July 23, 1914

July 22, 2014
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Le Temps (Paris, 23 Juillet 1914)
Source: gallica.bnf.fr

This was the super-ultimatum. In the words of the British Foreign Secretary, it constituted “the most formidable document ever addressed by one state to another.” It was also the nonultimatum. Though its tone left no doubt over the consequences of noncompliance, it did not mention the possibility of war, and therefore arrived at the Austrian Embassy in Belgrade labeled as a mere “demarche with a time limit.”

And there were other fine aspects to Berchtold’s game. The sledgehammer message came phrased in fastidious diplomatic French, the last such “final notice” to be written in that language. Last but not least, Berchtold used precision timing, always important in a theatrical enterprise. Belgrade relied on two principal protectors, Russia and France. Just then the French Head of State was finishing his visit with the Tsar. Berchtold did not want the two to react jointly when the “demarche with a time limit” struck. Through German diplomatic sources, Berchtold had learned that President Poincare would end his stay at the Russian capital in the early afternoon of Thursday, July 23. By 5 P.M. he would be floating away on the cruiser France. Berchtold instructed the Austrian Ambassador in Belgrade to deliver the “demarche” at 6 P.M. sharp.

Frederic Morton, Thunder at Twilight, Ch. 32

Thursday, July 23, 1914.

Review at Krasnoe Selo this morning. Sixty thousand men took part. A magnificent pageant of might and majesty. The infantry marched past to the strains of the Marche de Sambre et Meuse and the Marche Lorraine.

What a wealth of suggestion in this military machine set in motion by the Tsar of all the Russias before the President of the allied republic, himself a son of Lorraine!

The Tsar was mounted at the foot of the mound upon which was the imperial tent. Poincaré was seated on the Tsaritsa’s right in front of the tent. The few glances he exchanged with me showed me that our thoughts were the same.

This evening we had a farewell dinner on the France. The moment it was over the French squadron was to prepare to leave for Stockholm.

The Tsaritsa had made a point of coming with the Tsar. All the grand dukes and grand duchesses were there.

About seven o’clock a momentary squall did some slight damage to the floral decorations of the deck but the table looked very fine all the same. It had indeed a kind of terrifying grandeur with the four gigantic 30 mm. gun raising their huge muzzles above the heads of the guests. The sky was soon clear again; a light breeze kissed the waves; the moon rose above the horizon.

Conversation between the Tsar and the President never ceased.

In the distance the Grand Duchess Anastasia raised her champagne glass towards me more than once, indicating with a sweep of her arm the warlike tackle all about us.

As the second entrée was about to be served a servant brought me a note from Viviani, scribbled on a menu: "Be quick and prepare a communiqué for the press."

Admiral Grigorovitch, Naval Minister, who was next to me, whispered in my ear:

"It seems to me you’re not left in peace for a minute!"

I took my own and my neighbour’s menus and hastily drew up a note for Havas Agency, using the neutral and empty phraseology suitable for documents of this kind. But to end up I alluded to Serbia in the following terms:

The two governments have discovered that their views and intentions for the maintenance of the European balance of power, especially in the Balkan Peninsula, are absolutely identical.

I sent my note to Viviani who read it and then shook his head at me across the table.

At length the toasts were reached. Poincaré delivered his concluding phrase like a trumpet call:

The two countries have the same ideal of peace in strength, honour and self-respect.

These last words – words to be heard really to be appreciated – were followed by thunderous applause. The Grand Duke Nicholas, the Grand Duchess Anastasia and the Grand Duke Nicholas Michailovich turned flaming eyes upon me.

As we were rising from the table Viviani came up to me:

"I don’t much like the last sentence of your note: I think it involves us a little too much in Russia’s Balkan policy . . . Wouldn’t it be better to leave it out?"

"But you can’t publish an official report of your voyage and pretend not to know that there are serious differences, a threat of open conflict between Austria and Serbia. It might even be thought that you were engaged in some scheme here which you dare not mention."

"That’s true. Well, give me another draft."

A few minutes later I brought him this version:

The visit which the President of the Republic has just paid to H.M. the Emperor of Russia has given the two friendly and allied governments an opportunity of discovering that they are in entire agreement in their views on the various problems which concern for peace and the balance of power in Europe has laid before the Powers, particularly in the East.

"Excellent !" said Viviani.

We immediately went to discuss the matter with the President of the Republic, the Tsar, Sazonov and Isvolsky. All four unreservedly approved the new draft and I sent it at once to the Havas Agency.

The time for departure was approaching. The Tsar told Poincaré he would like to continue the discussion a few minutes longer.

"Suppose we go on the bridge, Monsieur le President?… It will be quieter."

