Telegrams and Letters Circulated on Friday July 24 1914
Serbia. M. Strandtman, Russian Chargé d'Affaires at Belgrade, telegraphed to M. Sazonof, Minister for Foreign Affairs at Petrograd, that Pashitch, Prime Minister of Serbia, had returned to the capital, and would give an answer to Austria within the prescribed time, showing the points which are acceptable or unacceptable.
"To-day an appeal will be addressed to the powers to defend the independence of Serbia. Then, added Pashitch, if war is inevitable, we will make war."
Great Britain. Mr. Crackanthorpe, British Chargé d'Affaires at Belgrade, telegraphed Sir Edward Grey that M. Pashitch had told him that the Austrian demands were considered unacceptable by the Serbian Government, and that it trusted to Great Britain to induce Austria to moderate them. M. Pashitch was dejected and anxious.
Russia. The Crown Prince Alexander, Prince Regent of Serbia, telegraphed to Czar Nicholas II of Russia that the Serbian Government had been willing from the first to open an inquiry in Serbia as to complicity of Serbian subjects in the crime of Sarajevo.
"The demands contained in the Austro-Hungarian note are, however, unnecessarily humiliating for Serbia, and incompatible with her dignity as an independent state....
"We are prepared to accept those of the Austro-Hungarian conditions which are compatible with the position of an independent state, as well as those to which your majesty may advise us to agree, and all those persons whose complicity in the crime may be proved will be severely punished by us. Certain of the demands could not be carried out without changes in our legislation, which would need time.... We may be attacked at the expiration of the time limit by the Austro-Hungarian army which is concentrating upon our frontier. We are unable to defend ourselves, and we beg your majesty to come to our aid as soon as possible. The much-appreciated good will which your majesty has so often shown toward us inspires us with the firm belief that once again our appeal to your noble Slav heart will not pass unheeded...."
Russia. M. Broniewsky, Russian Chargé d'Affaires at Berlin, telegraphed to M. Sazonof, Minister for Foreign Affairs at St. Petersburg, that the Berlin press in the main warmly welcomed the uncompromising attitude of Austria-Hungary.
"The semiofficial 'Lokal-Anzeiger' is particularly violent; it describes as fruitless any possible appeals that Serbia may make to St. Petersburg, Paris, Athens, or Bucharest, and concludes by saying that the German people will breathe freely when they learn that the situation in the Balkan Peninsula is to be cleared up at last."
Serbia. Dr. Spalaikovitch, Serbian Minister at St. Petersburg, telegraphed to M. Pashitch a report of a chance interview with Count Pourtalès, the German Ambassador. The Count had said that peace with Austria-Hungary depended on Serbia alone, since the matter lay entirely between the two disputants.
"In reply I told Count Pourtalès that he was under a misapprehension, and that he would see before long that this was not a question merely between Serbia and Austria, but a European question."
Austria-Hungary. Count Mensdorff, Austro-Hungarian Ambassador at London, telegraphed to Count Berchtold, Minister for Foreign Affairs at Vienna, that he had handed a copy of the note to Serbia to Sir Edward Grey, British Secretary for Foreign Affairs.
"At the fifth heading he asked what it meant; to introduce officials of our Government in Serbia would be equivalent to the end of Serbian political independence. I answered that cooperation of, e.g., police officials, in no way affected the sovereignty of the state.
"He regretted the time limit, as in this way we should be deprived of the possibility of quieting the first outbreak of excitement and bringing pressure to bear upon Belgrade to give us a satisfactory answer. It was always possible to send an ultimatum if answer was not satisfactory.
"I developed our point of view at length. (Necessity of defense against continued revolutionary undertakings which threaten the territory of the [Dual] Monarchy, protection of our most vital interests, complete failure of the conciliatory attitude which we had hitherto often shown to Serbia, who had had more than three weeks to set on foot of her own accord investigations as to accomplices in outrage, etc.)
"The Secretary of State repeated his objections to the short time limit, but recognized that what was said as to complicity in the crime of Sarajevo, as well as many of our other requirements, was justified.
