The last session of the International Socialist Bureau was held at Brussels on July 29, 1914. The following resolution was adopted: “The International Socialist Bureau, at its meeting held today, July 29, upon listening to the reports of the representatives of all countries that may be involved in a world war on the political situation in those countries, has resolved unanimously that it shall be the duty of the workers of all nations concerned not only to continue but to further intensify their demonstrations against the war, for peace, and for the settlement of the Austro-Serbian conflict by international arbitration. The German and the French workers shall exert the most energetic pressure upon the governments of their respective countries in order that Germany shall restrain the war ardor of Austria, and that France shall obtain from Russia noninterference in the conflict. The British and Italian workers shall, on their part, support those efforts with all their energy. The extraordinary congress which is being called to meet at Paris will be a vigorous expression of this will for peace of the international proletariat.”
|The German language of my childhood was the dialect that was spoken also in Lower Bavaria; I was neither able to forget it nor to learn the Viennese jargon. The longer I stayed in this city, the more my hatred increased against the mixture of foreign nations that began to eat up this site of old German culture. The idea that this State could still be maintained even then seemed ridiculous to me. Austria was at that time like an old mosaic; the cement which held the single little stones together had become old and brittle; as long as the masterpiece is untouched, it can still pretend to be existent, but as soon as it is given a blow, it breaks into a thousand fragments. The question, therefore, was only when the blow would come. … If formerly in Vienna, Germany had above all else appeared to me as an unshakable colossus, now, however, anxious doubts sometimes began to rise in my mind. With myself and in the small circles of my acquaintances, I was wrathful at German foreign politics, and also at what seemed to me an unbelievably frivolous manner with which one faced the most important problem that confronted Germany in those days: Marxism. I really could not understand how one was able to stagger blindly towards a danger the ultimate effects of which, corresponding to its own intentions, were one day bound to be monstrous. In those days I warned those around me, as I am doing today on a larger scale, against the fervent prayer of all cowardly wretches: ‘Nothing can happen to us!’ Was not Germany subject to exactly the same laws as all other human communities? In the years 1913 and 1914, in various circles, some of which today stand faithfully by the movement, I expressed for the first time the conviction that the question of the future of the German nation is the question of the destruction of Marxism. … DURING the years of my unruly youth nothing had grieved me more than having been born at a time when temples of glory were only erected to merchants or State officials. The waves of historical events seemed to have calmed down to such an extent that the future appeared really to belong to the ‘peaceful competition of nations’ that means a quiet mutual cheating, excluding forceful measures. The individual States began more and more to resemble enterprises which cut the ground from under each other, stole each other’s customers and orders, and tried to cheat each other by every means, setting this in a scene which was as noisy as it was harmless. This development, however, not only seemed to endure, but it was intended to transform the world (with general approval) into one big department store, in the lobbies of which the busts of the most cunning profiteers and the most harmless administration officials were to be stored for eternity. The business men were to be supplied by the English, the administration officials by the Germans; the Jews, however, would have to sacrifice themselves to being proprietors, because, as they themselves admitted, they never earn anything but only ‘pay’ and, besides, they speak most of the languages. Why could one not have been born a hundred years earlier? For instance, at the time of the Wars of Liberation when a man really was worth something, even without ‘business’?! … Already during my Viennese time there hovered over the Balkans that fallow sultriness which usually announces a hurricane, but at times a brighter light flashed up only to return immediately into the uncanny darkness. But then came the Balkan War, and with it the first gust of wind swept over a Europe which had grown nervous. The time that followed, however, weighed heavily upon the people like a nightmare, brooding like the feverish heat of the tropics, so that in consequence of the continued anxiety, the feeling of the impending catastrophe finally turned into longing; might Heaven at last let Destiny, no longer to be restrained, take its full course! … On the southeast border of her realm Austria had an inexorable and mortal enemy who challenged the monarchy at shorter and shorter intervals, and who would not have given in till finally the favorable moment for the destruction of the realm had actually come. One had reason to fear that this event would happen not later than with the death of the old emperor; but then perhaps the monarchy would no longer be in a position to render any serious resistance. The entire State, during these last years, was represented to such an extent by the person of Franz Joseph that from the beginning, the death of this aged personification of the realm was looked upon by the great masses as the death of the realm itself. It was indeed the most cunning artfulness of the Slav policy to create the impression as though the Austrian State owed its existence to the really wonderful and unique skill of this monarch; a flattery which was the more favorably received in the Hofburg as it corresponded least of all to the actual merits of the emperor. … If at that time the Viennese government had given the ultimatum another, milder wording, this would not have changed anything in the situation except perhaps the fact that the government itself would have been swept away by the indignation of the people. Because, in the eyes of the great masses, the tone of the ultimatum was much too considerate and in no way too brutal or even too far-reaching. Those who today try to deny this are either forgetful empty-heads or quite deliberately