Document Numbers 236 - 250

28 July 1914
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(34652) No. 236.
German Ambassador to Sir Edward Grey.
9, Carlton House Terrace, S.W.,
(Undated) ?July 28

Dear Sir Edward,
I just receive* news from Berlin that they have immediately taken steps in Vienna in the sense you spoke to me yesterday at noon.(1)

They have also communicated to Count Berchtold the desire expressed by M. Sazonow to enter in direct conversation with Vienna.

I begin to hope that it has once more been possible owing to Anglo-German collaboration to save the peace of Europe.

Believe me, dear Sir Edward, yours sincerely,

(1) No. 176.

[NOTE. Published in Oman p. 54, with the date July 2. This is not the date on which the letter was despatched and received, but that on which it was registered in the Foreign Office. Reference to DD No. 278 shows that it belongs to July 28.]

(*- sic. AJP)

No. 237.
Sir Edward Grey to French Ambassador.
July 28, 1914.

Dear M. Cambon
On reading de Bunsen's telegram( 1) I find it does not imply that the Austrians admit the Servian answer to be in any way satisfactory; but de Bunsen states that the Russian Ambassador at Vienna has received a satisfactory account of Sazonof s conversation with the Russian (sic Austrian) Ambassador at St. Petersburg and there seems to be some prospect of the conversations continuing favourably.

Yours sincerely,

(1) No. 199.

(34926) No. 238.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir F. Bertie.
(No. 508.)
Foreign Office, July 28, 1914

M. Cambon expressed great satisfaction to-day at the statement that I had made in the House of Commons yesterday,(1) and at the notice that had appeared concerning our fleet. He said that, if once it were assumed that we would certainly stand aside from a European war, the chance of preserving peace would be very much imperilled.

I said that I had yesterday called the Austrian Ambassador's attention to the notice about our fleet. I had explained that we should not have thought of calling up reserves or taking any step of a menacing character; but that, our naval force having been collected for manoeuvres, we could not, when there was a possibility of European conflagration, choose this moment for dispersing it. I had mentioned this to the Austrian Ambassador as an illustration of the anxiety under which the whole of Europe was placed by the Austrian action.

I informed M. Cambon generally of what I had urged upon the German Government respecting the Servian reply; how desirable I thought it that a favourable construction should be put upon the lengths to which Servia had gone in meeting the Austrian demand; and I told him of the disappointment I had expressed to the Austrian Ambassador that the Servian reply was treated as so unsatisfactory.

I am, &c.

See Nos. 176 and 188.

(1) No. 190.

No. 239.
Sir Arthur Nicolson to Sir G. Buchanan.
Foreign Office, July 28, 1914.

My dear Buchanan,
I am much obliged to you for your letter received by the last Messenger, which was written before the crisis had assumed such a very acute stage. I hope that we have kept you fully informed by repeating to you the telegrams which we have received and sent, so it is unnecessary for me to go into details. What has puzzled me a little have been the fresh proposals which Sazonof makes almost daily.(1) One day he said that if Servia would agree, Russia would be ready to stand aside and leave the question in the hands of ourselves, France, Germany and Italy. On receipt of your telegram mentioning this we put forward the suggestion that a small conference of the four Powers should be held here, and that the other Powers should engage to abstain from active military operations pending the results of this conference. However, Germany declined to entertain the idea, so the matter has fallen through. Then came next day the proposal which Sazonof had made to your Austrian colleague that Italy and ourselves should collaborate with Austria in finding an issue. We had not time to digest this new idea when another telegram arrived saying that he was going to open up conversations direct with Vienna. I must say that this seems the best procedure, but I do not know whether Austria will be ready to fall in with it. The great hope that we have of course is that Austria will abstain from actually entering Servian territory, as I rather gather from what you tell us and from what we hear from others that an actual invasion of Servia by Austria could not possibly be regarded with indifference by Russia. Of course in that case all hope of a peaceful solution will vanish.

