measures needed. Will assure Belgium that if she remains benevolently neutral, we will respect integrity and will compensate after war. Even if she is hostile will still guarantee integrity ( ie Integrität ). Tell British government but not before tomorrow morning.

(TGM D 5.30 pm)

(DD 667)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Still think Britain wants to remain neutral. Please ask our navy to avoid any accidents or provocations.

(TGM D 12.19 pm R 5.50 pm)

(DD 669)

Commander 8th Army Corps to Moltke. President of Government of Düsseldorf reports that early this am, 80 French officers in German uniforms in cars tried to cross at Walbeck, west of Geldern but failed. (Geldern is about 16 miles NE of Krefeld and close to Dutch border)

(D ? R 3.01 pm)

(DD 671)

2.8 cont.

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Am succeeding in keeping friendly relations so no provocations please. Spoke Asquith. Much upset at risk of war. Unpopular at moment but said could change if attack on Belgium or north coast of France. Plain that he and Grey wish to avoid intervention. Our declaration on Russia badly received here.

(TGM D 1.23 pm R 6.48 pm)

(DD 676)

Flotow (ambassador in Rome) to Jagow. Italians will remain neutral. War of aggression so casus foederis does not arise. Nor was Italy consulted. May come in later.

(TGM D 2.20 pm R 6.20 pm)

(DD 675)

Tschirschky to Jagow. Austria says will do all possible to move against Russia with main forces. Only defensive against Serbia. Full information sent by Conrad to Moltke.

(D 5.20 pm R 6.05 pm)

(DD 672)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Crowe tells me has heard Austria now willing to discuss fundamentals of quarrel with Serbia at a Four Power conference in London. Too late.

(TGM D 6.12 pm R 11.04 pm)

(DD 687)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Crowe tells me German troops crossed into France near Nancy. Bound to affect Cabinet's deliberations. Said should wait for confirmation.

(TGM D 6.12 pm R 11.40 pm)

(DD 689)

Jagow to ambassadors in Brussels, the Hague and London. Story of 80 French officers in German uniforms. "Worst conceivable violation of neutrality on the part of France".

(TGM D. 6.55 pm)

(DD 677)

8 pm German ultimatum to Belgium delivered.

( See DD 648 above)

Jagow to Below. Inform Belgians our fears strengthened by French hostilities (bombs from planes, border violations).

(TGM D 9.05 pm)

(DD 682)

Jagow to Flotow. Tell Italian press about French physician caught trying to poison wells at Montigny with cholera bacilli. He was shot. French flour dealer poisoned his flour.

(TGM D 11.45 pm )

(DD 690)

(Note by Stumm. A manufactured story. General Staff asks us not to use such stories till they have been confirmed).

Schoen to Jagow. French protest of serious frontier violation even over the 10 km zone.

(TGM D 11.15 pm R 3.8 3.55 am)

(DD 705)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Naval reserves mobilized here. Does not mean British have decided to join in. Believe they will wait.

(TGM D 11.20 pm R 3.8 4.05 am)

(DD 707)


Monday 3 August.

Bethmann Hollweg to Lichnowsky. Tell British French cavalry patrols crossed our border, French aircraft shot down near Wesel, two Frenchmen shot trying to blow up tunnel at Cochem, French infantry crossed border in Alsace and opened fire. All this despite statements by French Prime Minister. Very serious. We must take to arms "for the preservation of our very existence".

(TGM Dated 2.8 but D 12.25 am)

(DD 693) Repeated to ambassador in Rome DD 694.

Jagow to ambassadors in Berne, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Christiania (Oslo). French preparing to deploy Givet-Namur and Belgians cannot hope to resist. We must enter Belgium in self defence. No "hostilities of any sort planned against Belgium". Will evacuate their territory immediately when peace concluded. Have told Belgians.

Footnote shows Jagow instructed by Bethmann Hollweg to send "just as soon as we have accomplished our move against Liège".

(TGM D 3.10 am)

(DD 703)

Bethmann Hollweg to Lichnowsky. Tell British Russia has mobilized while negotiations still pending and with no assurance not directed at us. As they mobilized, Tsar personally guaranteed no hostile acts but he has said one thing and his government another throughout. Refusal to demobilize had to be accepted as a hostile act. Anyway Russian soldiers opened fire before we declared war.

