By Maurice Paléologue
JULY 19-AUGUST 18, 1916.
The Empress and Rasputin force the Emperor to dismiss Sazonov and put Sturmer in his place; a very serious change.---Negotiations with Rumania. By the terms of a military convention signed by Colonel Rudeanu at Chantilly, the Rumanian army is to attack Bulgaria at once.---Secret negotiations between Bucharest and Sofia; Bratiano throws over the Rudeanu agreement.---Russian victory at Brody.---Sazonov's dismissal.---Future prospects; an historical precedent: the Seven Years' War.---Rumania hesitates again.---A telegram from the President of the Republic to the Emperor.---Autocracy and regicide.---Polish uneasiness about the fate of their country; the reactionary party regards the settlement of the Polish question as the basis for a reconciliation between tsarism and the Teutonic empires.---Rumania joins our Alliance.---The Treaty of Bucharest.
Wednesday, July 19, 1916.
Near Lutzk, on the Volhynian frontier, the Russians have scattered the Austro-Germans, who have left 13,000 prisoners in their hands.
In the Bukovina the Russian advance guards are crossing the Carpathians.
Thursday, July 20, 1916.
When I called on Neratov this morning with Buchanan, we were both struck by his grave air. He said to us:
"I have serious reason to think we are going to lose M. Sazonov."
"What has happened
"You know that M. Sazonov has long had enemies, and who they are. His success the other day in the Polish question has been exploited against him. Someone who is very fond of him, and whom I can trust absolutely, has told me that His Majesty has decided to relieve him of his post."
Coming from a man as reserved and cautious as Neratov, such words left no room for doubt.
It was quite unnecessary for Buchanan and me to put our heads together to realize the full meaning of the blow in store for us.
"Do you think that M. Paléologue and I could even now do anything to prevent the dismissal of M. Sazonov?"
"What could we do?"
To clear the air, I begged Neratov to give us full details of the news which has so naturally alarmed him:
"The person from whom I've received this report," he said, "has seen the letter His Majesty ordered to be drafted; it is couched in friendly terms and simply relieves M. Sazonov of his functions on grounds of health."
I fastened on to these last words, which seemed to me to offer the ambassadors of France and England a legitimate excuse to intervene. Then I sat down at Neratov's table for a few moments and drafted a telegram which Buchanan and I could dispatch simultaneously to the heads of our military missions at Mohilev, asking them to show them to the Minister of the Court. The telegram ran as follows
I am told that M. Sazonov has decided to place his resignation before His Majesty on grounds of health. Please get this report officially confirmed by the Minister of the Court.
If it is true, please impress very strongly on Count Fredericks that a sympathetic word from His Majesty would, no doubt, inspire M. Sazonov to a fresh effort, which would enable him to complete his task.
My English (. . . French) colleague and I cannot help being greatly perturbed by the thought of the comment which the resignation of the Russian Foreign Minister would not fail to arouse in Germany, for the overstrain from which he is now suffering is unquestionably not serious enough to justify his retirement.
At this decisive moment of the war, anything which could look like a change in the policy of the Allies might have the most disastrous consequences.
Neratov entirely approved this telegram, and Buchanan and I immediately returned to our embassies to send it to Mohilev.
This afternoon I received from a reliable source certain details of the intrigue against Sazonov. My informant (a woman) does not know how far things have got and I have been careful not to tell her.
"Sazonov's position is very much compromised," she said; "he has lost the confidence of Their Majesties."
"What's the accusation against him?"
"He's accused of not getting on with Sturmer and, on the other hand, getting on too well with the Duma. . . . And then Rasputin hates him---which is enough by itself."
"So the Empress has absolutely made common cause with Sturmer?"
"Yes, absolutely. Sturmer is full of low cunning and he has succeeded in persuading her that she alone can save Russia. She's saving her at this very moment; she went off to Mohilev quite unexpectedly last night
Friday, July 21, 1916.
In Armenia the Russians are continuing their offensive with brilliant success.
