Document Numbers 381-405

1 August 1914
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(35309) No. 381.
Sir Eyre Crowe to Sir F. Bertie.
Foreign Office, August 1, 1914.
Tel. Urgent. En clair
D. 2:5 A.M.

An important and urgent telegram of some length is going to you in cypher. Please arrange to have it decyphered without delay.

(1) No 384.

(35094) No. 382.
Sir F. Bertie to Sir Edward Grey.
Paris, July 31, 1914.
D. August 1, 1:12 A.M.
Tel. (No. 104.)
R. August 1, 2:15 A.M.

My telegram No. 103 of to-night.(1)

Political Director has brought me the reply of the Minister for Foreign Affairs to your enquiry respecting the neutrality of Belgium. It is as follows:

French Government are resolved to respect the neutrality of Belgium, and it would only be in the event of some other Power violating that neutrality that France might find herself under the necessity, in order to assure defence of her own security, to act otherwise. This assurance has been given several times. President of the Republic spoke of it to the King of the Belgians, and the French Minister at Brussels has spontaneously renewed the assurance to the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs to-day.

Published in BB No. 125.
Cf. No. 474.

France will respect Belgian neutrality, Germany will not. But Germany will delay a definite answer until it is too late for England to act effectively. E. A. C. August 1.

We should take no reply or a postponed reply as a refusal. A. N.

(1) No. 380.

(35097) No. 383.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, July 31, 1914.
D. July 31, 2 A.M.
Tel. (No. 114.)
R. August 1, 3:30 A.M.

Your telegram No. 287 of 31st July to Paris :(1) Belgian neutrality.

Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said that he could not possibly give me an answer before consulting the Emperor and the Chancellor. I said that I hoped that the answer would not be too long delayed. He then gave me to understand he rather doubted whether they could answer at all, as any reply they might give could not fail, in the event of war, to have the undesirable effect of disclosing to a certain extent part of their plan of campaign. After taking note of your request, he told me in confidence that Belgium had already committed certain acts which he could only qualify as hostile. On my asking him for details, he gave me as an instance that the Belgian Government had already embargoed a consignment of grain destined for Germany.

In telling me that it was unlikely that the Imperial Government would be in a position to answer, he said that in any case it would be necessary for them to know what France replied to your enquiry.

I shall speak to him again on the subject to-morrow, but I am not very hopeful of obtaining a definite answer.

Published in BB No. 122 (paraphrased).
Cf. No. 510 and DD No. 522.

Qu. Repeat to Paris (No. 300 Aug. 1, 9:45 P.M.). And repeat Sir F. Bertie's telegram No. 104(2) to Berlin:

And telegraph to Sir Goschen:

"Your telegram No. 114.

"French Government state that they will respect neutrality of Belgium, unless it is violated by another Power which thereby may force France to take measures of self-defence.

"You should inform M.F.A." G. R. C. August 1, 1914.

The Cabinet are discussing the question. Wait. E. A. C. August 1.

I am not sure that we should inform German Government of French reply in any case without French consent. The two countries may very shortly be at war and we should not pass on anything from one to the other. If France asks us we can say we have had no reply from Germany. A. N.

The French Government have given the assurance to the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs so it is presumably no secret. I told the German Ambassador of it today.(3) E. G.

(1) No. 348.
(2) No. 382.
(3) No. 448.

(35113) No. 384.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir G. Buchanan.
Foreign Office, August 1, 1914.
Tel. (No. 423.)
D. 3:30 A.M.

You should at once apply for an audience with His Majesty the Emperor, and convey to him the following personal message from the King:

"My Government has received the following statement from the German Government:

[Here follows text of Memorandum printed in No. 372.]

"I cannot help thinking that some misunderstanding has produced this deadlock. I am most anxious not to miss any possibility of avoiding the terrible calamity which at present threatens the whole world. I therefore make a personal appeal to you to remove the misapprehension which I feel must have occurred, and to leave still open ground for negotiation and possible peace. If you think I can in any way contribute to that all- important purpose, I will do everything in my power to assist in reopening the interrupted conversations between the Powers concerned. I feel confident that you are as anxious as I am that all that is possible should be done to secure the peace of the world."

Repeated to Paris No. 291 (3:45 A.M.): "You should apply to the President at once for an audience, and communicate to him the following message sent by the King to the Emperor of Russia.")

Published in the Press on August 5, 1914. See CDD, p. 536.
Cf. No. 490, and private letter No. 665.

