Page:EB1922 - Volume 31.djvu/49

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EUROPE


war was to bring about some form of mediation or conciliation by which time would be gained; then some means might be found of settling the crisis in a peaceful way. For the next five days^ supported by France, he pursued this path with energy and resource. In accordance with the practice of the last years he depended on the cooperation of Germany. To intervene directly between Austria and Serbia was out of the question; if Russia became involved the only remedy would be joint action of Great Britain and Germany. He knew that he had the support of Prince Lichnowsky, the German ambassador in London; he hoped for the cooperation of the German chancellor; he did not know how fundamental was the difference between the German ambassador and his Government.

His first suggestion was that Austria should give Serbia more time, and not, as was threatened, break off diplomatic relations if Serbia did not accept all the requirements of the ultimatum by 6 o'clock on Saturday, July 25. This proposal, which was sup- ported by Russia, received no support in Germany, and in fact reached Vienna almost too late. It was at once rejected there. The Serbian answer was actually delivered at the appointed hour on July 25. It was very conciliatory. It went to the furthest possible extreme in compliance; every demand was granted with the exception of two: the dismissal of unspecified officials and officers and the cooperation on Serbian soil of Austrian officials. The Austrian minister, however, at once, in accordance with his instructions, left Belgrade. Sir Edward Grey, however, now began to press for mediation, not between Austria and Serbia, but between Austria and Russia, by the four Powers, Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy. On July 27 he converted this into a firm proposal for submission of the points at issue between Austria and Russia to a conference of the ambassadors in London. This proposal was rejected by the Germans on the ground that they could not ask Austria to submit to what would in fact be an Areopagus of the Powers. They also would prefer separate conversations between Austria and Russia, which Sazonov had meanwhile suggested. One of the reasons for the rejection was, as has since been explained, that they would not trust their own ambassador in London.

The text of the Serbian answer to the Austrian note was received in London on July 27. Sir Edward Grey at once pointed out that this reply could surely be made the basis of negotiations, and pressed that, if Austria continued her intransigeant attitude, it would appear that she was deliberately aiming at war. These representations were fully reported to Berlin by Prince Lichnow- sky, who warned the German Government that, if they continued their negative attitude, they would no longer be able to depend upon the neutrality of Great Britain. These representations were without effect. The German Government indeed on July 27 forwarded Sir Edward Grey's proposals to Vienna, but at the same time they informed Count Szogyeny, the Austrian ambassa- dor, that they did so merely because they did not wish to alienate Great Britain, and in no way associated themselves with the proposals which they did not wish to see adopted. The negative attitude of Berlin, the apparent refusal to do anything to restrain Austria, inevitably produced the conviction that Germany was no longer working for peace. If this were so there then remained only one means of avoiding war, that Great Britain should give a formal warning that in the event of war she would be found on the side of Russia and France. This was from the beginning strong- ly urged both at Paris and St. Petersburg; a first step in this direction was the order given to the British fleet (which had been assembled for manoeuvres) not to demobilize; this order was made public on July 28.

However, on the morning of July 28, some change became apparent in the German attitude. The Kaiser had returned to Potsdam from his North Sea cruise on the afternoon of July 27. There was at once laid before him the text of the Serbian answer, which, owing to very serious delay, for which the Austrians were responsible, had not reached Berlin until that day. He saw that it left to the Austrians no defensible ground for a declaration of war. " A brilliant achievement; this is more than could have been expected. A great moral success for Vienna, but with it

every ground for war disappears, and Giesl ought to have re- mained quietly at Belgrade. / would never have ordered mo- bilization." He therefore, on the morning of July 28, caused to be sent to Vienna a proposal that Austria should be satisfied with the occupation of Belgrade and a defined limit of territory, and should issue her demands from there. This would give to the military feeling of Austria that satisfaction which they might reasonably demand. As was pointed out: " If Austria continues her refusal to all proposals for mediation or arbitration, the odium of being responsible for a world war will in the eyes of the German people fall on the German Government. On such a basis, however, a successful war on three fronts cannot be started and carried through." The weakness of this proposal was that it was based on the assumption that war with Serbia would have begun; but as soon as war began, clearly Russia must mobilize. No settlement could be successful unless it provided for a mutual understanding as to the military measures to be taken on both sides; such an understanding must be made at once and com- municated to Russia. The Emperor's proposal assumed that while Austria began a war with Serbia, Russia should cease all military measures. This clearly was impossible.

Austrian Declaration of War against Serbia. Russian mobiliza- tion was in fact becoming imminent. The preliminary work had proceeded rapidly; reports came to Germany from all parts of the Russian Empire showing the activity of the preparations. The Russian position never changed. They would not proceed to the next stage until Austria took overt action either by a military advance or declaration of war. As soon as she took either of these steps, Russia would mobilize part of her forces. This con- tingency was realized on Tuesday, July 28. Austria had issued an order for the mobilization of eight army corps on July 26, and now sent a declaration of war against Serbia in an open telegram to Belgrade. The Austrian Government had informed Germany of their intention to do this the day before, but no warning or suggestion that some delay would be useful was given. Germany in fact was now beginning to experience the results of the very ill-considered language used three weeks before; the Kaiser had insisted then on the necessity for rapid and vigorous action; to press now for moderation and delay would have exposed him to the charge of vacillation which on other occasions his actions had appeared to justify, and from which he had boasted that on this occasion he would be free.

As soon as the news of the declaration of war reached St. Petersburg it was decided that partial mobilization must follow; the German and other Governments were immediately informed. This decision was confirmed when on the same day the Austrians broke off the separate conversations with Russia which Sazonov had suggested, giving as a reason the declaration of war with Serbia, an act for which they themselves were entirely respon- sible. Even now, however, there was a delay of 24 hours. The next morning news came that the Austrians had begun to attack and were bombarding Belgrade. Further delay seemed impossible. Apparently the Tsar signed the ukase for the mobilization of 13 army corps in the early afternoon of Wednesday, July 28. After doing so he caused Count Pourtales, the German representative in St. Petersburg, to be assured that it was not his intention to take any threatening measures against Germany, and that mobilization did not necessarily imply war even against Austria. About 7 o'clock that evening Cqunt Pourtales called on Sazonov, and under instructions from the German chancellor warned him that any further military preparations or mobilization would involve German mobilization, and that German mobilization meant war. This message was so worded that it seemed to prohibit even partial mobilization against Austria. The German explanation is that it was meant as a friendly warning, but it was taken, not unnaturally, as something in the nature of an ulti- matum. The effect was that the order for partial mobilization was that very evening changed into one for the general mobiliza- tion of the whole army. There were many reasons for this. Mobilization included also dislocation of the scheme for drawing up the Russian army on the frontier. The whole arrangements for the scheme would depend on whether it was to be merely a