On the Black Sea shore they have occupied Vaksi-Kebir, west of Trebizond, and their advance guards are entering the valley of Kelkit-lrmak. Further inland, the capture of Gemish-Kanch makes them master of the great road which starts from Trebizond and branches to Erzerum and Erzinghan. They are also threatening this latter town by a rapid advance along the upper course of the Euphrates.
Saturday, July 22, 1916.
General Janin and General Williams have delivered their messages to the Minister of the Court. General Janin's reply is as follows:
The Minister of the Court, though not always seeing eye to eye with M. Sazonov, had already impressed on the Emperor that his departure, at the present juncture, would certainly make a bad impression. The Emperor replied that the extreme exhaustion from which M. Sazonov is now suffering, and which deprives him of both appetite and sleep, really does not allow him to go on with his work; in any case his sovereign decision had been taken. Count Fredericks has, however, promised to show the Emperor the two telegrams of the French and English Ambassadors, but he added that he would not ask His Majesty to answer them.
Sazonov, who is still in Finland, was informed yesterday of his dismissal. He received the news with the quiet dignity that might have been expected of his character:
"At bottom," he said, "His Majesty is right in dispensing with my services. I disagreed with Sturmer on too many questions."
As the afternoon was ending Neratov came to tell me, on express orders from His Majesty, that the change at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs would have no effect whatever on the foreign policy of the Empire.
Sunday, July 23, 1916.
This morning the Press officially announces the retirement of Sazonov(1) and Sturmer's appointment in his place. No comments. But I hear that first impressions are a wave of amazement and indignation.
This evening I have been dining with the Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna, in the company of Princess Paley, Madame Helen Narishkin and the maids-of-honour.
After dinner the Grand Duchess took me to the bottom of the garden; she made me sit beside her and we had a talk.
"I simply can't tell you," she said, "how grieved I .am about the present and how worried about the future."
"Tell me how you think it's all happened. Then I'll tell you the little I know."
We shared our information. Our conclusions were as follows:
The Emperor and Sazonov saw absolutely eye to eve on foreign policy. They were also at one on the Polish question, as the Emperor had entirely adopted the views of his minister and actually instructed him to draw up the manifesto to the Polish nation. In the other questions of home policy Sazonov's liberal leadings had in practice no opportunity to find expression; in any case he had but a purely personal right to voice them and they were extremely moderate. Last but not least, he was on the best possible terms with General Alexeïev. His sensational dismissal cannot therefore be explained by any admissible motive. The explanation unhappily forced upon us is that the camarilla, of which Sturmer is the instrument, wanted to get control of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. For several weeks Rasputin has been saying: "I've had enough of Sazonov, quite enough!" Urged on by the Empress, Sturmer went to G.H.Q. to ask for Sazonov's dismissal. The Empress went to his rescue, and the Emperor gave way.
By way of conclusion the Grand Duchess asked me:
"You regard the prospect pessimistically, don't you?"
"Yes, very. The French monarchy once saw good ministers dismissed through the influence of a Court faction; their names were Choiseul and Necker; Your Highness knows the sequel."
In Volhynia, at the confluence of the Lipa and the Styr, General Sakharov's army has routed the Austro-Germans and made 12,000 prisoners.
Tuesday, July 25, 1915.
I have telegraphed to Paris:
Looking at the future this is how the situation appears to me:
I do not fear any change for the immediate, or even near future in the foreign policy of Russia and the declaration the Emperor sent me On July 22 through M. Neratov makes me quite confident for the present. The official action of imperial diplomacy will thus probably continue as before. We must, however, expect to see new faces and a new spirit gradually appear in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. We must also expect that the secrets of our negotiations will not long be a secret to certain persons who, by their pro-German leanings, indirect relations with the German aristocracy or German finance and their hatred of liberalism and democracy, have been completely won over to the idea of a reconciliation with Germany.
At the present time these people can only work for the realization of their desires in a very underhand and circumspect fashion. The patriotic impulse of the nation is still so strong that if it discovered their game it would destroy them. But if a few months hence, when winter comes, our military efforts have not realized all our hopes, or victory inclines more to the Russian armies than ours, the German party in Petrograd would become dangerous, owing to the tools it possesses in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
Wednesday, July 26, 1916.
