Document Numbers 286 - 299

29 July 1914
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(35001) No. 286.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir E. Goschen.
(No. 253.)
Foreign Office, July 29, 1914.

After speaking to the German Ambassador this afternoon about the European situation, I said that I wished to say to him, in a quite private and friendly way, something that was on my mind. The situation was very grave. While it was restricted to the issues at present actually involved we had no thought of interfering in it. But if Germany became involved in it, and then France, the issue might be so great that it would involve all European interests, and I did not wish him to be misled by the friendly tone of our conversation which I hoped would continue into thinking that we should stand aside.

He said that he quite understood this, but he asked whether I meant that we should, under certain circumstances, intervene?

I replied that I did not wish to say that, or to use anything that was like a threat or an attempt to apply pressure by saying that if things became worse, we should intervene. There would be no question of our intervening if Germany was not involved, or even if France was not involved. But we knew very well that if the issue did become such that we thought British interests required us to intervene, we must intervene at once, and the decision would have to be very rapid, just as the decisions of other Powers had to be. I hoped that the friendly tone of our conversations would continue as at present and that I should be able to keep as closely in touch with the German Government in working for peace. But if we failed in our efforts to keep the peace, and if the issue spread so that it involved practically every European interest, I did not wish to be open to any reproach from him that the friendly tone of all our conversations had misled him or his Government into supposing that we should not take action, and to the reproach that, if they had not been so misled, the course of things might have been different.

The German Ambassador took no exception to what I had said; indeed, he told me that it accorded with what he had already given in Berlin as his view of the situation. (1)

I am, &c.

Published in BB No. 89.
(There is a note on the file copy "Not sent -War.")

(1) See DD No. 265.

(34997) No. 287.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir R. Rodd.
(No. 221.)
Foreign Office, July 29, 1914.
The Italian Ambassador made me to-day a communication from the Marquis di San Giuliano, suggesting that the German objections to the mediation of the four Powers a mediation that was strongly favoured by Italy might be removed by some change in the form of procedure.
I aid that I had already anticipated this by asking the German Government to suggest any form of procedure under which the idea of mediation between Austria and Russia, already accepted by the German Government in principle, could be applied.(1)
I am, &c.

Published in BB No. 92.

(1) See No. 223.

(34852) No. 288.
Parliamentary Debates. July 29, 1914.

Mr. Bonar Law: May I ask the Prime Minister whether he has any information in regard to the European situation to give to the House?

The Prime Minister: As the House is aware, a formal Declaration of War was issued yesterday by Austria against Servia. The situation at this moment is one of extreme gravity. I can only say, usefully say, that His Majesty's Government are not relaxing their efforts to do everything in their power to circumscribe the area of possible conflict.

Mr. Walter Guinness: May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has received any information as to the alleged revolutionary outbreak in Russian Poland?

The Prime Minister: No, Sir.

(34710) No. 289.
Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey. (Received July 30.)
(No. 227.)
St. Petersburg, July 27, 1914.

I have the honour to inform you that the public of the capital showed considerable excitement yesterday over the Austro-Servian crisis. Newspaper offices were besieged by crowds clamouring for the latest news and those who obtained papers read out the latest telegrams to the people round them. A detachment of soldiers with a band evoked spontaneous cheers which were taken up all along the Newsky Prospect. In the afternoon a large crowd of all classes collected in one of the main avenues of the town and raised cheers for Servia and hoots and groans for Austria and Germany. The police made an unsuccessful attempt to disperse the crowd which made its way to the Servian Legation. The Servian Minister, M. Spala‹kovitch, appeared at a window and was received with an ovation, whereupon he made a speech expressing the filial sympathy of his country for Russia, but closed the window when the cry of "down with Austria" was raised. Several attempts at hostile demonstration before the Austrian and German Embassies were frustrated by the police. Crowds sang the national anthem outside some of the barracks and Russian officers were greeted with cheers in the streets. At 8 A.M. this morning a large crowd driven back from the German Embassy renewed the demonstration in front of the Servian Legation where one of the Servian secretaries made a speech on the crisis. The crowd cheered with enthusiasm and held a Russian officer shoulder high to reply.