I can quite understand Russia not being able to permit Austria to crush Servia. I think the talk about localising the war merely means that all the Powers are to hold the ring while Austria quietly strangles Servia. This to my mind is quite preposterous, not to say iniquitous. I do not understand after the very satisfactory way in which Servia has met the Austrian requests how Austria can with any justification proceed to hostile measures against her. If she deliberately provokes war with Servia with the intention of giving her what she calls a lesson, she is, I ,think, acting most wrongly, for she must know very well that such action on her part would in all probability lead to a general European conflagration, with all its untold disastrous consequences. Germany has not played a very straight game at least so far as we are concerned in all this business. On two occasions we asked her to use moderating language at Vienna and we promised to support her if she did so. She contented herself with simply passing on our proposal as our proposal, which of course was not what we desired or requested, and again she brushed on one side the idea of a small conference here a being an impractical suggestion. Then Lichnowsky says that he is so pleased that Anglo-German co- operation seems likely to be successful. His interpretation of the word "co-operation" must be totally different from that which is usually accepted.

It is no use indulging in surmises as to how much Germany knew of Austria's move before it was actually made. I know for the past two or three weeks the German Ambassador here has been exceedingly anxious and perturbed, and on more than one occasion has said to some of his colleagues that if they knew all that he did they would be equally disquieted. Moreover I cannot believe that Austria would have gone so far as she has done without having informed Germany, her ally, of her proposed procedure, and secured her promise of co-operation.

What has preoccupied, and I confess has troubled, me very much, is satisfying Russia's very natural request as to what we should do in certain eventualities. I foresaw as well as you did that this crisis might be taken by Russia as a test of our friendship, and that were we to disappoint her all hope of a friendly and permanent understanding with her would disappear. We, of course, living under such conditions as we do here, when no Government practically can take any decided line without feeling that public opinion amply supports them, are unable to give any decided engagements as to what we should or should not do in any future emergencies; but I think; we have made it perfectly clear that in any case neither Germany nor Austria could possibly rely with any certainty upon our remaining neutral, and I think this fact has been much impressed upon them by one or two incidents which have occurred within the last two or three days. The decision to keep our battle fleet together instead of allowing it to disperse in order to give leave to its crews was officially notified and given prominence in the papers, and has been immediately taken as a sign by Germany and others that we are prepared to take our share in hostilities if circumstances arose to make it necessary for us to do so. Moreover you will see that the tone of our press, after the first shock which was occasioned by the Austrian ultimatum, has come round to the fact that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for us to stand outside a general European conflagration. There is no doubt whatsoever that were we drawn into this conflagration we should be on the side of our friends. Although therefore we were unable to give Sazonof a definite undertaking as to what our attitude would be, I think you will see that there is very little doubt, supposing we were called upon to take a share, that we should not hesitate to do our duty.

You have certainly handled a most difficult situation in your usual skilful and tactful manner, and you can be quite sure that your action and language have been thoroughly appreciated and approved here. I am sorry that I cannot write further to-day, but you will understand that one is quite overwhelmed with work at this moment.

(34851) No. 240.
Parliamentary Debates. July 28, 1914.

Mr. Bonar Law: I wish to ask the Prime Minister if he has any information he can communicate on the European situation.

The Prime Minister: There are no new developments sufficiently definite to enable any further statement to be made, but we hope that no unfavourable inference will be drawn from this. I cannot say more.

Lord Hugh Cecil: Can the right hon. Gentleman say if hostilities have broken out?

The Prime Minister: We have no definite information about that.

(34256) No. 241.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey. (Received July 29.)
(No. 153.)
Vienna, July 25, 1914.

I have the honour to transmit to you herewith copy of a despatch which I have received from His Majesty's Consul at Sarajevo giving particulars as to certain results of the investigation held with the object of ascertaining details of the plot to assassinate the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his Consort.

I have, &c.

Enclosure in No. 241.

(No. 15.)
Sarajevo, July 21, 1914.

I have the honour to report that according to information received this day the authorities have succeeded in discovering the names of eighteen persons concerned in the plot to assassinate the late Archduke Franz Ferdinand two of whom are Moslems and one a Croat. Of the two Moslem conspirators one has been arrested and the other has fled to Montenegro.