The Press announces that the former War Minister, General Sukhomlinov, who was confined in the Fortress of SS. Peter and Paul, has been stricken by a mental affliction which makes it necessary to move him to an asylum.
According to the information in my possession he is simply suffering from neurasthenia. In any case, no one accepts the reason put forward to explain the change.
Thursday, July 27, 1916.
Colonel Rudeanu, the Rumanian military attaché in, France, has negotiated with the delegates of the Allied General Staffs a convention which fixes at 150,000 the number of men to be employed by the Rumanian High Command in an immediate attack on Bulgaria, such an attack being timed to coincide with an offensive by the Salonica army. The convention, which also governs the
relations of the two army groups, was signed at Chantilly on July 23.
General Sarrail, commanding the Allied armies of the East, has already received an order to plan a vast operation, the successive objects of which will be: (1) to tie down the Bulgarian forces in Southern Macedonia, in order to cover the mobilization and concentration of the Rumanian army; (2) to aim at the destruction of the enemy by an attack, to be pressed through ruthlessly the moment the Rumanians take the offensive on the right bank of the Danube.
But it came to my ears yesterday, from a secret source, that, far from preparing to take the offensive against the Bulgarians, the Rumanian Government is engaged in clandestine conversations with the Sofia cabinet. The report is partially confirmed by a telegram Buchanan received this morning from the English Minister in Bucharest, in which it is said that the Rumanian President of the Council has never accepted the idea of attacking Bulgaria or even of declaring war on her.
Friday, July 28, 1916.
Poklenski, the Russian Minister in Bucharest, telegraphs that Bratiano has categorically refused to attack Bulgaria; his English colleague, Sir George Barclay, insists that the Allied Powers should refrain from demanding such an attack, "otherwise the help of Rumania will be irrevocably lost."
Buchanan and I have discussed the matter with Neratov. The latter thinks that the Allied Powers should insist on Bratiano's carrying out the undertakings specified in the Rudeanu Convention.
Buchanan agreed with Barclay. I supported Neratov.
I reminded them of all the sacrifices France has made to uphold the Allied cause in the Balkan Peninsula.
"The French public," I said, "would never understand the offensive being taken by the Salonica army without a joint offensive on the Danube; they would be furious at the idea of French soldiers being killed in Macedonia to make it more easy for the Rumanians to annex Transylvania. And then again, without being an expert in strategy, I think that it is to the interest of the Rumanians themselves to put the Bulgarians out of action before they take the field north of the Carpathians. As for the secret conversations which I am told are in progress between Bucharest and Sofia, I have no doubt they will fail. I should be terribly upset if they succeeded, as that would mean that the whole of the Bulgarian army would turn against our Army of the East."
Neratov entirely agrees with me.
Saturday, July 29, 1916.
The Russian Army won a victory yesterday at Brody, in Galicia.
This afternoon Sturmer came to pay me his official call. Ceremonious and "soapy," as he always is, he told me that in entrusting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to him the Emperor had ordered him to conduct the foreign policy of the Empire on the same principles as before, i.e., in the closest co-operation with the Allied Governments.
"I attach special importance," he added, "to working hand in hand with the Government of the Republic. So I want all your help and confidence."
I thanked him for his assurances, telling him he might rely on the friendly energy I should bring to our collaboration, and congratulating him on opening his period of office under the auspices of the Brody victory.
Then I tried to draw him into explaining the ultimate aims of his policy and his ideas on the future status of Germany. On this point he seems to me to have but very vague notions; he does not even seem to know the Emperor's own views; but he made a remark I have frequently heard from the imperial lips
"No pity, no mercy for Germany!"
He took his leave of me with exaggerated and obsequious bows. In the doorway he repeated:
"No pity, no mercy for Germany!"
Sunday, July 30, 1916.
The British Government has to-day asked the Russian Government not to insist that Rumania shall attack Bulgaria.
