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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

37 Day Count Down to War - Day 34

July 30th 1914
On July 30th, Nicholas sent a message to Wilhelm informing him that he had ordered partial mobiliation against Austria, and asking him to do his utmost for a peaceful solution. Upon hearing of Russia’s partial mobilisation, Wilhelm wrote: "Then I must mobilise too." The German Ambassador in St. Petersburg informed Nicholas that Germany would mobilise if Russia did not demobilise at once. The German military attaché in Russia reported that:
"I have the impression that they [the Russians] have mobilised here from a dread of coming events without aggressive intentions and are now frightened at what they have brought about."
At the same time, Nicholas’ order for a partial mobilisation met with protests from both Sazonov and the Russian War Minister General Valdimir Sukhomlinov, who insisted partial mobilisation was not technically possible, and that, given Germany’s attitude, a general mobilisation was required. Nicholas at first ordered a general mobilisation, and then after receiving an appeal for peace from Wilhelm cancelled it as a sign of his good faith. The cancellation of general mobilisation led to furious protests from Sukhomlinov, Sazonov, and Russia’s top generals, all urging Nicholas to reinstate it. Under strong pressure, Nicholas gave in and ordered a general mobilisation on the 30th.

Vladimir Sukhomlinov, Minister of War of the Russian Empire.
Cossacks are pictured, armed and ready

After receiving information from Rome that Serbia was now ready "on condition of certain interpretations, to swallow even Articles 5 and 6, that is, the whole Austrian ultimatum," Bethmann forwarded this to Vienna at 12:30 a.m., July 30th, and added:
"Please show this to Berchtold immediately and add that we regard such a yielding on Serbia’s part as a suitable basis for negotiations along with an occupation of a part of Serbian territory as a pledge." Berchtold replied that though the acceptance of the Austrian Note would have been satisfactory before hostilities had begun, "now after a state of war has begun, Austria's conditions must naturally take another tone." In response, Bethmann, now aware of the Russian order for partial mobilisation, fired off several telegrams in the early morning of July 30th.
Meanwhile on a day when the clouds over Europe were to darken markedly,  the Austrian bombardment of Belgrade continues. Serbian guns reply sporadically and an Austrian gunboat is damaged

at 2:55 a.m., July 30th, Bethmann telegraphs Vienna:
"The refusal of every exchange of views with St. Petersburg would be a serious mistake, for it provokes Russia precisely to armed interference, which Austria is primarily concerned in avoiding. We are ready, to be sure, to fulfill our obligations as an ally, but we must refuse to allow ourselves to be drawn by Vienna into a world conflagration frivolously and in disregard of our advice. Please say this to Count Berchtold at once with all emphasis and with great seriousness."
At three a.m., July 30th, Bethmann wires Vienna again:
"If Austria refuses all negotiations, we are face to face with a conflagration in which England will be against us . . . under these circumstances we must urgently and emphatically urge upon the consideration of the Vienna Cabinet the adoption of mediation in accordance with the above honorable conditions. The responsibility for the consequences which would otherwise follow would be, for Austria and us, an uncommonly heavy one."
Professor Fay wrote that "To this urgent request by Germany for Austria’s acceptance of a solution, which perhaps even yet might have avoided the conflagration of Europe, Berchtold gave no definite or frank answer."
These early-morning telegrams from Bethmann were given by Tschirschky to Berchtold while the two men were at lunch on Thursday, July 30th. Immediately afterwards, Tschirschky reported to Berlin that:
"Berchtold listened pale and silent while they {the Bethmann telegrams} were read through twice; Count Forgach took notes. Finally, Berchtold said he would at once lay the matter before the Emperor."
After Berchtold had departed for his audience with Emperor Franz Joseph (on the afternoon of Thursday, July 30th), Bethmann was told by Berchtold’s advisors (Forgach and Hoyos) that he should not expect a reply until the following morning (Friday, July 31st), for the reason that Tisza, who would not be in Vienna until then, must be consulted.
Bethmann spent the remainder of the day, July 30th, continuing to impress Vienna with the need for negotiations and to inform the Powers of his mediation efforts.
But in the evening of that hopeful day, Thursday, July 30th, with Berlin’s strenuous efforts to persuade Vienna to some form of negotiation, and with Bethmann actually awaiting a response from Berchtold, Russia gave the order for full mobilisation.
When the German Emperor learned that, were Germany to attack France and Russia, Britain would in all likelihood not remain neutral, he launched a vehement rant, denouncing Britain as "that filthy nation of grocers." That same day, the anti-Russian German-Turkish alliance was signed. Moltke passed on a message to Conrad asking for general mobilisation as a prelude to a war against Russia.
At 9:00 p.m. on July 30th, Bethmann Hollweg gave in to Moltke and Falkenhayn’s repeated demands and promised them that Germany would issue a proclamation of "imminent danger of war" at noon the next day regardless of whether Russia began a general mobilisation or not.
Later that day, Bethmann sent a message to the German ambassador to Vienna increasing pressure to accept the halt-in-Belgrade proposal, saying that: "If give way at all, it will hardly be possible to place the blame on Russia for the outbreak of the European conflagration. H.M. has, on the request of the Tsar, undertaken to intervene in Vienna because he could not refuse without awakening an irrefutable suspicion that we wanted war...If these efforts of Britain’s meet with success, while Vienna refuses everything, Vienna will prove that it is set on having a war, into which we are dragged, while Russia remains free of guilt. This puts us in a quite impossible position in the eyes of our own people. We can therefore only urgently recommend Vienna to accept Grey’s proposal, which safeguards its position in every way." Bethmann could not go to war in support of Austrian intransigence under such circumstances. But shortly afterwards, "as soon as news of Russia's general mobilization began to arrive in Berlin" the Chancellor instructed the ambassador in Vienna "that all mediation attempts be stopped", and the directive be suspended. Fritz Fischer and some other scholars have maintained the alternative view that Prince Henry's assurances that King George had promised him that Britain would remain neutral accounted for the change. Fischer notes that the telegram reporting these "vague" assurances arrived 12 minutes before the dispatch of the suspending telegram and that Bethmann himself justified the cancellation that way, while acknowledging that before then Bethmann had already prepared, but not yet sent, a telegram to Vienna explaining that he had "cancelled execution of instructions in No. 200, because the General Staff has just informed me that military measures of our neighbors, especially in the east, compel speedy decision if we are not to be taken by surprise."
Upon arriving back in France, the French Premier Rene Viviani sent a message to St. Petersburg asking that "in the precautionary measures and defensive measures to which Russia believes herself obliged to resort, she should not immediately proceed to any measure which might offer Germany the pretext for a total or partial mobilisation of her forces.” French troops were ordered to pull back six miles (10 km) from the German frontier as a sign of France’s peaceful intentions.
The British Prime Minister, Asquith, wrote to Stanley:
"The European situation is at least one degree worse than it was yesterday, and has not been improved by a rather shameless attempt on the part of Germany to buy our neutrality during the war by promises that she will not annex French territory (except colonies) or Holland or Belgium. There is something very crude & childlike about German diplomacy. Meanwhile the French are beginning to press in the opposite sense, as the Russians have been doing for some time. The City, wh. is in a terrible state of depression and paralysis, is the time being all against English intervention.”

In Britain, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York ask that people should pray for peace
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