"He would be quite ready to look on the affair as one which only concerned Austria-Hungary and Serbia. He is, however, very 'apprehensive' that several great powers might be involved in a war. Speaking of Russia, Germany, and France, he observed that the terms of the Franco-Russian Alliance might be more or less to the same effect as those of the Triple Alliance.
"I fully explained to him our point of view, and repeated with emphasis that in this case we must stand firm so as to gain for ourselves some sort of guaranties, as hitherto Serbian promises have never been kept. I understood that in the first place he considered the question only as it influences the position of Europe. He must, however, in order to be fair to our point of view, put himself in our situation.
"He would not go into any more detailed discussion on this subject, said he must have time to study the note more carefully. He was to see the German and the French Ambassadors, as he must first of all exchange ideas with the powers who are allies of Austria-Hungary and Russia respectively, but have themselves no direct interest in Serbia."
Count Szécsen, Austro-Hungarian Ambassador at Paris, telegraphed to Count Berchtold that, on his presentation of the copy of the note to Serbia to M. Bienvenu-Martin, French Acting Secretary for Foreign Affairs, point five in the note had seemed to make a special impression on the secretary, since he had asked that it be reread.
"I took the opportunity to impress on him that the question was one which must be brought to an issue directly between Serbia and us, but that it was in the general interests of Europe that the trouble which for years past had been kept up by Serbian intrigues against us should at last make way for a clear situation.
"All friends of peace and order, and I placed France in the first rank of these, should therefore give serious advice to Serbia to change completely her attitude and to satisfy our just demands.
"The minister said that it was the duty of Serbia to proceed energetically against any accomplices of the murderers of Sarajevo, a duty which she could not escape. While laying special stress on the sympathy of France for Austria-Hungary, and on the good relations which existed between our two countries, he expressed the hope that the controversy would be brought to an end peacefully in a manner corresponding to our wishes.
"The minister avoided every attempt to palliate or to defend in any way the attitude of Serbia."
In a second telegram Count Szécsen reported that Baron von Schoen, German Ambassador at Paris, had officially informed M. Bienvenu-Martin, French Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs, that, in the view of the Berlin Cabinet, the Serbian controversy concerned only the two parties to it, and, in case that third states should wish to intervene, Germany would be on the side of her ally. M. Bienvenu-Martin replied that his Government agreed that the controversy concerned Belgrade and Vienna alone, and he hoped for a peaceful solution.
Count Szápáry, Austro-Hungarian Ambassador at St. Petersburg, telegraphed to Count Berchtold that, on presenting the copy of the note to Serbia to M. Sazonof, Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, the minister had questioned the fact of the outrages complained of arising in Serbia, and declared that the note was a pretext for war on Serbia.
"I said to him that no one among us was attacking the integrity of Serbia or the dynasty. M. Sazonof expressed himself most vigorously against the dissolution of the Narodna Odbrana, which Serbia would never undertake. The participation of imperial and royal officials in the suppression of the revolutionary movements elicited further protest on the part of the minister. Serbia then will no longer be master in her own house. 'You will always be wanting to intervene again, and what a life you will lead Europe!' I answered that if Serbia shows good will it will be a quieter life than hitherto.
"The commentary added to the communication of the note was listened to by the minister with fair composure; at the passage that our feelings were shared by those of all civilized nations, he observed that this was a mistake. With all the emphasis I could command, I pointed out how regrettable it would be if we could not come to an understanding with Russia on this question, in which everything which is most sacred to us was at stake, and, whatever the minister might say, everything which is sacred in Russia. The minister attempted to minimize the monarchical side of the question.
"With regard to the dossier which was put at the disposal of the Governments, M. Sazonof wanted to know why we had given ourselves this trouble, as we had already delivered the ultimatum. This was the best proof that we did not really desire an impartial examination of the matter. I said to him that the results which had been attained by our own investigations were quite sufficient for our procedure in this matter, which had to do with Austria-Hungary and Serbia, and that we were only ready to give the powers further information if it interested them, as we had nothing to keep secret.
