Document Numbers 346-369

31 July 1914
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(35074) No. 346.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, July 31, 1914.
D. 3:9 P.M.
Telegram (No. 111.)
R. 4:45 P.M.

My telegram 110 of 31st July (1): European crisis.

Extra sheets are already being disseminated stating on official authority that Emperor has proclaimed a condition of imminent danger, and that His Majesty is taking up his residence in Berlin.

This proclamation is understood to be natural precursor to mobilisation.

(1) No. 349.

(35076) No. 347.
Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey.
St. Petersburg, July 31, 1914.
D. 6:40 P.M.
R. 5: 20 P.M.
It has been decided to issue orders for general mobilisation.

This decision was taken in consequence of report received from Russian Ambassador in Vienna to the effect that Austria is determined not to yield to intervention of Powers, and that she is moving troops against Russia as well as against Servia.

Russia has also reason to believe that Germany is making active military preparations and she cannot afford to let her get a start.

(Repeated to Embassies.)

Published in BB No. 113.

[NOTE. The date of despatch seems to be wrong. The final decision to issue orders for general mobilisation was made by the Tsar during the afternoon of July 30 and the official telegram ordering mobilisation was despatched at 6 o'clock that evening. Mobilisation orders were posted in the streets of St. Petersburg during the night. It is therefore most improbable that Sir George Buchanan should have despatched a telegram on the evening of the 31st announcing that it had been decided to issue orders for general mobilisation; on that day he must have said that the orders for general mobilisation had been issued. The telegram was probably sent at 6:40 P.M. on July 30 and delayed in transmission and a mistake made by the clerk who decyphered the original telegram. This, however, cannot now be verified as the original cypher telegrams sent in from the Post Office are not preserved. From this time onwards there was much delay in the telegraphic service with Russia, and it became necessary to arrange that telegrams should be sent by a circuitous route via Aden . M. Paléologue's telegram announcing general mobilisation (F No. 118) which was despatched at 10:43 A.M. on July 31 was not received in Paris till 8:30 P.M. (see Renouvin, Les origines immédiates de la guerre, p. 146 and Un Livre Noir, Vol. II, p. 294). The hour of receipt is correct. The preceding papers show that there was no information in the Foreign Office of Russian general mobilisation except the reports from Berlin. At 4:45 P.M. on July 31 Prince Lichnowsky telegraphed to Berlin:

"Sir William Tyrrell informs me that the Government here has no news of any kind about the mobilisation of the whole Russian army and navy. They will at once communicate with St. Petersburg. " DD No. 518;

and Mr. Asquith said in the House of Commons at about 5 o'clock: "We have just heard not from St. Petersburg but from Germany that Russia has proclaimed a general mobilisation of her army and fleet." See No. 344.]

(35080) No. 348.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir F. Bertie.
Foreign Office, July 31, 1914.
Telegram (No. 287.) D. 5:30 P.M.

I still trust that situation is not irretrievable, but in view of prospect of mobilisation in Germany it becomes essential to His Majesty's Government, in view of existing treaties, to ask whether French Government is prepared to engage to respect neutrality of Belgium so long as no other Power violates it.

A similar request is being addressed to German Government. It is important to have an early answer.

(Sent also to Berlin No. 244, mutatis mutandis.)

Published in BB No. 114.
See Nos. 380, 383.

(35079) No. 349.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, July 31, 1914.
D. 3 50 P.M.
Telegram (No. 110.)
R. 5:35 P.M.

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs informs me he has just received a telegram from German Ambassador at St. Petersburg stating that Russia is mobilising whole army and fleet. He said, as this general mobilisation could not but be directed against Germany, Imperial Government would at once proclaim "Kriegsgefahr," which he explained to me meant strained relations involving certain defensive measures. He added that mobilisation would follow almost immediately.

I asked him whether he could not still advise Austro-Hungarian Government, in general interest, to do something to reassure Russia, and to show herself disposed to continue discussion on friendly basis. He replied that only last night he had telegraphed to Vienna begging Austro-Hungarian Government to send a reply to your last proposal, and that Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs had replied that he would communicate with Emperor this morning and take his wishes.(1) This, his Excellency added, had given him a ray of hope, as he had thought that it meant that your proposal was at all events receiving consideration, but this news from St. Petersburg seemed to him almost to alienate all hope of a peaceful solution. At any rate Germany must prepare for all emergencies.

(Repeated to Embassies.)

Published in BB No. 112 (paraphrased and a few words omitted).

(1) Cf. DD Nos. 395, 465.

