Document Numbers 476-500

2 August 1914
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(35378) No. 476.
Sir F. Villiers to Sir Edward Grey.
Brussels, August 2, 1914.
D. 12 15 P.M.
Tel. (No. 10.)
R. 1:25 P.M.

Minister for Foreign Affairs states that Belgian Government have no reason whatever to suspect Germany of an intention to violate neutrality. He says that Belgian Government have not considered idea of appeal to other guarantee Powers, nor of intervention should a violation occur; they would rely upon their own armed force as sufficient to resist aggression, from whatever quarter it might come.

It is impossible for the German troops to get out of Luxemburg without crossing Belgian territory except through a narrow bottle-neck into France. G. R. C. August 2, 1914.

(35396) No. 477.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, August 2, 1914.
D. 2:15 P.M.
Tel. (No. 124.) Urgent. Secret.
R. 3:30 P.M.

Minister for Foreign Affairs tells me that judging from a report which has been received from General commanding the district, it seemed probable that French had already commenced hostilities by dropping bombs from an airship in the vicinity of Nuremberg. His Excellency begged me not to mention this to any of my colleagues, but he himself had told Belgian Minister.

(35390) No. 478.
Mr. Chilton to Sir Edward Grey.
The Hague, August 2, 1914.
D. 1 P.M.
Tel. (No. 24.)
R. 3:35 P.M.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs inform me that Dutch troops on German frontier are being heavily reinforced and that they will fire on Germans the moment they cross. "Chef de cabinet" is hopeful that Germans will not do so.

(35397) No. 479.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin. August 2, 1914.
D. 12:25 P.M.
Tel. Urgent
R. 3:35 P.M.

Russian Ambassador has begged that following message may be immediately repeated to Russian Government:

"Have received passports. Leaving to-day, Sunday evening, for Eydtkuhnen and Wirballen. Please facilitate our journey beyond Russian frontier. Embassy and Consular staff and clergy (sic) 80 persons in all who accompany me. Beg that it may be found possible to take with them their luggage, which represents their entire property."

(Sent viâ Stockholm. Repeated to St. Petersburg.)

(35398) No. 480.
Mr. Sinclair to Sir Edward Grey.
Brindisi, August 2, 1914.
D. 11:30 A.M.
Tel. (No. 7.) Urgent.
R. 3:45 P.M.

German ship "Goeben" at Taranto.

(35401) No. 481.
Sir F. Bertie to Sir Edward Grey.
Paris, August 2, 1914.
D. 1:45 P.M.
Tel. (No. 118.)
R. 3:45 P.M

Military attaché reports following War Office news:

"German situation. Movements of large bodies of troops still continue. All telegraphic, telephonic and railway communications between neighbouring countries cut excepting those to Austria. Some troops crossed Luxemburg frontier at 6 A.M. to-day. Some Uhlans have held up a customs post near St. Die. Some shots reported near Belfort. Will telegraph this afternoon positions of German and French troops in detail. "

(35419) No. 482.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
Vienna, August 2, 1914.
D. 12:40 P.M.
Tel. (Unnumbered.)
R. 3:55 P.M.

Russian Ambassador told me this morning that he would not at all despair of peace if Germany would abstain from interfering. He had yesterday again "most friendly" conversation with Minister for Foreign Affairs, and would not consider relations broken off till war was actually declared.(1) He much hoped that Russia would not herself declare war, but wait for Germany to do so if indeed she was still determined on war. Question was now unfortunately transferred to Berlin, where Russian action concerning mobilisation had been misrepresented and public mind inflamed by speeches of German Emperor and Chancellor making the prospects of peace almost hopeless. No self-respecting country could bear the provocative manner in which the German Ambassador at St. Petersburg had again carried out his instructions. Russian Ambassador presumed that if Germany declares war Austria would immediately follow and France would mobilise.

I am to see Minister for Foreign Affairs this morning.

(1) See A III No. 99.

(35402) No. 483.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, August 2, 1914.
D. 3:20 P.M.
Tel. (No. 125.) Urgent.
R. 3:55 P M.

