Document Numbers 271 - 285

29 July 1914
Return to Index
Go to Document Numbers 286-299

(34675) No. 271.
Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey.
St. Petersburg, July 29, 1914.
D. 8:30 P.M.
Tel. (No. 184.)
R. 10 P.M.

In conversation reported in my telegram No. 182 of July 29th,(1) Minister for Foreign Affairs expressed considerable doubt as to attitude of Roumania in the event of general war and said that he feared that King would side with Austria, though sympathies of his subjects were on side of Russia.

I also forgot to mention that His Excellency does not wish reference made to the fact that it was at suggestion of German Ambassador that he had proposed direct conversation with Austria.

I hear from my French colleague that Chief of General Staff sent this afternoon for German military attach‚ and assured him on his word of honour that, up to the present, no single military preparation has been taken against Germany.(2)

(1) No. 276.

(2)[NOTE. This is not quite in accordance with the account given by the German Military Attach‚ in his official telegram sent from St. Petersburg (DD No. 370): "He (the Chief of the General Staff) assured me in the most solemn form on his word of honour that up to that time, 3 o'clock in the afternoon, there had not been any mobilisation anywhere that is the calling up of a single man or horse. He could not give any pledge for the future but could expressly confirm that His Majesty did not wish mobilisation on the front opposite to our frontier."]

(34676) No. 272.
Sir R. Rodd to Sir Edward Grey.
Rome, July 29, 1914.
D. 7:20 P.M.
Tel. (No. 129.)
R. 10:15 P.M.

I understand that (?) press messages reporting movement of ships or troops are no longer accepted here. But there is no indication as yet of any further summons of time- expired classes to colours.

(34668) No. 273.
Sir Edward Grey to Mr. Crackanthorpe.
Foreign Office, July 29, 1914.
Tel. (No. 34.)
D. 10:30 P.M.

Your telegram No. 68.(1)

I presume Vice-Consul is remaining in German Legation in charge of cyphers, &c.

(1) No. 269.

(34669) No. 274.
Mr. Crackanthorpe to Sir Edward Grey.
Nish, July 29, 1914.
D. 6:50 P.M.
Tel. (No. 64.)
R. 10:45 P.M.

My immediately preceding telegram.(1)

Prime Minister informed me that, should military authorities decide to defend Belgrade, due notice will be given to inhabitants so as to afford them time to leave.

(1) No. 269.

(34670) No. 275.
Mr. Crackanthorpe to Sir Edward Grey.
Nish, July 29, 1914.
D. 6:50 P.M.
Tel. (No. 65.)
R. 11 P.M.

Prime Minister asks me to express to you his deep gratitude for your statement in the House of Commons on 27th July.1)

Published in BB No. 83 (paraphrased).

(1) No. 190.

(34673) No. 276.
Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey
St. Petersburg, July 29, 1914.
D. 8:40 P.M.
Tel . (No. 182. )
R. 11:30 P.M.

Order for partial mobilisation was signed to-day.

In accordance with instructions conveyed to me in your telegram No. 392 of 28th July,(1) I communicated to Minister for Foreign Affairs substance of your telegram No. 218 of 28th July to Berlin(2) and told him in confidence of what German Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had said to Sir E. Goschen on the subject of mobilisation. His Excellency had already heard it from another source and said that mobilisation would only be directed against Austria. It was for this reason that it had been decided not to order the general mobilisation which military authorities had strongly recommended.

Minister for Foreign Affairs said he had, on advice of German Ambassador, proposed direct conversation between St. Petersburg and Vienna, but that Austrian Government had now definitely declined such an exchange of views. In informing German Ambassador of this refusal on Austria's part he proposed to urge return to your proposal for conference of four, or, at all events, for exchange of views between you, three Ambassadors less directly interested and, if you thought it advisable, Austrian Ambassador. He did not care what form such conversations took and he was ready to accept almost any arrangement that was approved by France and England. There was no time to lose, and war could only be averted if you could succeed by conversations with Ambassadors either collectively or individually in arriving at some formula which you could get Austria to accept. Russian Government had done all they could do to maintain peace and had been perfectly frank and conciliatory throughout, and he trusted British public realised it would not be their fault if their efforts to maintain peace failed.