cheats and liars. The fight of the year 1914 was certainly not forced upon the masses, good God! but desired by the entire people itself. One wanted at last to make an end to the general uncertainty. Only thus is it understandable that for this most serious of all struggles more than two million German men and boys joined the flag voluntarily, ready to protect it with their last drop of blood. To me personally those hours appeared like the redemption from the annoying moods of my youth. Therefore I am not ashamed today to say that, overwhelmed by impassionate enthusiasm, I had fallen on my knees and thanked Heaven out of my overflowing heart that it had granted me the good fortune of being allowed to live in these times. A struggle for freedom had broken out, greater than the world had ever seen before; because, once Fate had begun its course, the conviction began to dawn on the great masses that this time the question involved was not Serbia’s or Austria’s fate, but the existence or non-existence of the German nation. For the last time in many years, the German nation had become clairvoyant about its own future. Thus, at the very beginning of the enormous struggle the intoxication of the exuberant enthusiasm was mixed with the necessary serious undertone… What man desires, he hopes and believes. The overwhelming majority of the nation had long been tired of the eternally uncertain state of things; thus one could only too readily understand that one no longer believed in a peaceful adjustment of the Austro-Serbian conflict, but hoped for the final settlement. I, too, belonged to these millions. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf|
Herr Settembrini belonged to the Francophile party in his own country. which was not surprising when one recalled that his grandfather had compared the six days of the July Revolution to the six days of the creation, and seen that they were as good. But the understanding between the en- lightened republic and Byzantine Scythia was too much for him, it oppressed his breast, and at the same time made him breathe quicker for hope and joy at the thought of the strategic meaning of that network of railways. Then came the Serajevo murder, for everyone excepting German Seven-Sleepers a storm-signal; decisive for the informed ones, among whom we may reckon Herr Settembrini. Hans Castorp saw him shudder as a private citizen at the frightful deed, while in the same moment his breast heaved with the knowledge that this was a deed of popular liberation, directed against the citadel of his loathing. On the other hand, was it not also the fruit of Muscovite activity, and as such giving rise to great heart-searchings? Which did not hinder him, three weeks later, from characterizing the extreme demands of the monarchy upon Servia as a hideous crime and an insult to human dignity, the consequences of which he could foresee well enough, and awaited in breathless excitement.
During those days of stifling expectation, when the nerves of Europe were on the rack, Hans Castorp did not see Herr Settembrini. The newspapers with their wild, chaotic contents pressed up out of the depths to his very balcony, they disorganized the house, filled the dining-room with their sulphurous, stifling breath, even penetrated the chambers of the dying. These were the moments when the “Seven-Sleeper,” not knowing what had happened, was slowly stirring himself in the grass, before he sat up,rubbed his eyes – yes, let us carry the figure to the end, in order to do justice to the movement of our hero’s mind: he drew up his legs, stood up, looked about him. He saw himself released, freed from enchantment – not of his own motion, he was fain to confess, but by the operation of exterior powers, of whose activities his own liberation was a minor incident indeed! Yet though his tiny destiny fainted to nothing in the face of the general, was there not some hint of a personal mercy and grace for him, a manifestation of divine goodness and justice? Would Life receive again her erring and “delicate” child – not by a cheap and easy slipping back to her arms, but sternly, solemnly, peni- tentially – perhaps not even among the living, but only with three salvoes fired over the grave of him a sinner? Thus might he return. He sank on his knees, raising face and hands to a heaven that howsoever dark and sulphurous was no longer the gloomy grotto of his state of sin.
And in this attitude Herr Settembrini found him – figuratively and most figuratively spoken, for full well we know our hero’s traditional reserve would render such theatricality impossible. Herr Settembrini, in fact, found him packing his trunk. For since the moment of his sudden awakening, Hans Castorp had been caught up in the hurry and scurry of a wild departure, brought about by the thunderpeal. “Home” – the Berghof – was the picture of an anthill in a panic: its little population was flinging itself, heels over head, five thousand feet downwards to the catastrophe-smitten flat-land. They stormed the little trains, they crowded them to the footboard – luggageless, if needs must, and the stacks of luggage piled high the station platform, the seething platform, to the height of which the scorching breath from the flat-land seemed to mount – and Hans Castorp stormed with them. In the heart of the tumult Ludovico embraced him, quite literally enfolded him in his arms and kissed him, like a southerner – but like a Russian too – on both his cheeks; and this, despite his own emotion, took our wild traveller no little aback. But he nearly lost his composure when, at the very last, Herr Settembrini called him “Giovanni” and, laying aside the form of address common to the cultured West, spoke to him with the thou!
“E cosi in giù” he said. “Cosi vai in giù finalmente – addio, Giovanni mio! Quite otherwise had I thought to see thee go. But be it so, the gods have willed it thus and not otherwise. I hoped to discharge you to go down to your work, and now you go to fight among your kindred. My God, it was given to you and not to your cousin, our Tenente! What tricks life plays! Go, then, it is your blood that calls, go and fight bravely. More than that can no man. But forgive me if I devote the remnant of my powers to incite my country to fight where the Spirit and sacro egoismo point the way. Addio! ”
Hans Castorp thrust out his head among ten others, filling the little open window-frame. He waved. And Herr Settembrini waved back, with his right hand, while with the ring-finger of his left he delicately touched the corner of his eye.