At Tuzla, it appears, according to the same source, that the authorities have recently discovered the existence of a secret society formed amongst the students of the high school ("Gymnasium") of which thirty-six members have been brought hither under arrest.

The society in question which had taken the name of "Jugoslavenska Revolucionarna Nacionalna Omladina" (South Slavonic Revolutionary National Youth), appears to have had a newspaper entitled "Borba" (The Struggle) which was written out and then copied by means of a hectograph for distribution amongst the initiated in one of the first articles of which the writer advocates undisguisedly the complete extirpation of the reigning dynasty. I have, &c.

(34504) No. 242.
Mr. Max Müller to Sir Edward Grey. (Received July 29.)
(No. 35.)
Budapest. July 25. 1914

I have the honour to report that at the opening of the sitting of the Chamber of Deputies yesterday morning the Minister President informed the House of the delivery of the Note to the Servian Government and also of the delivery of the explanatory Circular Note to the Governments of the Signatory Powers of the Treaty of Berlin.

His Excellency expressed the opinion that the step taken by Austria-Hungary required neither justification nor further explanation; rather was it a matter for surprise that this step had been so long delayed; the reason for this delay was that the Austro-Hungarian Government did not wish to act under the influence of passion and resentment, but only on full proof and mature consideration. Count Tisza was bold enough to qualify the step now taken as grave but not provocative or aggressive, on the ground that all that the note demanded was the fulfilment by Servia of certain neighbourly duties. Such questions, His Excellency continued, could not be made the subject of long pourparlers and negotiations and that was the reason for the form of the note and the shortness of the period allowed for a reply. "I do not," concluded Count Tisza, "regard the present situation as constituting a state of war or even as necessarily involving the dangers of war. The Monarchy seeks for peace and wishes for peace. Nobody can accuse us of aiming at war, though we are of course fully alive to all the consequences of the step we have taken. In the firm conviction that we stand for a just cause, and that the vital interests of the Monarchy and of the Hungarian nation demand the accomplishment of this step, we are prepared to bear all its consequences." The speech was received with wild enthusiasm by the whole House, even the Opposition joining in the applause.

Count Julius Andrassy immediately rose and, after stating that he personally had long been convinced that the existing relations between Austria-Hungary and Servia could not be allowed to continue, announced that he was empowered to declare on behalf of the united Opposition that, notwithstanding the wide gulf which separated them from the Hungarian Government and which unfortunately remained unaltered, they were prepared to fulfil their patriotic duties in every respect, and that they hoped and expected that every Hungarian would follow their lead and would not forget that, if events took a serious turn, the honour and vital interests of the Hungarian nation were at stake, and for that every man must be prepared to make sacrifices.

Count Andrassy suggested that the current debates in the House should be suspended until the pending questions of foreign politics be settled, so that they might not have to occupy themselves with secondary questions when their minds were filled with the question of peace or war. Count Tisza, however, recommended that they should continue the discussion of the bill before the House, and thus, by unswerving adherence to their daily parliamentary labours, afford to the world a proof of Hungary's composure and imperturbable fixity of purpose.

This latter course was adopted and for once peace and unanimity reigned in the Hungarian Parliament.

I have, &c.

Cf. telegram No. 106.

(34496) No. 243.
Sir F. Villiers to Sir Edward Grey.
(No. 114.)
Brussels, July, 28, 1914.

I have seen the Minister for Foreign Affairs this afternoon who informed me that the Belgian Government have carefully considered the various eventualities which may arise from the present European crisis and that they have determined to offer resistance to the utmost of their power should the integrity or neutrality of Belgium be assailed from any quarter.

So far orders have only been issued to stop short leave and to bring two out of the six divisions of the army up to full peace strength. Preparations have, however, been made for prompt mobilization, and it is calculated that the force available would amount to nearly 150,000 men.

I have, &c.

Cf. No. 181.

No. 244.
Sir F. Bertie to Sir Edward Grey.
Private and Confidential.
British Embassy, Paris, July 28, 1914

My dear Grey,
I asked the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs this afternoon whether the Russian Ambassador had used to him language in any way similar to that held to Granville which I described (see my telegram No. 91 of to-day) (1) for if it represented the view of his Government and he had just come from Petersburg it was not promising for the preservation of peace.