Thus I found myself alone with the Tsaritsa who asked me to take a chair on her left. The poor lady seemed worn out. With a forced smile she said in a tired tone:

"I’m glad I came to-night … I was afraid there would be a storm . . . The decorations on the boat are magnificent . . . The President will have lovely weather for his voyage . . . "

But suddenly she put her hands to her ears. Then with a pained and pleading glance she timidly pointed to the ship’s band quite near to us which had just started on a furious allegro with a full battery of brass and big drums.

"Couldn’t you? … " she murmured.

I guessed the cause of her trouble and signalled sharply to the conductor who did not understand but stopped his band at once.

"Thank you, thank you!" sighed the Tsaritsa.

The young Grand Duchess Olga, who was sitting at the other end of the ship with the rest of the imperial family and the members of the French mission, had been observing us for some minutes with an anxious eye. She suddenly rose, glided towards her mother with graceful case and whispered two or three words in her ear. Then addressing me, she continued:

"The Empress is rather tired, but she asks you to stay with her, Monsieur l’Ambassadeur, and to go on talking to her."

I resumed our conversation as she went off with quick, light steps. At that very moment the moon appeared in an archipelago of flaky, slow-moving clouds. The whole Gulf of Finland was lit up. My subject was found for me. I enlarged on the charm of sea voyages. The Tsaritsa listened to me in silence, her gaze vacant and strained, her cheeks livid, her lips motionless and swollen. After ten minutes or so which seemed to me an eternity the Tsar and the President of the Republic came down from the bridge.(2)

It was eleven o’clock. Preparations for the departure were in progress. The guard shouldered arms. Sharp commands rang out. The Alexandria’s launch greeted the France. The farewells were said to the strains of the Russian national anthem and the Marseillaise. The Tsar spoke very warmly to the President of the Republic. I myself said goodbye to Poincaré who kindly asked me to call on him in Paris in a fortnight’s time.

As I was bowing to the Tsar at the top of the gangway he said to me:

"Will you come with me, Monsieur l’Ambassadeur? We can talk undisturbed on my yacht. You’ll be taken straight back to Petersburg."

From the France we transferred to the Alexandria. Only the imperial family accompanied their majesties. The ministers, functionaries, military staffs and my personal staff returned direct to Petersburg in an Admiralty yacht.

It was a splendid night. The milky way stretched, a pure band of silver, into unending space. Not a breath of wind. The France and her escorting division sped rapidly towards the west, leaving behind them long ribbons of foam which glistened in the moonlight like silvery streams.

When the imperial suite was on board Admiral Niloff came to the Tsar for orders. The latter said to me:

"It’s a wonderful night. Suppose we go for a sail."

The Alexandria steered for the coast of Finland.

The Tsar made me sit behind him in the stern of the yacht and told me of the conversation he had just had with Poincaré:

"I’m delighted with my talk with the President. We see absolutely eye to eye. I am not less peace-loving than he, and he is not less determined than I to do everything necessary to prevent the cause of peace being compromised. He fears some Austro-German manoeuvre against Serbia and thinks we should reply with the united front of a common diplomatic policy. 1 think the same. We must show ourselves firm and united in our efforts to find possible solutions and the necessary adjustments. The more difficult the situation becomes the more important will unity and firmness become."

"That policy seems to me the essence of wisdom; I’m afraid we shall have to resort to it before long."

"You are still uneasy?"

"Yes, sire."

"Have you any fresh reason for your apprehension?"

"I have at least one – the unexpected return of my colleague Szapary, and the air of cold and hostile reserve he adopted towards the President of the Republic the day before yesterday. Germany and Austria are preparing a shock for us."

"What can they want? A diplomatic success at the expense of Serbia? To score a point off the Triple Entente? . . . No, no; notwithstanding appearances the Emperor William is too cautious to launch his country on some wild adventure, and the Emperor Francis Joseph’s only wish is to die in peace."

For a minute he sat in silence, lost in thought as if he were following up some vague line of thought. Then he rose and paced the deck.

Around us the grand dukes were standing waiting for the moment to approach their master who grudgingly dispensed a few commonplaces among them. He called them up in turn and seemed to show them an unrestrained frankness, an affectionate familiarity, as if he wanted them to forget that he usually kept them at a distance and made it a rule never to talk politics with them.

The Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaevich, the Grand Duke Nicholas Michailovich, the Grand Duke Paul Alexandrovich and the Grand Duchess Marie Pavlovna came up to me, congratulating themselves and me that the presidential visit had been so supreme a success. In the court code that meant that the sovereign was satisfied.

The Grand Duchesses Anastasia and Militza, "the two Montenegrins," got me in a corner:

"What a glorious speech the President made It was just what wanted saying, just what we’ve been waiting for so long! Peace in strength, honour and self-respect. Remember those words, Monsieur l’Ambassadeur; they will mark a date in the history of the world… "

At a quarter to one the Alexandria dropped anchor in Peterhof bay.