Minister for Foreign Affairs informs me that since 12:30 P.M. to-day all telegraphic communication by cable and otherwise between England and Germany has been stopped on the English side. His Excellency would like to know the meaning of this measure.

[NOTE. See DD No. 654 where Admiral v. Tirpitz enquires whether as a consequence of the rupture of cable communications they are to consider themselves as in a state of war with England. The following answer was sent:

Foreign Office, August 2, 1914.
Tel. (No. 60.) En clair.
D. 5:25 P.M. Your telegram No. 125.

I am informed that delay has been due to extraordinary congestion. Even our own Government messages have been considerably delayed. I understand lines are now working satisfactorily.]

(35405) No. 484.
Mr. Savery to Sir Edward Grey.
Munich, .July 31, 1914.
D. July 31, 7:50 P.M.
Tel. En clair.
R. August 2, 4:22 P.M.

King of Bavaria has proclaimed state of war in the whole kingdom and martial law in the Palatinate.

Telegrams in English no longer accepted.

(35420) No. 485.
Mr. Crackanthorpe to Sir Edward Grey.
Nish, July 31, 1914.
D. July 31, 12:50 P.M.
Tel. (No. 76.)
R. August 2, 4:35 P.M.

(Delayed by storm Russia (sic).)

My telegram No. 73 of 30th July.(1)

Prime Minister's statement seems to have been exaggerated. British Vice-Consul telephones that although shells fell throughout afternoon no serious damage has been done to town though (group undecypherable) and theatre have been (group undecypherable). A shell exploded in British Legation damaging one of front elevations.

(1) No. 332.

(35410) No. 486.
Communication from French Embassy.
Foreign Office, August 2, 1914.
R. 4:40 P.M.

The French Embassy have just telephoned to say that they have received a telegram from the Havas Agency from Liège stating that 20,000 German troops have invaded France near Nancy.

August 2, 1914.

(35412) No. 487.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir F. Bertie.
Foreign Office, August 2, 1914.
Tel. (No. 303.)
D. 4:45 P.M.

After the Cabinet this morning I gave M. Cambon the following aide-mémoire:

"I am authorised to give an assurance that if the German fleet comes into the Channel or through the North Sea to undertake hostile operations against French coasts or shipping the British fleet will give all the protection in its power.

"This assurance is of course subject to the policy of Hi Majesty's Government receiving the support of Parliament and must not be taken as binding His Majesty's Government to take any action until the above contingency of action by the German fleet takes place."

I pointed out that we had very large questions and most difficult issues to consider, and that the Government felt that they could not bind themselves to declare war upon Germany necessarily, if war broke out between France and Germany to-morrow, but it was essential to the French Government, whose fleet had long been concentrated in the Mediterranean, to know how to make their dispositions with their north coast entirely undefended. We therefore thought it necessary to give them this assurance. It did not bind us to go to war with Germany unless the German fleet took the action indicated, but it did give a security to France that would enable her to settle the disposition of her own Mediterranean fleet.

M. Cambon asked me about the violation of Luxemburg. I told him the doctrine on that point laid down by Lord Derby and Lord Clarendon in 1867. He asked me what we should say about the violation of the neutrality of Belgium. I said that was a much more important matter; we were considering what statement we should make in Parliament to-morrow, in effect whether we should declare violation of Belgium neutrality to be a casus belli. I told him what had been said to the German Ambassador on this point. I also explained how at the beginning of a great catastrophe such as this European war, of which no one could foresee the consequences where we had such enormous responsibilities in our Empire, as in India, or as regards countries in our occupation such as Egypt, when even the conditions of naval warfare and the possibility of protecting our coast under these conditions were untried, it was impossible safely to send our military force out of the country.

M. Cambon asked whether this meant that we should never do it.

I replied that it dealt only with the present moment. He dwelt upon the moral effect of our sending only two divisions. But I said that to send so small a force as two or even four divisions abroad at the beginning of a war would entail the maximum of risk to them and produce the minimum of effect.

Published in BB No. 148 (last twelve lines omitted).

