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Remembered Today:

Inventing the Schlieffen Plan


Dikke Bertha
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You're reduced to putting words in my mouth.

The Germans knew that since 26 July the Russians were "secretly" mobilizing, and did nothing.

The Germans knew that the Russains had decided on partial mobilization against Austria alone, and did nothing.

The Germans mobilized only after Russia had mobilized against them.

Russia mobilized first, forcing everyone else to mobilize and implement their was plans in turn.

Russian mobilization meant that the Russians and French were going to launch a coordinated two-front invasion of Germany on the 15th day of mobilization. Which is exactly what they did.

Which part of this doesn't add up to Russia launcing an aggressive Great Power war?

Terence Zuber

In 1877 when faced with a potentially genocidal Turkish attack upon Serbia, a Russia in the throws of pan-Serbian nationalism waited patiently for three months until the Serbian army had been smashed in battle and the Turks were advancing on Belgrade to threaten mobilization. Yet in 1914, Russia mobilized two weeks before the Austrian army even crossed the Serbian frontier. If the Russia faced with an analogous situation in 1877 were content to deal with the consequences of a Serbo-Turkish war rather than prevent it altogether, what but a desire to make a finish with Austria accounts for the more aggressive stance in 1914?

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What did the US really do? Send in Special forces, followed by B-52s, followed by the 82nd Airborne Division. Ultima ratio regius.

And what a big success all that was!!

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Sorry you got robbed twice in Peru. I have no idea what this has to do with the matter at hand.

About as much as invading Belgium because the Serbs were baddies.

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Trivilaizing the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne is absurd.

I havent. I have said it did not require a war that would end up killing thousands at a minimum to resolve the matter, let alone one that would kill millions.

It was the official action of the Serb intelligence service.

1. It was not known by Austria that Apis was even connected to events, they only had any info to suggest Tankosic and Ciganovic had some involvment. If you would like to suggest otherwise, feel free to show what Austria knew in 1914 about Apis having any connection at all.

2. It was not an official act, and had no official sanction. Of course, if you can prove it was sanctioned by Pasic that will sell one hell of a lot of books. I am sure you are aware that Hew Strachan thinks it most probable Apis acted in an attempt to undermine the Pasic government after his intended officers coup had failed a few weeks earlier.

You assidiously avoid explaining why the Serbs would do such a thing.

I was not aware I was required to explain the acts of a renegade officer acting well outside his orders? How about to ensure a crisis ensued that would force Pasic to retain him? This is after all what Strachan feels is one of the most likely motives for Apis.

Serbia has just gotten through initiating two such wars in the last three years.

Because they were very low on artillery ammo, short of men, and even by their own estimates their army was 200,000 men short. They were clearly in no shape to fight another war soon.

In contrast to your silly analogies, let's try a real-world case, practically parallel to Sarajevo. A terrorist organization, supported by the government, launches an attack on the United States: 3,000 dead.

Fine, maybe you would like to tell everyone when the US is going to attack Saudi Arabia, where most of the hijackers came from, and where almost all of the money for al-Qaeda also comes from? The US would have also been most unlikely to have acted the same way if the source had been traced to China.

What you really like are lawyerly arguments, which are irrelavent in discussing international relations.

Considering that is exactly what all international relations are, your comments are amusing. I presume you are aware most politicians come from legal backgrounds

Soverign states ultimately have only one means of resolving irreconciliable differennces, ultima ratio regius - war.

The one sensible thing in the entire post. The key word is 'ultimately' as in a final resort, not the first. Austria had no intention of allowing a peaceful settlement, hence Berchtold instructing his minister in Belgrade that 'whatever the Serbian reply, it will be unacceptable!' Maybe that is why Austria didnt make any show of evidence, the traditional bluff of claiming you know something new and then escalating events because of it.

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The Germans knew that the Russains had decided on partial mobilization against Austria alone, and did nothing.

