Document Numbers 115 - 130

25 July 1914
Return to Index
Go to Document Numbers 131-145

(33849) No. 115.

Sir Edward Grey to the German Ambassador.
July 25, 1914.

Dear Prince Lichnowsky
I enclose a forecast that I have just received of the Servian reply.(1) It seems to me that it ought to produce a favourable impression at Vienna, but it is difficult for anybody but an ally to suggest to the Austrian Government what view they should take of it.

I hope that if the Servian reply when received in Vienna corresponds to this forecast, the German Government may feel able to influence the Austrian Government to take a favourable view of it.

Yours sincerely,

Enclosure: First 2 paragraphs of Mr. Crackanthorpe's telegram No. 52.(1)

This was telegraphed verbatim in English to Berlin by the German Ambassador.

See DD Nos. 186 and 19la.

(1) No. 114.

(34198) No. 116.

Sir Edward Grey to Sir H. Rumbold.
Foreign Office, July 25, 1914.
Tel. (No. 197.)
D. 3 P.M

I have told German Ambassador that Austrian Ambassador has been authorised to inform me that rupture of diplomatic relations and military preparations but not operations on part of Austria would be the method of procedure on expiry of time limit. I said this interposed a stage of mobilisation before actual crossing of frontier, which I had urged yesterday should be delayed.

We should now apparently be soon confronted by a moment at which both Austria and Russia would have mobilised. The only chance of peace would be for the four Powers, Germany. Russia (sic) (1), France and ourselves, to keep together if Russia and Austria did both mobilise, and to join in asking Austria and Russia not to cross frontier till there had been time for us to endeavour to arrange matters between them.

German Ambassador read me a telegram from German Foreign Office saying that Germany had not known beforehand and had had no more than other Powers to do with the stiff terms of Austrian note to Servia, but that having launched the note Austria could not draw back.(2) The Ambassador said, however, that what I contemplated was mediation between Russia and Austria; this was a different question, and he thought Austria might with dignity accept it, and he expressed himself personally favourable to what I had suggested.

I endorsed his observation, saying that between Servia and Austria I felt no title to intervene, but as soon as the question became one between Austria and Russia it was a question of the peace of Europe, in which we must all take a hand.

I impressed upon him that if Austria and Russia mobilised the participation of Germany would be essential to any diplomatic action for peace. We could do nothing alone. I had had no time to consult the French Government, who were travelling at the moment, and I could not be sure of their views; but if German Government were prepared to agree with my suggestion I was prepared to say to the French Government that I thought it the right thing to do.

(Repeated to Paris No. 221/2; Rome No. 192/3; Vienna No. 355/6; and St. Petersburg No. 154/5: "For your own information only.")

Published in BB No. 25 (paraphrased).
Cf. No. 112.
For Prince Lichnowky's account of this conversation see DD Nos. 180 and 179.

(1) This should be "Italy."
(2) See DD No. 153.

(34243) No. 117.

Communication by Russian Ambassador, July 25.

Count Benckendorff gave me the enclosed. I told him that Sir M. de Bunsen was being instructed to support this.(1) E. G. July 25, 1914.

M. Sazonoff télégraphie au Chargé d'Affaires de Russie à Vienne en date du 11 (24) juillet, 1914:

"La communication du Gouvernement Austro-Hongrois aux Puissances le lendemain de la présentation de l'ultimatum à Belgrade, ne laisse au Puissances qu'un delai tout à fait insuffisant pour entreprendre quoi qu'il soit d'utile pour l'aplanissement des complications surgies.

"Pour prévenir les consequences incalculables et également néfastes pour toutes les Puissances qui peuvent suivre le mode d'action du Gouvernement Austro-Hongrois, il nous parait indispensable qu'avant tout le délai donné à la Serbie pour répondre soit prolongé. L'Autriche-Hongrie se déclarant disposée à informer les Puissances des données de l'enquete sur lesquelles le Gouvernement Impérial et Royal base ses accusations, devrait leur donner également le temps de s'en rendre compte.