(35081) No. 350.
Sir G. Barclay to Sir Edward Grey.
Bucharest, July 31, 1914.
D. 1:30 P.M.
Telegram (No. 27.) Very Confidential.
R. 5:40 P.M.

My immediately preceding telegram.(1)

My French and Russian colleagues, who had until now been hopeful as to attitude of Roumania in event of general conflict, are now very anxious. They did their utmost jointly this morning to draw from Prime Minister an assurance of neutrality, but Prime Minister declined to commit himself and said that question must be discussed at a council in which leaders of different parties will take part. I understand that return of M. Take Jonescu from abroad is awaited.

(Repeated to Embassies.)

(1) Probably No. 316.

(35080) No. 351.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir F. Villiers.
Foreign Office, July 31, 1914.
Telegram (No. 9.)
D. 6:15 P.M.

In view of possibility of European war I have asked French and German Governments separately whether each is prepared to respect neutrality of Belgium provided no other Power violates it.(1)

In view of existing treaties you should inform Minister for Foreign Affairs and say I assume that Belgium will to the utmost of her power maintain neutrality and desire and expect other Powers to observe and uphold it.

You should ask for an early reply.(2)

Published in BB No. 115 (paraphrased).

(1) No. 348.
(2) No. 395.

(34878) No. 352.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir F. Bertie.
Foreign Office, July 31, 1914.
Telegram (No. 290.)
D. 7:30 P.M.

Your telegram No. 95 of 30th July :(1) European crisis.

I believe it to be quite untrue that our attitude has been decisive factor in situation. Germany does not expect our neutrality.

Nobody here feels that in this dispute, so far as it has gone yet, British treaties or obligations are involved. Feeling is quite different from what it was in Morocco question, which was a dispute directly involving France. In this case France is being drawn into a dispute which is not hers.

I have told French Ambassador that we cannot undertake a definite pledge to intervene in a war.

He has urged that His Majesty's Government should reconsider this decision, and I have said they will certainly consider the situation again directly there is a new development, but that we should not be justified in giving any pledge at this moment.

Published in BB No. 116 (paraphrased).

(1) No. 318.

(35088) No. 353.
Sir F. Bertie to Sir Edward Grey.
Paris, July 31, 1914.
D. 6:10 P.M.
Telegram (No. 97.) Confidential.
R. 8:15 P.M.

"Times" correspondent was sent for by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and given a list of the German military preparations on French frontier, which are declared to be greatly in excess of French precaution, which Ministry for Foreign Affairs admit to have been taken, but later than by Germany. French press is only being told of this in general terms.

"Times" correspondent thinks that Ministry for Foreign Affairs wished him to prepare public opinion in England for mobilisation which may be ordered at any moment, and to induce it to consider such a measure has been forced upon France.

See "Times " of August 1, 1914, which contains a statement nearly identical with that in No. 338.

(35100) No. 354.
Mr. Chilton to Sir Edward Grey.
The Hague, July 31, 1914.
D. 6:53 P.M.
(No. 18.) En clair
R. 9:3 P.M.

Following Royal decree issued this afternoon in extra edition of "Official Gazette":

"1. Prohibiting export of all gold and bullion from the Netherlands.

"2. Stating the total sum of current bank notes, &c., in gold and bullion.

"3. Declaration of danger of war, and bringing into force article 186 of Constitution respecting expenses of troops quartered on private individuals.

"4. Authorising War Minister to requisition railways and rolling-stock of all Dutch railway companies as far as necessary in interests of defence of country. (This has been done; railways, &c., in charge of Chief of General Staff.)

"5. Authorising War Minister to call out all levies of army, navy and Landweer. Men must be at their posts to-morrow."

Railway authorities inform me it will probably be impossible for private passengers to travel on Dutch railways.

(35129) No. 355.
Consul-General Sir C. Hertslet to Sir Edward Grey.
Antwerp, July 31, 1914.
D. 548 P.M.
Telegram (No. 15.)
R. 9:15 P.M.

Informed that two, German ships belonging to Hansa line which sailed from Antwerp July 30th "Kandenfels" for Bremen and "Schildturm" for Bombay have been recalled by owners from Flushing to Antwerp.

Admiralty informed.

(35130) No. 356.
Consul-General Maxse to Sir Edward Grey.
Rotterdam, July 31, 1914.
D. 6:10 P.M.
Telegram (No. 9.)
R. 9:17 P.M.

Principal local coaling firm suspended loading owing to feared great risk of seizure at sea. More than twenty ships detained.

