Document Numbers 131 - 145

25 July 1914 - 26 July 1914
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(33857) No. 131.
Mr. Crackanthorpe to Sir Edward Grey.
Belgrade, July 25, 1914.
D. 9:20 P.M.
R. 11:30 P.M.
Tel. (No. 55.)

Austrian Minister left at 6:30. Government has left for Nish, where Skuptchina is convened for Monday. Special train is placed at disposal of Diplomatic Corps this evening. I am leaving with my other colleagues, taking one cypher. Vice-consul remains (?in) charge of cyphers and archives.

(Sent to Vienna.)
Published in BB No. 23 (paraphrased and parts omitted.)

(34450) No. 132.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir G. Buchanan.
(No. 295.) Confidential.
Foreign Office, July 25, 1914.

I told Count Benckendorff to-day of what I had said to the German Ambassador this morning as to the possibility of Germany, Italy, France and ourselves working together in Vienna and St. Petersburg to secure peace after Austria and Russia had mobilised. (1)

Count Benckendorff was very apprehensive that what I said would give Germany the impression that France and England were detached from Russia.

I said that France and ourselves, according to my suggestion, would be no more detached from Russia than Germany would be detached from her ally Austria. I had emphasised to Prince Lichnowsky that the participation of Germany in any such diplomatic mediation was an essential condition, and surely the situation was not made unsatisfactory for Russia if France and England held their hands, provided that Germany also held hers.

Count Benckendorff urged that I should give some indication to Germany to make her think that we would not stand aside if there was a war.

I said that I had given no indication that we would stand aside; on the contrary, I had said to the German Ambassador that, as long as there was only a dispute between Austria and Servia alone, I did not feel entitled to intervene; but that, directly it was a matter between Austria and Russia, it became a question of the peace of Europe, which concerned us all. I had furthermore spoken on the assumption that Russia would mobilise, whereas the assumption of the German Government had hitherto been, officially, that Servia would receive no support; and what I had said must influence the German Government to take the matter seriously. In effect, I was asking that, if Russia mobilised against Austria, the German Government, who had been supporting the Austrian demand on Servia, should ask Austria to consider some modification of her demands, under the threat of Russian mobilisation. This was not an easy thing for Germany to do, even though we would join at the same time in asking Russia to suspend action. I was afraid, too, that Germany would reply that mobilisation with her was a question of hours, whereas with Russia it was a question of days; and that, as a matter of fact, I had asked that if Russia mobilised against Austria, Germany, instead of mobilising against Russia, should suspend mobilisation and join with us in intervention with Austria, thereby throwing away the advantage of time, for, if the diplomatic intervention failed, Russia would meanwhile have gained time for her mobilisation. It was true that I had not said anything directly as to whether we would take any part or not if there was a European conflict, and I could not say so; but there was absolutely nothing for Russia to complain of in the suggestion that I had made to the German Government, and I was only afraid that there might be difficulty in its acceptance by the German Government. I had made it on my own responsibility, and I had no doubt it was the best proposal to make in the interests of peace.

I am, &c.

(1) No 116.
Published in Grey, vol. I, p. 317.

[NOTE. This despatch, which had been included in the original draft of the Blue Book as No. 28, was afterwards omitted by the direction of Sir Edward Grey (see Introduction, p. vii). The reasons for this as stated in a letter from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State to a correspondent on November , 1914, were that:

"It recorded a conversation between Sir Edward Grey and one of the Ambassadors [Count Benckendorff] in which the Ambassador did not take the same point of view of a proposal of Sir Edward Grey's as was afterwards taken by his Government and Sir Edward Grey thought it would be kinder to the Ambassador not to publish this fact."

As will be seen, while Count Benckendorff demurred to Sir Edward Grey's proposal for mediation by the four Powers, M. Sazonof, according to No. 125, was prepared to accept the idea.

(34451) No. 133.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir R. Rodd.
(No. 217.) Confidential.
Foreign Office, July 25, 1914.

The Italian Ambassador came to see me to-day.

I told him in general terms what I had said to the German Ambassador this morning.(1)

The Italian Ambassador cordially approved of this. He made no secret of the fact that Italy was most desirous to see war avoided.

I am, &c.

Published in BB No. 29.
(1) No. 116.

No. 134.
Sir F. Bertie to Sir Edward Grey.
British Embassy, Paris, July 25, 1914.