"En ce cas si les Puissances se convainquaient du bien-fondé‚ de certaines des exigences Autrichiennes, elles se trouveraient en mesure de faire parvenir au Gouvernement Serbe des conseils en conséquence.

"Un refus de prolonger le terme de l'ultimatum priverait de toute portée la demarche du Gouvernement Austro-Hongrois aupres des Puissances et se trouverait en contradiction avec les bases mêmes des relations internationales.

"Le Prince Koudachef est chargé de communiquer ce qui précède au Cabinet de Vienne."

M. Sazonoff espere que le Gouvernement de Sa Majesté Britannique adheréra au point de vue exposé, et il exprime l'espoir que Sir Edward Grey voudra bien munir l'Ambassadeur d'Angleterre a Vienne d'instructions conformes.

Published, with translation, in BB No. 13 also in R No. 4.

(1) No. 118

(34199) No. 118.

Sir Edward Grey to Sir M. de Bunsen.
Foreign Office, July 25, 1914.
Tel. (No. 153.)
D. 3:15 P.M.

Russian Ambassador has communicated to me a telegram which his Government have sent to Russian Ambassador at Vienna, with instructions to communicate it to Minister for Foreign Affairs, and of which the following is the substance.

"The delay given to Servia for a reply is so limited that the Powers are prevented from taking any steps for averting the complications which are threatening. The Russian Government trust that the Austro-Hungarian Government will prolong the time limit, and as they have stated their readiness to furnish the Powers with the data on which their demands on Servia are based, the Russian Government hope that these materials will be furnished so that the Powers may examine the matter, and if they find that some of the Austrian requests are well founded, they would be in a position to advise the Servian Government accordingly. If the Austro-Hungarian Government are indisposed to prolong the time limit, not only would they act against international ethics, but would deprive their communication to the Powers of any practical meaning."

You may support in general terms the step taken by your Russian colleague, but since the instruction was sent it was a relief to hear that the steps to be taken by the Austro-Hungarian Government were to be limited for the moment to rupture of relations and to military preparations, and not operations. If, therefore, Austro Hungarian Government consider it too late to vary the time limit already stated, I trust that they will at any rate give time in the sense and for the reasons desired by Russia before taking any irretrievable steps.

(Repeated to Paris No. 220 and St. Petersburg No. 354.

Published in BB No. 26 (with slight verbal alterations).

Cf. No. 108.

(1) No. 117.

(34242) No. 119.

Communication by Servian Minister.
July 25, 1914.

Sir Edward Grey,
The Servian Minister called to-day to hand in a copy of the Austrian communication. I told him we already had a copy. He was instructed to add that when the Austrian Minister handed the communication to M. Pasitch, he had verbally stated that unless he received a satisfactory reply by 6 P.M. to-day he was to leave Belgrade with his staff.
M. Pasitch wished the Servian Minister to state further that he would deliberate as to a reply when he had convoked his colleagues, but that no Servian Government would be able to accept the Austrian demands "dans leur ensemble." M. Pasitch trusted H.M. Government would afford their support to Servia in the present difficult circumstances . (1) (The telegram was dated the day before yesterday.)

I said that we were exchanging views with other Governments, and that I had no information to give him though I gave him verbally the substance of what M. Grouitch had told Mr. Crackanthorpe as to the draft Servian reply.

A. N.

(1) Cf. S Nos. 34 and 35.
(2) No. 114.

(33849) No. 120.

Sir Edward Grey to Sir F. Bertie.
Foreign Office, July 25, 1914.
Tel. (No. 228.)
D. 4 30 P.M.

I have communicated to German Ambassador the forecast of the Servian reply contained in Mr. Crackanthorpe's telegram No. 52 of 25th July,(1) repeated to you. I have said that, if Servian reply, when received at Vienna, corresponds to this forecast, I hope the German Government will feel able to influence the Austrian Government to take a favourable view of it.(2)

(Sent also to Berlin No. 200 and St. Petersburg No. 360.)

Published in BB No. 27.

(1) No. 114.
(2) No. 115.

(33854) No. 121.

