joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Thu 3 Jul, 2014 09:15 am
3 JULY 1914

Berchtold and his advisors begin work at the Ballhausplatz, Austria-Hungary's foreign ministry, on a note to be delivered to the German government. It is a reworking of a note prepared prior to Franz Ferdinand's assassination, in which Austria-Hungary proposed a diplomatic offensive to counteract the Russo-Serbian threat, especially in light of Romania's recent drift toward the Russian orbit. As rewritten in the wake of Sarajevo, the note now recommends a military response to Serbia's perceived aggression.



Berchtold was not alone in wanting to seize the opportunity presented by Franz Ferdinand's assassination to strike a blow against Serbia, but he needed to act cautiously. Austria-Hungary could not act without the full support of Germany, its only reliable ally, as any military action against Serbia would likely draw a response from Russia, which had taken on the role of Serbia's protector.

In addition, Berchtold had to take into account the possibility that the Hungarian half of the Dual Monarchy might balk at any action that might result in the annexation of Serbian territory. Minister-President Count Istvan Tisza had been active in Vienna, counselling moderation in the wake of the assassination. Hungary had its own problems with ethnic minorities, and Tisza was not eager to add more Slavs to the empire's explosive ethnic mix.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Fri 4 Jul, 2014 09:57 am
4 JULY 1914

Austro-Hungarian foreign minister Count Berchtold dispatches his top aide, Count Hoyos, to Berlin with the note outlining the Dual Monarchy's proposed response to Serbia's perceived complicity in the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. The note began by setting out the increasingly unfavorable situation in the Balkans, where Russia had made diplomatic inroads into Serbia, Romania, and even Bulgaria. According to Berchtold, the only way to avoid a possible Balkan league directed against Austria-Hungary would be to strike now against Serbia. It was absolutely necessary for the Habsburg monarchy, wrote Berchtold, "to rip, with decisive hand, the threads that its enemies are tightening about its head."



Ordinarily, a note such as this would have been delivered by the Austro-Hungarian ambassador in Berlin, Count Szögyény. But Szögyény, despite being a career diplomat who was well-respected in Berlin, was not a member of the pro-war clique that had gathered around Berchtold in Vienna. Hoyos, on the other hand, strongly favored war with Serbia and could be counted on to present Vienna's views much more forcefully. He was also the brother-in-law of Herbert von Bismarck, a former German foreign secretary and son of the legendary Otto von Bismarck, and had many close contacts in the German government.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Sat 5 Jul, 2014 10:20 am
5 JULY 1914

Austro-Hungarian emissary Count Hoyos arranges a meeting with top diplomatic and military officials in Berlin, only to find that most of them are on vacation. At this point, Vienna still has not articulated a definite plan of action with regard to Serbia, but Hoyos makes it clear that Vienna would be seeking more than just a diplomatic solution to the crisis. Arthur Zimmermann, under-secretary of the foreign ministry, meets with Hoyos and perceptively notes afterwards: "90% chance of a European war if they [i.e. Austria-Hungary] undertake something against Serbia." Meanwhile, Count Szögyény, Austro-Hungarian ambassador to Germany, meets with Kaiser Wilhelm II, who promises his full support for whatever measures the Dual Monarchy adopts to deal with Serbia.



In retrospect, given the enormous consequences of their actions, it is surprising just how little Germany's top statesmen knew about Austria-Hungary's plans. There was no question, however, that, whatever Vienna decided to do, Germany had to stand behind its alliance partner. Decades of inept German diplomacy had seen first Russia and then Great Britain joining France in an anti-German alignment. Germany, therefore, had to support its only reliable alliance partner or else face complete encirclement by its enemies.
0 Replies
 
panzade
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Jul, 2014 12:45 pm
Just to let you know; really enjoying this thread Joe.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Sun 6 Jul, 2014 12:57 pm
6 JULY 1914