After leaving the Tsar and Tsaritsa I transferred to the escort yacht, Strela, and was taken to Petersburg which 1 reached at half-past two in the morning. As we sailed up the Neva I was thinking of the eager prophecy of the Montenegrin sybils.

Maurice Paléologue, An Ambassador’s Memoirs

July 22, 1914

July 21, 2014

No. 76.

Sir G. Buchanan to Sir Edward Grey.
St. Petersburg}, July 22, 1914.
D. 1:46 P.M.
Tel. (No. 168.) R. 3:22 P.M.

Servian Minister told me yesterday that he regarded present crisis as most dangerous one through which Servia had passed during the last two years. After repeating to me all that his Government had done to show their readiness to meet any legitimate demands that Austria might address to them, he said that Count Tisza and Count Forgach were inflaming Austrian public opinion so as to force hands of aged Emperor. On my remarking that if Servia adhered to her present correct attitude it would be impossible for Austria to find a pretext for attacking her, Minister replied that she would create some incident that would furnish her with it.

I repeated above to President of the Republic, whom I saw immediately afterwards, and also mentioned what you had said in your telegram No. 38 of 20th July.(1) His Excellency expressed opinion that a conversation a deux between Austria and Russia would be very dangerous at present moment, and seemed favourable to moderating counsels by France and England at Vienna.

I also spoke to Minister for Foreign Affairs, whom I met later in the day. His Excellency said that if Austria could prove plot had been hatched in Servia there was no objection to her asking Servian Government to institute judicial enquiry, and this, he believed, Servia was ready to do. He thought, however, it would be advisable for three Governments to counsel moderation at Vienna. This should be done in friendliest manner, and should not tale the form of any collective action. He begged me to telegraph to you in this sense, and said he would speak to the President of the Republic to-day on the subject.(2)


Any counsel to Vienna will be a very delicate matter, and in any case I presume we should wait to know what the Austrian Government are going to say at Belgrade. — G. R. C.

I very much doubt the wisdom of our making any representations at Vienna. It is for the German Government to do this. — E.A.C.

I understand that the Secretary of State intends to see Count Mensdorff. This would be all to the good, but I would deprecate any representations or advice by the three Powers at Vienna. I feel sure that such action would be resented and would do harm. — A.N.

I am going to see Count Mesndorff to-morrow. (3) — E.G. July 22, 1914

(1) No. 67
(2) See Nos. 84, 90 and F No. 22.
(3) See No. 86.<p

At last the note is ready. It is very long, and begins by demanding from the Serbian King a declaration in set terms denouncing all Greater Serbia agitations, to be published without delay in the official organ, like the verdict in the Press at the close of a libel action. Then follow ten demands, five of them directed against the agitation: suppression of all propaganda in the Press and associations; dissolution of the Narodna Obrana; supervision of instruction in schools; dismissal of all officers and officials compromised—their names to be communicated from Vienna; and the participation of the Imperial and Royal Governments in the investigation. Apparently general proscription is still possible, as enacted by Austria and Prussia in concert a hundred years ago in the Karlsbad Decrees, to prevent any union of German races and German states. Then come the points relating to the murder, and the inquiry, Austrian officials participating.

These are the principal points of the Ultimatum. Before it was despatched, Count Forgatch hurriedly took a pencil and made it a little more venomous still. State institutions, opinions, sentiments, are summoned in peremptory fashion to appear before a Court which is judge in its own cause, forty-eight hours being allowed for unconditional acceptance. The note is to be delivered at Belgrade at such a moment that when its contents are telegraphed to Petersburg, the French President, who is just finishing his visit there, will no longer be present to hear them. The time-table is worked out. At the last moment Jagow learns that Poincare is not leaving Petersburg in the afternoon, but only in the evening. Berchtold accordingly puts off the delivery of the note by one hour. So the two work, one slender shoulder against the other; and the German occupies himself with the hour of presentation of a note, the contents of which he does not know, but for which he has promised his nation’s support. The two are united by the truly statesmanlike thought that the French and Russians must not be allowed to discuss it together; the Frenchman must be on the high seas when he gets the message. Count Berchtold’s concoction is to be acid, with an additional relish of unexpectedness : a note a la surprise. He knows that this omelette, his masterpiece, means an ultimatum to Europe. His old Emperor, too, sees clearly. After reading the ultimatum, he says to Bilinski: ”Russia cannot accept this. . . . It is no use shutting one’s eyes; this means a big war!”

Emil Ludwig, July ’14


The New York Tribune

Escorted by the Guard Cossacks, whose scarlet tunics flamed in the sunshine, our carriages passed along the Neva at a smart trot.