"M. Sazonof said that now that the ultimatum had been issued he was not in the least curious. He represented the matter as if we only wanted to make war with Serbia whatever happened. I answered that we were the most peace-loving power in the world, but what we wanted was security for our territory from foreign revolutionary intrigues, and the protection of our dynasty from bombs....
"In spite of his relative calm, the attitude of the minister was throughout unaccommodating and hostile."
The Russian "Official Gazette" announced that the Government were closely and anxiously following the Serbian controversy, to which Russia could not remain indifferent.
Count Szápáry telegraphed to Count Berchtold that, after a council of ministers which had lasted five hours, M. Sazonof had received the German Ambassador, Count Pourtalés.
M. Sazonof took the position that the Serbian question was a European affair, the settlement of 1909 having been made under the auspices of all the powers. He pointed out
"that Austria-Hungary had offered a dossier for investigation when an ultimatum had already been presented. Russia would require an international investigation of the dossier, which had been put at her disposal. My German colleague at once brought to M. Sazonof's notice that Austria-Hungary would not accept interference in her difference with Serbia, and that Germany also on her side could not accept a suggestion which would be contrary to the dignity of her ally as a great power.
"In the further course of the conversation the minister explained that that which Russia could not accept with indifference was the eventual intention of Austria-Hungary 'to devour Serbia.' Count Pourtalès answered that he did not accept any such intention on the part of Austria-Hungary, as this would be contrary to the most special interest of the monarchy. The only object of Austria-Hungary was 'to inflict on Serbia justly deserved chastisement.' M. Sazonof on this expressed his doubts whether Austria-Hungary would allow herself to be contented with this even if explanations on this point had been made.
"The interview concluded with an appeal by M. Sazonof that Germany should work with Russia for the maintenance of peace. The German Ambassador assured the Russian Minister that Germany certainly had no wish to bring about a war, but that she naturally fully represented the interests of her ally."
Count Pourtalès telegraphed his Chancellor, Dr. von Bethmann-Hollweg that M. Sazonof was very much agitated.
Count Berchtold telegraphed to Count Mensdorff, Austro-Hungarian Ambassador at London, to explain to Sir Edward Grey, British Secretary for Foreign Affairs, that the action taken toward Serbia was not a formal ultimatum but "merely a démarche with a time limit," which, if not acceded to, would be followed only by Austria's breaking off diplomatic relations and beginning military preparations.
"If Serbia were to give way only under the pressure of our military preparations, we should indeed have to demand that she should make good the expenses which we had incurred; as is well known, we have already had twice (1908 and 1912) to mobilize because of Serbia."
Count Berchtold telegraphed to Count Szápáry, Austro-Hungarian Ambassador at St. Petersburg, a report of his interview with Prince Koudacheff, Russian Chargé d'Affaires at Vienna. The prince had stated that St. Petersburg was apprehensive that the démarche might take the form of humiliating Serbia, and this would have an echo in Russia.
"I explained ... the danger, not only to the integrity of the [Dual] Monarchy, but also to the balance of power and the peace of Europe, which would be involved in giving further scope to the great Serbian propaganda, and how all the dynasties, and not least the Russian, would apparently be threatened if the idea took root that a movement which made use of murder as a national weapon could be continued with impunity.
"I pointed out that we did not aim at any increase of territory, but only at the maintenance of what we possess, a point of view which could not fail to be understood by the Russian Government."
Russia. M. Sazonof, Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, telegraphed to Prince Koudacheff, Russian Chargé d'Affaires at Vienna, to ask Count Berchtold, Austro-Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs, that the time limit in the note to Serbia be extended, as it left to the powers insufficient time for conciliation.
"Austria-Hungary, having declared her readiness to inform the powers of the results of the inquiry upon which the Imperial and Royal Government base their accusations, should equally allow them sufficient time to study them.
"In this case, if the powers were convinced that certain of the Austrian demands were well founded, they would be in a position to offer advice to the Serbian Government.
"A refusal to prolong the term of the ultimatum would render nugatory the proposals made by the Austro-Hungarian Government to the powers, and would be in contradiction to the very bases of international relations."