Not true. Jagow told them that they could mobilize, but if they acted against Austria at all it would mean war with Germany. Moltke was desperately telling Conrad to order mobilization so he could invoke the casus beli and mobilize Germany too, so Germany would have gone to war because Austria mobilized, irrespective of wether Russia had mobilized on the German border areas or not!

I presume you do not agree with Moltke's view of the situation?

In his memorandum, Moltke outlined how a number of partial and general mobilizations would follow one another in a domino effect. Austria had so far only mobilized against Serbia, but, when faced with Russian mobilization in the districts of Kiev, Odessa and Moscow, she would have to mobilize her remaining forces against Russia. Once Austria mobilized her entire army, however, a clash between Austria and Russia would become unavoidable. This, in turn, would imply the casus foederis for Germany, who would have to mobilize herself, or break her alliance agreement and allow Austria to be destroyed by superior Russian forces.

So Moltke himself considered that the very first decision for war originated in Vienna. Bethmann noted the following about the situation;

“Although the Russian mobilization had been declared, her mobilization measures cannot be compared with those of the West European states…Moreover, Russia does not intend to wage war, but has been forced to take these measures because of Austria.”

So it looked like both Moltke and Bethmann agreed that the war started with Austria, until it became important to play the blame game when it suddenly became everyone elses fault.

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According to you, what the US should have done was go to the Hague and presented their case, complete with subpeonas that couldn't be served and no "smoking gun" evidence. The international court could have gravely considered the matter for several years, filling warehouses with paper, but finally returning no verdict. And if the International Court finds Bin Laden guilty, so what? Are they going to send their 59 year-old night watchman to Afghanistan to arrest him?

What did the US really do? Send in Special forces, followed by B-52s, followed by the 82nd Airborne Division. Ultima ratio regius.

Well,... "In contrast to your silly analogies" ...

Let me offer one....

A movie called "Impotent strike in any direction"...

Murder or mass murder committed

The bad guy (A) is not to be found

The Bad country (1) supports him, at least passively

Because Country (2) 's very existence is a pain in our butt, and because they are weak anyway, we will have a go at them as if they had something to do with it.

When the world says "Hey, Country (2) had nothing to do with the murder" we can change course and say "Well... they treat folks in their colonies bad!"

I am sure there are Parallels... and I begin to see how you (for yourself) justify Germanys actions in 1914...

You are to the Germans what Salesie is to the Brits... ;-)

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Great Britain's/Germany's lack of commitment to France and Russia about the 1839 Treaty was irrelevant to the question of Anglo-German obligations to each other under the 1839 Treaty - you are essentially arguing to the effect that if Germany/Britain break their contract with everybody, then they apparently had no contract to be begin with. That interesting interpretation of legal obligation would be news to Judge Judy.

Since Great Britain had produced a functional and workable precedent in 1870 which Grey, now faced with the complicating factor of his ententes, withdrew from in 1914, Moltke's interpretation that the 1839 Treaty was 'off' for Great Britain has foundation. I think Moltke was irresponsible not to give the Foreign Office a 'green light' circa 1908-1914 to strive for an understanding centered on Belgium and fleet reductions. Not necessarily because there was a snowball's chance that Grey would overturn her ententes in favour of German hegemony over Russia, but rather to create a better international 'backstory' for Germany's aggression against Belgium should war break out.

In terms of the functional difference in French wording between London and Brussels; would you rather be menaced by your 300lbs skinhead cellmate, or violated by them?

Where on earth are you going with this? You say my point is that, "if Germany/Britain break their contract with everybody, then they apparently had no contract to be begin with" , as if I've been playing semantics to make a species point. The fact of the matter is that Britain broke no contract with anyone because it didn't have any binding contract in the first place, except, of course, as a guarantor of Belgian neutrality, and that's the whole point; Britain fulfilled its obligations to the letter. What is it about this simple fact you find difficult to understand?