After meeting with counts Hoyos and Szögyény on 5 July, Wilhelm convenes a meeting of the top diplomatic and military officials who are still in Berlin, including Arthur Zimmermann, sitting in for the vacationing secretary of foreign affairs, Erich von Falkenhayn, the Prussian minister of war, and Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg, the imperial chancellor, to discuss Vienna's plans to take action against Serbia in response to Franz Ferdinand's assassination. The conference agrees to back Austria-Hungary in the event Russia intervened on the side of Serbia. On the following day, Bethmann Hollweg informs the Austro-Hungarian emissaries of the German government's resolve to support the Dual Monarchy, even though, at this point, even Vienna does not know what it intends to do. Meanwhile, the kaiser leaves for his annual yachting trip on the Baltic Sea.



Berlin's assurances of support, conveyed to Austria-Hungary on 6 July 1914, constituted the infamous "Blank Check," which played an important role in assigning blame to Germany for starting the world war, and it marks one of only two points during the July Crisis at which the march to war could have realistically been halted. There's no doubt that Germany's unqualified support gave Vienna the resolve to stake everything on a forceful action against Serbia.

Had Germany counseled caution or moderation at this point, it is unlikely that Austria-Hungary would have issued the kind of ultimatum to Serbia that it did seventeen days later. From Berlin's point of view, however, its ally was facing an existential crisis. If Vienna backed down now, it would embolden its enemies even further, and a Russian-led Balkan League would be the end result. Consequently, leaders in both Berlin and Vienna increasingly took a "now-or-never" attitude regarding the crisis.

The question arises: what did Germany's leaders think Austria-Hungary would do with the "Blank Check?" It's naive to suggest, as some argued in the aftermath of the war, that they were unaware that military action against Serbia could provoke a continental conflagration. Indeed, the European powers had been dealing more-or-less successfully with one Balkan crisis after another since the beginning of the century in the hopes of avoiding just such a war. Instead, it's likely that both Berlin and Vienna hoped that a decisive action against Serbia would work out the same way that the Bosnian Crisis worked out in 1908-09. At that time, Austria-Hungary annexed the Turkish territories of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which the Dual Monarchy had occupied since 1878. Serbia wanted to go to war over the annexation of these provinces, populated in part by ethnic Serbs, but Russia backed down in the face of its own internal weaknesses and a general indifference on the part of France and Great Britain. Circumstances had changed drastically since 1909, however, and there would be a far different outcome this time around.
0 Replies
 
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Sun 6 Jul, 2014 02:01 pm
@panzade,
panzade wrote:

Just to let you know; really enjoying this thread Joe.


Indeed!
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 7 Jul, 2014 08:53 am
7 JULY 1914

In the aftermath of the Hoyos Mission to Berlin and armed with Germany's "Blank Check," Berchtold meets with the joint ministerial council to determine Austria-Hungary's next step. Over the strenuous objections of Hungarian Minister-President Tisza, the council agrees to issue an ultimatum to Serbia. If Serbia accepts, it would be a humiliating diplomatic defeat for both Belgrade and St. Petersburg, and would drive a wedge between Russia and the Balkan states, paving the way for a possible Austro-Hungarian alliance with Bulgaria and Romania. On the other hand, if Serbia refuses, it would provide the pretext for war which would end, once and for all, the Serbian threat to the existence of the Dual Monarchy. The text of the ultimatum would be refined and formalized in the coming week.

Meanwhile, Count Hoyos, speaking with Austro-Hungarian army chief of staff Conrad, mentions that Zimmermann, the German under-secretary for foreign affairs, had told him during his mission that, in the event of war, German and French forces on the western front would be roughly equal. Conrad laughed and said: "Zimmermann doesn't know what he's talking about."



Much has been made, in the histories of the July Crisis, of how little the alliance partners on both sides of the conflict knew of each others' war plans. The general outlines of the German plan for concentrating the bulk of its army in the west in the early stages of any two-front war against France and Russia had been known in Vienna for some time. Helmuth von Moltke, the German chief of staff, had once told Conrad that "the fate of Austria-Hungary will be decided on the Seine, not on the Bug." Still, the two allies had no plans to coordinate their military activities, and, as became clear in the first days of the war, both expected that the other would bear the brunt of the Russian steamroller.