(350916) No. 385.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, July 31, 1914.
D . August 1, 2 A .M .
Tel. (No. 113.)
R. August 1, 3:45 A.M.

Your telegram No. 241.(1)

I spent an hour with Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs urging him most earnestly to accept your proposal and make another effort to prevent terrible catastrophe of a European war.

He expressed himself very sympathetically towards your proposal, and appreciated your continued efforts to maintain peace, but said it was impossible for the Imperial Government to consider any proposal until they had received an answer from Russia to their communication of to-day; this communication, which he admitted had the form of an ultimatum, being that, unless Russia could inform the Imperial Government within twelve hours that she would immediately countermand her mobilisation against Germany and Austria, Germany would be obliged on her side to mobilise at once.

I asked his Excellency why they had made their demand even more difficult for Russia to accept by asking them to demobilise in south as well. He replied that it was in order to prevent Russia from saying all her mobilisation was only directed against Austria.

His Excellency said that if the answer from Russia was satisfactory he thought personally that your proposal merited favourable consideration, and in any case he would lay it before the Emperor and Chancellor, but he repeated that it was no use discussing it until the Russian Government had sent in their answer to the German demand.

He again assured me that both the Emperor, at the request of the Tsar, and the Imperial Foreign Office had even up till last night been urging Austria to show willingness to continue discussions and telegraphic and telephonic communications from Vienna had been of a promising nature but Russia's mobilisation had spoilt everything.

Germany's demand to Russia has been published to-night in the extra sheets, and large crowds are parading the streets singing patriotic songs.

(Repeated to Embassies.)

Published in BB No. 121 (last sentence omitted).
Cf. No. 510.

M. de Etter told me to-day that which he left St. Petersburg on Wednesday no mobilisation of any degree was taking place there or in the "government" of St. Petersburg. He came by the Nord Express through Germany. The German railways were filled in all directions with moving troops. E. A. C. August 1.

(1) No. 340.

(35143) No. 386.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, August 1, 1914.
D. 2 A.M.
Tel. (Unnumbered.) En clair.
R. 3:55 A.M.

(Translated from German.)

Following communiqué issued to-night:

"After the work of mediation undertaken at the wish of the Tsar himself has been upset ('gestort') by the Russia n Government by the general mobilisation of the Russian army and fleet, the German Government have let it be known in St. Petersburg to-day that German mobilisation is contemplated unless Russia suspends her preparations for war within twelve hours and makes a definite declaration on the subject. At the same time an enquiry has been addressed to the French Government as to their attitude in the case of a Russo-German war."

(35098) No. 387.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
Vienna, July 31, 1914.
D. July 31, 9 P.M.
Tel. (No. 132.)
R. August 1, 4 A.M.

Following from military attaché for Director of Military Operations: --

"General mobilisation was ordered to-day for army, Landwehr, Honved and Landsturm. Latter includes all men up to 37 years in Austria and up to 42 years in Tyrol and Hungary."

Cf. No. 427.

(35108) No. 388.
Mr. Crackanthorpe to Sir Edward Grey.
Nish, July 30, 1914.
D. July 30, 10 P.M.
Tel. (No. 71.)
R. August 1, 8 A.M.

Vice-consul at Belgrade telephones town being bombarded and shells falling around British Legation. Excesses on the part of komitajis are feared. Two British subjects have been arrested as spies, but released on intervention of vice-consul. They are now with him in the German Legation, over a portion of which the British flag is flying.

(35107) (b.)
Nish, July 30, 1914
D. July 30, 8:20 P.M.
Tel. (No. 68.)
R. August 1, 8:45 A.M.

Skuptchina has been opened by the Crown Prince in speech in which, after review of present grave situation, stress was laid on the declared intention of the Emperor of Russia not to disinterest himself in the fate of Servia. Friendly attitude of France and England was emphasised.

No. 389.
Mr. Crackanthorpe to Sir Edward Grey.
Nish, July 31, 1914.
D. July 31, 9:10 P.M.
Tel. (No. 74.)
R. August 1, 9 40 A.M.

British vice-consul at Belgrade who slept last night in German Legation telephoned this morning that bombardment ceased towards evening yesterday and that no firing took place during night.

I will endeavour to ascertain whether any further damage has been done to British Legation and report.

Cyphers and all highly secret archives were carefully destroyed by fire yesterday afternoon.

Cf. Nos. 278, 359 and 394.