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
Both Ambassadors telegraph to their Foreign Offices, but Lichnowsky with true prophetic inspiration adds the words: “Grey’s proposal is the only possibility of avoiding a world war, in which for us there woidd be everything to lose and nothing to gain. . . . In case France should be drawn in, England would not dare to remain disinterested.”
At the same time Grey sends his third appeal to Petersburg: “Public opinion here would not sanction our going to war over a Serbian quarrel. If, however, war does take place, the development of other issues may draw us into it, and I am therefore anxious to prevent it. . . . The only chance of peace, in my opinion, is for the other four Powers to join in asking the Austrian and Russian Governments not to cross the frontier. … // Germany will adopt this view, I feel strongly that France and ourselves should act upon it.”
Thus on the same day the German reported to his Foreign Office as a supposition what England was reporting to her Embassies both at Berlin and Petersburg as a possibility: in case of war she could scarcely remain neutral.
Here the tragic chain of cause and effect begins. From this moment Grey revolves in his head one single thought: “Shall I tell the world—shall I tell Germany, openly, what I am telling my Ambassadors confidentially; that Germany must give way, because on the outbreak of war we, too, shall mobilise? Paris and Petersburg are waiting for our supporting assurance. I cannot give it, for only Parliament can decide the vital question. If I bind my country by a ‘yes’ to-day, that country can disavow me to-morrow, for neither I nor Asquith nor anyone else knows what the man in the street, what Press and Parliament will say when it comes to the point. Everything will then depend on the circumstances, on whether it looks as though we or the others were being the aggressors.” . . . “And yet I ought to threaten,” his thoughts run on. “In Berlin and Vienna the soldiers are working for war, and Germany’s terrible army, which is better prepared than that of its enemies, can hope for victory over two allies, but not over three.”
Grey afterwards described the central point of these inward struggles in these words:
“One danger I saw, so hideous that it must be avoided and guarded against at every word. It was that France and Russia might face the ordeal of war with Germany relying upon our support; that this support might not be forthcoming, and that we might then, when it was too late, be held responsible by them for having let them in for a disastrous war.”
Here is revealed, as in a classical tragedy, the desperate situation of a man in authority seeking with all the force of his heart and soul to avoid the false step whose fatal consequences he foresees; and yet fatally doomed, whichever way he turns, to take that false step because, in a weak moment, he had been led into making half-promises. Small is the guilt, pure the will, great the confusion, true the effort, tragic the end.
Emil Ludwig, July ’14
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When next the sun sets behind the heights of Malmo, the chiefs of two States stand on the bridges of their respective ships and look round, get their officers to look, calculate, and look again. Each of them might easily reckon that the threatened complications in Europe were calling the other home, so that their courses might quite possibly cross each other. At the same hour the France was bearing her President through the North Sea to Dunkirk, and the Hohenzollern was carrying the Kaiser to Kiel. Each heart was beating in anticipation of war, each knew that the air around him was quivering with the electric waves, above in their cabins their wireless officers heard the stammer of speech in foreign tongues—but, alas! all was safely enciphered. Nevertheless, on board the hostile ships they made some attempts at deciphering; then they gave it up.
The two rulers on their ships weighed the course of destiny of these days. The Frenchman was torn between contradictory feelings; he admits himself that he wanted revanche; consequently he was bound to hope that war would be forced on him; yet he could not but fear the devastation bound to fall on his own homeland, Lorraine, and, as he was not in a position to attack, he must prefer that any German plans should be postponed until 1917. And yet he had spoken plainly enough, the last time only yesterday, to the Tsar.
The Kaiser’s feelings were swayed, as was inevitable with a vacillating nature such as his, by moods and circumstances; surrounded for weeks at a time only by soldiers and other persons who had studied him for years past, and had been freshly oiled, like the ship’s engines, before starting, by their instigators in Berlin; breathing the atmosphere of “an Admiral of the Atlantic Ocean,” and hearing not a single outspoken word of political warning; even more entirely out of touch with all classes of the people than when at home; and, to crown all, honestly infuriated by the murder of his friend — what could he think but what the following notes show, written in his own hand on board the Hohenzollern during his July trip, on the margin of the latest despatches:
Report from Vienna in which the Ambassador speaks of Berchtold’s endeavours to find demands that it would be wholly impossible for Serbia to accept. Note by the Kaiser: “Evacuate the Sandjak! Then the row would be on at once! Austria must absolutely get that back, in order to prevent the Serbs from gaining the sea-coast!”
Tisza wanted them to act “like gentlemen,” thereby interfering with Berchtold’s plans. Note by the Kaiser: “To murderers, after what has happened! Rubbish! . . . It was like this at the time of the Silesian wars: I am against all councils of War and conferences, since the more timid party always has the upper hand. Frederick the Great”
Emil Ludwig, July ’14
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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?"
"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