July 1914
Prince Lichownowsky's Reply to Sir Edward Grey

Sir Edward Grey [the British Secretary for Foreign Affairs] begged us to come forward with a proposal of our own. We insisted on war.... The impression grew continually stronger that we desired war under any circumstances. In no other way was it possible to interpret our attitude...

Then, on July 29 [1914], Sir Edward decided to give his famous warning. I replied that I had invariably reported that we should have to reckon with English opposition if it came to a war with France. Repeatedly the Minister said to me: "If war breaks out, it will be the greatest catastrophe the world has ever seen."

Soon after this events were precipitated. Until this time, following the directions he received from Berlin, Count Berchtold had played the part of the strong man. When at last he decided to change his course, and after Russia had negotiated and waited a whole week in vain, we answered the Russian mobilization with the ultimatum and the declaration of war...

It is shown by all official publications and is not disproved by our White Book, which, owing to the poverty of its contents and to its omissions, constitutes a grave indictment against ourselves, that:

1. We encouraged Count Berchtold to attack Serbia, although no German interest was involved and the danger of a World War must have been known to us. Whether we were acquainted with the wording of the ultimatum is completely immaterial.

2. During the period between the 23rd and the 30th of July, 1914, when M. Sazonof emphatically declared that he could not tolerate an attack on Serbia, we rejected the British proposals of mediation, although Serbia, under Russian and British pressure, had accepted almost the whole of the ultimatum, and although an agreement about the two points at issue could easily have been reached and Count Berchtold was even prepared to content himself with the Serbian reply.

3. On the 30th of July, when Count Berchtold showed a disposition to change his course, we sent an ultimatum to St. Petersbourg merely because of the Russian mobilization and though Austria had not been attacked; and on the 31st of July we declared war against the Russians, although the Czar pledged his word that he would not permit a single man to march as long as negotiations were still going on. Thus we deliberately destroyed the possibility of a peaceful settlement.

In view of these incontestable facts, it is no wonder that the whole civilized world outside of Germany places the sole responsibility for the World War upon our shoulders.

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\par Comments, corrections and suggestions are welcome:
      Richard Hacken (hacken @ byu.edu)
      or Jane Plotke (cd078 @ gwpda.org). .

\par Created: 10 April 1996, 19:42:16 Last Updated: 10 April 1996, 19:42:16