A few days ago, when I was settling with Sazonov the final details of the President’s visit he had said to me with a smile:

"The Guard Cossacks have been told off to escort the President. You see what a fine figure they’ll cut! They’re splendid fellows, fearful fellows. Besides they’re dressed in red. I rather think Monsieur Viviani does not dislike that colour."

I had replied

"No, he doesn’t dislike it but his artistic eye doesn’t enjoy it thoroughly except when it’s next to white and blue."

In their scarlet tunics these long-haired, bearded and bristly Cossacks are certainly a formidable sight. When our carriages disappeared with them through the gateway of the fortress a spectator with a turn for irony, or a lover of historical antitheses. might well have asked whether it was not to the State Prison that they were conducting these two certificated and avowed "revolutionaries," Poincaré and Viviani, not to mention myself, their accomplice. The moral contradiction in terms, the tacit paradox in the background of the Franco-Russian Alliance, has never struck me more forcibly.

At three o’clock the President received the deputations of the French colonies in St. Petersburg and throughout Russia. Some of them had come from Moscow, Kharkov, Odessa, Kiev, Rostov, Tiflis. In presenting them to Poincaré 1 could say with perfect sincerity:

"Their eagerness to come and greet you in no way surprises me. Every day I see practical proofs of the fervent and pious love of the French colonies in Russia for their distant homeland. In no province of our old France, Monsieur le Président, will you find better Frenchmen than those here before you."

Maurice Paléologue, An Ambassador’s Memoirs

Mme. Henriette Caillaux, wife of the Finance Minister (widely touted to be the next Prime Minister), had pumped six bullets into the body of France’s most powerful journalist, the editor in chief of Le Figaro, Gaston Calmette. That had been back in March. But now, in mid-July, fireworks between prosecutor and defense counsel lit up the erotic glamor behind this charismatic homicide. Much of the trial revolved around the love letters Caillaux had written Henriette during the extramarital affair that preceded their wedding-letters whose imminent publication in Le Figaro had driven Mme. Caillaux to murder.

The shots at Sarajevo faded rapidly as those from the Figaro office resounded once more in newspaper columns. This was the stuff of prime gossip, made even tangier by a courtroom duel. It enlivened millions of French vacations. Certainly it piqued President Poincare on his summer cruise. About to land in St. Petersburg, he asked to be apprised of every moist detail by cable.

Frederick Morton, Thunder at Twilight, ch. 32

June 19, 1914

July 18, 2014
export (6-a) The ship of state glides down the stream, a slender pleasure-boat, between whirlpools and precipices. No one really cares to take the oars, only from time to time a hand reaches to the rudder to prevent the craft from running ashore. None of the German diplomats wants a European war: in his heart each one of them hopes that the whole business will be quietly settled, for, as the report says, “thanks to her indecision and desultoriness, Austria-Hungary has now become the real ‘sick man’ of Europe. It is therefore doubtful whether Vienna will really decide on action.” Thus one Empire doubts the other’s resolution, while the other in its turn takes fright when it finds its plans encouraged by the first. Each wishes the other to put obstacles in its way, making action impossible, but throwing the consequences of inaction on the other. As neither is quite confident in its own decisions, it trusts to the other, and hopes that the enemy’s unwillingness may help them both out of their difficulty.

From time to time Jagow [German Secretary of State] sits up in the boat as it is carried down the stream — the boat which he ought to be steering — and ventures a question. He asks Vienna, timidly, “What are the ideas of Austria-Hungary’s statesmen concerning the future status of Serbia? . . . It would be useful to us to be informed to a certain extent as to where the road is likely to lead us.”

But the wily Viennese have no intention of putting the infamy they are planning in black and white, and showing it to their friends before it is irrevocable. They put off the German Ambassador, always promising to tell him tomorrow. The Baron whom the Foreign Ministry keeps to draw up its ultimatums and similar manifestoes has to rewrite the note four times before the Ministerial Council approves it. Here there comes another conflict with Tisza, who seeks to safeguard his Hungary from Austria at the very beginning by a formal renunciation of any territorial aggrandisement; just as a Crown Prince on the point of a misalliance has to renounce his children’s rights before begetting them. When Berchtold announces his intention of partitioning the greater part of Serbia among her neighbours, Tisza canvasses the whole plan energetically. Count Stiirgkh reverts to his favourite idea of deposing the Serbian dynasty. The Count has some objection to this family. Finally they agree on retaining, at most, only certain strategical points.

