(36033) No. 651.
Count de Salis to Sir Edward Grey. (Received August 5.)
Cettinje, July 23, 1914.
Early in June last the "Pravda" newspaper of Belgrade, commenting on the reply given by M. Plamenatz, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, to an interpellation on the subject of the abandonment of Scutari and the international loan, published a bitter attack on the authorities of this country. "We are not" said the writer "desirous of going deep into recent events but we wish merely to lift the veil and to show to all what sort of 'types' govern in Montenegro and whether they can be believed when they speak in Montenegro in its name. Let Minister Peter Plamenatz therefore answer: who is that wretched Serb who behind the back of the much troubled but thoroughly patriotic cabinet of General Mitar Martinovitch, went to Baron Giesl, the ex-Austro-Hungarian Minister at Cettinje on the 25th of October, 1912, and prayed, as a beggar does from a protector (and one knows in whose name!), that the Austro-Hungarian army should enter the Sanjak? On the part of Montenegro there would be no opposition; the two battalions on the Tara were only there to deceive public opinion. Otherwise Servia would become a danger to Montenegrin independence. Who was this man, Peter? Was he of the Left or of the Right ('Klubash' or 'Pravash')? Anyhow Baron Giesl must have noted the name of this hero in his papers. To think that to-day such a man is deciding, making declarations and speaking in the name of Montenegro and the Serb cause ! "
A few days afterwards the same statements were repeated in the "Balkan" newspaper of Belgrade. Moreover, General Luka Gojnitch, a former prefect of Cettinje, was accused of treachery to the Servians at Brditza during the siege of Scutari, while the paper continued: "Like Pilate, Peter Plamenatz washed his hands and declared that he was innocent about Scutari. Yet, as governor of the town he sent a telegram to Martinovitch on the 17/30 April that he would not surrender the place but would defend it to the last drop of his blood. When the government fell and he was offered a post, he handed over the town to Vice-Admiral Burney!" The article concludes with the sentence: "Russia knows this well enough." A detailed contradiction of these assertions was published in the two Montenegrin newspapers on behalf of M. Plamenatz who was able to declare that he was not in Cettinje on the 25th of October, 1912. His denial may be placed side by side with the information supplied to you in the following January by the Russian Government to the effect that they were aware that negotiations with Austria on the subject of the Sanjak had been initiated by the King. No statement was made to you as to who had conducted them.
More than once it has occurred in the last three years that accusations of unpatriotic conduct and betrayal of the Serb cause, addressed from Belgrade to Cettinje, have been met not only by counter- charges and insults but also by demonstrations of Chauvinism on the part of King Nicolas in the form of a press campaign of abuse against Austria. An outburst of this kind took place in the spring two years ago when, apparently with the approval of M. Milovanovitch, the Belgrade newspapers published the text of an alleged secret agreement between King Nicolas and Austria. On the present occasion the Palace may have considered it imprudent to risk an attack on Belgrade but intemperate articles against Austria at once began to appear. Interrupted for a moment by the news of the assassination at Serajevo which evoked a guarded expression of disapproval, the series was continued with greater violence on receipt of news respecting the anti-Serb riots in Bosnia. Austria, it was declared, was aiming at the extermination of the Serb race in her dominions while the two independent Serb States were to be attacked and crushed on the pretext that they had abetted the murder of the Archduke. The insincerity of the indignation thus expressed and the evident desire not to be left out of the controversy may be judged by the fact-that though the "Reichspost," the "Neue Freie Presse," and, doubtless, other Austrian newspapers have freely attacked Belgrade for harbouring conspirators against the life of the Archduke, not a word seems to have been said in this connection against Montenegro. On the contrary, up to a short time before the formation of the Balkan League, King Nicolas was himself levelling the same accusations against the Servian Government and was even declaring that I. Pashitch had taken a direct part in a plot to murder him. On that occasion the bombs seem to have come from the Servian arsenal at Kragujevatz. Whether they were brought here by the enemies or the agents of the Palace is another matter.
Briefly, danger of disturbance in this country may be caused by the desire of the ruling authorities to outdo Servia in any demonstration of Serb patriotism, by the same spirit, in short, with which the King hastened to begin the Balkan war before his allies were ready.
While the Belgrade papers received here have published long eulogies on the services rendered by the late M. Hartwig and by Russian diplomacy to the Southern Slavs, not a word has been said here on the subject. It is nearly two months since the complimentary mission came from St. Petersburg but still there has been no sign of the money for the military subsidy. The Russian Government are, it is understood, favourably disposed in principle but no final decision seems to have been taken. Their hesitation may be solely due to a desire to postpone payment during the uncertainties of the present moment. Or is distrust of the King, based on past experience, leading them to withhold help from Montenegro pending a modification of the present system of government in accordance with their wishes?
I have, &c.
J. DE SALIS.
(36034) No. 652.
Count de Salis to Sir Edward Grey. (Received August 5.)
Cettinje, July 26, 1914.
In my despatch No. 2 of the 11th of May reference was made to the rumours current with regard to the alleged aims or intentions of the Austrian Government in connection with the strategical positions belonging to Montenegro which dominate the Bocche di Cattaro. The matter has continue to arouse attention both in this country and elsewhere and the King's semi-official organ, the "Vjesnik," reproduces with evident satisfaction a recent article from the Italian "Messaggero." "Austria" it is stated (if the translation from the original be correct) "forgets that the question of the Lovtchen is not only a question for Austria and Montenegro but also for Italy. No Italian Government could allow the Lovtchen to fall into Austrian hands; that would mean a capitulation to Austria in the Adriatic and would put arms into the hands of Austria against Italy. It would give her the key of the Adriatic guns which would command our position in the same way as the Austrians imagine that Montenegrin guns can at present fire down on the bay of Cattaro from the heights of Lovtchen. In Vienna they are so much in love with this Lovtchen that they have even suspended work on the new military harbour at Sebenico .... We repeat that Lovtchen is an Italian question, or, better still, that it is an international one. Italy cannot allow the strategical situation in the Adriatic to be altered to her disadvantage. Lovtchen must remain as it is . . . Montenegrin."
Some military movements in the neighbourhood of Cattaro have given rise to further comment. Reinforcements of troops were moved to posts in the Bocche with the avowed object of preventing collisions between the Croats and the Serbs. In view of the recent riots in Bosnia, the explanation might seem to be well founded, but the report was spread here that the movements carried out were such as would be preliminary to an advance across the frontier. The Austrian Minister has hastened to give very positive and friendly assurances that no hostile movement is intended while an official communiqu‚ to the same effect was published in the "Fremdenblatt" on the 21st July. In spite of the recent press campaign against them the Austrian Government are making considerable efforts to be conciliatory.
I have, &c.
J. DE SALIS.
Sir H. Bax-Ironside to Sir Arthur Nicolson.
Sofia, July 29, 1914.
My dear Nicolson.
The Ballplatz have indeed exploded a bomb, and it is impossible to foretell what the consequences will be. There is considerable evidence even here that Germany is largely responsible for the decisive action taken by the Dual Monarchy.
I gather that General Markoff, Bulgarian Minister in Berlin, wrote to King Ferdinand on July 7 that the Ballplatz were preparing a note of such a stiff nature for the Servian Government that no independent State could accept it: that the German Government had in no way endeavoured to persuade Count Berchtold to tone down the note, the wording of which was largely attributed in competent quarters to Count Forgach, who has a special spite against the Servians. The General further added that, in Berlin military circles, war between Austria, Servia and Montenegro was considered as a foregone conclusion; that they, the Germans, were absolutely prepared for all consequences, whereas none of the Triple Entente Powers were ready. This letter reached the Palace on the 10th instant; on the 11th instant Major von der Goltz, German Military Attach‚ here, and son of the celebrated Field-Marshal von der Goltz, was sent for to the Palace by the King's Chef de Cabinet, and he left the same evening for Berlin. Major von der Goltz's attitude had been very warlike ever since the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand, and before leaving he told two of his friends that war between Austria and Servia was certain, but that he was afraid that Russia would funk Germany at the last moment.
As regards Bulgaria, whatever statement she may make officially, she will wait to see which way the cat jumps before taking any decisive action; we may look, however, to seeing komitaji bands spreading over the Servian and perhaps even the Greek frontiers as advanced guards. These bands will of course be secretly armed and supported by the Government.
H. O. BAX-IRONSIDE.
(35938) No. 654.
Sir F. Villiers to Sir Edward Grey.
Brussels, August 4, 1914.
D. August 4, 4 P.M.
Tel. (No. 29.)
R. August 5, 12:50 A.M.
I have just received from Minister for Foreign Affairs a note of which following is a literal translation:
"Belgian Government regret to have to inform His Majesty's Government that this morning armed forces of Germany penetrated into Belgian territory in violation of engagements assumed by treaty. Belgian Government are firmly resolved to resist by all means in their power. Belgium appeals to Great Britain and France and Russia to co-operate, as guarantors, in defence of her territory.
"There would be concerted and common action with the object of resisting the forcible measures employed by Germany against Belgium and at the same time of guarding the maintenance for future of the independence and integrity of Belgium.
"Belgium is happy to be able to declare that she will assume defence of her fortified places."
(35915) No. 655.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir . Villiers.
Foreign Office, August 5, 1914.
Tel. (No. 16.)
D. 10:15 A.M.
Your telegram No. 28 of 4th August.(1) You should say that His Majesty's Government regard common action to resist Germany as being now in operation and justified by treaty of 1839.
(1) No. 631.
(36100) No. 656.
Sir Edward Grey to Mr. Chilton.
Foreign Office, August 5, 1914.
Tel. (No. 27.)