When appealed to by Neratov, I repeated the arguments I used yesterday, adding that I also could not see what was the object of sending 50,000 Russians to the Dobrudja if they were to stand idle while the Salonica army faced the whole shock of the Bulgarian armies.
Late in the afternoon Neratov let me know that General Alexeïev would not allow 50,000 Russians to be sent to the Dobrudja unless their function was to make an immediate attack on the Bulgarians.
Monday, July 31, 1916.
Continuing their offensive on a front of one hundred and fifty kilometres, the Russian Volhynian and Galician armies have driven the Austro-Germans before them in the direction of Kovel, Vladimir-Volynsk and Lemberg, capturing 60,000 prisoners. Thus, since this vast operation began, the Russians have made 345,000 prisoners.
In Armenia the Turks have been driven out of Erzinghan and are fleeing towards Karput and Sivas.
Tuesday, August 1, 1916.
Briand has telegraphed to me as follows:
As regards a Rumanian declaration of war. I share the view of Sir Edward Grey and General Joffre that in the last resort we should not insist on an immediate declaration of war on Bulgaria; it is quite probable that the Germans will force the Bulgarians into attacking the Rumanians at once, and the Russian divisions can then commence hostilities.
It is equally probable that as the Rumanians have not prepared for operations south of the Danube, but have concentrated the bulk of their forces in the Carpathians, they will get a rude shock from the Bulgarians.
Thursday, August 3, 1916.
Sazonov is back from Finland and yesterday called at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to take leave of the staff. He has just been to see me.
We had a long and affectionate chat. He was exactly what I was sure he would be---self-possessed, dignified, without the least trace of bitterness, glad for his own sake to have recovered his independence, but grieved and anxious about the future of Russia.
He confirmed all I had heard about the circumstances of his dismissal:
"It's a year since the Empress began to be hostile towards me," he said. "She's never forgiven me for begging the Emperor not to assume command of his armies. She brought such pressure to bear to secure my dismissal that the Emperor ultimately gave way. But why this scandal? Why this 'scene'? It would have been so easy to pave the way for my departure with the excuse of my health! I should have given loyal assistance! And why did the Emperor give me so confident and affectionate a reception the last time I saw him?"
And then, in a tone of deepest melancholy, he more or less summed up his unpleasant experience in these words:
"The Emperor reigns: but it is the Empress who governs ---under Rasputin's guidance. Alas! May God protect us!"
Friday, August 4, 1916.
I have been for a solitary motor ride on the Sestroretzk road, which runs along the northern edge of Kronstadt Bay. The deep blue of the sky, the utter peacefulness of sunshine, the infinite distances of the horizon and the deep, gentle murmur of the waves created a marvellous atmosphere for quiet reflection.
I thought of the sinister possibilities which Sazonov's dismissal compels me to contemplate. More than ever before, the future appears to me as "a night of doubt and darkness," to use Bossuet's fine phrase. I must now face the possibility of a Russian defection; it is an eventuality which must henceforth enter into the political and strategical calculations of the French Government. No doubt the Emperor Nicholas will stand by our alliance to the very end; I feel no anxiety whatever on that score. But he is not immortal. How many Russians, even---or rather, especially---those in closest contact with him, are secretly longing for his disappearance! What would happen if there was a change of sovereign? On that point I have no illusions: there would be an immediate defection of Russia. Besides, is there not an historical precedent? Can I forget the end of the Seven Years' War, and how Peter III had barely mounted his throne before he lost no time in deserting the French Alliance and seeking a shameful reconciliation with Frederick II?
I have considered every aspect and all the consequences of this hypothesis, and however ruthless I am in my survey it is an immense relief to me to realize that my faith in our ultimate victory remains unshakable. But there is one thought which has crossed my mind several times already. and has now taken root in my soul as the logical conclusion of my reflections. My original idea of our ultimate victory was too simple-minded. That Germany and Austria are doomed to defeat there can be no doubt; it is on that point that my confidence is unshaken. But it will be a very long time before the Teutonic empires meet their fate, and the feebler the Russian effort the longer that time will be. If Russia cannot find within her the strength to perform her duties as an ally to the bitter end, if she prematurely retires from the struggle or falls into revolutionary convulsions, she will inevitably dissociate her cause from ours; she will make it impossible for herself to share in the fruits of our victory and she will find herself involved in the defeat of the Central Empires.