M. Sazonof communicated this message to London, Rome, Paris, and Belgrade, with the request that in the three former cases similar instructions be given to their Ambassadors at Vienna.
Great Britain. Sir Edward Grey, British Secretary for Foreign Affairs, telegraphed to Sir Maurice de Bunsen, British Ambassador at Vienna, that he had said to Count Mensdorff, Austro-Hungarian Ambassador at London, that it was a matter for great regret that a time limit, and such a short one at that, had been insisted upon at this stage of the proceedings.
"The murder of the archduke and some of the circumstances respecting Serbia quoted in the note aroused sympathy with Austria, as was but natural, but at the same time I had never before seen one state address to another independent state a document of so formidable a character. Demand No. 5 would be hardly consistent with the maintenance of Serbia's independent sovereignty if it were to mean, as it seemed that it might, that Austria-Hungary was to be invested with a right to appoint officials who would have authority within the frontiers of Serbia.
"I added that I felt great apprehension, and that I should concern myself with the matter simply and solely from the point of view of the peace of Europe. The merits of the dispute between Austria and Serbia were not the concern of his majesty's Government, and such comments as I had made above were not made in order to discuss those merits.
"I ended by saying that doubtless we should enter into an exchange of views with other powers, and that I must await their views as to what could be done to mitigate the difficulties of the situation."
Sir George Buchanan, British Ambassador at St. Petersburg, telegraphed to Sir Edward Grey that M. Sazonof, the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, had sought an interview with him, as the Austrian step clearly meant war. At the interview M. Sazonof had said Austria's demands were provocative and immoral, some being impossible of acceptance. She would never have taken such action unless Germany had first been consulted. He hoped Great Britain would proclaim her solidarity with Russia and France. France would fulfill the treaty obligations with Russia, besides supporting Russia in diplomatic negotiations. Sir George said, that personally he did not expect any declaration of this kind from Great Britain. Direct British interests were nil in Serbia, British public opinion would not permit Great Britain to enter war on her behalf. M. Sazonof replied that the general European question was involved, and Great Britain could not afford to efface herself from the problems now at issue.
Evidently Sazonof wants Great Britain to join in warning Austria that her intervention in Serbia will not be tolerated. But suppose Austria nevertheless wars in Serbia, will Russia forthwith declare war on Austria?
A council of ministers is being held this afternoon on mobilization. At a meeting to-morrow, where the czar will preside, a decision will be come to.
Sir George said the important thing to do was to influence Austria to extend the time limit. M. Paléologue, the French Ambassador, was either set on war or was bluffing, and whichever it was, our only chance for peace was to adopt a firm and united attitude. There was no time to carry out Sir George's suggestion. The British Ambassador then said that his Government might perhaps warn Austria that war would probably mean Russian intervention, which would involve France and Germany, and so make it hard for Great Britain to keep out of the conflict. M. Sazonof answered that Great Britain would sooner or later be dragged into war; war would be rendered more likely by Great Britain if she did not make common cause with Russia and France. President Poincaré and M. Viviani, President of the Council, being in Russia, it appears as if Austria had taken advantage of their absence from France to present their ultimatum to Serbia. Even though we do not join them it seems that France and Russia are determined to make a strong stand.
Sir Maurice de Bunsen, British Ambassador at Vienna, telegraphed to Sir Edward Grey that he was assured by M. Schebeko, Russian Ambassador at Vienna, that Russia would not be indifferent to the humiliation of Serbia. Prince Koudacheff, the Russian Chargé d'Affaires, had told Count Berchtold, the Austro-Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs, that the note to Serbia was unusual and peremptory, and drawn up in a form rendering its acceptance impossible. The count replied that the Austro-Hungarian Minister would leave Belgrade at the time set if Serbia did not yield. The Dual Monarchy felt that its very existence was at stake. The step taken by the Government was approved by the country. He did not think objections would be raised by the powers.
Sir Edward Grey informed Sir Francis Bertie, British Ambassador at Paris of a conversation with M. Cambon, the French Ambassador at London, over an intended interview that afternoon of Sir Edward with Prince Lichnowsky, the German Ambassador.
