July 25th 1914
On July 25, the Emperor Franz Joseph signed a mobilization order for 8 army corps to begin operations against Serbia on the 28th, and the Austro-Hungarian ambassador Giesl left Belgrade. The Russian General Staff ordered the “Period Preparatory to War”, the first steps to mobilization if need occurred, while the caretaker government in Paris cancelled all leave for French troops as of the 26th, and ordered the majority of French troops in Morocco to begin returning to France.
The Serbian leadership fears for the worst. Austria will attack no matter what the contents of the reply. Serbia orders general mobilization of it's army at 3:00 pm. Nobody knew it, but, World War I had just begun. Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Pasic delivering the reply to the Austrian ambassador, Baron Vladimir von Giesl - Part of your demands we have accepted... For the rest, we place our hopes on your loyalty and chivalry as an Austrian general."
With a mere 5 minutes to go, Pasic personally delivers the reply to Giesl at 5:55 pm. The reply yields almost everywhere. It might as well have yielded nothing.
The Austrian legation departs Belgrade on the 6:30 pm train as planned. The train is across the Danube and back in the Empire by 6:40 pm.
The Austrian mobilization order must be signed by Emperor Franz Josef. Berchtold obtains this signature at 7:23 pm by telling the aged Emperor that the Serbs were already attacking. Conrad was given his marching orders. Alarm Day for the Austrian army was set for 27-Jul and troop movements would begin on the day following.
An oversight: Germany has not been informed of these actions by her ally, Austria-Hungary.
map of the powder-keg frontier between Austria-Hungary and Serbia
On July 25, Grey suggested again that Germany inform Austria that the Serbian reply to the Austrian ultimatum was “satisfactory”. Jagow passed on Grey’s offer to Vienna without comment, which in the parlance of diplomacy is an unofficial way of advising rejection. At the same day, Jagow told the reporter Theodor Wolff that in his opinion “neither London, nor Paris, nor St. Petersburg wants a war”. On the same day, Russia announced that it could not remain “uninterested” if Austria attacked Serbia. Both the French and Russian ambassadors rejected four-power mediation, and instead proposed direct talks between Belgrade and Vienna. Jagow accepted the Franco-Russian offer as it offered the best chance to sever Britain from France and Russia In his talks with Prince Lichnowsky, Grey drew a sharp distinction between an Austro-Serbian war, which did not concern Britain and an Austro-Russian war, which did. Grey added that Britain was not working in concord with France and Russia, which heightened Jagow’s hopes of severing Britain from the Triple Entente. On the same day, Jagow sent another message to Vienna to encourage the Austrians to hurry up with declaring war on Serbia.
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