Saturday, August 5, 1916.
General Alexeïev has come round to the opinion of General Joffre and Briand, and agrees that the Rumanian effort shall be directed exclusively against Austria; he consents to the operations against Bulgaria being deferred, but thinks that such operations are bound to begin by themselves. He insists that Bratiano's procrastination shall be put an end to, once and for all, by definitely fixing the date on which the Rumanian army must take the field.
Sunday, August 6, 1916.
Bratiano's procrastination and haggling still continue; the explanation being, I think, that he still hopes to arrive at a direct understanding with the Bulgars. Ever faithful to the principles of his game, he ascribes his hesitation to the ill-will of Russia. Hence, further bickerings between Paris and Petrograd.
This morning I was instructed to convey to the Emperor a telegram from the President of the Republic.(2)
When handing this telegram to Sturmer, I repeated the arguments I have recently dinned into his ears; the main argument--and to my eyes the real one---being the enormous sacrifices France has already made in the common cause and the wastage of our effectives in the carnage of Verdun.
Sturmer, who fears nothing so much as being drawn into dealings with the Emperor, replied at first by protestations of loyalty to the Alliance and a panegyric of Verdun. He continued:
"So I attach the same importance as your Government to securing the immediate assistance of Rumania. Of course you know General Alexeïev's view on the subject. In military matters his influence with the Emperor is final. You will remember that it was he who suggested putting an end to M. Bratiano's hesitation by fixing a date limit for the negotiations. How good his judgment was! You may take it from me that it was a terrible mistake to reopen the discussion with the Rumanian Government; we ought to have stood by the very liberal terms of our memorandum of July 17 and refused any further haggling. Can't you see that M. Bratiano is only trying to gain time? The date originally fixed by General Alexeïev was August 7; it had to be extended to August 14. M. Bratiano, in now requiring that your Salonica army shall take the offensive ten days before Rumania opens hostilities, is patently aiming at securing further delay. I tell you again we made a great mistake in lending ourselves to his game, which is only too obvious. But I'll promise to' report to His Majesty exactly what you've just told me."
Sturmer is sincere in what he tells me, for a reason which makes any other unnecessary, i.e., General Alexeïev, has taken charge of this Rumanian business and the Emperor is in agreement with all his views. Now Sturmer knows that General Alexeïev hates and despises him, and he is not the man to oppose him in any way. Quite the contrary: he is extremely tactful with him and talks very small in his presence.
Monday, August 7, 1916.
I believe I have frequently remarked oh the casual way in which the Russians ---even the most ardent devotees of tsarism and reaction---admit the possibility of the Emperor's assassination. No one minds talking about it in my presence. The only limit is that they slightly clothe their meaning in the sketchy veil of euphemism or allusion.
As I was strolling on the Islands this afternoon I met Prince O-----, a typical old Russian nobleman, of haughty manners, broad and cultured views; a proud and glowing patriot. We walked and talked together. After a long and pessimistic diatribe he casually enlarged on the death of Paul I. I understood what he meant and betrayed some surprise. Then he stopped crossed his arms, and looking me full in the face, blurted out:
"What do you expect, Monsieur I'Ambassadeur! Under a system of absolute power, if the sovereign goes mad, there's nothing for it but to put him out of the way!"
"Obviously regicide is the necessary corrective to autocracy," I said. "In a sense, it might almost be called a principle of public law."
We proceeded no further on this scandalous ground.