"I would say to the ambassador that, of course, if the presentation of this ultimatum to Serbia did not lead to trouble between Austria and Russia, we need not concern ourselves about it; but, if Russia took the view of the Austrian ultimatum, which it seemed to me that any power interested in Serbia would take. I should be quite powerless, in face of the terms of the ultimatum, to exercise any moderating influence. I would say that I thought the only chance of any mediating or moderating influence being exercised was that Germany, France, Italy, and ourselves, who had not direct interests in Serbia, should act together for the sake of peace, simultaneously in Vienna and St. Petersburg.
"M. Cambon said that, if there was a chance of mediation by the four powers, he had no doubt that his Government would be glad to join in it; but he pointed out that we could not say anything in St. Petersburg till Russia had expressed some opinion or taken some action. But, when two days were over, Austria would march into Serbia, for the Serbians could not possibly accept the Austrian demand. Russia would be compelled by her public opinion to take action as soon as Austria attacked Serbia, and therefore, once the Austrians had attacked Serbia, it would be too late for any mediation.
"I said that I had not contemplated anything being said in St. Petersburg until after it was clear that there must be trouble between Austria and Russia. I had thought that if Austria did move into Serbia, and Russia then mobilized, it would be possible for the four powers to urge Austria to stop her advance, and Russia also to stop hers, pending mediation. But it would be essential for any chance of success for such a step that Germany should participate in it.
"M. Cambon said that it would be too late after Austria had once moved against Serbia. The important thing was to gain time by mediation in Vienna. The best chance of this being accepted would be that Germany should propose it to the other powers.
"I said that by this he meant a mediation between Austria and Serbia.
"He replied that it was so."
Sir Edward Grey telegraphed the results of the interview with Prince Lichnowsky to Sir Horace Rumbold, British Chargé d'Affaires at Berlin. Sir Edward's statements were those he had decided upon in his interview with M. Cambon. The prince replied that Austria might be expected to move unless Serbia accepted her demands in toto. He suggested that Serbia ought in no case to give a negative reply. A partial acceptance if sent at once might afford an excuse to Russia against immediate action. Sir Edward asked Sir Horace to submit his views to the German Secretary of State, Herr von Jagow.
Sir Edward Grey telegraphed Mr. Crackanthorpe, British Chargé d'Affaires at Belgrade, to advise the Serbian Government, if it were proved that any Serbian officials, however subordinate, were accomplices in the murder of the archduke, to give Austria the fullest satisfaction in the way of expressing concern with regret. For the rest they must reply as they consider best in Serbian interests. The only chance for Serbia is to reply favorably to as many points in the note as the time limit allows.
"Serbian Minister here has begged that his majesty's Government will express their views, but I cannot undertake responsibility of saying more than I have said above, and I do not like to say even that without knowing what is being said at Belgrade by French and Russian Governments. You should therefore consult your French and Russian colleagues as to repeating what my views are, as expressed above, to Serbian Government.
"I have urged upon German Ambassador that Austria should not precipitate military action."
France. M. Viviani, French Prime Minister, who had not yet seen the note to Serbia, wrote from Reval, Russia, to M. Bienvenu-Martin, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs at Paris, to send on to M. Dumaine, French Ambassador at Vienna, the following information and instructions:
In M. Viviani's conversation with M. Sazonof, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, it was agreed to prevent Austrian intervention in the internal affairs of Serbia of a kind which Serbia might consider as an attack on her sovereignty and independence. This view should be communicated to Count Berchtold, the Austro-Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs, and moderation counseled him, cooperation in this should be secured from the Russian and British Ambassadors in Vienna. The British Ambassador, Sir George Buchanan, had informed M. Sazonof that his Government might join in a démarche (proceeding) for removing any danger to general peace, and telegraphed his Government to that effect. M. Sazonof has instructed Count Benckendorff, Russian Ambassador at London, to secure such cooperation. M. Paul Cambon, French Ambassador at London, should be instructed to back him up. M. Bienvenu-Martin sent to M. Viviani, returning from Russia on La France, and to the French Ambassadors at London, Berlin, Vienna, St. Petersburg, and Rome, and the French Minister at Belgrade, the contents of the Austrian note to Serbia, and an account of the circumstances of the delivery of the copy to the French Government by Count Szécsen, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador. M. Berthelot, French Political Director, in obedience to M. Bienvenu-Martin's instructions, had confined himself to stating to the ambassador that painful feeling would be aroused in French public opinion by the categorical nature of the note, and its short time limit, and its presentation to Serbia at a time when the President and Prime Minister of France were at sea, and could not exert, in cooperation with statesmen of other powers not directly interested, that soothing influence on Serbia and Austria which was so desirable in the interest of general peace.