My dear Grey,
I do not think that if Russia pick a quarrel with Austria over the Austro-Servian difficulty public opinion in France would be in favour of backing up Russia, in so bad a cause.

Consequently the French Government will probably advise the Russian Government to moderate any excessive zeal that they may be inclined to display to protect their Servian client.

Yours sincerely,

(33853) No. 135.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
Vienna, July 25, 1914.
D. July 25, 11:20 P.M.
R. July 26, 8 A.M.
(No. 103.) En clair.

Servian reply to the Austro-Hungarian demands is not considered satisfactory and the Austro-Hungarian Minister has left Belgrade. War is thought to be imminent. Wildest enthusiasm prevails in Vienna. Russian Embassy is being guarded by troops to prevent repeated attempts at hostile demonstration on part of the vast crowds parading the streets.

Published in BB No. 31 (last two sentences omitted).

(33886) No. 136.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
Vienna, July 26, 1914.
D. 11:5 A.M.
R. 1 P.M.
Tel. (No. 104.)

Following received last night from military attaché for Director of Military Operations:

"According to information just received from good source, but not definitely confirmed, armies against Servia will be composed as follows:

"Potiorek, headquarters Sarajevo, 15th and 16th corps.

"Ritter von Frank, headquarters Agram, to operate against Belgrade. 18th corps supported by detachments from (?2nd) and 3rd corps.

"Ritter von Auffenberg, headquarters Budapest, to move via Temesvar up Morava valley, 4th and 7th corps supported by 20th Honved division.

"6th corps and 41st Honved division in reserve.

"12th corps to remain in observation of Roumania.

"Each corps consists of two common army divisions only. In all initially, seventeen divisions, including 12th corps. Besides these there are six independent Honved divisions and one mobile brigade per army corps available.

"Calling in of reservists has commenced.

"There is great doubt as to attitude of Roumania."

(33869) No. 137.
Mr. Findlay to Sir Edward Grey.
Christiania, July 26, 1914.
D. 11:50 A.M.
R. 1 P.M.
Tel. (No. 14.)

Morning papers report that German fleet, numbering twenty eight large ships, received orders to concentrate during last night at predetermined point off the Norwegian coast.

(33868) No. 138.
Mr. Findlay to Sir Edward Grey.
Christiania, July 26, 1914.
D. 11:50 A.M.
R. 1:30 P.M.
Tel. (No. 13.) En clair.

It is reported that the Emperor William left Balestrand at 6 o'clock last night, and is proceeding direct to Kiel.

(34200) No. 139.
Sir A. Nicolson to Sir Edward Grey (Itchen Abbas).
[Undated July 26.]

I think that the only hope of avoiding a general conflict would be for us to take advantage at once of suggestion thrown out by Sazonof in second paragraph of Buchanan's tel. No. 169,(1) which you will receive this morning, and that you should telegraph to Berlin, Paris, Rome, asking that they shall authorise their Ambassadors here to join you in a Conference to endeavour to find an issue to prevent complications and that abstention on all sides from active military operations should he requested of Vienna, Servia and St. Petersburg pending results of conference. This tel. to be repeated to Vienna, Belgrade and St. Petersburg for communication to M.F.A.'s with instructions to endeavour to obtain suggested engagements as to military questions on which assurance assembling of Conference must necessarily depend. If you approve will you telegraph to Resident Clerk to whom I am giving draft telegrams in above sense.

Sir Edward Grey to Resident Clerk, Foreign Office, London, S.W.

Itchen Abbas, July 26, 1914.
D. 2:2 P.M.
I approve Nicolson's draft telegrams and they should be sent off (Nos. 140/1). E. GREY.

(1) No. 125.

(34200) No. 140.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir F. Bertie.
Foreign Office, July 2, 1914.
D. 3 P.M.
Tel. (No. 232.)

Ask Minister for Foreign Affairs if he would be disposed to instruct Ambassador here to join with representatives of Italy, Germany, France, and myself in a conference to be held here at once in order to endeavour to find an issue to prevent complications. With this view representatives at Vienna, St. Petersburg and Belgrade should be authorised in informing Government to which they are accredited of above suggestion to request that pending results of conference all active military operations should be suspended.

(Repeated to Vienna No. 159; St. Petersburg No. 365; and Nish No. 18.)
(Sent also to Berlin No. 204, and Rome No. 198.)
Published in BB No. 36 (paraphrased).