All the papers publish articles on the chances of war or peace. The "Novoe Vremya" says all depends on Germany, who is under no treaty obligation to support Austria in acts of provocation. The German Government, says the writer, will never allow the German army to be used as a weapon in the hands of Austria. The "St. Petersburgh Courier" publishes agency telegrams to the effect that the German Emperor has returned to Berlin several days earlier than was originally intended; that the Chief of the Prussian General Staff has hurried back to Berlin from Karlsbad; and that a general mobilisation of the Servian army has been officially notified. The "Rech" states that you, Sir, have advised the King to address the German Emperor directly with a view of bringing about a peaceful settlement of the Austro-Servian dispute.

I have, &c.


(34667) No. 290.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
Vienna, July 29, 1914.
D. July 29, 8-50 P.M.
Tel. (No. 128.)
R. July 30, 12 30 A.M

Following for Director of Military Operations from military attaché:

"List of units mobilised in 8th corps includes Landwehr division and cavalry regiments whose headquarters are at Stanislau. Prague and Pardubitz cavalry do not seem to be aff ected. In press circles it is said that a frontier skirmish unfavourable to Austrians took place yesterday east of Foca. No account of this appears in papers."

(34671) No. 291.
Mr. Crackanthorpe to Sir Edward Grey.
Nish .
Tel. (Unnumbered.)
R. July 30, 1914, 2:20 A.M.

Considerable panic in Belgrade, in consequence of which refugees are crowding into British Legation to seek protection of our flag.

(34672) (b)
Tel. (Unnumbered.)
R. July 30, 1914, 2:25 A.M.

I am informed by telephone from Belgrade that two shells have fallen on portion of British Legation exposed to Austrian fire, doing considerable damage.

(34737) (c.)
Tel. (No. 66.)
R. July 30. 1914, 11 A.M.

Information received here this morning is to the effect that Austrians recommenced bombardment of Belgrade yesterday evening. Servians replied from fort and bombardment ceased. Minister for War states that Servian frontier has not yet been violated.

(34680) No. 292.
Count de Salis to Sir Edward Grey.
Cettinjé, July 28, 1914.
D. July 29, 7 P.M.
Tel. (No. 25.)
R. July 30, 8 A.M.

General mobilisation ordered.

(34734) No. 293.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, July 29, 1914.
D. July 30, 1:20 A.M.
Tel. (No. 102.) Secret. Urgent.
R. July 30, 9 A.M.

(?Austria and) Servia. Chancellor having just returned from Potsdam sent for me again to- night and made the following strong bid for British neutrality in the event of war. He said he was continuing his efforts to maintain peace, but that (group omitted: ? in the event of) a Russian attack on Austria, Germany's obligation as Austria's ally might, to his great regret, render a European conflagration inevitable, and in that case he hoped Great Britain would remain neutral. As far as he was able to judge key-note of British policy, it was evident that Great Britain would never allow France to be crushed. Such a result was not contemplated by Germany. The Imperial Government was ready to give every assurance to the British Government provided that Great Britain remained neutral that, in the event of a victorious war, Germany aimed at no territorial acquisitions at the expense of France.

In answer to a question from me, his Excellency said that it would not be possible for him to give such an assurance as regards colonies.

Continuing, his Excellency said he was, further, ready to assure the British Government that Germany would respect neutrality and integrity of Holland as long as they were respected by Germany's adversaries.

As regards Belgium, his Excellency could not tell to what operations Germany might be forced by the action of France, but he could state that, provided that Belgium did not take sides against Germany, her integrity would be respected after the conclusion of the war.

Finally, his Excellency said that he trusted that these assurances might form basis of a further understanding with England which, as you well know, had been the object of his policy ever since he had been Chancellor.