No. 488.
Sir Edward Grey to M. Cambon.
10, Downing Street, August 2, 1914.

Dear M. Cambon,
I hear Churchill told your Naval Attaché that my conversation to you this afternoon was also made to the German Ambassador. This is quite wrong: nothing has been said to any foreign representative except yourself or will be said till a public statement is made.

Yours, &c.

(35414) No. 489.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, August 2, 1914.
D. 4:40 P.M.
R. 5:5 P.M.

French naval attaché hears on good authority that second and third German battle squadrons passed through Kiel Canal last night to Elbe.

Please inform French Government.

(35441) No. 490.
Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey.
St. Petersburg, August , 1914.
D. 3:10 P.M.
Tel. (No. 202.)
R. 5:15 P.M.

Your telegram No. 423 of 1st August.(1)

At audience which I had with Emperor at 11 o'clock last night His Majesty wrote following message, which he desired me to telegraph to the King:

"I would gladly have accepted your proposals had not German Ambassador this afternoon presented a note to my Government declaring war. Ever since presentation of the ultimatum at Belgrade, Russia has devoted all her efforts to finding some pacific solution of the question raised by Austria's action. Object of that action was to crush Servia and make her a vassal of Austria. Effect of this would have been to upset balance of power in Balkans, which is of such a vital interest to my Empire as well as to those Powers who desire maintenance of balance of Power in Europe. Every proposal, including that of your Government, was rejected by Germany and Austria, and it was only when favourable moment for bringing pressure to bear on Austria had passed that Germany showed any disposition to mediate. Even then she did not put forward any precise proposal. Austria's declaration of war on Servia forced me to order a partial mobilisation, though, in view of threatening situation, my military advisers strongly advised a general mobilisation owing to quickness with which Germany can mobilise in comparison with Russia. I was eventually compelled to take this course in consequence of complete Austrian mobilisation, of the bombardment of Belgrade, of concentration of Austrian troops in Galicia, and of secret military preparations being made by Germany. That I was justified in doing so is proved by Germany's sudden declaration of war, which was quite unexpected by me, as I had given most categorical assurances to the Emperor William that my troops would not move so long as mediation negotiations continued.

"In this solemn hour I wish to assure you once more that I have done all in my power to avert war. Now that it has been forced on me, I trust your country will not fail to support France and Russia in fighting to maintain balance of power in Europe. God bless and protect you."

Emperor said that he had no objection to above being published with other papers.

In course of conversation His Majesty observed that mobilisation did not necessarily entail war, and that there had been frequent cases in history where it had been followed by demobilisation. German Emperor knew perfectly well that Russia wanted peace, and that her mobilisation could not be completed for another fortnight at least, but he had declared war with such haste as to render all further discussion impossible, and as to throw doubt on Germany's good faith throughout.

German statement entirely misrepresents case, and its evident object is to persuade His Majesty's Government that responsibility for war rests with Russia in the hope of inducing them to remain neutral. I would venture to submit with all respect that if we do not respond to Emperor's appeal for our support, we shall at end of the war, whatever be its issue, find ourselves without a friend in Europe, while our Indian Empire will no longer be secure from attack by Russia. If we defer intervention till France is in danger of being crushed, sacrifices we shall then be called upon to make will be much greater, while we may

[Remainder of telegram not received.]

Cf. No. 665.

(1) No. 384.

No. 491.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir F. Bertie.
Foreign Office, August 2, 1914.
Tel. (No. 305.)
D 5:30 P.M.

The War. German Naval Movements. You should immediately communicate substance of Sir E. Goschen's telegram No. last (1) to French Government.

(1) No. 489.

(35435) No. 492.
Minister of State, Luxemburg, to Sir Edward Grey.
Luxembourg, 2 août 1914.
D. 3:56 P.M.
R. 5:44 P.M.