(34200) No. 141.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir M. de Bunsen.
Foreign Office, July 26, 1914.
D. 8 P.M.
Tel. (No. 160.)

My telegram to Paris No. 232 of to-day.(1) When your Italian, German, and French colleagues have received similar instructions, you should act accordingly.

(Sent also to St. Petersburg No. 366, and Belgrade No. 19.)

(1) No. 140.

(33887) No. 142.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
Vienna, July 26, 1914.
D. 1:50 P.M.
R. 3:15 P.M.
Tel. (No. 105.)

Following from military attaché for Director of Military Operations:

"Following from French information from Budapest [sic]:

"Potiorek, 15th and 16th corps. Von Frank, 13th and 4th corps and 41st Honved division. Von Auffenberg, 6th and 7th corps and 20th Honved division. 12th corps held against Roumania. 1st, 10th and 11th corps, Von Brudermann, held against Russia. General Böhm Ermolli to command reserve army, 14th, 8th, 9th, 2nd and 3rd corps, if any of latter are required later in proceedings.

"Approximate numbers of Potiorek, 4 marching divisions, 2 reserve brigades, 100,000 men. Von Frank, 5 marching divisions, 2 mobile divisions, 2 additional Honved divisions, 156,000 men. Von Auffenberg same as Von Frank, 12 (sic) corps, 2 marching divisions, 1 additional Honved division, 1 marching brigade, 68,000 men. In all, 480,000 men, excluding independent cavalry divisions and Landsturm troops. Unconfirmed report states that Archduke Frederick will assume general command."

(33885) No. 143.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir F. Bertie.
Foreign Office, July 26, 1914.
D. 3:30 P.M.
Tel. (No. 234.)
Berlin telegram No. 90 of 25th July.(1)

It is important to know if France will agree to suggested action by the four Powers if necessary.

Published in BB No. 37.
(1) No. 122.

No. 144.
Sir A. Nicolson to Sir Edward Grey.
58, Cadogan Gardens, S.W., July 26, 1914.

My dear Grey,
I telegraphed to you(1) an idea which occurred to me after reading Buchanan's telegram No. 169.(2) It seems to me the only chance of avoiding a conflict it is I admit a very poor chance but in any case we shall have done our utmost. Berlin is playing with us. Jagow did not really adopt your proposal to intervene at Vienna, and to be backed up by us and France, but simply "passed on" your suggestion and told his ambassador to speak about it. This is not what was intended or desired. Mensdorff asked to see me this afternoon. It was only to announce officially that relations had been broken off with Servia, and that Servia was mobilising. He asked me what news we had from St. Petersburg. I told him that the situation was most gravely viewed there, as was natural, but I gave him no details. I saw Benckendorff to whom I read Buchanan's 169.(2) He had no news, but impressed on me that Lichnowsky was convinced we could stand aside and remain neutral an unfortunate conviction as were they to understand that our neutrality was by no means to be counted upon and that we could not be expected to remain indifferent when all Europe was in flames, a restraining influence would be exercised on Berlin.

I have just heard you have approved my proposal I am glad, though I am not hopeful. Still no chance should be neglected.

I lunched with Stamfordham. He told me Prince Henry came over yesterday and breakfasted with the King this morning. Prince Henry said if Russia moved there would be an internal revolution and the dynasty be upset. This is nonsense but it shows how anxious they are to make out to us that Russia will remain quiet and to spread about that we will be equally quiescent a foolish procedure (Prince Henry has gone back to Germany).

Yours sincerely,

(1) No. 139
(2) No. 125

(34244) No. 145.
German Ambassador to Sir Edward Grey.
9, Carlton House Terrace, S.W.,
July 26, 1914.

Dear Sir Edward,
I learn from Berlin that they hear from good source that Russia intends to call out several classes of reserves. In this case we would have to follow as it would mean a mobilisation also against us.

As my Government still hopes to be able to localise the war and to keep up the peace of Europe they instruct me to request you to use your influence in St. Petersburg in that sense.(1)

Believe me, &c.

P.S. My Government accepts your suggested médiation à quatre.(2)

(1) See DD No. 199.
(2) See No. 116, also DD No. 192.

Created: 11 August 1996, 01:16 PM Last Updated: 11 August 1996, 01:16 PM