An assurance of British neutrality in conflict which present crisis might possibly produce would enable him to look forward to a general neutrality agreement between the two countries, the details of which it would, of course, be premature to discuss at the present moment.

His Excellency asked me how I thought you would view his request. I replied that I thought that you would like to retain full liberty of action, and that personally I did not consider it likely that you would care to bind yourself to any course of action at this stage of events.

After our conversation I communicated to his Excellency the contents of your telegram No. 227,(1) and he begged me to convey to you his best thanks.

Published in BB No. 85 (paraphrased).
DD No. 373 contains the German Chancellor's record of his statement.
Cf. also No. 677.


The only comment that need be made on these astounding proposals is that they reflect discredit on the statesman who makes them.

Incidentally it is of interest to note that Germany practically admits the intention to violate Belgian neutrality but to endeavour to respect that of Holland (in order to safeguard German imports viâ the Rhine and Rotterdam).

It is clear that Germany is practically determined to go to war, and that the one restraining influence so far has been the fear of England joining in the defence of France and Belgium. E.A.C. July 30.

(1) No. 266.

(36819) No. 294.
Viviani à M. Paul Cambon. (Communicated by French Embassy.) (No date.)
Paris, le 30 juillet, 1914.

L'Ambassadeur de Russie me fait savoir cette nuit que l'Ambassadeur d'Allemagne a notifié à M. Sazonof la décision de son Gouvernement de mobiliser ses forces arm‚es si la Russie ne cesse pas ses préparatifs militaires. Le Ministre des Affaires Étrangères du Gouvernement du Tsar fait remarquer que ces préparatifs n'ont été commencés quà la suite de la mobilisation par l'Autriche de huit corps d'armée et du refus de cette Puissance de régler pacifiquement son différend avec la Serbie. M. Sazonof déclare que, dans ces conditions, la Russie ne peut que hâter ses armements et envisager l'imminence de la guerre, qu'elle compte sur le secours d'une alliée, la France et qu'elle considère comme désirable que l'Angleterre se joigne sans perte de temps à la Russie et à la France. Comme je vous l'ai indiqué dans mon télégramme du 27 de ce mois, le Gouvernement de la République est décidé a ne négliger aucun effort en vue d'une solution du conflit et à seconder l'action du Gouvernement impérial dans l'intérêt de la paix générale. La France est d'autre part résolue à remplir toutes ses obligations d'alliance.

Mais dans l'intér&eacirc;t même de la paix générale et étant donné qu'une conversation est engagée entre les Puissances moins intéressées je crois qu'il serait opportun que, dans les mesures de précaution et de défense auxquelles la Russie croit devoir procéder elle ne prenne immédiatement aucune disposition qui offrît à l'Allemagne un prétexte pour une mobilisation totale ou partiale de ses forces.

Cf. F No. 101, R No. 58, Un Livre Noir, vol. II pp. 289-90, also No. 300.

(34746) No. 295.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
Vienna, July 29, 1914.
D. July 29, 11:30 P.M.
Tel. (No. 124.)
R. July 30, 11 A.M.

Russian Ambassador informs me that Russia has ordered mobilisation of corps destined for operations on Austrian frontier. Military attach‚ learns from his Russian colleague that thirty- one divisions will be mobilised, namely, those of Vilna, Warsaw, Kieff, and Odessa army corps. News is not yet generally known in Vienna this evening, but I believe it will not be a surprise to Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which has tardily realised that Russia will not remain indifferent. In present temper of this country irrevocable steps may be taken unless mediation which German Ambassador [sic] declared its readiness in principle to offer in concert with three other Great Powers not immediately interested be rapidly brought to bear. Both Russian and French Ambassadors have spoken to-day to German Ambassador, who feigns surprise that Russia should take so much interest in fate of Servia. Russian Ambassador explained impossibility of her doing otherwise and expressed hope that matters might yet be arranged. He said that Russia had already used her influence to secure compliance of Servian Government with principal demands of Austria. She would probably go further still in this direction if approached in a proper manner. But she could not consent to be excluded from the settlement and she was justly offended at having been completely ignored in the matter. Interview with French Ambassador was disagreeable, but German Ambassador in the end said that personally he thought German Government might consent to act as a mediator with other three Powers, provided that proposals could still be formulated which would have any prospect of acceptance on both sides. From what Russian Ambassador tells me, I gather that Russia would go a long way to meet Austrian demands on Servia, but his Excellency greatly fears effect on Russian public opinion if a serious engagement takes place before an agreement is reached.