If we had continued the conversation, I should have reminded Prince O----- that he could have supported his doctrine with several ancient and venerable authorities. As far back as the reign of Nero, the philosopher Seneca put an audacious aphorism into one of his tragedies: For sacrifice to Jupiter there is no more acceptable victim than an unjust monarch. And Joseph de Maistre, who was in St. Petersburg at the time of the crime of March 23, 1801, has introduced an ingenious distinction into the casuistry of regicide: "Though I might have to admit the right to kill Nero, I should never admit any right to judge him."
Wednesday, August 9, 1916.
The following is the Emperor's reply to the telegram I forwarded to the Emperor three days ago from the President of the Republic:
Being entirely of your opinion, Monsieur le Président, as to the necessity of Rumania's taking the field immediately, I have ordered my Foreign Minister to authorize my minister in Bucharest to sign the convention, the terms of which will be agreed between M. Bratiano and the representatives of the Allied Powers.
The arrival of German and Turkish reinforcements is reducing the pace of the Russian advance on the Galician front, but the Russians are still approaching Tarnopol and Stanislau.
Thursday, August 10, 1916.
At luncheon to-day I had General Leontiev, who is to command one of the Russian brigades in France, Dimitri Benckendorff, Count Maurice Zamoÿski, Count Ladislas Wielopolski and others.
In the smoke room I had a long and confidential talk with Zamoÿski and Wielopolski. They told me of the anxiety, or rather the acute apprehension, they feel over the latest attitude of the Russian Government towards Poland; they know that the Emperor's liberal intentions remain unchanged, but they do not think him capable of resisting the intrigues of the reactionary party and the daily, insistent influence of Rasputin and the Empress.
As Zamoÿski is shortly going to Stockholm, I have asked him to lunch with me again in a few days' time.
Friday, August 11, 1916.
Yesterday the Italians entered Gorizia, where they have made 15,000 prisoners; they are pressing their attack in an easterly direction.
On the right bank of the Sereth the Austro-Germans have been routed once more and the Russians have captured Stanislau.
If only the Rumanians had come in a month ago!
Saturday, August 12, 1916.
When I summarize all the signs of political and social decomposition I see before me, I feel sorry that the satirical genius of Gogol has no heir in Russian literature to give us a fresh edition---a somewhat enlarged and more melancholy edition---of the Dead Souls.
And I understand the remark wrung from Pushkin by his reading of that caustic masterpiece God in Heaven, what a gloomy place Russia is!
Sunday, August 13, 1916.
I have recently had opportunities of talking to French or Russian manufacturers and merchants residing in the provinces, Moscow, Simbirsk, Voronej, Tula, Rostov, Odessa and the Donetz, and I have asked them all if the conquest of Constantinople is still considered the indispensable war aim in circles in which they move.
Their replies have been almost identical; summarized, they are as follows:
Among the rural masses the dream of Constantinople, which has never taken definite shape, is becoming increasingly vague, remote and unreal. From time to time a priest reminds them that the Russian people is under a sacred duty, a holy obligation, to wrest Tsarigrad from the infidel and raise the orthodox cross on the dome of Santa Sophia. His audience listens to him with a composed and dutiful attention, but without attaching more practical and direct significance to his words than if he were speaking of the Last Judgment and the torments of Hell. It should also be observed that the moujik, who is eminently peace-loving and tender-hearted and always ready to fraternize with his enemy, is revealing an increasing loathing for the horrors of war.
In working-class circles there is not the slightest interest in Constantinople. Russia is considered large enough already, and instead of shedding the blood of the people in absurd conquests the Tsar's government would do far better to relieve the woes of the proletariat.
In the next higher stage, i.e., among the middle class, business men, industrial leaders, engineers, lawyers. doctors, etc., the importance of the problem with which the fate of Constantinople faces Russia is fully recognized; it is not forgotten that the outlet through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles is necessary to the export of Russian grain, and everyone wishes to end a situation in which an order from Berlin can sever that outlet. But the historical and mystic doctrine of the Slavophiles is disregarded, and even reprobated, arid the conclusion reached is that it would be enough to secure the neutralization of the Straits under the guarantee of an international organism.
The advocates of the idea of incorporating Constantinople in the Empire are now to be found only in the very small camp of the Nationalists and the group of doctrinaire Liberals.