In a letter to these ambassadors and minister, and to the French Minister at Stockholm (M. Thiébaut), M. Bienvenu-Martin said that M. Berthelot, French Political Director, had advised M. Vesnitch, Serbian Minister at Paris, that Serbia should play for delay by asking that she be allowed time to verify the evidence, presumably one sided, adduced by Austria in support of her note to Serbia, and, above all, that Serbia should declare herself ready to submit to the arbitration of Europe.
Italy had not been consulted by Austria in regard to the note, nor even informed of it. M. Bienvenu-Martin informed these same representatives at foreign courts (with exception of the Ambassador at Vienna), that M. Dumaine, French Ambassador at Vienna had reported that the chief fear of the Austro-Hungarian military party was that Serbia would accede to the demands of Austria-Hungary; and that M. Yov. Yovanovitch, Serbian Minister at Vienna thought his Government would give way on all points save the order to the army dictated to King Peter, dismissal of officers suspected by Austria, and interference by foreign officials in Serbia. M. Yovanovitch hoped that a discussion on these points might be started which would lead to arbitration by the powers.
The feeling in Germany was warlike. The tone of the press there was intimidating, particularly toward Russia. Italy was exercising moderating influence at Vienna.
M. Bienvenu-Martin notified the French representatives at the above courts and at Vienna of the contents of the circular note of the German Government delivered him that day by Baron von Schoen, the German Ambassador. Said the Acting Foreign Secretary:
"I called the German Ambassador's attention to the fact that while it might appear legitimate to demand the punishment of all those who were implicated in the crime of Sarajevo, on the other hand it seemed difficult to require measures which could not be accepted, having regard to the dignity and sovereignty of Serbia; the Serbian Government, even if it was willing to submit to them, would risk being carried away by a revolution.
"I also pointed out to Herr von Schoen that his note only took into account two hypotheses: that of a pure and simple refusal or that of a provocative attitude on the part of Serbia. The third hypothesis (which would leave the door open for an arrangement) should also be taken into consideration; that of Serbia's acceptance and of her agreeing at once to give full satisfaction for the punishment of the accomplices and full guaranties for the suppression of the anti-Austrian propaganda so far as they were compatible with her sovereignty and dignity.
"I added that if within these limits the satisfaction desired by Austria could be admitted, the means of obtaining it could be examined; if Serbia gave obvious proof of good will it could not be thought that Austria would refuse to take part in the conversation.
"Perhaps they should not make it too difficult for third powers, who could not either morally or sentimentally cease to take interest in Serbia, to take an attitude which was in accord with the wishes of Germany to localize the dispute.
"Herr von Schoen recognized the justice of these considerations and vaguely stated that hope was always possible. When I asked him if we should give to the Austrian note the character of a simple mise en demeure, which permitted a discussion, or an ultimatum, he answered that personally he had no views."
M. Jules Cambon, French Ambassador at Berlin, reported to M. Bienvenu-Martin, that official German opinion supported Austria in not abating her demands on Serbia. There was pessimism in diplomatic circles. The Russian Chargé d'Affaires, M. Broniewsky, had bitterly noted the presentation of the note to Serbia during the absence from France of the French President and Prime Minister. He thought that William II, in his desire to support the monarchic principle, was becoming less inclined to show a conciliatory attitude.
In a second letter M. Cambon reported an interview he had just had with Herr von Jagow, German Secretary of State. The secretary supported the Austrian note to Serbia. It was that country's domestic affair, and he hoped that the dispute would be localized.