(35089) No. 357.
Sir F.Bertie to Sir Edward Grey.
Paris, July 31, 1914.
D. 8:35 P.M.
Telegram (No. 99.)
R. 9:46 P.M.

Minister for Foreign Affairs sent for me at 7 o'clock this evening. German Ambassador was leaving his Excellency when I arrived.

Minister for Foreign Affairs wishes me to tell you that German Ambassador announces to him that, owing to Russian Government having given orders for total mobilisation of Russian army and fleet, German Government have addressed an ultimatum to them requiring demobilisation of Russian forces, and, failing an undertaking by Russian Government within twelve hours to comply with German demand, German Government will consider it necessary to order the total mobilisation of German army on Russian and French frontiers.

German Ambassador could not say from what time the twelve hours terminates.

Minister for Foreign Affairs asks what will be attitude of England in these circumstance ? German Ambassador will call at Ministry for Foreign Affairs to-morrow (Saturday) at 1 P.M. for an answer from French Government as to what will be their attitude in the circumstance and intimated he would probably require his passports.

Russian Ambassador says he is not aware of any general mobilisation of Russian forces.(1)

Published in BB No. 117 (paraphrased).
Cf. F No. 117, DD No. 528 and letter No. 374.

(1)[NOTE. In the reproduction of the telegrams between St. Petersburg and Paris published in Russia there is no telegram informing M. Isvolsky of Russian general mobilisation.]

(35090) No. 358.
Sir F. Bertie to Sir Edward Grey.
Paris, July 31, 1914.
D. 8:35 P.M.
Telegram (No. 100.) R. 10:10 P.M.

"Times" correspondent has just been told by Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that several French engines on the frontier have been appropriated by Germans. Portion of line on German side torn up and mitrailleuses placed on them, and that general French mobilisation has not been ordered, only mobilisation of frontier corps.

It becomes more and more absurd for Germany to pretend that her hand is being forced by French and Russian mobilisation. She herself has taken as drastic measures as any other Government. The German Government is throwing dust into our eyes for the purpose of delaying if not hindering those British preparations which alone would enable us to take a part in the struggle should we eventually recognise the fact that we have no choice. E. A. C. August 1.

Germany has been playing with us for the past few days. A. N.

(34668) No. 359.
Sir Edward Grey to Mr. Crackanthorpe.
Foreign Office, July 31, 1914.
Telegram (No. 36.)
D. 10:20 P.M.

My telegram No. 35. Urgent.(1)

It is most important to know if you have acted on my instructions and whether cyphers left at Belgrade have been burnt.

Send immediate answer.

Cf. Nos. 389, 394.

(1) No. 278.

(35109) No. 360.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
Vienna, July 31, 1914.
D. 4:16 P.M.
Telegram (No. 129.)
R. 1045 P.M.

Your telegram No. 271 to Paris.(1)

I have informed Count Forgach, Under Secretary of State, who said that Austria-Hungary did not yet know what they would do about their contingent to Scutari. [ ? He asked that] complications would be avoided with Montenegro, whose participation in war Austrian Minister at Cettinj‚ was endeavouring to prevent. If Montenegro kept quiet Austria would not attack her. As regards general situation, he deplored Russian mobilisation, to which Austria has been compelled to respond, but he said that Austrian Ambassador in London was being instructed to tell you that on neither side was mobilisation to be regarded as necessarily hostile act. Conversations were proceeding between Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Austrian Ambassador at St. Petersburg and telegrams were being exchanged between German Emperor and Emperor of Russia. He earnestly hoped that these efforts might still stave off general war. I spoke of fear that Germany would mobilise. He thought that Germany must do something to secure her own position. Austria-Hungary found it difficult to recognise Russian claim to intervene in quarrel with Servia. I reminded him that Russia had stood behind Servia during discussion of Albanian frontier at London Conference of Ambassadors, and that accepted frontier line was a compromise between views of Austria-Hungary and Russia. I could not get from him any suggestion for a similar compromise now, but he spoke in a conciliatory tone and evidently did not regard situation as desperate. I have informed Russian Ambassador of above conversation and his Excellency will himself see Count Forgach this afternoon. Russian Ambassador is exerting himself strongly in interests of peace, explaining that Russia has no desire to interfere unduly in Servia, that new Russian Minister to Servia is a man of very moderate views as compared with his late predecessor and that Russia counselled Servia to yield to demands of Austria as far as she possibly could without sacrificing her independence.

(Repeated to Embassies.)

Published in BB No. 118 (paraphrased parts omitted).

(1) No. 308.