But apart from the question of Constantinople and the Straits, the attitude of the Russian people towards the war is in general satisfactory. With the exception of the Social-Democratic party and some members of the Extreme Right of the reactionaries, there is no one who is not determined to continue the war to final victory.
Monday, August 14, 1916.
Count Maurice Zamoÿski is preparing to leave for Stockholm very shortly and has been to lunch again with me. We were alone. Our talk lasted two hours and was confined exclusively to Poland and her future.
In everything he has said or given me to understand, I trace the echo of the discussions which have been agitating Polish circles in Petrograd, Moscow and Kiev since Sazonov's dismissal. There is no doubt that the increasing influence of the reactionary party in the Imperial Government is delaying and complicating the settlement of the Polish question. On the one hand, notwithstanding the successes of the Russian army in Galicia, the Poles are convinced that Russia will not emerge from the war victorious, and that tsarism at bay is even now preparing to negotiate a reconciliation with the Teuton empires at the expense of Poland. Under the spur of that notion they feel all their old hatreds reviving, and the sentiment is reinforced by a sarcastic contempt for the Russian colossus, whose weakness, impotence and moral and physical infirmities are now being ruthlessly revealed. But the very fact that they have lost all confidence in Russia absolves them, they think, from all obedience or obligation to her. Henceforth they are fixing all their hopes on France and England, and putting forward national claims which are altogether excessive. Autonomy under the sceptre of the Romanovs is not enough: they must have complete and absolute independence, and the wholesale resurrection of the Polish State; they will not stop until they have secured the triumph of their cause at the peace congress. More. emphatically than ever they deny the empire of the tsars any right to domination over the Slav peoples, or to speak in their name or control their historical evolution; the Russians must henceforth realize that in the hierarchy of civilization the Poles and the Czechs are far ahead of them. . . .
Tuesday, August 15, 1916.
With a large number of Russians---I could almost say with the majority---moral instability is such that they are never satisfied to be where they are, and can never wholly and whole-heartedly enjoy anything. They are always wanting something new and unexpected, stronger emotions, greater shocks, more titillating pleasures. Hence the eternal search for stimulants and narcotics, an insatiable appetite for adventures and an uncontrollable love of the freakish.
To sum up the conversation which has just inspired me to these remarks, I have only to record the melancholy confession which Turgueniev puts into the mouth of one of his heroines, the attractive Anna Sergueïevna Odintsov: "When we're enjoying a musical performance, or an evening party, or a heart-to-heart talk with someone we like, how is it that our enjoyment seems an allusion to an unknown and remote happiness rather than a real happiness from which we should be deriving actual pleasure?" And the friend to whom she is speaking replies: "You can never be happy in. the spot you happen to be at the moment!"
Wednesday, August 16, 1916.
Between the Dniester and the Zlota-Lipa the Russians are continuing their advance. They occupied Jablonitza yesterday.
The Bucharest negotiations are on the point of fruition.
Friday, August 18, 1916.
Bratiano and the ministers of the Allied Governments signed the Treaty of Alliance at Bucharest yesterday.
By the terms of this treaty, France, Great Britain, Italy and Russia guarantee the territorial integrity of Rumania; they also undertake to secure her the Bukovina (with the exception of a few northern districts), Transylvania and the Banat of Temesvar when the general peace is signed: Rumania will thus double her present population and territory.
Rumania, for her part, undertakes to declare war on Austria-Hungary and break off all economic relations with the enemies of her new allies.
A military convention is annexed to the Treaty of Alliance.
This convention provides that the Rumanian High Command guarantees to attack the Austro-Hungarian forces by August 28 at the latest.
The Russian High Command in turn undertakes to open a vigorous offensive along the whole Austro-Hungarian front. and more particularly in the Bukovina, in order to cover the mobilization and concentration of the Rumanian forces. With the same object in view the Allied General Staffs undertake that the Salonica army shall make a strong attack on the whole Macedonian front by August 20 at the latest.
