Berlin, London, Paris wanted to start a big war in Europe, Vienna was not against the defeat of Serbia, although they didn’t want a general European war. The reason for the war was given by the Serbian conspirators, who also wanted a war that would have destroyed the “patchwork” Austro-Hungarian empire and allowed them to implement the plans to create a “Great Serbia”.
28 June 1914 of the year in Sarajevo (Bosnia) terrorists kill the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia. Interestingly, the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Serbian Prime Minister Pasic received through their channels a message about the possibility of such an attempt and tried to warn Vienna. Pasic warned through the Serbian envoy in Vienna, and Russia through Romania.
Berlin decided that this is a great reason to start a war. Kaiser Wilhelm II, who learned about the attack at the celebration of "Weeks" fleet"In Kiel, in the margin of the report he wrote:" Now or never "(the emperor was a lover of loud"historical»Phrases). And now the hidden flywheel of war began to unfold. Although most Europeans believed that this event, like many before (like the two Moroccan crises, two Balkan wars), would not become a detonator of a world war. Moreover, the terrorists were Austrian citizens, not Serbian. It should be noted that European society at the beginning of the 20th century was largely pacifist and did not believe in the possibility of a major war, it was believed that people were already “civilized” enough to resolve controversial issues with war, for this there are political and diplomatic tools, only local conflicts are possible.
In Vienna, they had long been looking for a pretext for the defeat of Serbia, which was considered the main threat to the empire, "the engine of pan-Slavic politics." True, the situation depended on the support of Germany. If Berlin puts pressure on Russia and it retreats, then the Austro-Serbian war is inevitable. During the talks in Berlin on July 5-6, the German Kaiser assured the Austrian side of full support. The Germans probed British sentiments - the German ambassador told British Foreign Minister Eduard Gray that Germany, "taking advantage of Russia's weakness, considers it necessary not to restrain Austria-Hungary." Gray declined a direct answer, and the Germans decided that the British would be left behind. Many researchers believe that in this way London pushed Germany to war, the strong position of Britain would have stopped the Germans. Russia Gray said that "England will take a position favorable for Russia." 9, the Germans hinted to the Italians that if Rome took a favorable position for the central powers, then Italy could get Austrian Trieste and Trentino. But the Italians avoided a direct answer and eventually traded and waited until 1915.
The Turks also began to fuss, they began to look for the most profitable scenario for themselves. Maritime Minister Ahmed Jemal Pasha visited Paris, he was a supporter of an alliance with the French. The Minister of War Ismail Enver Pasha visited Berlin. And Interior Minister Mehmed Talaat Pasha went to St. Petersburg. As a result, the pro-German course won.
In Vienna, at that time, an ultimatum of Serbia was invented, and they tried to include such points that the Serbs could not accept. On July 14, the text was approved, and 23 was handed to the Serbs. The answer was to be given within 48 hours. Ultimatum contained very sharp demands. The Serbs were demanded to ban print publications that promoted hatred of Austria-Hungary and the violation of its territorial unity; to ban the Narodn Odbrana Society and all other similar unions and movements leading anti-Austrian propaganda; remove anti-Austrian propaganda from the education system; to dismiss all officers and officials who were engaged in propaganda against Austria-Hungary from the military and civil service; assist the Austrian authorities in suppressing a movement against the integrity of the empire; stop smuggling weapons and explosives on Austrian territory, arrest border guards involved in such activities, etc.
Serbia was not ready for war, it had just gone through two Balkan wars, it was going through an internal political crisis. And there was no time for delaying the question and diplomatic maneuvering. Other politicians understood this, the Russian Foreign Minister Sazonov, learning about the Austrian ultimatum, said: "This is a war in Europe."
Serbia began to mobilize the army, and the Serbian regent-prince Alexander “begged” Russia to render assistance. Nicholas II said that all Russia's efforts are aimed at avoiding bloodshed, and if the war starts, then Serbia will not be left alone. 25 th Serbs gave a response to the Austrian ultimatum. Serbia has agreed to almost all items except one. The Serbian side refused to participate in the Austrian investigation of the murder of Franz Ferdinand in Serbia, because it affected the sovereignty of the state. Although they promised to conduct an investigation and reported on the possibility of transferring the results of the investigation to the Austrians.