"I asked him if the Berlin Cabinet had really been entirely ignorant of Austria's requirements before they were communicated to Belgrade, and as he told me that that was so, I showed him my surprise at seeing him thus undertake to support claims of whose limit and scope he was ignorant.
"Herr von Jagow interrupted me, and said: 'It is only because we are having a personal conversation that I allow you to say that to me.'
"'Certainly,' I replied, 'but if Peter I humiliates himself, domestic trouble will probably break out in Serbia; that will open the door to fresh possibilities, and do you know where you will be led by Vienna?' I added that the language of the German newspapers was not the language of persons who were indifferent to, and unacquainted with, the question, but betokened an active support. Finally I remarked that the shortness of the time limit given to Serbia for submission would make an unpleasant impression in Europe.
"Herr von Jagow answered that he quite expected a little excitement (un peu d'émotion) on the part of Serbia's friends, but that he was counting on their giving her wise advice.
"'I have no doubt,' I then said to him, 'that Russia would endeavor to persuade the Cabinet of Belgrade to make acceptable concessions; but why not ask from one what is being asked from the other, and if reliance is being placed on advice being given at Belgrade, is it not also legitimate to rely on advice being given at Vienna from another quarter?'
"The Secretary of State went so far as to say that that depended on circumstances; but immediately checked himself; he repeated that the difficulty must be localized. He asked me if I really thought the situation serious. 'Certainly,' I answered, 'because if what is happening is the result of due reflection, I do not understand why all means of retreat have been cut off.'
"All the evidence shows that Germany is ready to support Austria's attitude with unusual energy. The weakness which her Austro-Hungarian ally has shown for some years past has weakened the confidence that was placed in her here. She was found heavy to drag along. Mischievous legal proceedings, such as the Agram and the Friedjung affairs, brought odium on her police and covered them with ridicule. All that was asked of the police was that they should be strong; the conviction is that they were violent.
"An article which appeared in the 'Lokal Anzeiger' this evening shows also that at the German Chancellery there exists a state of mind to which we in Paris are naturally not inclined to pay sufficient attention, I mean the feeling that monarchies must stand together. I am convinced that great weight must be attached to this point of view in order to appreciate the attitude of the Emperor William, whose impressionable nature must have been affected by the assassination of a prince whose guest he had been a few days previously.
"It is not less striking to notice the pains with which Herr von Jagow, and all the officials placed under his orders, pretend to everyone that they were ignorant of the scope of the note sent by Austria to Serbia."
M. Paléologue, French Ambassador at St. Petersburg, reported to M. Bienvenu-Martin as follows:
"The intentions of the Emperor of Russia and his ministers could not be more pacific, a fact of which the President of the [French] Republic and the president of the council have been able to satisfy themselves directly; but the ultimatum which the Austro-Hungarian Government has just delivered to the Cabinet at Belgrade introduces a new and disquieting element into the situation.
"Public opinion in Russia would not allow Austria to offer violence to Serbia. The shortness of the time limit fixed by the ultimatum renders still more difficult the moderating influence that the powers of the Triple Entente might exercise at Vienna.
"On the other hand, M. Sazonof [Russian Prime Minister] assumes that Germany will desire to support her ally and I am afraid that this impression is correct. Nothing but the assurance of the solidarity of the Triple Entente can prevent the German powers from emphasizing their provocative attitude."
M. Paul Cambon, French Ambassador at London, reported to M. Bienvenu-Martin an interview with Sir Edward Grey, British Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Cambon and Grey were agreed that everything must be done to avert the crisis, and that the British Cabinet should take the initiative in offering mediation by the four powers not directly interested, Great Britain, France, Russia and Germany. If Germany assented, time would be gained, and this was the essential point.
"Sir Edward Grey told me that he would discuss with Prince Lichnowsky the proposal. I mentioned the matter to my Russian colleague [Count Benckendorff] who is afraid of a surprise from Germany, and who imagines that Austria would not have dispatched her ultimatum without previous agreement with Berlin.