Much less, however, has been made of how little the civilian officials of the belligerent countries knew about their own military plans. Conrad knew what Zimmermann evidently didn't: that Germany would concentrate the vast bulk of its army against France, and expected a numerical advantage over the French in the opening phase of the conflict. It may be understandable that the second-in-command at the German foreign ministry would not be privy to the precise details of Germany's war plans, but events would soon show that the civilian leaders of practically all of the great powers had been kept in the dark by their military counterparts (France was perhaps the major exception, but France's plans were so bad that the generals might have been better off keeping them secret). This disconnect between the civilian and military leadership would become crucial in the waning days of July when the powers mobilized for war.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Mon 7 Jul, 2014 06:26 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter Hinteler wrote:
I don't know if and why it should be important - the weapon wasn't a .32 caliber but a FN M1910 (serial number 19074) .380 ACP/9 mm.
Agreed that it was indeed
an FN M1910, but my information
was that it was less than 9mm (7.65mm Browning = .32 ACP).
I don t have that report immediately at hand. I think it was Wikipedia (maybe).

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=FN%20M1910%20(serial%20number%2019074)%20.380%20ACP%2F9%20mm
I took a moment to check Google on the subject. (See above link.)

There appears to be a contrariety of evidence on this point.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 8 Jul, 2014 02:54 pm
In a memorandum to Emperor Franz Josef, Hungarian Minister-President Tisza lays out the objections to war that he raised in yesterday's council of ministers. "Such an attack on Serbia would, in all probability, provoke the intervention of Russia and, with that, a world war." Although Tisza is certain of Serbia's complicity in the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and approves of measures to punish Belgrade for its provocations, he worries that the current diplomatic situation is unfavorable for war. He is especially concerned with the position of Romania, which he sees as aligning with Russia in any coming conflict. As a practical matter, he advises that any ultimatum should renounce any plans to exterminate (vernichten) Serbia or annex any of its territory.


Tisza had good reason to worry about Romania. King Carol I, a member of the Catholic branch of the Hohenzollern dynasty and thus related to Germany's ruling family, had steered Romania in the direction of the Germany and Austria-Hungary, and had signed a secret alliance with them in 1883. The Romanian people, however, strongly favored better relations with Russia and France, and Romania had an irredentist claim on Transylvania, which was part of Hungary but which contained a significant Romanian minority. Tisza's concerns, therefore, had as much to do with Hungary's internal ethnic problems as with the specter of a European war.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Fri 11 Jul, 2014 11:07 am
10 JULY 1914

Nicholas Genrikhovich Hartwig, the grandson of a German doctor and current Russian minister to Serbia, visits the Austro-Hungarian consulate in Belgrade to confer with his counterpart. During the visit, Hartwig suddenly becomes ill and then drops dead of a heart attack. Serbian newspapers immediately spread the rumor that Hartwig had been poisoned by the Austro-Hungarians.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2014 10:11 am
13 JULY 1914

A report from an Austro-Hungarian official in charge of the investigation into the assassination of Franz Ferdinand concludes that there is no definite evidence of the Serbian government's complicity in the plot. Nevertheless, the foreign minister, Count Berchtold, has substantially finished work on the wording of the ultimatum that will be presented to Belgrade, and German ambassador Tschirshky reports that it will almost certainly be unacceptable to the Serbs. All that remains is to convince Hungarian Minister-President Tisza of the need for a military strike.