(TGM Datd 2.8 but D 12.55 am)

(DD 696)

Tschirschky to Jagow. Berchtold tells me Russian ambassador came to see him yesterday. Hoped still for negotiations. Neutral London best place. Regretted Germany trying to force a war in spite of Russian assurances. But Serbia cannot be dealt with without consulting Russia. Friendly academic chat followed. Dumaine then came and said much the same.

Austrians regard it as "infamous swindle" since they cannot mobilize quickly. Certain Russia trying to drive wedge between Germany and Austria but ruse seen through.

(TGM D 12.30 am R 3.32 am)

(DD 704)

Jagow to Lichnowsky. Repeated stories of French officers trying to enter Germany from Holland and the attempt at cholera infection at Metz. See DD 693 and 694 above.

(TGM D 6.45 am )

(DD 710)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Please, please ensure navy commits no unfriendly act. Hope England may remain neutral has by no means disappeared.

(TGM D 6.00 am R 1.10 pm)

(DD 736)

Goschen to Jagow. Have asked re alleged stoppage of telegrams. Grey says due to congestion. Have in fact received several myself, all formulas for peace.

Wilhelm II annotated it on 4.8. Grey need only tell France and Russia not to mobilize but to wait to see if his efforts at mediation succeeded.

(Letter dated 2.8 but received early 3.8)

(DD 720)

Eyschen (Luxemburg Presidenr) to Bethmann Hollweg and Jagow. The general commanding your troops here in Luxemburg is saying publicly that your invasion was necessary because French troops were attacking Germany via Luxemburg. That is completely untrue.

(TGM D 10.14 am R 11.38 am)

(DD 730)

3.8 cont.

Jagow to Lichnowsky and Flotow. French reports of our frontier violations are false. All ours are confirmed and amplified.

(TGM D 10.15 am)

(DD 725)

General Staff to Jagow. All alleged French frontier violations confirmed in detail including air activity.

(Telephone message timed at 1.45 pm)

(DD 739)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Spoke Grey. He is very worried and doubts if Britain could tolerate the violation of Belgian neutrality. Begged him not to make it a condition of neutrality. Believe that if at all possible he wants to stay neutral.

(TGM D 1.02 pm R 4.33 pm)

Below to Jagow. Reply from Belgian government says German allegations contradicted by French guarantee of their neutrality but if the French did attack, Belgium would resist. German proposals are a flagrant breach of international law. Hopes that Germany will reconsider. If not, Belgium will resist.

(TGM D 12.35 pm R 7.58 pm)

(DD 779)

Prussian Minister in Munich to Jagow. Reports of aircraft bombing Nuremberg untrue. Some aircraft were seen but no bombs were dropped and it is unknown if they were French aircraft.

(TGM? R 3.8 pm)

(DD 758)

Tschirschky to Jagow. Austrians postponing declaration of war on Russia to give time to complete deployment in Galicia. Want to avoid odium of spontaneous declaration so can they plead Russian attack on Germany as reason?

(TGM D 5.30 pm R 7.17 pm)


6 pm. Germany declares war on France.

As instructed by a TGM from Bethmann Hollweg dispatched at 1.05 pm, Schoen presented the German declaration of war to the French Prime Minister at 6 pm. The text he was intended to use having been badly garbled, he had to compose his own. It simply mentioned the alleged acts of French aircraft as the reason for the declaration.

(DD 734)

Bethmann Hollweg to Lichnowsky. Tell Grey that if we breach Belgian neutrality it is because we are forced to, fighting for our lives etc

(DD 790 D 10.25 pm)

Wilhelm II to Bethmann Hollweg. Have we told London that even if Belgium resists we will guarantee integrity of country? Jagow annotation says this had been done.

(Ms note. 3.8 pm) (Kaiser said "Bestand". Carnegie translates this as "integrity". Some think it means "existence".)


Jagow to Below. Tell Belgian Government that invasion will begin 4 August at 6 am. Sorry but we must protect ourselves against the French. (Sent in response to request by Moltke in DD 788).

(DD 791 D 10.35 pm)

General Staff reports "numerous French aviators flying over Belgium towards Cologne".