M. Bienvenu-Martin said that M. Iswolsky had spoken of the position as very serious but by no means hopeless and he (M. Bienvenu-Martin) did not at all despair of an arrangement being come to.

Yours sincerely,

(1) No. 216.

(34494) No. 245.
Sir R. Rodd to Sir Edward Grey. (Received July 29.)
(No. 285.)
Rome, July 26, 1914.

The comments of the Italian press regarding the Austrian ultimatum to Servia fall broadly under two categories, those of the official and subventioned press and of the independent papers.

The observations of the former are somewhat guarded in tone, reflecting nothing more than the purely official point of view, and expressing a formal rather than enthusiastic acquiescence in the action of Austria, while passing over in silence the manner in which this action has been carried out.

The "Popolo Romano" adopts this line in its most official form and emphasises the view expressed that fundamentally, and apart from any minor question of an unusually sharp word or phrase here or there in the Austrian note, Austria is altogether in the right, and Servia in the wrong, by contrasting the correct attitude adopted by Austria to Servia throughout the Balkan wars as compared with the irredentism and chauvinism manifested in Servia ever since the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and culminating in the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

But though this conveys the view which it is at present prudent for official opinion to adopt, it is far from reproducing the general feeling in this country with regard to the present situation. This feeling is reflected more truly in the columns of the independent press, which, from the "Corriere della Sera" of Milan to the "Mattino" of Naples and the "Messaggero" of Rome, show complete lack of sympathy with Austria in the latest phase of her relations with her Balkan neighbour. The "Corriere," as a matter of fact, passes severe judgement on both countries for the situation which has now arisen; Servia, it considers, showed inexcusable callousness in the matter of the assassination of the Archduke, and has since taken no steps whatever to endeavour to assist Austria in tracing the real originators of the plot, or to check the anti-Austrian propaganda which rages freely in the country. But, on the other hand, the terms of the Austrian note were such as no independent State could be expected to accede to; and the net result oś their acceptance would be nothing less than the temporary abolition of Servian independence with Austrian control of all the internal and constitutional questions of the country. In whatever light the note is viewed, its effect is melancholy. If Austria desired to make Servia feel her responsibility for the Serajevo crime by imposing her yoke upon her, even though Servia accepted the punishment, the result would only be to embitter still further the relations of the two States, and to render still more difficult the problems connected with the Slav population of the Austrian Empire. But if the Austrian Government wished by this note to show her strength and fearlessness of the consequences; if she sought to untie the Gordian knot of her policy by cutting it, seeing no other solution than this disastrous menace to the peace of Europe, the terms of the note were certainly the best calculated to achieve this end.

In one point at any rate all papers are unanimous; in expressing the hope that actual war may be averted; great hopes are entertained of an Anglo-Italian intervention in some quarters and the Italian press seem fully alive to the delicate position in which Italy would be placed in the event of a war between her ally and a Power on whom she counts to keep that ally in check. She herself would endeavour to keep out of the conflict; and according to the "Giornale d'Italia," her sole policy in view of the present situation is that no change shall occur in the Balkan or Adriatic equilibrium, unless the interests of Italy be first safeguarded. Austria has, it is true, denied any intention of seeking territorial gains in Servia; were she eventually to succumb to such a temptation, the status quo would at once be altered, and Italy would have to protect her own interests.

I learn that great efforts have been made to restrain the press from taking any very strong line in discussing the situation, and they have so far been successful in so much as public opinion remains calm in an attitude of somewhat anxious expectancy.

I have, &c.

(34474) No. 246.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir R. Rodd.
Foreign Office, July 29, 1914.
Tel. (No. 217.)
D. 12:46 A.M
Your telegram No. 127 of 28th July :(1) Austria and Servia.