Sir F. Bertie to Sir Edward Grey.
Paris, July 25, 1914.
D. 3:15 P.M.
R. 5 :30 P.M.
Tel. (No. 81.)

Acting Political Director states that French Government have not yet received explanation from Austrian Government contained in your telegram No. 216 of to-day,(1) but have given to Servia, through Servian Minister here, advice similar to that contained in your telegram No. 17 of yesterday to Belgrade.(2)

Published in BB No. 15 (paraphrased).

(1) No. 105.
(2) No. 102.

(33885) No. 122.

Sir H. Rumbold to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, July 25, 1914.
D. 3 16 P.M.
R. 6 P.M.
Tel. (No. 90)

Your telegram No. 196 of 24th July (1) acted on.

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs says that on receipt of a telegram at 10 this morning from German Ambassador at London,(2) he immediately instructed German Ambassador at Vienna to pass on to Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs your suggestion for an extension of. time limit, and to "speak to" his Excellency about it.(3) Unfortunately it appeared from press that Count Berchtold is at Ischl, and Secretary of State thought that in these circumstance there would be delay and difficulty in getting time limit extended. Secretary of State said that he did not know what Austria- Hungary had ready on the spot, but he admitted quite freely that Austro- Hungarian Government wished to give the Servians a lesson, and that they meant to take military action. He also admitted that Servian Government could not swallow certain of the Austro-Hungarian demands.

Secretary of State said that a reassuring feature of situation was that Count Berchtold had sent for Russian representative at Vienna and had told him that Austria-Hungary had no intention of seizing Servian territory. This step should, in his opinion, exercise a calming influence at St. Petersburg. I asked whether it was not to be feared that, in taking military action against Servia, Austria would dangerously excite public opinion in Russia. He said he thought not. He remained of opinion that crisis could be localised. I said that telegrams from Russia in this morning's papers did not look very reassuring, but he maintained his optimistic view with regard to Russia. He said that he had given the Russian Government to understand that last thing Germany wanted was a general war, and he would do all in his power to prevent such a calamity. If the relations between Austria and Russia became threatening, he was quite ready to fall in with your suggestion as to the four Powers working in favour of moderation at Vienna and St. Petersburg.


Secretary of State again repeated very earnestly that he had had no previous knowledge of contents of Austro-Hungarian note, although he had been accused of knowing all about it. He confessed privately that as a diplomatic document note left much to be desired.

French Ambassador here learns from Vienna that Austrians are ready to act with eight army corps.

(Sent to Vienna.)

(Repeated to Paris No. 233, Rome o. 209 and St. Petersburg No. 370.)

Published in BB No. 18 (unparaphrased except penultimate paragraph; last paragraph omitted).

(1) No. 99.
(2) DD No. 157.
(3) DD Nos. 164, 171.
Cf. A II No. 32.

(33884) No. 123.

Sir F. Bertie to Sir Edward Grey.
Paris, July 25, 1914.
D. 4:20 P.M.
R. 8 P.M.
Tel. (No. 82.)

The "Echo de Paris" announces that the German Ambassador made a verbal communication to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs yesterday, stating that German Government approved contents and form of Austrian note to Servia, that German Government hoped that discussion would remain localised between Vienna and Belgrade, and that if a third Power intervened result would be grave tension between the two groups of Powers. The "Echo de Paris" bases on this statement a strong attack on Germany and Austria, whom it accuses of choosing a moment when England and Russia are occupied with Ulster and St. Petersburg strike respectively, and French President of the Republic and President of the Council are on the high seas, to endeavour to humiliate Triple Entente, the Serajevo murders being merely an excuse.

German Ambassador has protested at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, asserting that German Government was ignorant of contents of note until informed like other Governments after its delivery. German Ambassador has further stated that Germany is most anxious that quarrel should be strictly localised and that no third Power should intervene, as such intervention must, in view of terms of alliances, result in very dangerous situation. German Ambassador stated to Acting Political Director that this was not a threat.

The "Echo de Paris" is known to be in close relation with Russian Embassy.