D. 1:45 P.M.
The Belgian Government have appealed to Great Britain, France and Russia, to co-operate as guarantors in defence of her territory, and His Majesty's Government regard themselves as engaged in common action to uphold the treaty with Belgium and her independence, integrity, and neutrality.
His Majesty's Government believe that the issue involves in effect the separate existence in full independence, not only of Belgium, but of other neighbouring States.
In this issue His Majesty's Government would be glad to join in common action with Netherlands Government, with the object of securing the full independence, liberty, and integrity of every State that will join in common action to defend itself.
His Majesty's Government believe that on the result of this war depends the question whether Great Britain, France, and all the countries bordering on the North Sea shall maintain their existence as before this war.
To The Hague only.
It is reported from Brussels that German cavalry have broken through Dutch territory, and that Holland is engaged in some fighting.
(Repeated to Paris No. 323 and St. Petersburg No. 449.)
(Sent also to Mr. Findlay (No. 29), mutatis mutandis.)
(36264) No. 657.
Communicated by Belgian Minister (August 5).
Légation Belgique. Londres. Bruxelles, 5 Août.
La Belgique fait appel à Angleterre, France et Russie pour coopérer comme garantes à la défense de son territoire. Belgique assure défense places fortes.
Cf. B No. 42.
(36017) No. 658.
Sir F. Villiers to Sir Edward Grey. (Received August 5.)
(No. 119.) Confidential.
Brussels, August 3, 1914.
With reference to my telegram No. 15 of to-day,(1) I have the honour to forward copies of the German ultimatum and of the Belgian reply.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs asked me to treat these documents as strictly confidential. Their contents have not been made public, and their full text has so far been communicated only to myself.
I have, &c.
F. H. VILLIERS.
Enclosure 1 in No. 658.
Ultimatum presented to Belgium by Germany, August 2, 1914, 7 30 P.M.
Le Gouvernement allemand a reçu des nouvelles sûres d'après lesquelles les forces françaises auraient l'intention de marcher par la Meuse sur Givet et Namur. Ces nouvelles ne laissent aucun doute sur l'intention de la France de marcher sur l'Allemagne par territoire belge. Le Gouvernement allemand ne peut s'empêcher de craindre que la Belgique, malgré la meilleure volonté, ne sera pas en mesure de repousser sans secours une marche en avant française d un si grand développement. Dans ce fait on trouve une certitude suffisante d'une menace dirigée contre l'Allemagne.
C'est un devoir impérieux de conservation pour l'Allemagne de prévenir cette attaque.
Le Gouvernement allemand regretterait très vivement que la Belgique regardât comme un acte d'hostilité contre elle le fait que les mesures des ennemies de l'Allemagne l'oblige de violer de son côté le territoire belge.
Afin de dissiper tout malentendu, le Gouvernement allemand déclare ce qui suit:
1. L'Allemagne n'a en vue aucun acte d'hostilité contre la Belgique, si la Belgique consent dans la guerre qui va commencer à prendre une attitude de neutralité bienveillante vis-à-vis de l'Allemagne; le Gouvernement allemand de son côté s'engage au moment de la paix à garantir le royaume et ses possessions dans toute leur étendue.
2. L'Allemagne s'engage sous la condition énoncée à évacuer le territoire belge aussitôt la paix conclue.
3. Si la Belgique observe une attitude amicale, l'Allemagne est prête, d'accord avec le Gouvernement belge, à acheter contre argent comptant tout ce qui serait nécessaire à ses troupes et à indemniser tout le dommage causé en Belgique.
4. Si la Belgique se comporte d'une manière hostile contre les Allemands et particulièrement fait des difficultés à leur marche en avant par une opposition des fortifications de la Meuse ou par des destructions de routes, chemins de fer, &c., l'Allemagne sera obligée de considérer la Belgique en ennemie; en ce cas l'Allemagne ne prendra aucun engagement vis-à-vis du royaume, mais elle laissera le règlement ultérieur des rapports des deux États l'un vis-à-vis de l'autre à la décision des armes. Le Gouvernement allemand a l'espoir justifié que cette éventualité ne se produira pas et que le Gouvernement belge saura prendre les mesures appropriées pour l'empêcher de se produire. Dans ce cas, les relations d'amitié qui unissent les deux États voisins deviendront plus étroites et durables.
(1) No. 561.
Enclosure 2 in No. 658.
Reply of Belgian Goverment to German Ultimatum.
Par sa note du 2 août, le Gouvernement allemand a fait connaître que, d'après des nouvelles sûres, les forces françaises auraient l'intention de marcher sur la Meuse par Givet et Namur, et que la Belgique, malgré sa meilleure volonté, ne serait pas en état de repousser sans secours une marche en avant des troupes françaises. Le Gouvernement allemand s'estimerait dans l'obligation de prévenir cette attaque et de violer le territoire belge. Dans ces conditions, l'Allemagne propose au Gouvernement du Roi de prendre vis-à-vis d'elle une attitude amicale et s'engage, au moment de la paix, à garantir l'intégrité du royaume et de ses possessions dans toute leur étendue. La note ajoute que si la Belgique fait des difficultés à la marche en avant des troupes allemandes, l'Allemagne sera obligée de la considérer comme ennemie et de laisser le règlement ultérieur des deux États l'un vis-à-vis de l'autre à la décision des armes.
Cette note a provoqué chez le Gouvernement du Roi un profond et douloureux étonnement.
Les intentions qu'elle attribue à la France sont en contradiction avec les déclarations formelles qui nous ont été faites le 1 août au nom du Gouvernement de la république.
D'ailleurs si, contrairement à notre attente, une violation de la neutralité belge venait à être commise par la France, la Belgique remplirait tous ses devoirs internationaux et son armée opposerait à l'envahisseur la plus rigoureuse résistance.
Les traités de 1839, confirmés par les traités de 1870, consacrent l'indépendance et la neutralité de la Belgique, sous la garantie des Puissances, et notamment du Gouvernement de Sa Majesté le Roi de Prusse.
La Belgique a toujours été fidèle à ses obligations internationales; elle a accompli ses devoirs dans un esprit de loyale impartialité; elle n'a négligé aucun effort pour maintenir et faire respecter sa neutralité.
L'atteinte à son indépendance dont la menace le Gouvernement allemand, constituerait une flagrante violation du droit des gens. Aucun intérêt stratégique ne justifie la violation du droit.
Le Gouvernement belge en acceptant les propositions qui lui sont notifiées, sacrifierait l'honneur de la nation en même temps qu'il trahirait ses devoirs vis-à-vis de l'Europe.
Conscient du rôle que la Belgique joue depuis plus de quatre-vingts ans dans la civilisation du monde, il se refuse à croire que l'indépendance de la Belgique ne puisse être conservée qu'au prix de la violation de sa neutralité.
Si cet espoir était déçu, le Gouvernement belge est fermement décidé à repousser par tous les moyens en son pouvoir toute atteinte à son droit.
Cf. B Nos. 20 and 22 for English transation.
(36436) No. 659.
Sir F. Bertie to Sir Edward Grey. (Received August 6.)
Paris, August 3, 1914.
The Austro-Hungarian Ambassador called on me this afternoon. He said that he might have to appeal for my intervention as Doyen to make representations to the French Government. He had been insulted in restaurants and in the streets; he found difficulty in getting tradesmen to supply him with provisions; shops occupied by Austro-Hungarian subjects had been wrecked and pillaged; thousands of Austro Hungarian subjects had to leave Paris under the expulsion order issued but no means of doing so towards their own country had been placed at their disposal; they were to be directed to the west of France where work was to be found for them. He had made representations to the Minister for Foreign Affairs who had expressed great regret at the wrecking and pillaging of shops and had stated that police precautions were being taken to prevent any further incident of the kind, and he offered to order supplies of meat and butter to be made to the Ambassador if His Excellency found any difficulty in procuring them. Count Szecsen told M. Viviani that, France and Austria Hungary not being in a state of war, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador ought to be treated in a normal manner and even if the two countries were at war with each other be ought according to the customs of nations and international law to receive proper consideration so long as he remained in the country to which he had been accredited. I expressed great regret at the wrecking and pillaging of the shops and I told my colleague that I had not had milk with my coffee this morning as none could be procured, but I hoped to be more fortunate to-morrow.
The Spanish Ambassador, who had paid me a visit just before Count Szecsen, told me that our Austro-Hungarian colleague had continued to use the Union Club during the crisis and had had luncheon there as lately as on the first instant, when he had realised by the demeanour of some of the members that his presence was not very welcome.
Count Szecsen in further conversation stated that the German Ambassador did not, so he assured him, as had been represented, ask M. Viviani that his passports should be prepared when he had an interview with the Minister for Foreign Affairs for the purpose of inquiring what would be the attitude of France if there were war between Germany and Russia. I am inclined, however, to think that M. de Schoen's memory is at fault in this matter, for I had an interview with M. Viviani and the Political Director immediately after the German Ambassador had made his communication on the evening of Friday the 31st ultimo, and they then told me, and they expressed natural astonishment at M. de Schoen's proceeding, that after having made the inquiry as to the attitude of France and saying that he would come the next day at one P.M. for the reply, he begged that his passports might be prepared and he requested that his adieu might be conveyed to the President of the Republic.
With regard to the declaration of war by Germany against Russia, Count Szecsen's information was that it was not made until after Russian troops had made incursions into German territory. He also told me that the Russian general mobilisation order was issued before and not after the order for a general mobilisation was issued in Vienna.
With regard to the prolonged stay of the German Ambassador at Paris, Count Szecsen stated that M. de Schoen, not having received instructions to leave, could not do so. His telegrams to Berlin were stopped and those addressed to him by the German Government arrived mutilated.