I understand from Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs that Austria will not accept any discussion on basis of Servian note, and the inference of all I have heard from Vienna and Berlin is that any form of mediation by the Powers as between Austria and Servia will not be accepted by Austria. It is therefore impossible for me to initiate discussions with Ambassadors here, and Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs must speak at Berlin and Vienna. I shall be glad if any suggestions he can make there are favourably received. You should inform Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Published in BB No. 81 (paraphrased).

(1) No. 231.

(34469) No. 247.
Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey.
St. Petersburg, July 28, 1914.
D. July 28, 8:45 P.M.
Tel. (No. 177.)
R. July 29, 1 A.M

I communicated to Minister for Foreign Affairs to-day substance of your telegram No. 208 of 27th July to Berlin,(1) and he begged me to thank you for language you had held to German Ambassador. He had received same disquieting news from Vienna as that reported in Sir M. de Bunsen's telegram No. [group undecypherable],(2) and accordingly took pessimistic view of the situation. I asked him whether he would be satisfied with assurances which I understood Austrian Ambassador had been instructed to give with regard to Servia's independence and integrity. I was sure that His Majesty's Government would welcome any arrangement that would avert a European war, but it was important that we should know real intentions of Imperial Government. His Excellency replied at once that no engagement that Austria might take on these two points would satisfy Russia, and that on day that Austria crossed Servian frontier order for mobilisation against Austria would be issued. I said that German Ambassador had in conversation with myself contended that Russian Government could not pretend that their hands were being forced by public opinion as there was no excitement and no demonstrations. His Excellency replied that Ambassador was quite wrong and that it was only thanks to precautions taken by police that there had been no hostile demonstrations before Austrian and German Embassies. He had to-day received a telegram from Minister of the Interior, who was making a tour in the provinces, telling him that he need have no fear concerning internal disturbances, and that in event of war whole nation would be behind Government.

I asked whether it would not be possible in last resort for Emperor Nicholas to address personal appeal to Emperor of Austria to restrict Austria's action within limits which Russia could accept. His Excellency replied to my question by repeating that only way to avert war was for His Majesty's Government to let it be clearly known that they would join France and Russia. Prince Henry of Prussia, he heard, was being sent on mission to England, and he trusted that His Royal Highness would not be left in doubt as to what England would do.

As his Excellency had to report to Emperor this afternoon I was unable to ascertain result of conversation which he subsequently had with Austrian Ambassador, but from a hurried conversation which I had with latter I gathered that, while Austria is ready to discuss international question with Russia and to assure her that she has no ulterior aims directed either against Servian independence and integrity or against Russia's interests in the Balkans, she considers her quarrel with Servia is one that only concerns herself.

German Ambassador appealed to me to give moderating counsels to Minister for Foreign Affairs, and I told him that I had not ceased to do so from the beginning, and that it was now the turn of German Ambassador at Vienna to use his restraining influence. I warned his Excellency that Russia was thoroughly in earnest, and that nothing would avert general war if Austria attacked Servia. Ambassador had not received any instructions about suggestion of conference, and my French and Italian colleagues are still awaiting their final instructions before acting with me. (Repeated to Embassies.)

Published in BB No. 72 (paraphrased and parts omitted).

(1) No. 176.
(2) ? No. 175.


Russia has mobilised in Southern districts. A. N.

(34467) No. 248.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
Vienna, July 28, 1914.
D. July 28, 8:10 P.M.
Tel. (No. 117.)
R. July 29, 1:30 A.M.

Russian Ambassador informs me that Austro-Hungarian Government have declined suggestion of Russian Government that the Austrian Ambassador at St. Petersburg should be authorised to discuss directly with Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs means of settling Austro-Servian conflict.(1) Russian Ambassador is sure that Russian Government will now willingly acquiesce in your proposal regarding a conference of the less interested Powers in London, and his Excellency thinks that in such a conference lies only present prospect of preserving peace of Europe. All hope need not be abandoned so long as actual contact between opposing armies has not taken place.


Russian Ambassador says that public opinion is still quiet in Russia, but will probably become more and more excited during the next few days. His Excellency is pessimistic and thinks that any German attempt to overawe Russia, as in 1909, would lead immediately to war. He says that Russian Minister of War is bellicose and Emperor of Russia already very angry, so that the least thing might precipitate conflict.