I mentioned to him suggestion made in Rome telegram No. 125 of 27th July (3) and asked whether he would raise objections if this suggestion were carried out. His Excellency said he could not be more Servian than Servia and would agree to anything four Powers could arrange provided it was acceptable to Servia. Sharpness of ultimatum, however, would have to be toned down by some supplementary statement or explanations.

As regards proposal referred to in your telegram No. 388 of 28th July,(4) Minister for Foreign Affairs said it was one of secondary importance to which he did not attach weight under altered circumstances of situation. His Excellency further told me that German Ambassador had informed him that his Government were continuing to exert friendly influence at Vienna. If German Ambassador uses same language to his Government as he did to me to-day, I fear he will not help to smooth over matters. He accused Russia of endangering peace of Europe by mobilising and on my referring to all that Austria had recently done said there were matters he could not discuss. I reminded him that Austria had already partially mobilised, that her consuls here had warned all Austrian subjects liable to military service to join colours, and she had now declared war on Servia, knowing from what had passed during Balkan crisis that this was an act that Russia could not submit to without humiliation. If Russia had not shown that she was in earnest by ordering mobilisation, Austria would have believed that she could go to any lengths and thus trade on Russia's desire for peace. A week or more would elapse before mobilisation was completed and Minister for Foreign Affairs had given me to understand that Russia would not precipitate war by immediately crossing frontier. In the meantime we ought all to work together to find issue out of dangerous situation.

(Repeated to Embassies.)

Published in BB No. 78 (paraphrased and part omitted).

(1) No 219
(2) No. 218.
(3) No. 202.
(4) No. 203.

(34683) No. 277.
Mr. Beaumont to Sir Edward Grey.
Constantinople, July 29, 1914.
D. 9 P.M.
Tel. (No. 461.)
R. 11:30 P.M.

I gathered from remark let fall by Austrian Ambassador here that designs of Austria may extend considerably beyond sanjak and a punitive occupation of Servian territory. He spoke of assistance on which Austrian army could count from Mussulman population discontented with Servian rule and of deplorable economic situation at Salonica under Greek administration.

Published in BB No. 82 (paraphrased).


This is significant, especially if read together with the second paragraph of Sir M. de Bunsen s telegram No. 122.(1) E. A. C. July 30.

(1) No. 265.

(34668) No. 278.
Sir Edward Grey to Mr. Crackanthorpe.
Foreign Office, July 29, 1914.
Tel. (No. 35.)
D. 11:45 P.M.

My telegram No. 84.(1) Cyphers and other highly secret documents left with Vice- Consul at Belgrade should be burnt at once. One cypher should be kept on person of Vice- Consul. Acknowledge receipt and report when action taken.

Cf. Nos. 389 and 394.

(1) No. 273.

(34684) No. 279.
Consul Bosanquet to Sir Edward Grey.
Riga, July 29, 1914.
D. 7:30 P.M.
R. 11:50 P.

Reported that all lights are extinguished on Russian Baltic coast. No goods above 70 pounds accepted on Riga-Orel Railway.

(Repeated to Embassy.)

(34685) No. 280.
Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey.
St. Petersburg, July 29, 1914.
D. 8 45 P.M.
Tel. (No. 26. Commercial.)
R. midnight.

Official "Messenger" gives notice that coast lights in neighbourhood of Sebastopol, with exception of Cherson lighthouse, have been extinguished. Entry of vessels Sebastopol and neighbouring bays prohibited between sunset and sunrise, and vessels compelled by stress of weather to take shelter at night may enter Kamyshev and Kasachi Bays.

Vessels not obeying Russian warships near Sebastopol will be fired on.

(34678) No. 281.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, July 29, 1914.
D. 1:20 P.M.
Tel. (No. 101.)
R. midnight.

Austria and Servia. I found Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs very depressed to-day. He reminded me that he had told me the other day that he had to be very careful in giving advice to Austria, as any idea that they were being pressed would be likely to cause them to precipitate matters and present a fait accompli. This had, in fact, now happened, and he was not sure that his communication of your suggestion that Servia's reply offered a basis for discussion had not hastened declaration of war.(1) He was much troubled by reports of mobilisation in Russia, and of certain military measures, which he did not specify, being taken in France. He subsequently spoke of these measures to my French colleague, who informed him that French Government had done nothing more than the German Government had done, namely, recalled officers on leave. Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs denied German Government had done this, but as a matter of fact it is true. My French colleague said to Under Secretary of State, in course of conversation, that it seemed to him that when Austria had entered Servia, and so satisfied her military prestige, the moment might then be favourable for four disinterested Powers to discuss situation and come forward with suggestions for preventing graver complications. Under-Secretary of State seemed to think idea worthy of consideration, as he replied that would be a different matter from conference proposed by you.