Since I began this despatch I learn that M. de Schoen has informed the Minister for Foreign Affairs that he leaves Paris to-night.
I have, &c.
(36437) No. 660.
Sir F. Bertie to Sir Edward Grey. (Received August 6.)
(No. 390.) Confidential.
Paris, August 3, 1914.
I have the honour to report that my Spanish colleague informs me that Spanish Government have given assurances to French Government that they can denude the Franco-Spanish frontier of French troops with complete confidence in the friendly attitude of Spain in the coming conflict of France with Germany.
I have, &c.
(36299) No. 661.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
Vienna, August 5, 1914.
D. August 5, 7 30 P.M.
Tel. (No. 160.)
R. August 6, 9 20 A.M.
6 P.M. Minister for Foreign Affairs has just told Russian Ambassador that owing to alliance and consequent state of war with Russia he was compelled to recall Austrian Ambassador from St. Petersburg, where telegram recalling him would probably arrive to-morrow afternoon. Russian Ambassador is arranging to leave Vienna about the same time if possible viƒ Roumania, Austro-Hungarian Government promising all possible facilities. French Ambassador is still in doubt.
We are completely cut off here from all news except scraps which pass censorship, and no posts are arriving from England.
(36267) No. 662.
Foreign Office to Austro-Hungarian Ambassador
The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs presents his compliments to the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador and has the honour, with reference to the circular note despatched from this Office on the 3rd instant, to inform His Excellency that, having regard to the position of the Dual Monarchy as the ally of the German Empire with which this country is now at war, it is no longer possible for His Majesty's Government to extend to the Austro-Hungarian Embassy the privilege of sending or receiving telegrams in code or cypher.
Foreign Office, August 6, 1914.
(36299) No. 663.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir M. de Bunsen.
Foreign Office, August 7, 1914.
Tel. (No. 211.) En clair.
D. 5 25 P.M.
Austrian Ambassador is still here without instructions, and I have no further instructions to send you at present.
(37758) No. 664.
Sir R. Rodd to Sir Edward Grey. (Received August 10.)
Rome, August 2, 1914.
I have the honour to report that the following message to the Milanese "Corriere della Sera," defining the position of Italy was practically drafted by the Prime Minister himself:
"The spirit and the letter of the Triple Alliance are such that the casus f deris does not arise for Italy in the war which is imminent between Austria and Germany on the one hand and France and Russia on the other.
"Italy will naturally maintain a friendly attitude towards the allies as well as to the belligerents on the other side so that she may find herself in a position, at a given moment, to render some service in the interests of peace.
"Therefore during the first period it will be right that Italy should maintain an attitude of reserve. If events should so move as to render probable a rearrangement of territory or a change of equilibrium, then the Government will take steps to protect national interests.
"Austria-Hungary not having previously informed her of the act which became the actual cause of conflict, Italy did not have the necessary time to tender advice against any portion of the Austrian demands which may have been excessive. But when these had once been presented, Italy as the friend of Austria, could not advise her to withdraw them. Italy has nevertheless taken every step to obtain from Austria a binding declaration in favour of the independence of Servia and of the principle of abstention from any territorial annexation.
"Austria however while repeating the firmness of her intentions in this respect, has never expressed them in a binding form. Italy therefore could naturally not contribute by her arms to results which might be injurious to her own interests."
This may, I think, be taken as the official view which is held to justify her separating herself from her allies.
There are of course other very cogent reasons for the course which has been adopted many of which have been suggested before in considering the case hypothetically. There are two which have had very great force in compelling this decision. The first is that the general feeling in the country would scarcely tolerate Italy taking up arms to fight on the side of Austria, if indeed the spirit which at present prevails would not actually provoke revolution. The second is that Italy has a very large part of her forces engaged in Libya, and inasmuch as these troops have still to be supplied almost entirely from Italy, the freedom of the sea between Sicily and Tripoli is absolutely necessary to prevent them from isolation and eventual starvation.
I have, &c.
Cf. Nos. 78 and 648.
Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Arthur Nicolson.
St. Petersburg, August 3, 1914.
My dear Nicolson,
I have reported so fully in my telegrams all my conversations during the last ten eventful days that I have indeed but little to add. From the very first moment the Russian Government took up a firm attitude and made it perfectly clear that they would not allow Austria to crush Servia. There was no attempt at blustering or at using tall language as so often happened during the Balkan crisis. Sazonow was calm but determined; and the language held by the French Ambassador showed plainly enough that Russia could count on the support of France. Sazonow's anxiety has been what England would do, as he has always held that the British Fleet alone can inflict a mortal wound on Germany. My aim throughout has been to dissuade him from doing anything to precipitate a conflict, so as to allow time for us and the other Powers to mediate; and if our efforts to maintain peace have failed it is in no way his fault. He showed throughout the most conciliatory spirit and caught at every proposal put forward for a pacific settlement. Now that we can look back on all that has taken place since the assassination of the Archduke there is, I think, strong evidence to show that Germany really desired war, or at all events the disruption of the Triple Entente, which must have followed a failure on our part to support Russia. The military party in Germany who favoured the idea of a preventive war before Russia became too strong had evidently gained the upper hand and there can be little doubt that Tchirsky at Vienna encouraged the Austrians in their forward policy. Jagow was probably kept in the dark as to the terms of the Austrian ultimatum so as to be able honestly to say that the text had never been submitted to him: but Tchirsky and others were certainly in the secret. Austria never believed that Russia would face a war against her and Germany did not intend to embark on one which would involve all the Powers of Europe. In my last annual report I pointed out that one of the most unfortunate results of the two Balkan wars was the impression that had gained ground that Russia was committed to a policy of peace at any price; and I predicted that if any Power acting under this belief put Russia's patience to too severe a proof it would find that there was an intense though latent patriotism in the Russian people, with which it would have to count. From the Emperor down to the humblest moujik Russia has risen like one man to the occasion; and even the Socialist working men have proclaimed a truce to strikes now that war has been forced upon their country. The speech which the Emperor made after reading the Manifesto on the declaration of war at the Winter Palace yesterday voiced the sentiments of the whole nation and, if Russia meets with reverses in the commencement and is forced to abandon Petersburg, she will fall back on Moscow and continue fighting till not a single enemy is left on Russian soil. The words of the Emperor are the same as those used by Alexander I when Napoleon invaded Russia and the same spirit that animated the Russian people in 1812 inspires them to-day. I trust that they will not be called on to make the same sacrifices as they made after the capture of Moscow; but I believe that they are prepared to do so and that, if defeated in the first pitched battles, they will, conscious of their innate strength, offer such a protracted and stubborn resistance that Germany will slowly bleed to death and succumb to sheer exhaustion. The Minister of War told me the other day that the war might last three years and our Military Attaché tells me that when all the military preparations are completed, Russia will have between seven and eight million men under arms.
The King's telegram to the Emperor(1) reached me at 5 o'clock on Saturday afternoon (August 1) and Sazonow at once telephoned to arrange an audience.(2) He happened to be dining with me that evening and, just before I started in my motor for Peterhof, a messenger brought a draft of the reply which he had had drawn up for the Emperor's approval. I arrived at a little villa on the shores of the Gulf where the Imperial Family always live, at 10:45, and was at once received by His Majesty. In reply to a question which He addressed to me, I told Him frankly that the draft reply in French was, in my opinion, couched in too official language and that I should personally greatly prefer if His Majesty would answer the King in His own words. The Emperor expressed His entire concurrence and we then proceeded to discuss the whole situation. Finally His Majesty sat down at His writing table and asked me to help Him in drawing up the reply.(3) This was by no means an easy task as, though He talks English fluently, He evidently found some difficulty in putting what He wanted into words, and I virtually had to dictate the telegram to Him on the lines of the draft which Sazonow had given me and on what His Majesty had told me. I was with Him for an hour and a half and only got back at 2 o'clock.
Wilson, the American Chargé d'Affaires, told one of my staff to-night that the Germans had asked at Washington whether he might take charge of their interests here before even the order for partial Russian mobilisation had been issued. This in itself shows how false has been the rôle which they have been playing and confirms what I said above that they have all along been bent on provoking war. They have been throwing dust in our eyes all along, with the object of detaching us from France and Russia; and I have no doubt that Lichnowsky foresaw a crisis was coming when he, some months ago, made a succession of speeches in the industrial centres in the North of England.
Last night it was currently reported that we had declared war on Germany and between 11 and 12 a huge crowd demonstrated before the Embassy singing the Russian National Anthem and cheering lustily for England. I fortunately was in bed and made that an excuse for declining to comply with the repeated requests sent me to appear. To- night everybody and no one more anxiously than myself is waiting to hear the result of the debate in the House of Commons. I only pray that England will prove true to herself and to her friends, as if she deserts them in their hour of need she will find herself isolated after the war; and the hours of our Empire will be numbered.
How many anxious days we shall have passed and how much future history may have been made before this letter reaches you.
I have written no despatches as they would all be ancient history before they arrive, and it is the future and not the past that is of interest.
GEORGE W. BUCHANAN.
(1) No. 384.
(2) Cf. Buchanan, Vol. I, p. 204, et seq.
(3) No. 490.
(38779) No. 666.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey. (Received August 13.)
Tel. (No. 136.)
Berlin, August 4, 1914.
Your telegram No. 266 of 4th August. (1)
Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs regrets that he cannot give assurance demanded as German troops passed Belgian frontier this morning.