And is it thus, Count Berchtold, that your dearest enemy would filch, before the first shot is fired, the choicest morsels of that great booty for the sake of which you are destroying the peace of Europe? But the Minister smiles a Metternich-like smile. A Minister proposes to conquer an enemy country. His colleague has reason to fear that such an enlargement of the common Fatherland would strengthen the other’s half; therefore Tisza insures himself against the imminent danger of a victory, and bathes himself and his reluctant confreres in rays of peace and morality. He is for chastening the criminals only, not for despoiling them.

Emil Ludwig, July ’14

July 21, 1914

July 18, 2014

Raymond Poincaré, President of France, in black suit and top hat, on a state visit to Russia, at Tsarkoye Selo or some other location near St. Petersburg.

July 20, 1914

July 18, 2014

Monday, July 20, 1914.

I [Maurice Paléologue, French Ambassador to Russia] left St. Petersburg at ten o’clock this morning on the Admiralty yacht and went to Peterhof. Sazonov, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Isvolsky, the Russian Ambassador to France, and General de Laguiche, my military attaché, accompanied me. All four of us had been invited by the Tsar to lunch on the imperial yacht before going to meet the President of the Republic [Raymond Poincaré had left France for a state visit to Russia on July 15] at Cronstadt. The staff of my Embassy, the Russian ministers and Court functionaries will go by rail direct to Peterhof.

The weather was cloudy. Our vessel steamed at high speed between low banks towards the Gulf of Finland. Suddenly a fresh breeze from the open sea brought us a heavy shower, but as suddenly the sun burst forth in his splendour. A few pearl-grey clouds, through which the sun s rays darted, hung here and there in the sky like sashes shot with gold. As far as the eye could reach, in a limpid flood of light the estuary of the Neva spread the immense sheet of its greenish, viscous, changing waters which always remind me of Venice.

At half-past eleven we stopped in the little harbour of Peterhof where the Alexandria, the Tsar’s favourite yacht, was lying under steam.

Nicholas II, in the uniform of an admiral, arrived at the quay almost at once. We transferred to the Alexandria. Luncheon was served immediately. We had at least an hour and three-quarters before us until the arrival of the France. But the Tsar likes to linger over his meals. There are always long intervals between the courses in which he chats and smokes cigarettes.

I was on his right, Sazonov on his left and Count Fredericks, Minister of the Court, was opposite us.

After a few commonplaces the Tsar told me of his pleasure at receiving the President of the Republic.

"We shall have weighty matters to discuss," he said.

"I’m sure we shall agree on all points . . . But there’s one question which is very much in my mind – our understanding with England. We must get her to come into our alliance. It would be such a guarantee of peace!"

"Yes, Sire, the Triple Entente cannot be too strong if it is to keep the peace."

"I’ve been told that you yourself are uneasy about Germany’s intentions."

"Uneasy? Yes, Sire, I am uneasy although at the moment I have no particular reason to anticipate a war in the immediate future. But the Emperor William and his Government have let Germany get into a state of mind such that if some dispute arose, in Morocco, the East – anywhere – they could neither give way nor compromise. A success is essential at any price and to obtain it they’ll risk some adventure."

The Tsar reflected a moment:

"I can’t believe the Emperor wants war . . . If you knew him as I do! If you knew how much theatricality there is in his posing! …

"Perhaps I am doing the Emperor William too much honour in thinking him capable of willing, or simply accepting the consequences of his acts. But if war threatened would he, and could he prevent it? No, Sire, I don’t think so, honestly I don’t."

The Tsar sat silent and puffed at his cigarette. Then he said in a resolute voice:

"It’s all the more important for us to be able to count on England in an emergency. Unless she has gone out of her mind altogether Germany will never attack Russia, France and England combined."

Coffee had just arrived when the French squadron was signalled. The Tsar made me go up on the bridge with him.

It was a magnificent spectacle. In a quivering, silvery light the France slowly surged forward over the turquoise and emerald waves, leaving a long white furrow behind her. Then she stopped majestically. The mighty warship which has brought the head of the French State is well worthy of her name. She was indeed France coming to Russia. I felt my heart beating.

For a few minutes there was a prodigious din in the harbour; the guns of the ships and the shore batteries firing, the crews cheering, the Marseillaise answering the Russian national anthem, the cheers of thousands of spectators who had come from St. Petersburg on pleasure boats and so forth.

At length the President of the Republic stepped on board the Alexandria. The Tsar received him at the gangway.

As soon as the presentations were over the imperial yacht steered for Peterhof. Seated in the stern the Tsar and the President immediately entered into conversation, I should perhaps say a discussion, for it was obvious that they were talking business, firing questions at each other and arguing. As was proper it was Poincaré who had the initiative. Before long he was doing all the talking, The Tsar simply nodded acquiescence, but his whole appearance showed his sincere approval. It radiated confidence and sympathy.