Vienna regarded this answer as negative. 25 July The Austro-Hungarian Empire began a partial mobilization of troops. On the same day, the German Empire began its hidden mobilization. Berlin demanded that Vienna begin military operations against the Serbs immediately.
Other powers attempted to intervene to diplomatically resolve the issue. London proposed to convene a conference of great powers and peacefully resolve the issue. The British were supported by Paris and Rome, but Berlin refused. Russia and France tried to persuade the Austrians to accept a settlement plan based on Serbian proposals - Serbia was ready to transfer the investigation to the international tribunal in The Hague.
But the Germans had already decided the question of the war; in Berlin, 26 had prepared an ultimatum to Belgium, which stated that through this country the French army plans to strike at Germany. Therefore, the German army must warn this attack and occupy the Belgian territory. If the Belgian government agrees, the Belgians were promised to pay damages after the war, if not, then Belgium was declared an enemy of Germany.
In London, there was a struggle of various power groups. Supporters of the traditional “non-interference” policy had very strong positions, and public opinion supported them. The British wanted to stay away from the pan-European war. The London Rothschilds, associated with the Austrian Rothschilds, sponsored an active propaganda of non-intervention policy. It is likely that if the main blow of Berlin and Vienna were directed against Serbia and Russia, the British would not intervene in the war. And the world saw the “strange war” of 1914, when Austria-Hungary crushed Serbia, and the German army sent the main blow against the Russian Empire. In this situation, France could wage a “positional war”, limiting itself to private operations, while Britain could not enter the war at all. London was forced to intervene in the war by the fact that it was impossible to prevent the complete defeat of France and the hegemony of Germany in Europe. The first lord of the Admiralty Churchill, at his own peril and risk, after the completion of the fleet’s summer maneuvers with the participation of reservists, did not let them go home and kept the ships in concentration without sending them to their places of deployment.
Austrian caricature "Serbia must perish."
Russia at this time was extremely cautious. For several days the Emperor held long meetings with the Minister of War Sukhomlinov, the sea minister Grigorovich and the Chief of the General Staff Yanushkevich. Nicholas II did not want the military preparations of the Russian armed forces to provoke a war.
Only preliminary measures were taken: the 25 of the vacations recalled officers, the 26 of the emperor agreed to preparatory measures for partial mobilization. And only in several military districts (Kazan, Moscow, Kiev, Odessa). In the Warsaw Military District, mobilization was not carried out, since it bordered simultaneously with Austria-Hungary and Germany. Nicholas II hoped that the war could be stopped, and sent a telegram to “cousin Willy” (German Kaiser) asking to stop Austria-Hungary.
These fluctuations of Russia became for Berlin proof that "Russia is not capable now", that Nikolay is afraid of war. Wrong conclusions were made: the German ambassador and military attache wrote from St. Petersburg that Russia is planning not a decisive offensive, but a gradual retreat, following the example of 1812 of the year. The German press wrote about the "complete disintegration" in the Russian Empire.
The outbreak of war
28 July Vienna declared war on Belgrade. It should be noted that the First World War began on a great patriotic rise. In the capital of Austria-Hungary, universal rejoicing reigned, crowds crowded the streets, singing patriotic songs. The same mood reigned in Budapest (the capital of Hungary). It was a real celebration, the women filled up the military, who were supposed to smash the accursed Serbs with flowers and signs of attention. Then people believed that the war with Serbia would be a triumph.
By the onset of the Austro-Hungarian army was not yet ready. But already 29-th ships of the Danube Flotilla and the fortress Zemlin, located opposite the Serbian capital, began shelling of Belgrade.
The Reich Chancellor of the German Empire, Theobald von Betman-Golweg, sent threatening notes to Paris and St. Petersburg. The French were told that the military preparations that France was about to begin "are forcing Germany to declare a state of threat of war." Russia was warned that if the Russians continued their military preparations, then "then it is hardly possible to avoid a European war."
London proposed another settlement plan: Austrians can occupy part of Serbia as a “pledge” for a fair investigation, in which great powers will take part. Churchill ordered the transfer of ships to the north, away from the possible attack of German submarines and destroyers, in Britain introduced a "preliminary martial law." Although the British still refused to “have their say”, although Paris asked for it.