He begs me to assure you that this was military necessity and matter of life and death for Empire; every other line of attack would have taken too long and enabled Russia to concentrate. They had been ready to give, and had in fact given, assurances to Belgium that every compensation would be given to her after the war, and that her neutrality in every other way except as regards passage of troops would be respected. Belgium, he admitted, had acted quite naturally and very loyally in this matter.
(1) No. 573.
(38780) No. 667.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey. (Received August 1.)
Tel. (No. 137.)
Berlin, August 4, 1914.
Your telegram No. 270 of 4th August.(1)
Both Chancellor and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs regretted that they could give no other answer than that which they gave me this afternoon. I told them that in that case I had been instructed to ask for my passports.
My interview with the Chancellor was very painful. He said that he could not but consider it an intolerable thing that because they were taking the only course open to them to save the Empire from disaster, England should fall upon them just for the sake of the neutrality of Belgium. He looked upon England as entirely responsible for what might now happen.
I asked him whether he could not understand that we were bound in honour to do our best to preserve a neutrality which we had guaranteed. He said: "But at what price!"
This, and the immediately preceding telegram(2) never reached us from Berlin, but have been given to us now by Sir E. Goschen for our archives. G. R. C. August 13, 1914.
(1) No. 594.
(2) No. 666.
(38897) No. 668.
Sir R. Rodd to Sir Edward Grey. (Received August 14.)
Rome. August 4. 1914.
The following is the text of the declaration of neutrality issued by Italy and published in to-day's press:
"Some of the European Powers being in a state of war and Italy being in a state of peace with all the belligerent parties, the Government of the King and the citizens and subjects of the kingdom are under the obligation to observe the duties of neutrality, in accordance with the laws in force and the principles of international war."
In commenting on this declaration, the Italian press states that at the council of Ministers held yesterday morning, no consideration could be taken of the situation created by the German "ultimata " for the simple reason that no notice had been received of them.
The council of Ministers accordingly confined itself to considering the position brought about by Austrian attack on Servia and based her (sic) decision to issue the declaration of neutrality on the following grounds
1. It is in the spirit of the Triple Alliance that no one of the Allied Powers shall compromise herself in an action entailing general consequences without first communicating and coming to an agreement with her allies.
2. This inherent intention of the treaty is further confirmed, in so far as the situation in the Balkans is concerned, by particular agreements come to between Austria and Italy.
3. As all are aware, the Austrian note to Servia from which originates the present situation, was not communicated to Italy in any form. Wherefore Italy was unable to control this diplomatic step, by advising her ally, as she was entitled to do. On the other hand it is clear that once the Austrian demands had been presented, Italy, the friend and ally of Austria was unable to request that she should withdraw them.
The Italian Government, nevertheless, made every endeavour to obtain from the Austro-Hungarian Government binding declarations to respect the independence of Servia in the sense of her territorial integrity and sovereignty. Austria-Hungary, while maintaining that such was her firm intention, has never given such a declaration any binding form.
4. The fundamental points of the Triple Alliance are: its pre-eminently defensive character and the maintenance of the status quo; wherefore, Italy could not consider herself bound to participate in an aggressive action on the part of one or other of her allies, still less so when the latter have not beforehand entered into the necessary understanding with her.
5. Finally, the fact that Italy was kept in the dark about everything has prevented her from taking in time measures for the protection of her vital interests which in case of war would be immediately and most seriously endangered.
The text of these points is identical in all journals and though not officially communicated to them substantially represents position of Government.
In an article which appeared in this evening's "Corriere della Sera" the reasons for Italy's neutrality are very clearly defined.
In the first place the article states that Austria wished for war and Germany did nothing to prevent her when she could have done so and now too herself appears to desire war.
As regard's Italy's attitude the following facts must be regarded as established:
First, her alliance with Austria-Hungary and Germany is a defensive and not an offensive one. But Austria attacked Servia without warning Italy in advance of the reasons which provoked this conflict. Austria began hostilities and in such a manner that Russia was obliged to mobilize in order to preserve the present balance of power in the Balkans and to safeguard the liberty of the southern Slavs. Russia showed herself disposed to negotiate and her attitude, no less than that of Germany and Austria in connection with the pacific proposals of England and Italy must be held as essential factors in influencing Italy's present neutrality.
The second point is thus the attitude of Germany and Austria towards these proposals. Servia was ready to submit but Austria was inexorable, the truth being that she wished not only the humiliation of Servia but her political and economical subservience to the dual monarchy. Germany, on the other hand, while appearing at first desirous of peace, afterwards fearing lest delay should benefit her adversaries, herself hastened the catastrophe. The various proposals for conferences and conversations were thus merely considered by Germany and Austria as means to gain time and their failure can in no way be attributed to Russia.
Thirdly the explanations demanded by Germany from Russia and France, touching as they did the internal liberty and sovereignty of the latter juridically placed Germany in the position of the aggressor. Italy is therefore confronted not with a question of defensive action but rather of voluntary aggression, initiated by two members of the Triple Alliance against two other Powers.
There is no question of a casus foederis but rather the contrary.
Moreover the spirit, if not the letter of the Alliance requires that there shall be a previous understanding between the allies before action is taken. Neither Austria nor Germany were loyal to this condition.
No previous warning was given by Austria as to the terms of her note to Servia, beyond a statement that the note had been presented and the Austro-Servian war began thus without any agreement being first reached with Italy.
Germany adopted similar methods in regard to the explanations demanded of Russia and France. Germany gave Italy no warning in advance, came to no under standing with her nor consulted her. Italy was merely informed of the fait accompli, as if she was a mere executrix of the wishes of others and counted for nothing in the council of the Allied Powers.
Italy could thus not do otherwise than declare that the casus foederis does not exist for her and that she is under no obligation to intervene. Germany and Austria not having observed the engagements of the Triple Alliance, Italy's attitude is juridically correct and politically loyal.
As regards the political side of the question the "Corriere della Sera" refers to Austria's attitude in the late Turco-Italian war and the manner in which she prevented Italy from having a free hand on the Adriatic Coast.
The journal sums up by declaring that, since Germany has come into the field in the manner described above and since Austria is preparing to change either the territorial configuration, or what is more important still, the political configuration of the Balkans, no one can pretend that Italy should work against her own interests by taking up arms for Austria. It would be absurd and monstrous to expect it. Immense changes in Europe will result from the war. Italy did not desire war and she ought not to suffer the losses which it will entail.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs has been careful to tell me that there has not been any official communication to the press with the exception of the declaration of war (sic ? neutrality). On the other hand, the press has of course been unofficially instructed as to the line to be adopted.
The veteran statesman, the Marchese Visconti Venosta, has signified to the president of the council his full approval of the course which has been adopted.
I have, &c.
(38903) No. 669.
Sir R. Rodd to Sir Edward Grey. (Received August 14.)
Rome, August 4, 1914.
I have just seen Signor Martini, the Minister for the Colonies, who has told me that the Government have every reason to feel that the country supports the action taken by Italy. It is of course, he admits, the end of the Triple Alliance. Germany will not forgive Italy what is regarded there as her defection and Italy will have her difficulties to face, although her decision is entirely in accordance with a just interpretation of her obligations. He added that although there was no written understanding to the effect, it was clearly laid down by the Marquis di Rudini that in no case could Italy consent to place herself in open hostility to England, and this tacit principle was quite well known to her ally.
I have, &c.
(38958) No. 670.
Sir F. Villiers to Sir Edward Grey. (Received August 14.)
Brussels. August 12, 1914.
I have the honour to forward copies of the record of proceedings when King Albert opened the Belgian Chambers in person on the 4th instant.(1) The King was accompanied by the Queen, and both in the Chamber and on the way from and to the Palace their Majesties were the object of an enthusiastic ovation.
The record contains the report of a speech delivered by Baron de Broqueville, Prime Minister and Minister for War, in the course of which he read out the three notes which passed between the Belgian and German Governments. The publication of these documents naturally produced a profound impression, all party differences disappeared, a sign of this being the appointment as Ministers of State of M. Hymans and Count Goblet d'Alviella, the Liberal leaders, and I. Vandervelde, the leader of the Socialists, and the measures proposed by the Government, including a vote of 200,000,000 fr., were passed unanimously and without discussion.
During the last two years I have on various occasion stated that in official and purely Conservative circles the proclivities were decidedly German. This feeling induced confidence which proved to be wholly misplaced. As recently as the 2nd instant, the very day on which the German ultimatum was presented, M. Davignon, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, declared to me that there was no reason whatever to suspect that Germany intended to violate the neutrality of Belgium. The Government had consequently not even considered the question of an appeal to the guaranteeing Powers, more especially as they considered themselves in a position to resist aggression from whatever quarter it might come. This attitude as to their means of resistance was maintained until the 4th when, as you were made aware by my telegram No. 29 of that day,(2) a formal appeal was made to Great Britain, France and Russia, to co-operate as guarantors in the defence of Belgian territory.
When, however, the period of deception was passed and the time for action arrived, the Belgian Government behaved with an energy and determination which formed a good prelude to the conduct of the King's troop in the field. The spirit thus shown found a ready response among the people of all classes throughout the country. The indignation caused by the German attack has been intense and has produced a movement of patriotism and self-sacrifice which spares no effort and shrinks from no cost in the cause of national integrity and independence.
I have, &c.
F. H. VILLIERS.
[NOTE. In a private letter of the same date Sir F. Villiers writes to Sir Arthur Nicolson:
"The Belgian authorities were really convinced that there was nothing to fear from Germany and they would not even consider the question of an appeal to the Powers. They are bitterly incensed at being so deceived. Moreover they maintained that in case of aggression they were able to defend themselves. This last attitude was not so much due to reliance on their own forces as to a desire not to commit themselves irrevocably on either side. One can easily understand this feeling in their desperately difficult position. Eventually of course the march of events forced their appeal. As I was without an indication as to whether we should take action I could do little more than listen and report the declarations made to me.