Before long we were at Peterhof. Through its magnificent trees and sparkling fountains, Catherine II’s favourite residence appeared above a long terrace from which a foaming cascade poured its majestic waters.

At a sharp trot our carriages ascended the drive leading to the palace entrance. At every bend we had a fleeting glimpse of some fresh vista, a line of statues, fountains or terraces. Though the detail is somewhat meretricious one scents something of the keen and delicious atmosphere of Versailles in the balmy, sunlit air.

At half-past seven there was a banquet in the Empress Elizabeth room.

Thanks to the brilliance of the uniforms, superb toilettes, elaborate liveries, magnificent furnishings and fittings, in short the whole panoply of pomp and power, the spectacle was such as no court in the world can rival. I shall long remember the dazzling display of jewels on the women’s shoulders. It was simply a fantastic shower of diamonds, pearls, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, topaz, beryls – a blaze of fire and flame.

In this fairy milieu Poincaré’s black coat was a drab touch. But the wide, sky-blue ribbon of St. Andrew across his breast increased his importance in the eyes of the Russians. And then it was soon seen that the Tzar was listening to him with the closest and most sympathetic attention.

During dinner I kept an eye on the Tsaritza Alexandra Feodorovna opposite whom I was sitting. Although long ceremonies are a very great trial to her she was anxious to be present this evening to do honour to the President of the allied Republic. She was a beautiful sight with her low brocade gown and a diamond tiara on her head. Her forty-two years have left her face and figure still pleasant to look upon. After the first course she entered into conversation with Poincaré who was on her right. Before long however her smile became set and the veins stood out in her cheeks. She bit her lips every minute. Her laboured breathing made the network of diamonds sparkle on her bosom. Until the end of dinner, which was very long, the poor woman was obviously struggling with hysteria. Her features suddenly relaxed when the Tsar rose to propose his toast.

The imperial speech was received in a composed silence, for it was the reply which was most eagerly awaited. Poincaré spoke without notes instead of reading his speech as the Tsar had done. Never had his diction been more clear, lucid and pointed. What he said was only the stale and formal official verbiage but in his mouth the words acquired a remarkable wealth of meaning and authority. The effect was quite marked on that audience, brought up as it was in the traditions of despotism and the discipline of courts. I’m sure that of those decorated functionaries more than one thought: "That’s how an autocrat should talk."

After dinner the Tsar held a levee. The general eagerness to be presented to Poincaré showed he had been a success. Even the German clique, the ultra-reactionary group, sought the honour of an introduction to the President.

At eleven o’clock a procession was formed. The Tsar conducted the President of the Republic to his room.

There Poincaré kept me in conversation a few minutes. We exchanged impressions, and very good they were.

When I returned to St. Petersburg by rail at a quarter to one in the morning, I heard that this afternoon the principal factories went on strike – for no reason and on a signal from no one knows where. There have been collisions with the police at several points. My informant knows the working-class quarters well and tells me that the movement has been instigated by German agents.