Italian Ambassador fears that Austro-Hungarian Government would decline mediation if offered before Austrian arms had obtained at least one decisive victory over the Servians.

(Repeated to Embassies.)

Published in BB No. 94 (paraphrased and parts omitted).
Cf. DD No. 386.

(34778) No. 296.
Consul-General Roberts to Sir Edward Grey.
Odessa, July 30, 1914.
D. 12:40 P.M.
Tel. (No. 12.)
R. 12:15 P.M.

Mobilisation of army and navy reservists of 1901 to 1918 declared. Reservists to present themselves to-morrow morning.

(35028) No. 297.
Mr. Chilton to Sir Edward Grey.
The Hague, July 30, 1914.
D. 11:39 A.M.
Tel. (No. 17.)
R. 12:55 P.M.

Royal decree published to-day temporarily (?re-)newing Decree of October 30th, 1909 (see Sir G. Buchanan's despatch No. 200 of November 30th, 1909) and prohibiting foreign men-of- war or vessels converted into men-of-war from entering Netherlands territorial waters, exceptions made for 1) fishery cruisers; 2) men-of-war in distress or damaged or forced by stress of weather or those destined exclusively for religious, scientific, or humanitarian purposes.

Exceptions to restrictive prohibitions mentioned in 1) and 2) only applicable with regard to those Powers which observe the same line of conduct towards Netherlands men-of-war.

Translation of decree by post to-night.(1)

(1) This despatch is not printed as it contains nothing but the text of the decree.

(34845) No. 298.
Consul-General Hearn to Sir Edward Grey.
Hamburg, July 30, 1914.
D. 12:25 P.M.
Tel. (No 11.)
R. 1:45 P.M.

Secret. Vice-Consul at Bremerhaven reports that activity is being shown by staff officers, who have arrived; that forts are being manned and submarine defences also being placed along that whole North Sea coast and by Heligoland.

(Embassy informed.)


These are preparations for war against England. E. A. C. July 30.

Or for defence against an English attack. A. N.

(34849) (b.)
Hamburg, July 30, 1914.
D. 12:25 P.M.
Tel. (No. 12.)
R. 1:50 P.M.

Secret. Vice-Consul at Emden reports that artillery there were alarmed at two this morning and left hurriedly for Borkum, where garrison has been raised to war strength less reserves.

(Embassy informed.)

(34807) No. 299.
Russian Ambassador to Sir Arthur Nicolson. (Received July 30.)
Russian Embassy, London,
July 30, 1914.

My dear Nicolson,
I received yesterday night two of the enclosed telegrams. They seem to me of importance. As they refer to Schebeko's telegram of which I gave you a résumé yesterday afternoon, I enclose a translation of that telegram as well.

Yours sincerely,

Enclosures in No. 299.

Télégramme de l'Ambassadeur de Russie à Vienne à M. Sazonoff en date du 15/28 Juillet 1914.

J'ai entretenu aujourd'hui le Comte Berchtold dans le sens des instructions de votre Excellence. Je lui fis observer, en termes les plus amicaux, combien il était désirable de trouver une solution qui en consolidant les bons rapports entre l'Autriche-Hongrie et la Russie, donnerait à la Monarchie Austro-Hongroise des garanties sérieuses pour ses rapports futurs avec la Serbie.