(35115) No. 390.
Consul Bosanquet to Sir Edward Grey.
Riga, July 31, 1914.
D. July 31, 4 P.M.
R. August 1. 9 A.M.

Mobilisation declared at Riga, first day to-morrow. Officers visiting Riga have left for their regiments. Cossacks arrived last night. Cannon have been sent in the direction of Windau.

No more foreign correspondence accepted here.(1)

(Repeated to Embassy.)

(1) A further telegram despatched July 31, 11 80 P.M., and received August 1, 9 A.M., states " Last paragraph means letters for abroad."

(35104) No. 391.
Mr. Beaumont to Sir Edward Grey.
Constantinople, July 31, 1914.
D. July 31, 2:40 P.M.
R. August 1, 10 A.M.
Tel. (To. 464.)

Grand Vizier hopes that meeting with Greek Prime Minister may take place, and I think he would accept if it were proposed at some point in the Ægean, possibly Imbros. He is in a very reasonable mood, and has clearly abandoned any wish to regain possession of Chios and Mitylene, the importance of which to Turkey has been diminished by partial elimination of Greek population from the mainland opposite. He attributes continuance of unfortunate incidents reported from various places in Aidin and Brussa vilayets to the panic-stricken condition of the inhabitants, and evidently thinks that they have been much exaggerated. Recent reports form Smyrna certainly show an improvement in situation.

With regard to general outlook, his Excellency is hopeful, believing that [? Russia] having no material interests at stake will not go to war. Attitude of Turkey at present will be one of strict neutrality. In case of complications their policy, and in particular with regard to Straits, has not yet been considered.

(Repeated to Athens.)

Cf. No. 568.

(35134) No. 392.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
Vienna, July 31, 1914.
D. July 31, midnight.
Tel. (No. 135.)
R. August 1, 11 A.M.

This afternoon air has been thick with rumours of war, caused by total mobilisation of Austro-Hungarian army, and by statement published in "Neue Freie Presse," with consent of censor, that German Government have required answer from Russian Government within twenty-four hours as to meaning of Russian mobilisation. Neither French nor Russian Embassy are aware of change in situation since yesterday.

(35147) No. 393.
Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey.
St. Petersburg, July 31, 1914.
D. August 1, 12:15 A.M.
Tel. (No. 193.)
R. August 1, 11 A.M.

Since despatch of my telegram No. 191(1) Minister for Foreign Affairs sent for me and French Ambassador and asked us to telegraph to our respective Governments subjoined formula as best calculated to amalgamate proposal made by you in your telegram No. 412 of 30th July(2) with formula recorded in my telegram No. 185 of 30th July.(3) He trusted it would meet with your approval:

"Si l'Autriche consentira à arrêter marche de ses troupes sur le territoire serbe, si, reconnaissant que le conflit austro-serbe a assumé le caractère d'une question d'intérêt européen, elle admet que les Grandes Puissances examinent la satisfaction que la Serbie pourrait accorder au Gouvernement d'Autriche-Hongrie sans laisser porter atteinte à ses droits d'état souverain et à son indépendance, la Russie s'engage à conserver son attitude expectante."

He further said that Emperor Nicholas's telegram commenced by thanking Emperor William for His Majesty's telegram, which held out possibility of pacific solution, and by giving assurances that Russia's military preparations concealed no aggressive intentions whatever. While explaining reasons why it was impossible to stop a mobilisation which had already begun Emperor engaged not to move a man across the frontier so long as conversation with Austria continued. Minister for Foreign Affairs added that he trusted you would consent to this conversation taking place in London, as atmosphere there was far more favourable to pacific solution.

In conclusion, his Excellency begged me to convey to you his warm thanks for what His Majesty's Government have done in the cause of peace. If Germany had made this last pacific "geste" and if war was eventually averted, it would be in great measure due to the firm attitude adopted by Great Britain. This was a service which neither Emperor, Government, nor Russian people would ever forget.

(Repeated to Embassies.)

Published in BB. No. 120 (paraphrased part omitted).

We have had this in greater detail this morning from M. de Etter. E. A. C. August 1.

(1) This telegram appears not to have been received.
(2) No. 309.
(3) No. 302.

No. 394.
Mr. Crackanthorpe to Sir Edward Grey.
Nish, July 30, 1914.
D. July 30, 11:3 P.M.
Tel. (No. 69.)
R. August 1, 11 A.M.
Your telegram No. 35(1) received. I am at once endeavouring to get into telephonic communication with British Vice-Consul. I will report when action taken.