"The energy, discipline, courage, patriotism and self-sacrifice of all classes are beyond all praise."]
(1) Not printed.
(2) No. 654.
(4041) No. 671.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Edward Grey. (Received August 19.)
Berlin, August 6, 1914.
In accordance with the instructions contained in your telegram No. 266 of the 4th instant(1) I called upon the Under-Secretary(2) of State for Foreign Affairs that afternoon and enquired in the name of His Majesty's Government whether the Imperial Government would refrain from violating Belgian neutrality. Herr von Jagow at once replied that he was sorry to say that his answer must be "No" as, in consequence of the German troops having crossed the frontier that morning, Belgian neutrality had been already violated. Herr von Jagow again went into the reasons why the Imperial Government had been obliged to take this step--namely that they had to advance into France by the quickest and easiest way so as to be able to get well ahead with their operations and endeavour to strike some decisive blow as early as possible. It was a matter of life and death for them, as if they had gone by the more southern route they could not have hoped, in view of the paucity of roads and the strength of the Fortresses, to have got through without formidable opposition entailing great loss of time. This loss of time would have meant time gained by the Russians for bringing up their troops to the German frontier. Rapidity of action was the great German asset while that of Russia was an inexhaustible supply of troops. I pointed out to Herr von Jagow that this fait accompli of the violation of the Belgian frontier rendered, as he would readily understand, the situation exceedingly grave and I asked him whether there was not still time to draw back and avoid possible consequences which both he and I would deplore. He replied that for the reasons he had given me it was now impossible for them to draw back.
During the afternoon I received your telegram No. 270(3) and, in compliance with the instructions therein contained, I again proceeded to the Imperial Foreign Office and informed the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs that unless the Imperial Government could give the assurance by 12 o'clock that night that they would proceed no further with their violation of the Belgian frontier and stop their advance, I had been instructed to demand my passports and inform the Imperial Government that His Majesty's Government would have to take all steps in their power to uphold the neutrality of Belgium and the observance of a treaty to which Germany was as much a party as themselves.
Herr von Jagow replied that to his great regret he could give no other answer than that which he had given me earlier in the day, namely that the safety of the Empire rendered it absolutely necessary that the Imperial troops should advance through Belgium. I gave his Excellency a paraphrase of your telegram and, pointing out that you had mentioned 12 o'clock as the time when His Majesty's Government would expect an answer, asked him whether, in view of the terrible consequences which would necessarily ensue, it were not possible even at the last moment that their answer should be reconsidered. He replied that if the time given were even twenty four hours or more his answer must be the same. I said that in that case I should have to demand my passports. This interview would have taken place at about 7 o'clock. In a short conversation which ensued Herr von Jagow expressed his poignant regret at the crumbling of his entire policy and that of the Chancellor, which had been to make friends with Great Britain and then, through Great Britain to get closer to France. I said that this sudden end to my work in Berlin was to me also a matter of deep regret and disappointment, but that he must understand that under the circumstances and in view of our engagements His Majesty's Government could not possibly have acted otherwise than they had done.
I then said that I should like to go and see the Chancellor as it might be perhaps the last time I should have an opportunity of seeing him. He begged me to do so. I found the Chancellor very agitated. His Excellency at once began a harangue which lasted for about 20 minutes.(4) He said that the step taken by His Majesty's Government was terrible to a degree, just for a word "neutrality" a word which in war time had so often been disregarded just for a scrap of paper, Great Britain was going to make war on a kindred nation who desired nothing better than to be friends with her. All his efforts in that direction had been rendered useless by this last terrible step, and the policy to which, as I knew, he had devoted himself since his accession to office, had tumbled down like a house of cards. What we had done was unthinkable; it was like striking a man from behind while he was fighting for his life against two assailants. He held Great Britain responsible for all the terrible events that might happen! I protested strongly against that statement and said that in the same way as he and Herr von Jagow wished me to understand that for strategical reasons it was a matter of life and death to Germany to advance through Belgium and violate her neutrality, so I would wish him to understand that it was, so to speak, a matter of "life and death" for the honour of Great Britain that she should keep her solemn engagement to do her utmost to defend Belgium's neutrality if attacked. That solemn compact simply had to be kept, or what confidence could anyone have in engagements given by Great Britain in the future? The Chancellor said "But at what price will that compact have been kept. Has the British Government thought of that?" I hinted to his Excellency as plainly as I could that fear of consequences could hardly be regarded as an excuse for breaking solemn engagements, but his Excellency was so excited, so evidently overcome by the news of our action and so little disposed to hear reason, that I refrained from adding fuel to the flame by further argument. As I was leaving he said that the blow of Great Britain joining Germany's enemies was all the greater that almost up to the last moment he and his Government had been working with us and supporting our effort to maintain peace between Austria and Russia. I admitted that that had been the case and said that it was part of the tragedy which saw the two nations fall apart just at the moment when the relations between them had been more friendly and cordial than they had been for years. Unfortunately notwithstanding our efforts to maintain peace between Russia and Austria the war had spread and had brought us face to face with a situation which, if we held to our engagements, we could not possibly avoid, and which unfortunately entailed our separation from our late fellow-workers. He would readily understand that no one regretted this more than I.
After this somewhat painful interview I returned to the embassy and drew up my telegram No. 137. This telegram was handed in at the Central Telegraph Office a little before 9 P.M. It was accepted by that office but apparently never despatched.
At about 9.0 P.M. Herr von Zimmermann, the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs came to see me. After expressing his deep regret that the very friendly official and personal relations between us were about to cease, he asked me casually whether a demand for passports was equivalent to a declaration of war. I said that such an authority on international law as he was known to be must know as well, or better than I what was usual in such cases. I added that there were many cases where diplomatic relations had been broken off and nevertheless war had not ensued, but that in this case he would have seen from my instructions of which I had given Herr von Jagow a paraphrase that His Majesty's Government expected an answer to a definite question by 12 o'clock that night, and that in default of a satisfactory answer they would be forced to take such steps as their engagements required. Herr Zimmermann said that that was in fact a declaration of war, as the Imperial Government could not possibly give the assurance required either that night or any other night.
The next morning I demanded my passports in writing.
In the meantime after Herr Zimmermann left me a flying sheet, issued by the "Berliner Tageblatt" was circulated stating that Great Britain had declared war against Germany. The immediate result of this news was the assemblage of an exceedingly excited and unruly mob before His Majesty's Embassy. The small force of police which had been sent to guard the embassy was soon overpowered and the attitude of the mob became more threatening. We took no notice of this demonstration as long as it was confined to noise but when the crash of glass and the landing of cobble stones into the drawing-room where we were all sitting warned us that the situation was getting unpleasant, I telephoned to the Foreign Office an account of what was happening. Herr von Jagow at once informed the Chief of Police, and an adequate force of mounted police sent with great promptness, very soon cleared the street. From that moment on we were well guarded and no more direct unpleasantness occurred.
After order had been restored Herr von Jagow came to see me and expressed his most heartfelt regrets at what had occurred. He said that the behaviour of his countrymen had made him feel more ashamed than he had words to express. It was an indelible stain on the reputation of Berlin. He said that the flying sheet circulated in the streets had not been authorised by the Government; in fact, the Chancellor had asked him by telephone whether he thought that such a statement should be issued and he had replied "Certainly not until the morning." It was in consequence of his decision to that effect that only a small force of police had been sent to the neighbourhood of the Embassy, as he had thought that the presence of a large force would inevitably attract attention and perhaps lead to disturbances. It was the "pestilential 'Tageblatt,' " which had somehow got hold of the news, that had upset his calculations. He had heard rumours that the mob had been excited to violence by gestures made and missiles thrown from the Embassy, but he felt sure that that was not true, (I was able soon to assure him that the report had no foundation whatever) and even if it was, it was no excuse for the disgraceful scenes which had taken place. He feared that I would take home with me a sorry impression of Berlin manners in moments of excitement. In fact, no apology could have been more full and complete.
On the following morning, the 5th August, the Emperor sent one of His Majesty's Aides-de-Camps to me with the following message:
"The Emperor has charged me to express to your Excellency his regret for the occurrences of last night but to tell you at the same time that you will gather from those occurrences an idea of the feelings of his people respecting the action of Great Britain in joining with other nations against her old allies of Waterloo. His Majesty also begs that you will tell the King that he has been proud of the titles of British Field-Marshal and British Admiral but that in consequence of what has occurred he must now, at once, divest himself of those titles."
I would add that the above message lost none of its petulant acerbity by the manner of its delivery.
On the other hand I should like to state that I received all through this trying time nothing but courtesy at the hands of Herr von Jagow and the officials of the Imperial Foreign Office. At about 11 o'clock on the same morning Count Wedel handed me my passports and told me that he had been instructed to confer with me as to the route which I should follow for my return to England. He said that he had understood that I preferred the route viâ the Hook of Holland to that viâ Copenhagen; they had therefore arranged that I should go by the former route, only I should have to wait till the following morning. I agreed to this and he said that I might be quite assured that there would be no repetition of the disgraceful scenes of the preceding night as full precautions would be taken. He added that they were doing all in their power to have a restaurant car attached to the train, but it was rather a difficult matter. He also brought me a charming letter from Herr von Jagow couched in the most friendly terms. The day was passed in burning the cyphers and other confidential papers, in sealing up the archives with the help of the secretaries of the United States Embassy and in packing up such articles as time allowed.