In Paris, the government held regular meetings. The chief of the French General Staff, Joffre, conducted preparatory activities before the start of full-scale mobilization and suggested putting the army on full alert and taking positions at the border. The situation was aggravated by the fact that, under the law of the harvest, the French soldiers could leave for their homes, half of the army dispersed to the villages. Joffre said that the German army will be able to occupy part of the territory of France without serious resistance. In general, the French government was confused. Theory is one thing, and reality is another. The situation was aggravated by two factors: firstly, the British did not give a definite answer; secondly, in addition to Germany, Italy could hit France. As a result, Geoffrey was allowed to withdraw soldiers from vacations and mobilize 5 border corps, but at the same time take them away from the border by 10 kilometers to show that Paris is not going to attack first and not provoke a random conflict between German and French soldiers.
There was also no certainty in Petersburg, there was still hope that the big war could be avoided. After Vienna declared war on Serbia, Russia announced partial mobilization. But it turned out to be difficult to implement, since in Russia there were no plans for partial mobilization against Austria-Hungary; such plans were only against the Ottoman Empire and Sweden. It was believed that separately, without Germany, the Austrians would not risk fighting with Russia. And Russia itself did not intend to attack the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The emperor insisted on partial mobilization, the head of the General Staff Yanushkevich argued that without mobilizing the Warsaw military district, Russia would risk missing a powerful blow, because for intelligence it turned out that it was here that the Austrians would concentrate the shock grouping. In addition, if you start an unprepared partial mobilization, this will lead to a breakdown of rail traffic schedules. Then Nikolay decided not to mobilize at all, to wait.
Information came in the most varied. Berlin tried to gain time - the German Kaiser sent encouraging telegrams, reported that Germany was inclining Austria-Hungary to concessions, and Vienna seemed to agree. And right there came the note of Betman-Golweg, the message about the bombing of Belgrade. And Vienna, after a period of waggling, announced the refusal of negotiations with Russia.
Therefore, on July 30, the Russian emperor ordered mobilization. But immediately canceled, tk. from Berlin came several peace-loving telegrams of “cousin Willy,” who reported on his efforts to persuade Vienna to negotiate. Wilhelm asked not to start military preparations, because this will hinder the negotiations between Germany and Austria. Nikolay, in response, suggested submitting the question to the Hague Conference. Russian Foreign Minister Sazonov went to the German Ambassador Pourtales to work out key points for resolving the conflict.
Then Petersburg received other information. Kaiser changed his tone for a hard one. Vienna refused any negotiations, there was evidence that the Austrians clearly coordinate their actions with Berlin. There were reports from Germany that military preparations were under way. German ships from Kiel were transferred to Danzig in the Baltic. Cavalry units advanced to the border. And for the mobilization of the armed forces, Russia needed 10-20 more days than Germany. It became clear that the Germans were just fooling St. Petersburg to gain time.
31 July Russia announced mobilization. Moreover, it was reported that as soon as the Austrians cease hostilities and a conference is convened, the Russian mobilization will be stopped. Vienna reported that a halt to the hostilities was impossible, and announced a full-scale mobilization directed against Russia. Kaiser sent Nicholas a new telegram in which he said that his peace efforts had become “elusive” and that it was still possible to stop the war if Russia canceled military preparations. Berlin received a pretext for war. An hour later, William II in Berlin, under the enthusiastic roar of the crowd, said that Germany was "forced to wage war." In the German Empire, martial law was introduced, which simply legalized previous military preparations (they had been going on for a week).
France sent an ultimatum on the need to maintain neutrality. The French had to answer for 18 hours whether France would be neutral in the event of a war between Germany and Russia. And as a pledge of "good intentions" they demanded to hand over the border fortresses Toul and Verdun, which they promised to return after the end of the war. The French simply were stunned by such impudence, the French ambassador in Berlin even hesitated to convey the full text of the ultimatum, confining himself to a demand for neutrality. Moreover, in Paris they feared mass unrest and strikes, which the left had threatened to organize. A plan was prepared according to which, according to previously prepared lists, they planned to carry out the arrests of socialists, anarchists and all “suspicious”.
The situation was very difficult. In St. Petersburg, about the ultimatum of Germany about the termination of mobilization learned from the German press (!). The German ambassador, Pourtalez, was instructed to hand it at midnight from July 31 on August 1; the deadline was given in 12 hours in order to reduce opportunities for diplomatic maneuver. The word "war" was not used. Interesting that Petersburg was not even sure of the support of France, because Union treaty has not been ratified by the French Parliament. And the British offered the French to wait for the “further development of events”, since the conflict between Germany, Austria and Russia "does not affect the interests of England." But the French were forced to go to war, because the Germans gave no other choice - at 7 in the morning of August 1, German troops (16 Infantry Division) crossed the border with Luxembourg and occupied the town of Trois Vierge (Three Virgins), where the borders and railway communications of Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg converged. In Germany, they later joked that the war began with the capture of the three virgins.