(Repeated to St. Petersburg.)

Cf. despatch No. 193 and also F No. 36, DD Nos. 169, 170.

(33852) No. 124.

Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
Vienna, July 25, 1914.
D. 6:30 P.M.
R. 9:10 P.M.
Tel. (No. 102.)

Following for Director of Military Operations from military attacheé:

"Following information is confirmed:

"Chief of the Staff informed Italian military attache‚ last night that until answer from Servia was received no measures other than minor precautionary measures would be undertaken. Arrangements for instant mobilisation were complete, and orders would be issued, in event of non- receipt, or of unsatisfactory nature of reply, without any interval. Usual guards were placed at all main railways and arsenals and depots at dawn to-day.

"Following from good source, but not completely confirmed:

"A detachment of siege trains left Southern Railway station at 8 this morning with heavy howitzers.

"According to good source, but also subject to final confirmation, initial ( ? mobilisation) will extend to 15th 16th, 18th, 5th, 7th corps and 20th and 41st Honved divisions. (Two groups undecypherable) 12 corps and one other Budapest division of Honved. Consider (group undecypherable) mobilise simultaneously with Galician corps (several groups undecypherable) probable."

(33883) No. 125. Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey. St. Petersburg, July 25, 1914. D. 8 P.M. R. 10:30 P.M. Tel. (No. 169.) Very Confidential. I communicated to Minister for Foreign Affairs this morning, in private letter, substance of your telegram No. 216 of 25th July to Paris,(1) and I this afternoon discussed with him French Ambassador's suggested communication to Servian Government recorded in your telegram No. 17 of 24th July to Belgrade.(2) As regards former, Minister for Foreign Affairs said that Austrian Ambassador's explanations did not quite tally with information which had reached him from German quarters. As regards latter, both his Excellency and French Ambassador agreed that as delay accorded expires this evening, it is too late to make such a communication. Minister for Foreign Affairs said Servia was quite ready to do as you suggested, and to punish those proved to be guilty, but no independent State could be expected to accept political demands put forward. From a conversation he had with Servian Minister yesterday, Minister for Foreign Affairs thought that, in event of Austrian attack, Servian Government would abandon Belgrade and withdraw their forces to interior, while they would at the same time appeal to Powers to help them. His Excellency was in favour of such an appeal. Obligations taken by Servia in 1908 (sic) to which reference is made in Austrian ultimatum were given to Powers and not to Austria, and he would like to see question placed on international footing. Were Servia to appeal to Powers, Russia would be quite ready to stand aside and leave question in hands of England, France, Italy and Germany. It was possible, he added, that Servia might propose to submit question to arbitration. Minister for Foreign Affairs then told us that at Council of Ministers held under his presidency, this morning Emperor had sanctioned drafting of Imperial Ukase, which is only to be published when Minister for Foreign Affairs considers moment come for giving effect to it, ordering mobilisation of 1,100,000 men. Necessary preliminary preparations for mobilisation would, however, be begun at once. On my expressing earnest hope that Russia would not precipitate war by mobilising until you had had time to use your influence in favour of peace, his Excellency assured me that Russia had no aggressive intentions, and she would take no action until it was forced on her. French Ambassador then said he had received a number of telegrams from Minister in charge of Ministry for Foreign Affairs, that no one of them displayed slightest sign of hesitation, and that he was in position to give his Excellency formal assurance that France placed herself unreservedly on Russia's side. After thanking him, Minister for Foreign Affairs turned to me with question "And your Government? "I replied that you did not yet despair of situation, and that great thing was to gain time. I repeated what I had said to Emperor in audience reported in my despatch No. 100, Secret, of 3rd April [Extracts annexed] that England could play r“le of mediator at Berlin and Vienna to better purpose as friend who, if her counsels of moderation were disregarded, might one day be converted into an ally, than if she were to declare herself Russia's ally at once. His Excellency said that unfortunately Germany was convinced that she could count upon our neutrality. With the exception of the "Times," nearly the whole of English press was on the side of Austria, to whom Mr. Gladstone had addressed warning of "hands off." The public had their spirit [group undecypherable]. They did not understand that Austria's action was in reality directed against Russia. She aimed at overthrowing present status quo in Balkans and establishing her own hegemony there. He did not believe that Germany really wanted war, but her attitude was decided by ours. If we took our stand firmly with France and Russia there would be no war. If we failed them now rivers of blood would flow and we would in the end be dragged into war. French Ambassador remarked that French Government would want to know at once whether our fleet was prepared to play part assigned to it by Anglo-French Naval Convention.