The night passed quietly without any incident. In the morning a strong force of police was posted along the usual route to the Lehrter Station, while the Embassy was smuggled away in taxi-cabs to the station by side streets. We there suffered no molestation whatever and avoided the treatment meted out by the crowd to my Russian and French colleagues. Count Wedel met us at the station to say good-bye on behalf of Herr von Jagow and to see that all the arrangements ordered for our comfort had been properly carried out. A retired colonel of the Guards accompanied the train to the Dutch frontier and was exceedingly kind in his efforts to prevent the great crowds which thronged the platforms at every station where we stopped from insulting us. But beyond the yelling of patriotic songs, and a few jeers and insulting gestures we had really nothing to complain of during our tedious journey to the Dutch frontier.
Before closing this long account of our last days in Berlin, I should like to place on record and bring to your notice the quite admirable behaviour of my staff under the most trying circumstances possible. One and all they worked night and day with scarcely any rest: and I cannot praise too highly the cheerful zeal with which Counsellor, Naval and Military Attachés, Secretaries and the two young Attachés buckled to their work and kept their nerve with often a yelling mob outside and inside hundreds of British subjects clamouring for advice and assistance. I was proud to have such a staff to work with and feel most grateful to them all for the invaluable assistance and support, often exposing them to considerable personal risk, which they so readily and cheerfully gave to me.
I should also like to mention the great assistance rendered to us all by my American colleague, Mr. Gerard, and his staff. Undeterred by the hooting and hisses with which he was often greeted by the mob on entering and leaving the Embassy, his Excellency came repeatedly to see me to ask how he could help us and to make arrangements for the safety of stranded British subjects. He extricated many of these from extremely difficult situations at some personal risk to himself and his calmness and savoir-faire and his firmness in dealing with the Imperial authorities gave full assurance that the protection of British subjects and interests could not have been left in more efficient and able hands.
I have, &c.
W. E. GOSCHEN.
Published in BB No. 60 (with slight alterations and omissions).
(1) No. 573 (a).
(2) Should be Secretary of State.
(3) No. 594.
(4) [Note. The question having been raised as to the language used in this conversation and in the statement by the Chancellor, an enquiry was addressed to Sir Horace Rumbold. He write that according to private notes which he made at the time Sir Edward Goschen informed him on the same day that "the Chancellor made a set speech in English."]
(38442) No. 672.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir M. de Bunsen.
Foreign Office, August 12, 1914.
Tel. (No. 213.) En clair.
D. 7:15 P.M.
At the request of the French Government, who have no diplomatic means of communicating with Austria direct, I have made to the Austrian Ambassador a communication that amounts to a complete rupture between France and Austria, on the ground that Austria declared war on Russia, who was already fighting on the side of France, and that Austria has sent troops over the German frontier under conditions that are a direct menace to France.
The rupture having been brought about with France in this way, His Majesty's Government are obliged to instruct you to ask for your passports, and I have announced to the Austrian Ambassador that a state of war exists between the two countries from midnight.
Sir Edward Grey to Count Mensdorff.
Foreign Office, August 12, 1914.
Dear Count Mensdorff,
I cannot express the sorrow which I feel in having to make to you personally the announcement contained in my official letter of which I have telegraphed the purport to De Bunsen.(1)
I should like to see you to say good-bye, and to shake hands, and to assure you how much my personal friendship remains unaltered.
Will you come to 2, Queen Anne's Gate, where I am staying, and where our leave-taking will be quite private.
I am there at 10 o'clock every morning.
Yours very sincerely,
(1) No. 672.
Count Mensdorff to Sir Edward Grey.
18, Belgrave Square, S.W.,
August 12, 1914.
Dear Sir Edward,
I am deeply grieved to receive the announcement you just sent me.
I highly appreciate and heartily reciprocate the friendly personal feelings expressed in your unofficial letter, and I shall call at 28, Queen Anne's Gate to-morrow morning at 9:30.
Yours very sincerely,
(41041) No. 675.
Sir Edward Grey to Sir E. Goschen.
Foreign Office, September 1, 1914.
I have read with great interest and have laid before the King your Excellency's despatch No. 309 of the 6th ultimo,(1) reviewing events at Berlin immediately preceding, and subsequent to, the outbreak of War between Great Britain and Germany.
I take this opportunity to express to you the entire approval of His Majesty's Government not only in regard to your Excellency's attitude and language in the last stage of the diplomatic relations between the two countries but for your whole conduct of His Majesty's Embassy during an exceedingly arduous and trying time.
I have noted with satisfaction your Excellency's remarks regarding the
members of your staff and have instructed His Majesty's Ambassador at
Washington to convey through the United States Government to Mr. Gerard
the warm thanks of His Majesty's Government for his great personal devotion
and energy in the cause of British interests during these trying circumstances.
I am, &c.
(1) No. 671.
(48877) No. 676.
Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.
London, September 1, 1914.
The rapidity of the march of events during the days which led up to the outbreak of the European war made it difficult, at the time, to do more than record their progress by telegraph. I propose now to add a few comments.
The delivery at Belgrade on the 23rd July of the Austrian note to Servia was preceded by a period of absolute silence at the Ballplatz. Except Herr von Tchirsky who must have been aware of the tenour, if not of the actual words of the note, none of my colleagues were allowed to see through the veil. On the 22nd and 23rd July M. Dumaine, French Ambassador, had long interviews with Baron Macchio, one of the Under-Secretaries of State for Foreign Affairs, by whom he was left under the impression that the words of warning he had been instructed to speak to the Austro-Hungarian Government had not been unavailing, and that the note which was being drawn up would be found to contain nothing with which a self-respecting State need hesitate to comply. At the second of these interviews he was not even informed that the note was at that very moment being presented at Belgrade, or that it would be published in Vienna on the following morning. Count Forgach, the other Under Secretary of State, had indeed been good enough to confide to me on the same day the true character of the note, and the fact of its presentation about the time we were speaking.
So little had the Russian Ambassador been made aware of what was preparing that he actually left Vienna on a fortnight's leave of absence about the 20th July. He had only been absent a few days when events compelled him to return. It might have been supposed that Duc Avarna, Ambassador of the Allied Italian Kingdom, which was bound to be so closely affected by fresh complication in the Balkans, would have been taken fully into the confidence of Count Berchtold during this critical time. In point of fact his Excellency was left completely in the dark, no doubt for the good reason that Italy would certainly have rejected the policy embodied in the note of July 23rd if she had been invited to endorse it. As for myself, no indication was given me by Count Berchtold of the impending storm, and it was from a private source that I received on the 15th July the forecast of what was about to happen which I embodied in my telegram No. 85 of the following day.(1) It is true that during all this time the "Neue Freie Presse" and other leading Viennese newspapers were using language which pointed unmistakably to war with Servia. The official "Fremdenblatt," however, was more cautious, and till the note was published, the prevailing opinion among my colleagues was that Austria would shrink from courses calculated to involve her in grave European complications.
On the 24th July the note was published in the newspapers. By common consent it was at once styled an Ultimatum. Its integral acceptance by Servia was neither expected nor desired, and when, on the following afternoon, it was at first rumoured in Vienna that it had been unconditionally accepted, there was a moment of keen disappointment. The mistake was quickly corrected, and as soon as it was known later in the evening that the Servian reply had been rejected and that Baron Giesl had broken off relations at Belgrade Vienna burst into a frenzy of delight, vast crowds parading the streets and singing patriotic songs till the small hours of the morning.
The demonstrations were perfectly orderly, consisting for the most part of organised processions through the principal streets ending up at the Ministry of War. One or two attempts to make hostile manifestations against the Russian Embassy were frustrated by the strong guard of police which held the approaches to the principal embassies during those days. The demeanour of the people at Vienna and as I was informed in many other principal cities of the Monarchy, showed plainly the popularity of the idea of war with Servia, and there can be no doubt that the small body of Austrian and Hungarian statesmen by whom this momentous step was adopted gauged rightly the sense and it may even be said the determination of the people, except presumably in portions of the provinces inhabited by the Slav races. There had been much disappointment in many quarters at the avoidance of war with Servia during the annexation crisis in 1908 and again in connection with the recent Balkan war. Count Berchtold's peace policy had met with little sympathy in the Delegations. Now the flood-gates were opened, and the entire people and press clamoured impatiently for immediate and condign punishment of the hated Servian race. The country certainly believed that it had before it only the alternative of subduing Servia or of submitting sooner or later to mutilation at her hands. But a peaceful solution should first have been attempted. Few seemed to reflect that the forcible intervention of a Great Power in the Balkans must inevitably call other Great Powers into the field. So just was the cause of Austria held to be that it seemed to her people inconceivable that any country should place itself in her path, or that questions of mere policy or prestige should be regarded anywhere as superseding the necessity which had arisen to exact summary vengeance for the crime of Serajevo. I have already reported the conviction expressed to me by the German Ambassador on the 24th July that Russia would stand aside. This feeling, which was also held at the Ballplatz, influenced no doubt the course of events, and it is deplorable that no effort should have been made to secure by means of diplomatic negotiations the acquiescence of Russia and Europe as a whole in some peaceful compromise of the Servian question, by which Austrian fears of Servian aggression and intrigue might have been removed for the future. Instead of adopting this course the Austro-Hungarian Government resolved upon war. The inevitable consequence ensued. Russia replied to a partial Austrian mobilisation and declaration of war against Servia by a partial Russian mobilisation against Austria. Austria met this move by completing her own mobilisation and Russia again responded with results which have passed into history. The fate of the proposals put forward by His Majesty's Government for the preservation of peace is recorded in the White Book on the European Crisis. On the 28th July I saw Count Berchtold and urged as strongly as I could that the scheme of mediation mentioned in your speech in the House of Commons on the previous day(2) should be accepted as offering an honourable and peaceful settlement of the question at issue. His Excellency himself read to me a telegraphic report of the speech, but added that matters had gone too far; Austria was that day declaring war on Servia, and she could never accept the conference which you had suggested should take place between the less interested Powers on the basis of the Servian reply. This was a matter which must be settled directly between the two parties immediately concerned. I said His Majesty's Government would hear with regret that hostilities could not be arrested, as you feared they would lead to European complications. I disclaimed any British lack of sympathy with Austria in the matter of her legitimate grievances against Servia, and pointed out that whereas Austria seemed to be making these the starting point of her policy, His Majesty's Government were bound to look at the question primarily from the point of view of the maintenance of the peace of Europe. In this way the two countries might easily drift apart.