Cf. Nos. 359, 389.

(1) No. 278.

(35152) No. 395.
Sir F. Villiers to Sir Edward Grey.
Brussels, August 1, 1914.
D. 10:24 A.M.
Tel. (No. 7.)
R. 12:25 P.M.

Your telegram No. 9 of yesterday.(1)

I have carried out your instructions. Minister for Foreign Affairs thanked me for the communication, and replied that Belgium will to the utmost of her power maintain neutrality, and desires and expects other Powers to observe and uphold it.

He begged me to add that the relations between Belgium and the neighbouring Powers were excellent and that there was no reason to suspect their intentions, but that Belgian Government believed that in case of violation they were in a position to defend the neutrality of their country.

Published in BB No. 128 (paraphrased, cf. No. 415).

(1) No. 351.

(36821) No. 396.
Communicated by Belgian Minister, August 1.
M. Davignon to Count de Lalaing.
Bruxelles, le 31 juillet, 1914.

M le Comte,
La situation internationale est grave: l'éventualit‚ d'un conflit entre plusieurs Puissances ne peut être écartée de nos préoccupations.

Nous avons toujours observé avec la plus scrupuleuse exactitude les devoirs d'état neutre que nous imposent les traités du 19 avril, 1889. Ces devoirs nous nous attacherons inébranlablement à les remplir, quelles que soient les circonstances.

Les dispositions amicales des Puissances à notre égard ont été affirm‚es si souvent, que nous avons la confiance de voir le territoire belge demeurer hors de toute atteinte, si des hostilités venaient à se produire à nos frontières.

Toutes les mesures nécessaires pour assurer l'observation de notre neutralit‚ n'en ont pas moins été prises par le Gouvernement du Roi. L'armée belge est mobilisée et se porte sur les positions stratégiques choisies pour assurer le défense du pays et le respect de sa neutralité. Les forts d'Anvers et de la Meuse sont en état de défense.

Il est à peine nécessaire, M. le Comte, d'insister sur le caractère de ces mesures. Elles n'ont d'autre but que de nous mettre en situation de remplir nos obligations internationales; elles ne sont et n'ont pu être inspirées, cela va de soi, ni par le dessein de prendre part à une lutte armée des Puissances, ni par un sentiment de défiance envers aucune d'elles.

Veuillez, je vous prie, donner lecture et laisser copie de la présente dépêche à M. le Secrétaire d'état pour les Affaires Étrangères de Grande-Bretagne et prier son Excellence d'en prendre acte.

La même communication a été faite aux autres Puissances garantes de notre neutralité

. Veuillez, &c.

(36823) No. 397.
Communicated by German Embassy, August 1, 1914.

Our geographical military position leaves no alternative but to answer Russia's mobilisation by declaring a state of imminent danger which must be followed by mobilisation if Russia does not forthwith stop her military preparations. We could not wait quietly to see whether counsels of prudence prevail at St. Petersburg while Russian mobilisation continued in full swing, as this would involve our being completely outstripped in military preparedness. If Russia continues to mobilise and we do not start to do so, East Prussia, West Prussia, and perhaps also Posen and Silesia are at the mercy of the Russians. In his last telegram to the Emperor the Tsar declared that he will abstain from any act of provocation. A mobilised Russian army on our frontier without our having mobilised constitutes, however, without any provocative action, a danger to our very existence. The provocation of which Russia has been guilty in mobilising against us at a moment when we were mediating at Vienna in accordance with her wishes is, moreover, so strong that no German nor any foreigner would understand it if we failed to answer with strong measures.

[NOTE;. This was communicated in German. For the original German see the telegram from the German Chancellor to Prince Lichnowsky in DD No. 529.]

(36824) No. 398. Communication from Russian Embassy.

M. de Etter informed me to-day that according to a telegram from M. Sazonof dated to-day, the German Ambassador at St. Petersburg had made a communication to the effect that unless the German demand for demobilisation not only against Germany but against Austria was complied with by 12 o'clock (noon) to-day, the German Government would feel compelled to order a general mobilisation.

Asked whether mobilisation necessarily meant war, the German Ambassador said no, but it was very near to it.

August 1, 1914. E.A.C.

(35255) No. 399.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, August 1, 1914.
D. 12 30 P.M.
Tel. (No. 115.)
R. 1 P.M.