Russian Ambassador returned to-day, and has informed Imperial Government that Russia is mobilising in four southern governments. Neither Chancellor nor Under- Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has spoken to me about the British Admiralty measures, but the reports published here apparently caused considerable uneasiness in financial world. Shares of Hamburg-Amerika and German Lloyd lines have dropped several points, and one of the most prominent Berlin financiers, who, owing to losses already incurred through the crisis, was in need of money, states that he endeavoured to sell his shares in those lines, but found no buyers.

(Repeated to Embassies.)

Published in BB No. 76 (last two sentences omitted).

(1) Cf. Letter No. 677.

(34999) No. 282.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir M. de Bunsen.
(No. 128.)
Foreign Office, July 29, 1914.

The Austrian Ambassador told me to-day he had ready a long memorandum,(1) which he proposed to leave, and which he said gave an account of the conduct of Servia towards Austria, and an explanation of how necessary the Austrian action was.

I said that I did not wish to discuss the merits of the question between Austria and Servia. The news to-day seemed to me very bad for the peace of Europe. The Powers were not allowed to help in getting satisfaction for Austria, which they might get if they were given an opportunity, and European peace was at stake.

Count Mensdorff said that the war with Servia must proceed. Austria could not continue to be exposed to the necessity of mobilising again and again, as she had been obliged to do in recent years. She had no idea of territorial aggrandisement, and all she wished was to make sure that her interests were safeguarded.

I said that it would be quite possible, without nominally interfering with the independence of Servia or taking away any of her territory, to turn her into a sort of vassal State.

Count Mensdorff deprecated this.

In reply to some further remarks of mine, as to the effect that the Austrian action might have upon the Russian position in the Balkans, he said that, before the Balkan war, Servia had always been regarded as being in the Austrian sphere of influence.

I am, &c.

Published in BB No. 91.

(There is a note on the file copy " Intransmissible ! War! ")

(1) Not printed. The original of this document will be found in the Austrian Red Book, vol. II, No. 48; an English translation in Collected Diplomatic Documents, p. 461. The Foreign Office copy is printed and in German.

(35000) No. 283.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir F. Bertie.
(No. 509.)
Foreign Office, July 29, 1914.

After telling M. Cambon to-day how grave the situation seemed to be, I told him that I meant to tell the German Ambassador to-day that he must not be misled by the friendly tone of our conversations into any sense of false security that we should stand aside if all the efforts to preserve the peace, which we were now making in common with Germany, failed.(1) But I went on to say to M. Cambon that I thought it necessary to tell him also that public opinion here approached the present difficulty from a quite different point of view from that taken during the difficulty as to Morocco a few years ago. In the case of Morocco the dispute was one in which France was primarily interested and in which it appeared that Germany, in an attempt to crush France, was fastening a quarrel on France on a question that was the subject of a special agreement between France and us. In the present case the dispute between Austria and Servia was not one in which we felt called to take a hand. Even if the question became one between Austria and Russia we should not feel called upon to take a hand in it. It would then be a question of the supremacy of Teuton or Slav a struggle for supremacy in the Balkans; and our idea had always been to avoid being drawn into a war over a Balkan question. If Germany became involved and France became involved, we had not made up our minds what we should do; it was a case that we should have to consider. France would then have been drawn into a quarrel which was not hers, but in which, owing to her alliance, her honour and interest obliged her to engage. We were free from engagements, and we should have to decide what British interests required us to do. I thought it necessary to say that, because, as he knew, we were taking all precautions with regard to our fleet, and I was about to warn Prince Lichnowsky not to count on our standing aside, but it would not be fair that I should let M. Cambon be misled into supposing that this meant that we had decided what to do in a contingency that I still hoped might not arise.