His Excellency said that he too was keeping the European aspect of the question in sight. He thought, however, that Russia would have no right to intervene after receiving his assurance that Austria sought no territorial aggrandisement. His Excellency remarked to me in the course of his conversation that, though he had been glad to co-operate towards bringing about the settlement which had resulted from the ambassadorial conferences in London during the Balkan crisis, he had never had much belief in the permanency of that settlement, which was necessarily of a highly artificial character, inasmuch as the interests which it sought to harmonise were in themselves profoundly divergent. His Excellency observed a most friendly demeanour throughout the interview, but left no doubt in my mind as to the determination of the Austro-Hungarian Government to proceed with the invasion of Servia.
The German Government claim to have persevered to the end in the endeavour to support at Vienna your successive proposals in the interest of peace. Herr von Tchirsky abstained from inviting my co-operation or that of the French and Russian Ambassadors in carrying out his instructions to that effect, and I had no means of knowing what response he was receiving from the Austro-Hungarian Government. I was however kept fully informed by M. Schebeko, the Russian Ambassador, of his own direct negotiations with Count Berchtold. M. Schebeko endeavoured on the 28th July to persuade the Austro- Hungarian Government to furnish Count Szapary with full powers to continue at St. Petersburg the hopeful conversations which had there been taking place between the latter and M. Sazonof. Count Berchtold refused at the time, but two days later (30th July), though in the meantime Russia had partially mobilised against Austria, he received M. Schebeko again, in a perfectly friendly manner, and gave his consent to the continuance of the conversations at St. Petersburg. From now onwards the tension between Russia and Germany was much greater than between Russia and Austria. As between the latter an arrangement seemed almost in sight, and on the 1st August I was informed by M. Schebeko that Count Szapary had at last conceded the main point at issue by announcing to M. Sazonof that Austria would consent to submit to mediation the points in the note to Servia which seemed incompatible with the maintenance of Servian independence. M. Sazonof, M. Schebeko added, had accepted this proposal on condition that Austria would refrain from the actual invasion of Servia. Austria, in fact, had finally yielded, and that she herself had at this point good hopes of a peaceful issue is shown by the communication made to you on the 1st August by Count Mensdorff to the effect that Austria had neither "banged the door" on compromise nor cut off the conversations.(3) M. Schebeko to the end was working hard for peace. He was holding the most conciliatory language to Count Berchtold, and he informed me that the latter, as well as Count Forgach, had responded in the same spirit. Certainly it was too much for Russia to expect that Austria would hold back her armies but this matter could probably have been settled by negotiation, and M. Schebeko repeatedly told me he was prepared to accept any reasonable compromise, such as an arrangement that Austria should occupy Belgrade or even advance further into Servia, inflicting the necessary punishment before holding her hand, provided only that Russia should have a voice in the final settlement of affairs with Servia.
Unfortunately these conversations at St. Petersburg and Vienna were cut short by the transfer of the dispute to the more dangerous ground of a direct conflict between Germany and Russia. Germany intervened on the 31st July by means of her double ultimatums to St. Petersburg and Paris. The ultimatums were of a kind to which only one answer is possible, and Germany declared war on Russia on the 1st August, and on France on the 3rd August. A few days' delay might in all probability have saved Europe from one of the greatest calamities in history.
Russia still abstained from attacking Austria, and M. Schebeko had been instructed to remain at his post till war should actually be declared against her by the Austro-Hungarian Government. This only happened on the 6th August when Count Berchtold informed the Foreign Missions at Vienna that "the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador at St. Petersburg had been instructed to notify the Russian Government that in view of the menacing attitude of Russia in the Austro-Servian conflict and the fact that Russia had commenced hostilities against Germany, Austria-Hungary considered herself also at war with Russia."
M. Schebeko left quietly in a special train provided by the Austro-Hungarian Government on the 7th August. He had urgently requested to be conveyed to the Roumanian frontier, so that he might be able to proceed to his own country, but was taken instead to the Swiss frontier and ten days later I found him at Berne.
M. Dumaine, French Ambassador, stayed on till the 12th August. On the previous day he had been instructed to demand his passport on the ground that Austrian troops were being employed against France. This point was not fully cleared up when I left Vienna. On the 9th August, M. Dumaine had received from Count Berchtold the categorical declaration that no Austrian troops were being moved to Alsace. The next day this statement was supplemented by a further one, in writing, giving Count Berchtold's assurance that not only had no Austrian troops been move actually to the French frontier, but that none were moving from Austria in a westerly direction into Germany in such a way that they might replace German troops employed at the front. These two statements were made by Count Berchtold in reply to precise questions put to him by M. Dumaine, under instructions from his Government. The French Ambassador's departure was not attended by any hostile demonstration, but his Excellency before leaving had been justly offended by a harangue made by the chief Burgomaster of Vienna to the crowd assembled before the steps of the town hall, in which he assured the people that Paris was in the throes of a revolution and that the President of the Republic had been assassinated.
The British declaration of war on Germany was made known in Vienna by special editions of the newspapers about midday on the 5th August. An abstract of your speeches in the House of Commons, and also of the German Chancellor's speech in the Reichstag of the 4th August, appeared the same day, as well as the text of the German ultimatum to Belgium. Otherwise few details of the great events of these days transpired. The "Neue Freie Presse" was violently insulting towards England. The " Fremdenblatt" was not offensive, but little or nothing was said in the columns of any Vienna paper to explain that the violation of Belgian neutrality had left His Majesty's Government no alternative but to take part in the war.
The declaration of Italian neutrality was bitterly felt in Vienna, but scarcely mentioned in the newspapers. Its causes have been sufficient;y explained elsewhere. On August 4th Duc Avarna left sudden]y for Rome where he remained for about a week. During the crisis which led to the war and after the Ambassador's return from Rome I had the advantage of frequent conversations with His Excellency, who, though a sincere supporter, during the 10 years which his mission to Vienna had lasted, of the alliance of Italy with the friend]y Powers, had been justly hurt by the manner in which, as stated above, his country's interest in the Servian question had been studiously ignored by the Ballplatz.
On the 5th August I had the honour to receive your instruction of the previous day(4) preparing me for the immediate outbreak of war with Germany but adding that, Austria being understood to be not yet at that date at war with Russia and France, you did not desire me to ask for my passport or to make any particular communication to the Austro-Hungarian Government. You stated at the same time that His Majesty's Government of course expected Austria not to commit any act of war against us without the notice required by diplomatic usage.
On Thursday morning, the 13th August, I had the honour to receive your telegram of the 12th, (5) stating that you had been compelled to inform Count Mensdorff at the request of the French Government that a complete rupture had occurred between France and Austria, on the ground that Austria had declared war on Russia who was already fighting on the side of France, and that Austria had sent troops to the German frontier under conditions that were a direct menace to France. The rupture having been brought about with France in this way, I was to ask for my passport, and your telegram stated in conclusion that you had informed Count Mensdorff that a state of war would exist between the two countries from midnight of the 12th August.
After seeing Mr. Penfield, the American Ambassador, who accepted immediately in the most friendly spirit my request that his Excellency would take charge provisionally of British interests in Austria-Hungary during the unfortunate interruption of relations, I proceeded, with Mr. Theo. Russell, Counsellor of His Majesty's Embassy, to the Ballplatz. Count Berchtold received me at midday. I delivered my message, for which his Excellency did not seem to be unprepared, although he told me that a long telegram from Count Mensdorff had just come in but had not yet been brought to him. His Excellency received my communication with the courtesy which never leaves him. He deplored the unhappy complications which were drawing such good friends as Austria and England into war. in point of fact, he added, Austria did not consider herself then at war with France, though diplomatic relations with that country had been broken off. I explained in a few words how circumstances had forced this unwelcome conflict upon us. We both avoided useless argument. Then I ventured to recommend to his Excellency's consideration the case of the numerous stranded British subjects at Carlsbad, Vienna and other places throughout the country. I had already had some correspondence with him on the subject, and his Excellency took a note of what I said, and promised to see what could be done to get them away when the stress of mobilisation should be over. Count Berchtold agreed to Mr. Phillpotts, till then British Consul at Vienna under Consul General Sir Frederick Duncan, being left by me at the Embassy in the capacity of Charg‚ des Archives. He presumed a similar privilege would not be refused in England if desired on behalf of the Austro-Hungarian Government. I took leave of Count Berchtold with sincere regret, having received from the day of my arrival in Vienna, not quite nine months before, many marks of friendship and consideration from his Excellency. As I left I begged his Excellency to present my profound respects to the Emperor Francis Joseph, together with an expression of my hope that His Majesty would pass through these sad times with unimpaired health and strength. Count Berchtold was pleased to say he would deliver my message.