Owing to misapprehension due to confusion resulting from proclamation of Kriegsgefahr yesterday the Telegraph Office refused to despatch some of our telegrams yesterday evening. I immediately caused categorical instructions to be issued by the Imperial Foreign Office and Military Governor of Berlin to telegraph employés for the future to forward my telegrams at once and matters are now in order. It is possible however that owing to pressure on the lines my telegrams may be delayed in transmission.

Vice-Consuls at Emden and Bremerhaven report that telegraph employés will only transmit telegrams from them to the Embassy in German. Am making enquiries.

(35251) No. 400.
Mr. Crackanthorpe to Sir Edward Grey.
Nish, July 30, 1914.
D. July 30, 9:20 A.M.
Tel. (No. 67.)
R. August 1, 1 P.M.

British Vice-Consul at Belgrade has just telephoned as follows:

"Foreign diplomatic and consular representatives left at Belgrade headed by the Belgian Minister who is the only 'chef de mission' now there, made representations yesterday afternoon to the military authorities pointing out danger to inhabitants should the town be defended. They were informed that the military authorities were the sole judges of what was expedient in the interests of the country. Foreign representatives accompanied by Prince George then proceeded to the park overlooking the Save and hoisted white and German flags in the hope of inducing the Austrians to open pourparlers. This was apparently not understood by the Austrians. When flag was removed firing recommenced but Vice-Consul tells me the Austrians are not firing into town but at fort in proximity of which is British Legation. He thinks that Servians intend to defend town in order to gain time for concentration and this is confirmed by information I have gathered here."

(35181) No. 401.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, August 1, 1914
D. 12:30 P.M.
Tel. (No. 116.)
R. 1 P.M.

Military Attaché reports that all necessary steps on frontiers and for protection of railways have been taken. He believes that preparations are so advanced that normal duration of mobilisation period will be shortened.

(35159) No. 402.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir E. Goschen.
Foreign Office, August 1, 1914.
Tel. (No. 49.)
D. 1:50 P.M.

Great Central Railway Company's steamers and other British merchant ship are, we are informed, detained forcibly by the authorities at Hamburg.

Ask German Government to send orders at once for them to be allowed to proceed without delay, otherwise the effect on public opinion here will be deplorable. We are most anxious on our side to avoid any incident of an aggressive nature, and I hope German Government will be equally careful not to take any step that would make the situation between us impossible. I cannot ascertain on what ground the detention of British ships has been ordered.(1)

Published in BB No. 130 (paraphrased).
Cf. No. 677, also DD Nos. 610, 634.

(1) See Nos. 456 and 496.

(35270) No. 403.
Sir F. Bertie to Sir Edward Grey.
Paris, August 1, 1914.
D. 12:30 P.M.
Tel (No 107)
R. 2:30 P.M.

I have seen President of the Republic and have communicated to him your urgent telegram No. 291 this morning.(1)

He says German Government are endeavouring to put on Russia responsibility for critical state of affairs; that Emperor of Russia did not order a general mobilisation until after a decree of general mobilisation had been issued in Austria; that measure already taken by German Government, though not designated a general mobilisation, are so in effect; that France is already forty-eight hours behindhand as regards German military preparations, and that a French general mobilisation will become necessary for self-defence; that whereas German troops are actually on the French frontier, and have made incursions on it in places, orders to French troops are not to go nearer to German frontier than a distance of 10 kilom. from it, so as to avoid any ground for accusations of provocation to Germany; that Emperor of Russia has expressed his readiness, notwithstanding mobilisations, to continue his conversations with German Ambassador with object of preservation of peace, which is sincere desire of France, whose wishes are markedly pacific; and that French Government do not quite despair of war being avoided.

Published in BB No. 134 (paraphrased).

(1) No 384.

(35284) No. 404.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, August 1, 1914.
D. 12:20 P.M.
Tel. (No. 117.)
R. 3 P.M.

Military Attaché reports that many reserve officers but no men as yet called out. (Most of) cavalry and artillery regiments and almost entire general staff have left Berlin. Supreme confidence reigns in military circles in Berlin.

Military Attaché confident in event of war Germany will pass part of her forces through Belgium.

(35277) No. 405.
Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey.
St. Petersburg, July 30, 1914.
D. July 30, 1:30 P.M.
Tel. (No. 187.)
R. August 1, 3 P.M.

My telegram 178.(1)

Following from Warsaw:

"Forces of infantry are stationed along railway bridges. Troops are being sent daily. Population within fortress region of Novogeorgievsk has been ordered to leave."

(1) No. 234.