"Count Benckendorff told me that Prince Lichnowsky, when he returned from leave about a month ago, had intimated that he held pessimistic views regarding the relations between St. Petersburg and Berlin. He had observed the uneasiness caused in this latter capital by the rumors of a naval entente between Russia and Great Britain, by the czar's visit to Bucharest, and by the strengthening of the Russian army. Count Benckendorff had concluded from this that a war with Russia would be looked upon without disfavor in Germany.
"The Under-Secretary of State [Sir Arthur Nicholson] has been struck, as all of us have been, by the anxious looks of Prince Lichnowsky since his return from Berlin, and he considers that if Germany had wished to do so she could have stopped the dispatch of the ultimatum.
"The situation, therefore, is as grave as it can be, and we see no way of arresting the course of events.
"However, Count Benckendorff thinks it right to attempt the démarche upon which I have agreed with Sir Edward Grey."
In a second letter M. Cambon reported receipt of the details of the Austrian ultimatum.
"In consultation with my Russian colleague, who thinks it extremely difficult for his Government not to support Serbia, we have been asking ourselves what intervention could avert the conflict.
"Sir Edward Grey having summoned me for this afternoon, I propose to suggest that he should ask for the semiofficial intervention of the German Government at Vienna to prevent a sudden attack."
M. Bienvenu-Martin informed the French Ambassadors at St. Petersburg, Berlin, Vienna and Rome, and the Ministers at Stockholm and Belgrade of M. Cambon's report, and his (Bienvenu-Martin's) willingness to cooperate in the proposed conciliatory action at Vienna.
Belgium. M. Davignon, Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs, notified the Belgian Ministers at Paris, London, Berlin, Vienna, and St. Petersburg
"that the Government had under consideration an address to the powers who guarantee Belgian independence and neutrality assuring them of Belgium's determination to fulfill the international obligations imposed upon her by treaty in the event of a war breaking out on her frontiers.
"The Government have come to the conclusion that such a communication would be premature at present, but that events might move rapidly and not leave sufficient time to forward suitable instructions at the desired moment to the Belgian representatives abroad.
"In these circumstances I have proposed to the King [Albert] and to my colleagues in the Cabinet, who have concurred, to give you now exact instructions as to the steps to be taken by you if the prospect of a Franco-German war became more threatening.
"I inclose herewith a note, signed but not dated, which you should read to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and of which you should give him a copy, if circumstances render such a communication necessary.
"I shall inform you by telegram when you are to act on these instructions.
"This telegram will be dispatched when the order is given for the mobilization of the Belgian army if, contrary to our earnest hope and to the apparent prospect of a peaceful settlement, our information leads us to take this extreme measure of precaution."
The note inclosed said that Belgium had "most scrupulously" observed the obligations of neutrality imposed on her by the treaties of April 19, 1839, and would "strive unflinchingly" to fulfill them whatever the new circumstances might be.
"The friendly feelings of the powers toward her have been so often reaffirmed that Belgium confidently expects that her territory will remain free from any attack, should hostilities break out upon her frontiers.
"All necessary steps to insure respect of Belgian neutrality have nevertheless been taken by the Government. The Belgian army has been mobilized and is taking up such strategic positions as have been chosen to secure the defense of the country and the respect of its neutrality. The forts of Antwerp and on the Meuse have been put in a state of defense....
"These measures are intended solely to enable Belgium to fulfill her international obligations; and it is obvious that they neither have been nor can have been undertaken with any intention of taking part in an armed struggle between the powers or from any feeling of distrust of any of those powers."
On the following day this notification was also sent to the Belgian Ministers at Rome, The Hague, and Luxemburg.
After the British revealed the telegram to the United States, President Wilson, who had won reelection on his keeping the country out of the war, released the captured telegram as a way of building support for U.S. entry into the war. He had previously claimed neutrality, while calling for the arming of U.S. merchant ships delivering munitions to combatant Britain and quietly supporting the British blockading of German ports and mining of international waters, preventing the shipment of food from America and elsewhere to combatant Germany. After submarines sank seven U.S. merchant ships and the publication of the Zimmerman telegram, Wilson called for war on Germany, which the U.S. Congress declared on 6 April 1917.