(3) He could not believe that England would not stand by her two friends, who were acting as one in this matter. I said all I could to impress prudence on Minister for Foreign Affairs, and warned him, if Russia mobilised, Germany would not be content with mere mobilisation, or give Russia time to carry out hers, but would probably declare war at once. His Excellency assured me once more that he did not wish to precipitate a conflict, but unless Germany can restrain Austria I can regard situation as desperate. Russia cannot allow Austria to crush Servia and become predominant Power in Balkans, and, secure of support of France, she will face all the risks of war. For ourselves position is a most perilous one, and we shall have to choose between giving Russia our active support or renouncing her friendship. If we fail her now we cannot hope to maintain that friendly co-operation with her in Asia that is of such vital importance to us. Attitude of Italy, according to Minister for Foreign Affairs, seems to be luke warm, and she does not seem to have been consulted by Austria beforehand. (Sent to Paris.) Published in BB No. 17 (paraphrased and parts omitted). (1) No. 105. (2) No. 102. (3) [NOTE. In raising this question the French Ambassador was acting without instructions from his Government. It was merely a private observation arising out of his own personal interpretation of the situation (see Introduction, p. ii).] Extract from a Despatch from Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey dated St. Petersburg, April 3, 1914 . (Received April 7.) Private. * * * * * * * Speaking next of the European situation, the Emperor said that the only question which caused him any anxiety was that of Albania. He did not know whether it would be possible in the long run to keep Austria and Italy in line with the other Powers or whether they would not leave the concert and adopt a policy of partition. In the latter case they were almost certain to quarrel, and, as this would mean a weakening of the Triple Alliance, it would have some countervailing advantages. He was very sorry for the Greeks as they were being rather hardly treated both with regard to the present situation in Epirus and the question of the islands. If the latter were to be neutralised, it seemed but fair that the Powers should guarantee them against attack by Turkey. He did not, however, know what could be done. It was the old story. Europe was divided into two camps and it was impossible to get the Concert to work together. This led His Majesty to say that he would like to see a closer bond of union established between England and Russia, such as an alliance of a purely defensive character. On my remarking that I feared that this was impracticable at present, the Emperor said that we might at any rate conclude some arrangement similar to that which existed between His Majesty's Government and the Government of the French Republic. I replied that I was ignorant of the terms of this arrangement. His Majesty said that he was also unacquainted with them but that he believed that, if we had not actually a military convention with France, we had discussed and agreed on what each country was to do in certain eventualities. On my observing that the despatch of an expeditionary corps to co-operate with the Russian army was, for material reasons, out of the question, the Emperor said that, even if it was feasible, it would serve no useful purpose, as he had men enough and to spare at home. It might, however, be advantageous to arrange beforehand for the co-operation of the British and Russian fleets. By the year 1917 he hoped to have 8 Dreadnoughts in the Baltic, and, in the event of war, the Germans would have to detach more than that number of ships to watch them. He would never propose that a British fleet should be sent to the Baltic on account of the dangers to which it would be exposed from mines in the Belt and from attack by a superior German fleet passing through the Kiel Canal. The existence, however, of a Russian fleet in the Baltic would ease the situation for the British fleet in the North Sea. At present, His Majesty continued, our understanding was confined to Persia, and he was strongly of opinion that that understanding ought to be extended either by some sort of arrangement such as he had suggested, or by