July 8, 1914


The New York Tribune, p. 1

On my return journey from Silesia I only remained a few hours in Berlin, but I heard there that Austria intended to take steps against Serbia to put an end to this intolerable situation. Unfortunately I undervalued the importance of the information. I thought nothing would come of it, and that it would be easy to settle the matter if Russia threatened. I now regret that I did not stop in Berlin, and at once declare that I could not agree to such a policy. I have since learned that the inquiries and appeals from Vienna won unconditional assent from all the influential men at a decisive consultation at Potsdam on July 5, with the addition that it would not matter if war with Russia resulted. This is what was stated, any how, in the Austrian protocol which Count Mensdorff received in London. Shortly afterward Herr von Jagow arrived in Vienna to discuss the whole question with Count Berchtold.

Subsequently, I received instructions to work to obtain a friendly attitude on the part of the English press, if Austria dealt Serbia a deathblow, and by my influence to prevent so far as possible public opinion from becoming opposed to Austria. Remembering England’s attitude during the annexation crisis, when public opinion sympathized with Serbian rights to Bosnia and her kindly favoring of national movements in the time of Lord Byron and that of Garibaldi, one thing and another indicated so strongly the improbability of British support of the proposed punitive expedition against the Archduke’s murderers, that I felt bound to issue a serious warning. I also sent a warning against the whole project, which I characterized as adventurous and dangerous, and advised moderation being urged on the Austrians, as I did not believe in the localization of the conflict.

Herr von Jagow answered that Russia was not ready, that there would be some fuss, but that the more firmly we held to Austria the sooner would Russia give way. Austria, he said, had already accused us of flabbiness, (flaumacherei,) and so we must not get into a mess. Opinion in Russia, he added, was becoming more and more pro-German, so we must just take the risks. In view of this attitude, which, as I subsequently found out, was the result of Count Pourtales’s reports that Russia would in no circumstances move, and caused us to urge Count Berchtold to the greatest possible energy, I hoped for salvation in English intervention, as I knew Sir Edward Grey’s influence with St. Petersburg in the direction of peace could prevail. I availed myself, therefore, of my good relations with the British Foreign Minister to beg him confidentially to advise moderation on the part of Russia in case Austria, as appeared probable, should demand satisfaction from the Serbians.

Prince Lichnowsky, German Ambassador to the United Kingdom, 1912-14

Commissioning of Austro-Hungarian dreadnought battleship SMS Prinz Eugen


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