Maurice Paléologue, An Ambassador’s Memoirs

July 18, 1914

July 17, 2014

SIR,—As a young Croat living in this country, I was agreeably surprised by your article ” The Political Effects of the Arch-duke’s Murder ” (Spectator, July 4th). I can only underline every word of this competent and impartial article. If it has been written by an Englishman, he can be proud of being the only son of Albion who understands the Southern Slav. The English people should read this article and leave aside such unqualified comments as appeared in English halfpenny papers. As a Croat, I say the Serbs are a good and noble people; they are blood of our blood ; and the Archduke was not assassined by the Serbs, but by the Pan-Germanista. A young Serb has only shot. The causes of the murder are in Vienna and Budapest. There should be held inquisition, and the ” leading ” political circles of unhappy monarchy should examine their own political conscience. The Pan-Germanista and Asiatic Magyars challenge all Slavs, and not only the Southern Slav, and it would be cowardly not to answer. They have last year mobilized the Austro-Hungarian Army to fight against our free Balkan brethren with our Slav soldiers of Austro- Hungarian territory. The Pan-Germanists and Imperialist Magyars have threatened the heroic King and people of our beloved Montenegro when millions of Austrian Southern Slavs have applauded to the victory of heroic mountaineers. The Pan-Germanists have invented the hellish scheme to send in case of a European conflagration the Slav soldiers of Austro- Hungarian territory against the noble French heroes. This is horrible, this is provocation of our peaceful Slav conscience ! The Turks have gone, but the Pan-Germanist and Magyar iron rod has remained, and our destiny is hard. The cultural and economical development of Southern Slavs is checked by Austrian policy of divide and rule. We are in Middle and Southern Europe called upon to break down the Prussian regime of iron rod. We hope to have on our side all civilized Europe excepting the Teutonic Sulturtrager, but including always growing-up Russia. The Pan-Germanists must know that Trieste shall not become German Southern Hamburg, they must know that the Adriatic Sea belong to Italians and Southern Slavs. It is quite ridiculous when the Germans and Magyars call Adriatic ” our blue German or Magyar Adria,” basing their national ownership on their strongly sub- sidized shipping companies which must employ Croatian or Italian personnel, forgetting entirely that the money is international, and as there is to-day German capital the free Southern Slavs can to-morrow attract the English and French capital which works without political aims. The Slavs are the absolute majority of the population of immorally ruled “Dual” Monarchy, and the Pan-Germanists of Berlin and Cologne must know that we are not willing to favour the forcible expropriation of the noble Polish people in Posen or to build Dreadnoughts for the GrOsseres Deutschland—i.e., for the Pan-Germanist Colonial conquests. Where border the Slavs and Teutonics, there it will always lighten and thunder until the Pan-Germanists finally resign to cherish the idea of denationalization of Slav peoples and conquest of Slav countries, or to hold forcibly the actual political and economi- cal hegemony. We are struggling for, and we must establish in every respect, our independence. The Prussian system does not understand the British ideal of self-government; they believe that all the world can be ruled from Vienna or Budapest, and that everybody must have so absurd a political conception as Count Berchtold, who makes policy without people. The Southern Slavs have been, are, and will be persecuted, but never down-hearted ; we believe in our political and economical regeneration based on racial unity. When a nation is fighting for the freedom there will not be a delicate choice of means. The German patriots praise the Saxons who have betrayed Great Napoleon in the battle of nations of Leipzig. The Croatian people enlightened in America, and hating the Magyar iron rod, instinctively await with anxiety when the Russian Cossacks will traverse the Carpathian Mountains, and the tyrants of Southern Slavs must know what will be our attitude. I should like to correct only a mistake in the referred article—i.e., there are not twenty millions of Southern Slavs in the Empire, but more than twenty-five millions of all Slavs, that is the absolute majority. The Southern Slavs amount to about seven millions, who are a compact mass bordering on Servia and Montenegro, the people of the same language, national feeling, and sorrowful Southern Slav national songs. They are settled on Adriatic coasts, good sailors, in touch with Italian culture since Middle Age. We are proud of having given to Italy the famous linguist, Niecolo Tommaseo (before called Tomasevi6, and native of Sebenico, who has written also in Croatian), and Father Boscovic (a famous mathematician and natural philosopher, native of ” Slav Athens,” Ragusa), and many others. As a progressive and liberal Croat, I thank you, Sir, for having printed the mentioned article.

The Spectator, London, July 18, 1914

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July 17, 1914

July 16, 2014

RWS, Lancieux Summer 1914 (2)

The fire smoldering in the forest of Europe was beginning to burst into flames. In vain did they try to put it out in one place: it only broke out in another: with gusts of smoke and a shower of sparks it swept from one point to another, burning the dry brushwood. Already in the East there were skirmishes: the prelude to the great war of the nations.

All Europe, Europe that only yesterday was skeptical and apathetic, like a dead forest, was swept by the flames. All men were possessed by the desire for battle. War was ever on the point of breaking out. It was stamped out, but it sprang to life again. The world felt that a merciful accident might let loose the dogs of war. The world lay in wait. The feeling of inevitability weighed heavily even upon the most pacifically minded. And certain ideologues, sheltering beneath the massive shadow of the cyclops, Proudhon, were proclaiming in war the most handsome noble title of mankind…

This, then, was to be the end of the physical and moral resurrection of the races of the West! To such butchery they were to be borne along by the currents of action and passionate faith! Only a Napoleonic genius could have marked out a chosen, deliberate aim for this blind, onward rush. But nowhere in Europe was there any genius for action. It was as though the world had chosen the most mediocre to be its governors. The force of the human mind was in other things.–So there was nothing to be done but to trust to the declivity down which they were moving. This both governors and governed were doing. Europe looked like a vast armed vigil.

Romain Rolland, Jean-Christophe, Tome X, 1912

… while Tisza was expounding his peaceful policy in Budapest, amid the unanimous applause of the Hungarian Ministers, Franz Joseph approved his Foreign Minister’s plan of war.

When Count Tisza comes to Vienna a week later he is suddenly another man. What has so transformed him, soul and brain? Perhaps he hopes that the war will be over in a year and win him the elections, which threaten to grow dangerous to the oligarchy of Budapest, despite the millions of crowns spent on bribery. Perhaps his heart has been touched by the prayers of his cousins, the feudal agrarians, who see in the murder of their future sovereign a glorious opportunity to wage war against their dangerous rival, the Serbian pig. Further, there are small personal jealousies which have prevented him from consulting the Opposition, even confidentially, in this extraordinary situation.