Italian Ambassador also takes a very serious view of the situation and anxiously awaits opening of conference in London. Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs informed his Excellency to-day that he had instructed Austrian Ambassador at St. Petersburg to assure Russian Government that Austria-Hungary desired neither to gain territory nor to crush Servia. But Italian Ambassador believes that nothing short of unconditional acceptance by Servia of all Austrian demands would stop Austrian advance against Servia.

(Repeated to Embassies and Nish.)

Published in BB 74. (paraphrased, part marked "Confidential" omitted).

(1) See No. 179.

(34499) No. 249.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, July 28, 1914.
D. July 28, 1 midnight.
Tel. (No. 99.)
R. July 29, 8 A.M

Austria and Servia. At invitation of Imperial Chancellor, I called upon his Excellency this evening. He said that he wished me to tell you that he was most anxious that Germany should work together with England for maintenance of general peace, as they had done successfully in the last European crisis. He had not been able to accept your proposal for a conference of representatives of the Great Powers, because he did not think that it would be effective and because such a conference would in his opinion have had appearance of an "Areopagus" consisting of two Powers of each group sitting in judgment upon the two remaining Powers; but his inability to accept proposed conference must not be regarded as militating against his strong desire for effective co-operation. You could be assured that he was doing very best both at Vienna and St. Petersburg to get he two Governments to discuss the situation directly with each other and in a friendly way. He had great hopes that such discussions would take place and lead to a satisfactory result, but if the news were true which he had just read in the papers, namely that Russia had mobilised fourteen army corps in the south, he thought situation was very serious and he himself would be in a very difficult position, as in these circumstances it would be out of his power to continue to preach moderation at Vienna. He added that Austria, who as yet was only partially mobilising, would have to take similar measures and if war were to result, Russia would be entirely responsible. I ventured to say that if Austria refused to take any notice of Servian note, which, to my mind, gave way in nearly every point demanded by Austria, and which in any case offered a base for discussion, surely a certain portion of responsibility would rest with her. His Excellency said that he did not wish to discuss Servian note, but that Austria's standpoint, and in this he agreed, was that her quarrel with Servia was a purely Austrian concern with which Russia had nothing to do. His Excellency further said that he resented articles in French press which stated that decision of peace or war rested with German Emperor. This decision rested with Russia and Russia alone. In conclusion his Excellency reiterated his desire to co- operate with England and his intention to do his utmost to maintain general peace. "A war between the Great Powers must be avoided" were his last words.

Austrian colleague said to me to-day that a general war was most unlikely, as Russia neither wanted nor was in a position to make war. I think that that opinion is shared by many people here.

(Repeated to Embassies.)

Published in BB No. 71 (with one omission).


Not much comfort in this, especially as Vienna has rejected discussion with St. Petersburg.(1)

It is difficult to believe that the German Government have done anything at all. E. A. C.

There have certainly been no indications that Germany has exercised any moderating influence at Vienna. It is going rather far to put the responsibility on Russia who has been willing to adopt any and every course likely to lead to peace. I suppose Germany wishes Russia to join with the other Powers in keeping the ring while Austria strangles Servia. A. N.

(1) No. 248

(34466) No. 250.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
Vienna, July 28, 1914.
Tel. (No. 116.)
R. July 29.

I have received note verbale from Ministry for Foreign Affairs, stating that the Servian Government, not having replied to note of 23rd July in a satisfactory manner, Imperial and Royal Government is compelled itself to provide for protection of its rights and to have recourse for that object to force of arms. Austria-Hungary has addressed to Servia formal declaration according to article 1 of convention of 18th October, 1907, relative to opening of hostilities and considers herself from to-day in state of war with Servia. Austria-Hungary will conform, provided Servia does so, to stipulations of Hague Conventions of 18th October, 1907, and to Declaration of London of 26th February, 1909.

Published in BB No. 73.
Confirmed by despatch, see BB No. 50.


I think we should not, in present circumstances, issue the otherwise usual declaration of neutrality. . A . C . July 29.

I agree, better wait as to neutrality declaration. A. N.