Apart from encouragement from Germany, the ultimatum was all Austria-Hungary's work, and it is striking, given the responsibility that was heaped on the Germans after the war, just how small a role Berlin played in the lead-up to the diplomatic confrontation with Serbia. The kaiser was still cruising the Baltic, and many decision-makers were absent from Berlin during these crucial days. In addition, the Austro-Hungarians were wary of giving too much information to their allies. The German ambassador to Rome had incautiously advised the Italian foreign minister that Vienna might act against Serbia. That raised the specter of Italy claiming territorial compensation in the Balkans under the terms of the Triple Alliance, a prospect that the Dual Monarchy was eager to avoid.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Jul, 2014 10:14 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

13 JULY 1914

A report from an Austro-Hungarian official in charge of the investigation into the assassination of Franz Ferdinand concludes that there is no definite evidence of the Serbian government's complicity in the plot.
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Mon 14 Jul, 2014 02:35 pm
14 JULY 1914

In a meeting between counts Berchtold and Tisza in Vienna, the two reach a "complete agreement" over the ultimatum to be sent to Serbia, which is still in the process of being finalized. Tisza has evidently been swayed by conversations with Stefan (Istvan) Freiherr Burian, the Hungarian government's emissary to the Habsburg court. Tisza's principal objection to any action against Serbia has always been a fear that annexing territory would upset the ethnic balance in the empire, and Berchtold now agrees that, apart from minor border rectifications, there will be no annexation of Serbian territory.

The ultimatum, which Berchtold confidently predicts "is such that a military conflict must be reckoned as likely," will be delivered to Belgrade on 25 July. The date is chosen because the French president, Raymond Poincaré, is scheduled to be in St. Petersburg between 20 and 25 July. Berchtold fears that sending the ultimatum during the presidential visit will increase the likelihood of an attack by France and Russia.



Count Tisza might have been the last person who could have, single-handedly, stopped the descent into war. After the Ausgleich (Compromise) of 1867, the Austrian and Hungarian halves of the empire were largely independent of each other in domestic affairs, and they were bound together only by the Habsburg dynasty and by common ministries for defense, foreign affairs, and shared finances. Every ten years, the terms of the Ausgleich were renegotiated, which led to the view that Austria-Hungary was a nation "auf Kündigung" (subject to cancellation). The Hungarians had made trouble with their intransigence in the past regarding military affairs, and a forceful stand by Tisza at this moment might have derailed any notion of a military action against Serbia.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 15 Jul, 2014 04:15 pm
15 JULY 1914

The French ambassador in Vienna reports that the local press is agitating in favor of war against Serbia. The Militärische Rundschau (Military Review) is perhaps the most blunt: "The moment is still favorable for us. If we do not decide on war, then the war we'll have to fight in two or three years at the latest will be fought in far less propitious circumstances. Right now, we have the initiative; Russia is not ready, and the moral factors and justice are with us, as well as force. Since we shall have to accept the struggle some day, let us provoke it now.... Our prestige, our position as a great power, our honor are in question; furthermore, because apparently it concerns our existence, "to be or not to be," that is really the great affair of the day."
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Wed 16 Jul, 2014 03:59 am
Russia was ready, as both Germany and Austria were to learn, to their cost. The Germans rushed troops from the west to confront the First and Second Russian armies. They won, but it crippled their effort in France, which was what was intended when the Russians promised the French that they'd mobilize in three weeks and march in five weeks. As it was, they mobilized and marched in just under three weeks. Germany declared war on August 1st, and the Russian First Army was approaching Königsberg on August 17th, when the campaign in the east began.

The Russians had sacrificed other plans to the concentration of the First Army Group (First and Second Armies), but they advanced four armies into Galicia on August 30. The Austrians were shattered and retreating by September 6. By the end of September, the Austrian general staff ordered a full retreat, abandoning Galicia entirely.

The conventional (and shallow) wisdom is that the Russians were an awkward, nearly useless ally in the First World War. Nothing could be further from the truth. They were as well equipped and trained as the Germans, and much superior to the Austrians. Their Achilles heel was the communications system and their unreliable logistical support system. They kept faith with the French, and made their contribution when it mattered.