One thing is certain, that in the meantime he has read a threatening document—an urgent appeal to the Foreign Minister from the Chief of the General Staff, who abstains, indeed, from interfering in political decisions, “only I must again point out, as I have already explained by word of mouth, in complete agreement with your Excellency, that in taking diplomatic steps everything must be avoided which might allow delay, or successive repetitions of the diplomatic action, thus giving the enemy time to make his military preparations . . . if, however, the decision to make the demarche stands, military interests demand that this should be carried through in a single action with a short time-limit for the Ultimatum.”

The intention is plain, and has its effect. The voice of the General is heard threatening the Diplomat, at the orders of that Diplomat himself, who hopes by this ruse to overcome the Hungarian’s hesitation. This letter refers clearly to confidential conversations; indeed, it was written so hurriedly that even the date was omitted and only added conjecturally in after-years. For a whole fortnight Tisza has to listen daily to the same phrases: “prestige, enunciation of power, signs of weakness, making a clean sweep, action”; on top of this, reiterated fanfares from Berlin and the prizes which Berchtold was never weary of dangling before him: the strongest army in Europe on one’s side, a completely “free hand” in Berlin. Finally, unveiled threats from the supreme military authorities; “you will be responsible to us for the consequences of delay!” The most convinced pacifist would have found that hard to resist; how much more an officer, a man living at that day and in that circle of feudal aristocrats.

Thus the last internal enemy of the War Counts was worn down by suggestion. Tisza visits the German Ambassador and declares himself converted to the Ultimatum. The next day he makes a statement in the Budapest Parliament which is so equivocal that even the Paris Temps praises his moderation.

Emil Ludwig, July ’14

Return to Index

Go to Document Numbers 67-74

(32283) No. 51.

Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.

Vienna, July 16, 1914.
D. 1:50 P.M.
R. 3:35 P.M.
Tel. (No. 86.)

In reply to interpellations in Hungarian Chamber last
night concerning tension prevailing between Austria-Hungary and Servia, Hungarian
Prime Minister declared that relations between the two countries required clearing
up, but that Government were not of opinion that this clarification need of necessity
lead to warlike complications.Though hope of peaceful solution is expressed
in speech, Count Tisza made a kind of general statement to the effect that every
nation must be prepared for war.(1)

(1) See Nos. 65, 82.

(32300) No. 52.

Lord Granville to Sir Edward Grey. (Received July 17.)

July 16, 1914

July 15, 2014


July 15, 1914

July 15, 2014

The sun shone. The days passed. The jolt of Sarajevo subsided. The world discovered that Austria, instead of rounding on the Serbs, rusticated placidly along with its German ally. Belgrade relaxed. So did St. Petersburg, Paris, London. The feeling grew that Habsburg’s response to the assassination would be as reasonable as it was tardy.

And since so many leaders jaunted away from Vienna and Berlin, why should their counterparts elsewhere stick to their desks? One by one the dramatis personae of the opposing camp began to play their parts in Count von Berchtold’s script.

Together with his daughter, the Chief of Staff of the Serbian Army went on vacation-in Austria, of all countries, at Bad Gleichenberg. On July 15, Raymond Poincare, President of France, that is, of Serbia’s closest Western ally, embarked on a cruise as cheery as the Kaiser’s. With his Prime Minister he sailed on a summit junket to Norway and Russia. Tsar Nicholas II, Serbia’s eastern protector, awaited his French guests at Tsarskoe Selo, a pleasure dome of multi-hued marble overlooking the Gulf of Finland that served as his summer castle. “Every day,” he noted in his diary, “we play tennis or swim in the fjords.”

In England, the Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, a childless widower and lover of leafy solitude, indulged himself in leafy solitude. Near Winchester, by the banks of the river Itchen stood his cottage, brushed by willows and embraced by ivy. During much of that July, Sir Edward could be found here. He spent the days leaning against the rail of a footbridge, lowering his rod down to the stippled trout.

The First Lord of the British Admiralty pursued a more ebullient pastime at Overstrand on the Norfolk coast: There Mr. Winston Churchill had his holiday house. On its beachfront he worked away with spade and bucket, assisted by his children. The Churchill family was building sand castles that featured deep moats to trap the tide.

At almost the same time the British Prime Minister Sir Herbert Asquith sent his daughter off to Holland “so that the girl can have some fun.” Sir Herbert himself did not stray too far from No. 10 Downing Street. After all, he had to tend to something of a crisis. More fuss was afoot about the Irish Home Rule Bill.

Frederic Morton, Thunder at Twilight, ch. 30

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July 14, 1914

July 13, 2014


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L'Humanité (Paris)
Source: gallica.bnf.fr



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