Count Walterskirchen, of the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Office, was deputed the following morning to bring me my passport and to acquaint me with the arrangements made for my departure that evening (14th August). In the course of the day Countess Berchtold and other ladies of Vienna society called to take leave of Lady de Bunsen at the Embassy. We left the railway station by special train for the Swiss frontier at 7 P.M. No disagreeable incidents occurred. Count Walterskirchen was present at the station on behalf of Count Berchtold. The journey was necessarily slow, owing to the encumbered state of the line. We reached Buchs on the Swiss frontier early in the morning of the 17th August. At the first halting place there had been some hooting and stone throwing on the part of the entraining troops and station officials, but no inconvenience was caused, and at the other large stations on our route we found that ample measures had been taken to preserve us from molestation as well as to provide us with food. I was left in no doubt that the Austro-Hungarian Government had desired that the journey should be performed under the most comfortable conditions possible and that I should receive on my departure all the marks of consideration due to His Majesty's representative. I was accompanied by my own family and the entire staff of the Embassy for whose untiring zeal and efficient help in trying times I desire to express my sincere thanks. The Swiss Government also showed courtesy in providing comfortable accommodation during our journey from the frontier to Berne, and, after three days' stay there, on to Geneva, at which place we found that every provision had been made by the French Government at the request of Sir Francis Bertie for our speedy conveyance to Paris. We reached England on Saturday morning, the 22nd August.
I have, &c.
MAURICE DE BUNSEN.
Published in BB No. 161 (some alterations and omissions).
(l ) No. 50.
(2) No. 190.
(3) No. 412.
(4) No. 618.
(5) No. 672.
Sir E. Goschen to Sir Arthur Nicolson. (Received September 5.)
Berlin, July, 1914.
My dear Nicolson,
You can imagine that I have been pretty busy since my return here on Monday morning. I found Jagow ill and tired but nevertheless optimistic his optimism being based, he told me, on the idea that Russia was not in a position to make war. I told him that that seemed to me to be rather a dangerous idea particularly if it was shared by Austria! That this idea is prevalent among Austrians, at least some of them, was proved to me later in the day by Count Szögyeni, who said to me later in the day that a general war was out of the question as Russia neither could, nor wanted to, go to war.
Jagow practically admitted to me that the Servian reply went very far towards meeting the Austrian demands but he also admitted that Austria meant business and that nothing from Berlin or anywhere else would stop her from punishing Servia, short of a complete acceptance of her demands. He also again assured me that the Austrian ultimatum was not submitted to Berlin before being sent in. The general opinion here even among pro-Austrians is that Austria made her note brutal on purpose that it should not be accepted.
I have telegraphed so fully that I will not weary you with vain repetitions. My chief diplomatic difficulty has been to satisfy Cambon's curiosity as to my repeated visits to the Chancellor without giving the latter away on points which he has made me promise to keep secret. I have a stronger conviction than Cambon that both the Chancellor and Jagow would like to avoid a general war whatever may be the opinion of the hot-headed division and the general staff. This is not only my opinion but the opinion of most diplomatists and many Germans. Cambon won't have this at all and considers, wrongly I think, Jagow to be a Junker of the most bellicose description. This is contrary to all I have ever heard of Jagow and contrary to my own opinion of him. As for the Chancellor, if he makes war it will be because he is forced into it. Jules Cambon is continually scolding me about England keeping her intentions so dark and says that the only way by which a general war can be prevented is by Sir E. Grey's stating carr‚ment that England will fight on the side of France and Russia. But I tell him that a statement to that effect at the present stage, while it might cause Germany to hesitate, might equally urge Russia on; and if Russia attacked Austria, Germany would have to cut in whether she feared the British fleet or not. That Germany is very much preoccupied by the British fleet is quite clear both from the fall in the shares of the great shipping lines and from other symptoms. Friedlander, who is about the richest financier in Germany, is in despair at the chances of England being drawn in; (he tried to sell his Hamburg America shares but could get no price for them) and he advised a lady of my acquaintance to clear out of Berlin as soon as she could "because" he said " a month after the declaration of war by England Berlin will be starving and not only will you get nothing to eat but starving crowds are always dangerous." I hear in fact from all sides that the financial and industrial classes are dead against a war in any shape but particularly against a war which in its origin does not touch German interests. Jagow told me the other day that Austria was so determined to make war on Servia and so frightened of being prevented from doing so, that any advice was likely to make her hurry up to present a fait accompli.(1) This may be true or not but at any rate her declaration of war, (which as far as I can judge was not expected here so soon, following so close upon the heels of the suggestion that the Servian answer offered a basis for discussion, is rather a proof that Jagow was not far wrong in his statement. He said yesterday that he could scarcely wonder at Austria's determined action as Servia had practically caused her to mobilize three times, and in spite of promises had always remained a hot-bed of intrigue against the dual monarchy. This one has to admit, but I asked him whether he did not think that a good deal of Servian ill-doings and intrigues might have been avoided if Austria had treated Servia a little more generously, and allowed her, for instance, to have access to the sea. Jagow said that during the last two years he had never let an opportunity of saying to Austria: "Either treat Servia well and live at peace with her or 'avalez-la.'" Austria had always replied that Servia was too impertinent a neighbour to live at peace with and that to swallow her would entail too large an addition to Austria's already too numerous Slav population.
Bethmann Hollweg's "bid" for our neutrality must have taken you by surprise; it certainly did me.(2) His Excellency sent for me about 10:30 P.M.; told me that he had just come from a Council at Potsdam, at which the Emperor, Admiral v. Tirpitz and the Minister of War had been present, that he had dined in ten minutes, and that, tired as he was, he had to have a long talk to Jagow after he had finished with me. He spoke to me from typewritten notes which, however, he would not show me. I asked him as it was a matter of such importance whether I might draft my telegram there and then read to him what I had written. So I made a draft and read it to him. He suggested one or two slight alterations and then told me that it was exactly what he meant to say. He asked me what I thought of it. I told him frankly that it did not seem to me acceptable and that in any case I thought it was unlikely that His Majesty's Government would care to bind themselves to any particular course of action at the present stage. I would, however, send the telegram in exactly the same words as he had approved. On the following morning Jagow came round to see me early and spoke of a conversation between Sir Edward Grey and Lichnowsky the report of which had been received late at night after I had left the Chancellor. Had it been received earlier, Jagow said, the Chancellor would not have spoken to me in the way he had done. From what Jagow let drop in conversation I gather that Sir E. Grey had given Lichnowsky to understand that we might have to go with Russia and France but strangely enough I have received no telegraphic account of this conversation as yet (July 30, 7 P.M. ). Anyway Lichnowsky's report seemed to have depressed Jagow though he praised the frankness and sincerity with which Sir E. Grey had spoken.(3)
July 31. Since yesterday events have marched with vertiginous rapidity so rapidly in fact that it has been difficult to keep pace with them. First came the false news disseminated by the "Lokal Anzeiger" in flying sheets to the effect that Germany had determined to mobilise. This was at once officially contradicted by counter flying sheets. The Russian Ambassador, who had returned from the leave the day before telegraphed the false news in cypher and then sent a message en clair to say that it had been contradicted. He had done this, he told me, as he thought an en clair telegram might go quicker and get to St. Petersburg before the cyphered one. If the en clair message was delayed or stopped, it might account for much.
This morning, before 10 o'clock, I went to see the Chancellor to give him the answer of Sir E. Grey to his "neutrality" proposal.(4) On my going into his room he said that I came … point as he was just going to ask me by telephone to come and see him. He then told I me that he had just received news from the Russian frontier, which, if confirmed, would create a very grave and dangerous situation, and might oblige Germany to make a serious communication to the Russian Government. The news in question was that the Russian Government had destroyed their Customs Houses on the German frontier, had sealed their public offices m the neighbourhood of the frontier and had carried off their money chests into the interior. I said that these proceedings, if true, seemed to me to be not so much a menace to Germany, as measures of precaution, in a palpably grave situation, to meet all emergencies. He maintained on the contrary that, taken with other reports which had reached him both from Russia and Sweden, the above news threatened general mobilisation; he hoped not and he, and the Emperor also, at the urgent request of the Czar, were still doing their best to mediate at Vienna, but he feared the worst. At the close of our conversation on this subject I read to him Sir E. Grey's answer to the neutrality proposal. He paid but little attention to it and certainly made no comment; but I left him a full paraphrase of Sir E. Grey's telegram. Subsequently I saw Jagow who confirmed the Chancellor's views as to the gravity of the situation.
London. (Here my letter ended and I had no time to go on with it or opportunity of sending it.) Neither he nor the Chancellor ever alluded to Sir E. Grey's answer to the neutrality proposal, and I am sure they, or at all events Jagow, were dreadfully put out that it had ever been made. In the last conversation I had with Jagow I read to him Sir E. Grey's telegram to the effect that the British ships detained at Hamburg had never, in spite of his promises, been released.(5) He said that he could not understand it as orders had most certainly been sent from Berlin for their release. He said that when I had first spoken to him about the ships at the Chancellor's he had at once gone into the Chancellor's room, where Tirpitz happened to be, and had laid the matter before the latter. Tirpitz had at once written the order for release oœ the ships saying "This must be seen to at once, for it would never do at this moment to rub England the wrong way" " froisser l'Angleterre " was the expression Jagow used. This, if true, and there is no reason to disbelieve it, shows how up to the last moment they thought that England might not come in.
W. E. G.
A copy of this letter was sent by Sir I. Goschen to Sir Arthur Nicolson on the 4th September, 1914. The last paragraph was added on this date.
(1) Cf. No. 281.
(2) No. 293.
(3) Cf. Nos. 286, 305, 317.
(4) No. 303. Cf. Nos. 336, 337 and 340.
(5) No. 585. Cf. Nos. 402, 456.