M. Cambon said that I had explained the situation very clearly. He understood it to be that in a Balkan quarrel and in a struggle for supremacy between Teuton and Slav, we should not feel called to intervene; should other issues be raised, and Germany and France become involved so that the question became one of the hegemony of Europe, we should then decide what it was necessary for us to do. He seemed quite prepared for this announcement and made no criticism upon it.

He said French opinion was calm, but decided. He anticipated a demand from Germany that France would be neutral while Germany attacked Russia. This assurance France, of course, could not give; she was bound to help Russia if Russia was attacked.

I am, &c.

Published in BB No. 87.

(34877) No. 284.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir E. Goschen.
(No. 251.)
Foreign Office, July 29, 1914.

In addition to what passed with the German Ambassador this morning, as recorded in my telegram of the 29th July to your Excellency,(1) I gave the Ambassador a copy of Sir Rennell Rodd's telegram of the 28th July(2) and of my reply to it.(3) I said I had begun to doubt whether even a complete acceptance of the Austrian demands by Servia would now satisfy Austria. But there appeared, from what the Marquis di San Giuliano had said, to be a method by which, if the Powers were allowed to have any say in the matter, they might bring about complete satisfaction for Austria, if only the latter would give them an opportunity. I could, however, make no proposal, for the reasons I have given in my telegram to you, and could only give what the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs had said to the German Ambassador for information, as long as it was understood that Austria would accept no discussion with the Powers over her dispute with Servia. As to mediation between Austria and Russia, I said it could not take the form simply of urging Russia to stand on one side while Austria had a free hand to go to any length she pleased. That would not be mediation, it would simply be putting pressure upon Russia in the interests of Austria. The German Ambassador said the view of the German Government was that Austria could not by force be humiliated and could not abdicate her position as a Great Power. I said I entirely agreed, but it was not a question of humiliating Austria, it was a question of how far Austria meant to push the humiliation of others. There must, of course, be some humiliation of Servia, but Austria might press things so far as to involve the humiliation of Russia.

The German Ambassador said that Austria would not take Servian territory, as to which I observed that, [without](4) taking territory while leaving nominal Servian independence, Austria might turn Servia practically into a vassal State, and this would affect the whole position of Russia in the Balkans.

I observed that when there was danger of European conflict it was impossible to say who would not be drawn into it. Even the Netherlands apparently were taking precautions.

The German Ambassador said emphatically that some means must be found of preserving the peace of Europe. I am. &c.

Published in BB No. 90.

(There is a note on the file copy "Not sent War.")

(1) No. 263
(2) No. 231.
(3) No. 246.
(4) The word "without" is not in the original.

(34998) No. 285.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir E. Goschen.
(No. 252.)
Foreign Office, July 29, 1914.

I told the German Ambassador this afternoon of the information that I had received, that Russia had informed Germany respecting her mobilisation. I also told him of the communication made by Count Benckendorff that the Austrian declaration of war manifestly rendered vain any direct conversations between Russia and Austria. I said that the hope built upon those direct conversations by the German Government yesterday had disappeared to-day. To-day the German Chancellor was working in the interest of mediation in Vienna and St. Petersburg. If he succeeded, well and good. If not, it was more important than ever that Germany should take up what I had suggested to the German Ambassador this morning and propose some method by which the four Powers should be able to work together to keep the peace of Europe. I pointed out, however, that the Russian Government, while desirous of mediation, regarded it as a condition that the military operations against Servia should be suspended, as otherwise a mediation would only drag on matters and give Austria time to crush Servia. It was of course too late for all military operations against Servia to be suspended. In a short time, I supposed, the Austrian forces would be in Belgrade, and in occupation of some Servian territory. But even then it might be possible to bring some mediation into existence, if Austria, while saying that she must hold the occupied territory until she had complete satisfaction from Servia, stated that she would not advance further, pending an effort of the Powers to mediate between her and Russia.

The German Ambassador said that he had already telegraphed to Berlin what I had said to him this morning.(1)

I am, &c. E. GREY.

Published in BB No. 88.
(There is a note on the file copy "Not sent War.")
Prince Lichnowsky's report to Berlin of the conversation recorded in this and the following despatch, together with the comments of the German Emperor, will be found in DD No. 368.

(1) See Nos. 263, 284, also DD No. 357.

(1) Cf. No. 286.