History will say whether Bratiano has chosen his moment well. Speaking personally, I still think that through over-caution or over-subtlety he has already let slip three opportunities far more favourable than the present juncture.
The first occasion was early in September, 1914, when the Russians were entering Lemberg. At that time Austria and Hungary were bewildered and terror-stricken, and quite incapable of defending the Carpathian frontier; the Rumanians would have found all the roads open to them.
The second chance was in the month of May, 1915.
Italy had just appeared on the scene. In a political and military sense, Russia was at the height of her power. In Athens, Venizelos was in office. And Bulgaria was still hesitating as to her course.
The third and final opportunity was two and a half months ago, at the beginning of the great Russian offensive, before the arrival of German and Turkish reinforcements in Galicia and Transylvania, and before Hindenburg, the "Iron Marshal," had concentrated all the power of his strategic genius on the eastern front.
But in action one must never waste time over retrospective hypotheses: they are not legitimate, and are useful only in so far as they throw light on the present. From this point of view it is obvious that the dilatory policy of Bratiano has made the enterprise on which Rumania has embarked much more difficult and hazardous. I should also say that it is his fault that proper preparation has not been made for the co-operation of the Russian armies, their supply and transport, and the co-ordination of their action with the plan of campaign in the Balkans. Things are still where they were six months ago, at the time of my conversations with Philippesco.
But for all that the accession of Rumania to our Alliance is an event of high importance, not only for the practical results of the present war but also for the ulterior development of French policy in Eastern Europe.
1. The Emperor's rescript to Sazonov ran as follows:
Sergei Dimitrievitch, since your entry into the service of the State you have devoted your attention to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and held important posts in diplomacy, and in 1910 I called you to the responsible office of Minister for Foreign Affairs. You have carried out the important duties associated with the headship of that Ministry with tireless zeal, and devoted yourself wholeheartedly to realize my wishes, which have been inspired by the requirements of justice and the honour of our dear country.
Unfortunately your health has been shattered by overwork and you have decided to ask me to relieve you of the office you hold.
In granting your request I consider it a duty to tell you of my sincere gratitude for your devoted service.
You will always have my friendship and sincere gratitude.
At Imperial Headquarters, July 7, 1916.
2. The telegram ran as follows:
I think it my duty to inform Your Majesty of the very great importance the French General Staff attaches to the conclusion at the earliest possible moment of the agreement with Rumania. Rumanian assistance would be very important at the present moment, as the enemy has not yet been able to take steps to meet the danger on that side, but if that assistance were delayed its value would only be secondary because the enemy would have received notice and made his arrangements. The Austrian army is the weak point in the hostile coalition. If it were put out of action, it would have a direct effect on the German army which has to support it. By making the necessary arrangement with Rumania to crush the Austrian army, we should compel Germany go make an additional effort which may well be beyond her immediate resources. The data at the disposal of the Russian General Staff and ours seem to indicate that the Central Empires have no troops available at the moment. Suddenly to open a new and immediately critical theatre of operations, while Germany has all she can do to meet the dangers of the vigorous Russian thrust, would deprive her of time to make good her losses or organize and bring up new formations. On the other hand, if the negotiations are spun out, it will give our enemies time to have the passes of the Transylvanian Alps occupied by formations of purely defensive value, but adequate to hamper, if not to hold up, any advance by the Rumanian army. General Joffre and the French General Staff thus think that we are faced with a fleeting opportunity which must not be allowed to slip. An immediate intervention by Rumania would enable us to break the deadlock definitely in our favour. In a few weeks, when snow falls in the Carpathians and the passes are held, the right moment will have passed. Success appears to be a matter of days.
I am sure that Your Majesty sees the military situation in the same light as the Government of the Republic and the French Commander-in-Chief, and considers the speedy conclusion of the convention with Rumania as equally desirable. I ask Your Majesty to accept my fresh congratulations on the magnificent successes of the Russian army and the assurance of my loyal friendship.
Paris, August 5, 1916.
Volume III, Chapter One
Table of Contents