J'attirais l'attention du Comte Berchtold sur tous les dangers pour la paix de l'Europe, qu'entraînerait un conflit arm‚ entre l'Autriche-Hongrie et la Serbie.

Le Comte Berchtold me répondit qu'il se rendait parfaitement compte du sérieux de la situation et des avantages d'une franche explication avec le Cabinet de St.-Pétersbourg. Il me dit que d'un autre côté le Gouvernement Austro-Hongrois, qui ne s'était décidé que très mal volontiers aux mesures énergiques qu'il avait prises contre la Serbie, ne pouvait plus ni reculer, ni entrer en discussion aucune des termes de la note Austro-Hongroise.

Le Comte Berchtold ajouta que la crise était devenue si aiguê et que l'excitation de l'opinion publique avait atteint tel degré, que le Gouvernement, le voulait-il, ne pouvait plus y consentir, d'autant moins, me dit-il, que la réponse mˆme de la Serbie donne la preuve du manque de sincérit‚ de ses promesses pour l'avenir.

Cf. A II No. 95.



Télégramme de M. Sazonoff en date du 16/29 Juillet 1914.

L'Ambassadeur d'Allemagne m'informe au nom du Chancelier, que l'Allemagne n'a pas cess‚ d'exercer à Vienne une influence modératrice et qu'elle continuera cette action mˆme après la déclaration de guerre. Jusqu'à ce matin il n'y avait aucune nouvelle que les armées autrichiennes aient franchi la frontière serbe. J'ai prié l'Ambassadeur de transmettre au Chancelier mes remerciements pour la teneur amicale de cette communication. Je l'ai inform‚ des mesures militaires prises par la Russie, dont aucune, lui dis-je, n'était dirigée contre l'Allemagne; j'ajoutais qu'elles ne préjugeaient pas non plus des mesures agressives contre l'Autriche-Hongrie, ces mesures s'expliquant par la mobilisation de la plus grande partie de l'armée Austro-Hongroise.

L'Ambassadeur se pronon‡ant en faveur d'explications directes avec le Cabinet de Vienne et nous, je répondis que j'y étais tout disposé, pour peu que les conseils du Cabinet de Berlin, dont il parlait trouvent écho à Vienne.

En même temps je signalais que nous étions tout disposés à accepter le projet d'une conférence des quatre Puissances, un projet auquel, paraissait-il, l'Allemagne ne sympathisait pas entièrement.

Je dis que, dans mon opinion, le meilleur moyen pour mettre à profit tous les moyens propres à produire une solution pacifique, consisterait en une action parallèle (les pourparlers d'une conférence à quatre de l'Allemagne, de la France, de l'Angleterre et de l'Italie et d'un contact direct entre l'Autriche-Hongrie et la Russie, à l'instar à peu près de ce qui avait eu lieu aux moments les plus critiques de la crise de l'an dernier.

Je dis à l'Ambassadeur qu'après les concessions faites par la Serbie, un terrain de compromis pour les questions restées ouvertes ne serait pas très difficile à trouver, à condition toutefois de quelque bonne volont‚ de la part de l'Autriche et à condition que toutes les Puissances usent de toute leur influence dans un sens de conciliation.

Cf. DD No. 343.



Télégramme de M. Sazonoff à l'Ambassadeur de Russie à Londres du 16/29 Juillet 1914.

Lors de mon entretien avec l'Ambassadeur d'Allemagne, dont traite mon télégramme précédent, je n'avais pas encore re‡u le télégramme du 15 (28) juillet de M. Schébéko.

Le contenu de ce télégramme constitue un refus du Cabinet de Vienne de procéder à un échange d'idées direct avec le Gouvernement Impérial.

DŠs lors, il ne nous reste plus qu'à nous en remettre entièrement au Gouvernement Britannique pour l'initiative des démarches qu'il jugera utile de provoquer.

Published, with translation, in BB No. 93.