Paris on the same day began a general mobilization and rejected the ultimatum. Moreover, they have not yet spoken about the war, informing Berlin that “mobilization is not a war”. Concerned Belgians (the neutral status of their country was determined by the 1839 and 1870 agreements, the main guarantor of Belgium's neutrality was Britain) asked Germany for clarifications on the invasion of Luxembourg. Berlin replied that there was no danger to Belgium.
The French continued to call out to England, recalling that the English fleet, according to the previously concluded agreement, must protect the Atlantic coast of France and the French fleet should concentrate in the Mediterranean. During a meeting of the British government 12 from 18, its members opposed the support of France. Gray told the French ambassador that France should make its own decision, Britain is currently unable to provide assistance.
London was forced to reconsider its position because of Belgium, which was a possible springboard against England. The British Foreign Office requested Berlin and Paris to respect the neutrality of Belgium. France confirmed the neutral status of Belgium, Germany was silent. Therefore, the British announced that in the attack on Belgium, England could not maintain neutrality. Although here, London has kept a loophole for itself, Lloyd George expressed the opinion that if the Germans do not occupy the Belgian coast, then the violation can be considered "insignificant."
Russia offered Berlin to resume negotiations. Interestingly, the Germans were going to declare war anyway, even if Russia accepted an ultimatum to stop mobilization. When the German ambassador handed over the note, he gave Sazonov two papers right away, in both Russia declared war.
In Berlin, there was a dispute - the military demanded to start a war without declaring it, they say, the opponents of Germany, by taking retaliatory actions, will declare war and become "instigators". And the Reich Chancellor demanded the preservation of the rules of international law, the Kaiser took his side, because He loved beautiful gestures - the declaration of war was a historic event. 2 August in Germany officially announced the general mobilization and war of Russia. It was the day when the implementation of the Schlieffen Plan began - the 40 of the German corps should be deployed in offensive positions. Interestingly, Germany officially declared war on Russia, and the troops began to move to the west. 2-th was finally occupied by Luxembourg. And Belgium was given an ultimatum on the admission of German troops, the Belgians had to respond in the 12 hourly period.
The Belgians were shocked. But in the end they decided to defend themselves - they did not believe in the assurances of the Germans after the war, they were not going to tear down the good relations with England and France. King Albert called for defense. Although the Belgians had hope that this was a provocation and Berlin would not violate the neutral status of the country.
On the same day, England was determined. The French were told that the British fleet would cover the Atlantic coast of France. And the reason for the war will be the German attack on Belgium. A number of ministers who were against this decision, resigned. The Italians declared their neutrality.
2 August Germany and Turkey signed a secret agreement, the Turks pledged to side with the Germans. 3 Turkey declared neutrality, which was a bluff, given the agreement with Berlin. On the same day, Istanbul began to mobilize 23-45 reservists for years, i.e. almost universal.
3 August Berlin declared war on France, the Germans accused the French of attacks, “aerial bombardment” and even violation of “Belgian neutrality”. The Belgians rejected the ultimatum of the Germans, Germany declared war on Belgium. 4-th began the invasion of Belgium. King Albert asked for help from the countries guarantors of neutrality. London presented an ultimatum: to stop the invasion of Belgium or Britain will declare war on Germany. The Germans were outraged and called this ultimatum "racial betrayal." At the expiration of the ultimatum, Churchill ordered the fleet to begin hostilities. Thus began the First World War ...
Could Russia prevent war?
It is believed that if Petersburg had given Serbia to the mercy of Austria-Hungary, the war could have been prevented. But this is a misconception. Thus, Russia could only gain time - a few months, a year, two. The war was predetermined by the course of development of the great Western powers, the capitalist system. It was necessary for Germany, the British Empire, France, the United States, and it would still have started sooner or later. Would find another reason.
Russia could only change its strategic choice - for whom to fight - at the turn of about 1904-1907. Then London and the United States openly helped Japan, and France adhered to cold neutrality. At that time, Russia could join Germany against the "Atlantic" powers.