(Note of telephone call)



Tuesday 4 August

(early) Germany invades Belgium.

(late) Britain declares war on Germany.

Bethmann Hollweg to Tschirschky. Forced to go to war by Austria's procedure and have right to expect fact will not be hidden. Austria should openly say threat of interference in Serbia conflict forcing her to go to war.

(TGM D 11.40 am)

(DD 814)

Minister at The Hague to Jagow. Netherlands will maintain neutrality against all comers. Story of 80 French officers trying to enter Germany untrue. All roads closed and guarded.

(TGM D 3.8 10.55 am R 4.8 1.17 am)

(DD 797)

Jagow to Lichnowsky. Please tell Grey that even if armed conflict with Belgium, Germany will under no pretense whatever annex Belgian territory. Sincerity proven by guarantee given to Netherlands. France planned to attack Germany via Belgium so we had no choice.

(Marginal comment by Stumm (official) "Sent at Moltke's urgent request")

(TGM D 10.20 am)

(DD 810)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. Cannot count on British neutrality much longer. Parliament now for intervention. News of invasion of Belgium caused complete reversal of public opinion much to our disadvantage.

(TGM D 10.02 am R 1.37 pm)
(DD 820)

Several exchanges between Foreign Office and General Staff re Luxemburg. General Staff says few purchases needed and will be paid for in cash. Harvesting can proceed normally. Etc

(DD 812, 813, 822)

Jagow to Lichnowsky. Uncoded. Infraction of international law for us to enter Belgium and Luxemburg but we must. France promised to respect their neutrality but were ready to invade and we could not wait. Will repair wrong we are doing as soon as we can. Grey says will stay neutral if French coast and Belgian territorial integrity and independence not touched. Before the whole world we publicly repeat our assurances .

(TGM D 4.05 pm)

(DD 829)

Goschen to Grey. Jagow regrets cannot give assurance required as Belgian frontier crossed this am. Assures you acted from military necessity, that Belgium will be compensated etc Agrees Belgium had acted very naturally and loyally.

(DD 823, BD 666 No times but not received in London till 13 August)

Goschen to Grey. Bethmann Hollweg and Jagow regret could give no other answer than (see DD 823 above) so asked for my passports. Bethmann Hollweg holds Britain responsible.

(BD 667. No times but not received in London till 13 August)

Jagow to Lichnowsky. Goschen demanded passports shortly after 7 pm declaring war.

(TGM D 9.05 pm)

(DD 848)

Lichnowsky to Jagow. English ultimatum expires 12 pm tonight. No new information on whereabouts of English battle fleet.

(TGM D 4.22 pm R 10.10 pm)

(DD 853)


Wednesday 5 August

Moltke to Jagow. Only one of the border violations complained of by the French was true but was very minor. But long before their aircraft were bombing Nuremburg and our border troops were being fired on. Only on 3.8 were our scouts allowed to go over the border for protection.

(Note. Dated 4.8 but R 5.8)


Jagow to Tschirschky. Urge Austria to declare on France, Russia and England as soon as possible. (Tirpitz had asked this in DD 870 because ships "Goeben" and "Breslau" were in difficulties in the Mediterranean).

(TGM D 12.20 pm)

(DD 874)

Moltke to Jagow. British declaration, planned from the beginning, means we must use every means. Revolt started in Poland and people greeting us almost as friends. America friendly to Germany. Urge Germans there to influence Press. If US would start naval war against England, they could gain Canada. Insurrections must be fomented in India, Egypt and in Caucasus.


(DD 876)

Tschirschky to Jagow. Austria says will be guided by Germany's intentions.
(TGM D 1.40 pm R 7.40 pm)

(DD 877)

Tschirschky to Jagow. Austria will declare war this evening. Conrad has scruples. Trying to influence him through military and naval attachés.

(TGM D 5.10 pm R 7.40 pm)

(DD 878)


Thursday 6 August

Szögény to Jagow. Berchtold told Szápáry yesterday (ie 4 August) to announce declaration of war to Russians on grounds of their aggression against Germany and their threats re Serbia.

(Note. Dated 5.8 but R 6.8 am)

(DD 879)

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