The Russians were ready--Austria was not.
Frank Apisa
 
  2  
Reply Wed 16 Jul, 2014 04:19 am
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

15 JULY 1914

The French ambassador in Vienna reports that the local press is agitating in favor of war against Serbia. The Militärische Rundschau (Military Review) is perhaps the most blunt: "The moment is still favorable for us. If we do not decide on war, then the war we'll have to fight in two or three years at the latest will be fought in far less propitious circumstances. Right now, we have the initiative; Russia is not ready, and the moral factors and justice are with us, as well as force. Since we shall have to accept the struggle some day, let us provoke it now.... Our prestige, our position as a great power, our honor are in question; furthermore, because apparently it concerns our existence, "to be or not to be," that is really the great affair of the day."




Seems incredible that the political thinking was actually stated this way just 100 years ago. It is indeed "blunt." And the use of "our position as a great power" and "prestige/honor" are amazing.

Reading these reports on a day by day basis...getting a feeling for the build up in what is essentially real time...is fantastic and makes much more sense than getting it as an all encompassing blurb.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Wed 16 Jul, 2014 08:21 am
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
Russia was ready, as both Germany and Austria were to learn, to their cost.

One subtext running through the July Crisis is the abysmal state of military intelligence on both sides of the looming conflict. It should be added that the Central Powers were worse than the Triple Entente when it came to espionage, and that remained true even after the start of the war. The French, for instance, had cracked the German diplomatic code, and it was only through a weird sequence of events that the Germans switched their code in July, 1914, which left the French in the dark at that critical juncture.

Austria-Hungary, however, was far-and-away the worst of the bunch. The longtime head of military intelligence, Colonel Afred Redl, was selling secrets to Russia, and his treason was only discovered in May, 1913. At that point, Vienna should have suspected that its war plans were known in St. Petersburg and beyond (and they were). Yet the military did little to repair the damage that Redl had caused.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Wed 16 Jul, 2014 09:00 am
There was much at that time which was just incredibly naïve by our standards. When the Russian First Army Group lurched into motion toward the German frontier, they were (each army) communicating with Army Group HQ by raido--and they were broadcasting in the clear, apparently because they didn't have wireless operators trained in cryptological procedures.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Wed 16 Jul, 2014 09:05 am
16 JULY 1914

Count Szögyény, Austria-Hungary's ambassador in Berlin, reports on his meeting with Gottlieb von Jagow, the German foreign secretary. Jagow agrees with the decision to postpone delivery of the ultimatum until after the French presidential delegation leaves Russia, although he "extremely regrets" the delay. He believes that sympathetic opinion toward a diplomatic action against Serbia will diminish over the coming days.



Jagow's remarks reflected the opinion of Germany's leaders, who were growing impatient with Austria-Hungary. They believed that swift action was necessary in order to catch Serbia and Russia off guard, and also to play on the sympathies of uncommitted countries such as Italy and Great Britain in the aftermath of Franz Ferdinand's assassination. In addition, the delay meant that there would be additional time in which word of Vienna's plans could leak out.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Sun 20 Jul, 2014 10:15 pm
19 JULY 1914

A meeting of Austria-Hungary's top leaders is called to discuss the ultimatum that will be sent to Serbia. It is agreed that the note will be delivered to the Serbian government on 23 July at5:00 p.m., along with a demand that Belgrade reply within 48 hours. Count Tisza asks for and receives assurances that the Dual Monarchy has no "plans for conquest." The ministers agree that an official announcement will be delivered to the other great powers at the opening of hostilities, declaring that Austria-Hungary is not launching a war of conquest. That decision, however, "naturally does not rule out strategically necessary border rectifications and the diminution of Serbia for the benefit of other states as well as temporary occupation of portions of Serbian territory."



There was no pretense that the ultimatum would be anything but the prelude to a declaration of war. It was even agreed that the general mobilization order would be delivered in the evening after the 25 July deadline had passed. The chief of the general staff, Conrad von Hötzendorf, attended the meeting, but he apparently did not inform those attending that he expected full mobilization to take weeks rather than hours.
0 Replies
 
 

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THE GREAT WAR - Discussion by Setanta
 
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