some written formula which would record the fact of Anglo-Russian co-operation in Europe. I told the Emperor that I could not speak on this subject in the name of His Majesty's Government, but that I personally should welcome any arrangement that would tend to consolidate Anglo-Russian relations. I could not, however, but ask myself whether, supposing that England had last year been the ally of Russia, she could have rendered her any more effective services than she had actually done as her friend. On several occasions during the prolonged Balkan crisis she had been able to play the role of mediator at Berlin and Vienna; and it was thanks to her friendly intervention that a more or less satisfactory settlement of the Servian port question had been arrived at and that Austria had yielded about Djakova and Dibra which were blocking the way to a friendly settlement of the all- important question of Scutari. It was doubtful, I thought, whether we could have accomplished so much either at Berlin or Vienna had we approached those two Governments as the ally of Russia; whereas the fact that we were only a friend who might be turned into an ally should Germany and Austria force a war on Russia made them much more ready to listen to us. If Russia had had to yield on the question of Adrianople, this was not so much due to anything which His Majesty's Government had done or left undone as to the desire of the French Government that Russia should take no action that might possibly provoke German intervention. In the question of the German military mission to Constantinople, His Majesty's Government had again used their friendly offices at Berlin with very considerable success. The Emperor admitted the truth of what I had said about the French and the Adrianople question and also acknowledged the many services which His Majesty's Government had rendered Russia during the crisis. There might, he said, be something in the argument which I had used, but he would nevertheless prefer to see our present understanding assume a more precise and definite character.... _____________________________________________________ (33859) No. 126. Mr. Max Muller to Sir Edward Grey. Budapest, July 25, 1914. D. 9:44 P.M. R. 10:30 P.M. Tel. (No. 3.) I hear that Servian reply was received at Austro-Hungarian Legation shortly before 6, and, as it was not found satisfactory, Minister and staff left Belgrade. Calling in of reservists has commenced here. (Sent to Vienna.) _____________________________________________________ (33855) No. 127. Sir F. Bertie to Sir Edward Grey. Paris, July 25, 1914. D. 7:10 P.M. R. 10:30 P.M. Tel. (No. 85.) I have seen acting Minister for Foreign Affairs. He had no suggestion to make, except that moderating advice might be given at Vienna as well as at Belgrade. He hopes that Servian Government will give sufficiently favourable answer to Austrian note to obviate Austrian Government proceeding to extremes, but he says that if Servian Government accept Austrian demands in their entirety there would be a revolution in Servia. Published in BB No. 16 (paraphrased). _____________________________________________________ (33858) No. 128. Sir H. Rumbold to Sir Edward Grey. Berlin, July 25, 1914. D. 8:15 P.M. R. 10:30 P.M. Tel. (No. 91.) Austria-Hungary and Servia. I gather that Austro-Hungarian Embassy here consider localisation of crisis between Austria-Hungary and Servia will depend on whether, and, if so, to what extent, Russia and France think that they can reckon on active support of His Majesty's Government in the event of a general complication. (Repeated to Embassies and Belgrade.) _____________________________________________________ (33856) No. 129. Sir F. Bertie to Sir Edward Grey. Paris, July 25, 1914. Tel. (No. 86.) D. 8:30 P.M. R. 11:15 P.M. Confidential. Your telegraphic instructions No. 219 of to-day,(1) which I received this evening. I will make requisite communication to Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs when St. Petersburg telegram No. 166 of 24th July (2) reaches me. I expressed to Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs this afternoon the opinion that in democratic countries such as England and France war could not be made without support of public opinion, and I felt sure that public opinion in England would not sanction a war in support of Russia if she, as protector of Slavs, picked a quarrel with Austria over Austro-Servian difficulty. He admitted, but not as Minister, that it would be difficult to bring French public opinion to fighting point in such a case as present one. (1) No 112. (2) No. 101. _____________________________________________________ (33998) No. 130 Mr. Crackanthorpe to Sir Edward Grey. Belgrade, July 25, 1914. D. 10 P.M. R. 11:30 P.M. Tel. (No. 54.) Mobilisation ordered. _____________________________________________________

Created: 11 August 1996, 11:39 AM Last Updated: 11 August 1996, 11:39 AM