Ministre d'état du Luxembourg Eyschen vient de recevoir par l'interm‚diaire du Ministre d'Allemagne à Luxembourg, M. de Buch, un télégramme du Chancelier de l'Empire allemand, Bethmann-Hollweg, disant que les mesures militaires à Luxembourg ne constituent pas un acte hostile contre le Luxembourg, mais sont uniquement des mesures destinées à assurer contre-attaque éventuelle d'une armée française. L'exploitation des voies ferrées affermées à l'Empire Luxembourg [sic] recevra complète indemnit‚ pour dommages éventuels. Published, with translation, in BB No. 129.
Cf. Nos. 466, 467 and 554; also F No. 132.

(35424) No. 493.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
Vienna, August 2, 1914.
D. 2 P.M.
Tel. (No 144.)
R. 5:45. P M

German Ambassador on leaving the room of the Minister for Foreign Affairs as I was about to go in this morning read me a telegram just received by him from Berlin stating that Russian troops having crossed German frontier at several points German Government considered that state of war with Russia existed. I then saw Minister for Foreign Affairs who admitted that Austria must consider herself in same position towards Russia.

(35425) No. 494.
Sir R. Rodd to Sir Edward Grey.
Rome, August 2, 1914.
D. 2 P.M.
Tel. (No. 150.)
R. 6:10 P.M.

Following from military attaché:

"I have reason to believe Italy making all ready to call up four classes without actually calling up men."

(35412) No. 495.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir F. Bertie.
Foreign Office, August 2, 1914.
Tel. (No. S06.)
D. 6:20 P.M.

The war. My telegram No. 303 of 2nd August (1) Assurances as to action of British Fleet.

You should impress on French Government that the assurance given to-day is very confidential till it has been announced in public to-morrow.

Cf. No. 536.

(1) No. 487.

(35386) No. 496.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir E. Goschen.
Foreign Office, August 2, 1914.
Tel. (No. 262.)
D. 6:20 P.M.

Your telegram No. 120 of 1st August.(1)

I regret to learn that 100 tons of sugar was compulsorily unloaded from the British steamship "Sappho" at Hamburg and detained. Similar action appears to have been taken with regard to other British vessels loaded with sugar.

You should inform Secretary of State that for reasons stated in my telegram No. 249 of 1st August,(2) I most earnestly trust that the orders already sent to Hamburg to allow the clearance of British ships covers also the release of their cargoes, the detention of which cannot be justified.

Published in BB No. 149.

(1) No. 456 (a).
(2) No. 402.

(35432) No. 497.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey.
Berlin, August 2, 1914.
D. 5 P.M.
Tel. (No. 127.)
R. 6:35 P.M.

His Majesty's consul at Stettin reports that all British ships have left.

(35434) No. 498.
Sir. Crackanthorpe to Sir Edward Grey.
Nish, July 31, 1914.
D. July 31, 6:10 P.M.
Tel. (No. 77.)
R. August 2, 7:5 P.M.

Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has just received telephone message from Prince George at Belgrade, stating that Austrians are recommencing bombardment from Semlin positions and four monitors simultaneously.

(35445) No. 499.
Sir C. Greene to Sir Edward Grey.
Tokyo, August 2, 1914.
D. 7:20 P.M.
Tel. (No. 57.)
R. 7:15 P.M.

Russian Ambassador has received instructions to see the Minister for Foreign Affairs and enquire as to the probable attitude of Imperial Government and as to the views of Japanese politicians in the event of Russia being involved in war.

Japanese vernacular papers are now discussing the possibility of Japan being invited to support her ally in defence of her interests in the Far East. The view generally taken seems to be that Japan will gladly accept responsibility.

(35443) No. 500.
Mr. Crackanthorpe to Sir Edward Grey.
Nish, July 3l, 1914.
D. July 31, 10:30 P.M.
Tel. (No. 75.)
R. August 2, 7:30 P.M.

Roumanian Minister, acting under orders from his Government, has asked Servian Government whether they had said their last word to Austria.

Prime Minister replied that no further concessions were possible. Spirit of this country is now fully aroused, and optimism has supplemented dejection first noticeable. Firm attitude of Russia and reports received as to solidarity of England with her two partners have encouraged this feeling.