It's been stated by me several times now i.e. Britain entered into no firm commitment with anyone except as a guarantor of Belgian neutrality, and in the event Britain fulfilled its binding obligation to the letter, Germany did not. Is the reason you keep trying to overturn this fact by making the same point over and over, but with different wording, because you can't handle the bleedin' obvious, can't handle the fact that Germany transgressed on its clear and binding contractual obligation, and Britain did not?

As for your "skinhead" analogy - you seem to forget that Belgium itself had no problem with the French wording i.e. in its reply to the German ultimatum the Belgians clearly stated that, "The intentions attributed to France by Germany are in contradiction to the formal declarations made to us on August 1, in the name of the French Government. Moreover, if, contrary to our expectation, Belgian neutrality should be violated by France, Belgium intends to fulfil her international obligations and the Belgian army would offer the most vigorous resistance to the invader."

It seems pretty clear that Belgium had no problem with France's wording of its assurances to Belgium, but you do? Just as with your flights of Whatif fantasies, how can a serious debate on this matter continue when you arrogantly assume to be more switched-on than the Belgian Government of the time?

Britain fulfilled its international obligations to the letter in 1914, Germany did not. Belgium was happy with the French assurances, you are not. My advice is learn to live with your disappointment, because there are no opportunities to turn non-fiction into fiction, no opportunities to find lame-excuses for Germany in this line of argument.

Cheers-salesie.

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Well,... "In contrast to your silly analogies" ...

Let me offer one....

A movie called "Impotent strike in any direction"...

Murder or mass murder committed

The bad guy (A) is not to be found

The Bad country (1) supports him, at least passively

Because Country (2) 's very existence is a pain in our butt, and because they are weak anyway, we will have a go at them as if they had something to do with it.

When the world says "Hey, Country (2) had nothing to do with the murder" we can change course and say "Well... they treat folks in their colonies bad!"

I am sure there are Parallels... and I begin to see how you (for yourself) justify Germanys actions in 1914...

You are to the Germans what Salesie is to the Brits... ;-)

"and I begin to see how you (for yourself) justify Germanys actions in 1914..."

At no point in the entire post do I mention Germany. The subject is Austrain reaction to the Serb attack.

You're going to have to accuse me of being "to the Austro-Hungarians what Salesie is to the Brits" but that doesn't quite have much bite, does it?

Terence Zuber

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Trivilaizing the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne is absurd.

I havent. I have said it did not require a war that would end up killing thousands at a minimum to resolve the matter, let alone one that would kill millions.

It was the official action of the Serb intelligence service.

1. It was not known by Austria that Apis was even connected to events, they only had any info to suggest Tankosic and Ciganovic had some involvment. If you would like to suggest otherwise, feel free to show what Austria knew in 1914 about Apis having any connection at all.

2. It was not an official act, and had no official sanction. Of course, if you can prove it was sanctioned by Pasic that will sell one hell of a lot of books. I am sure you are aware that Hew Strachan thinks it most probable Apis acted in an attempt to undermine the Pasic government after his intended officers coup had failed a few weeks earlier.

You assidiously avoid explaining why the Serbs would do such a thing.

I was not aware I was required to explain the acts of a renegade officer acting well outside his orders? How about to ensure a crisis ensued that would force Pasic to retain him? This is after all what Strachan feels is one of the most likely motives for Apis.

Serbia has just gotten through initiating two such wars in the last three years.

Because they were very low on artillery ammo, short of men, and even by their own estimates their army was 200,000 men short. They were clearly in no shape to fight another war soon.

In contrast to your silly analogies, let's try a real-world case, practically parallel to Sarajevo. A terrorist organization, supported by the government, launches an attack on the United States: 3,000 dead.

Fine, maybe you would like to tell everyone when the US is going to attack Saudi Arabia, where most of the hijackers came from, and where almost all of the money for al-Qaeda also comes from? The US would have also been most unlikely to have acted the same way if the source had been traced to China.

What you really like are lawyerly arguments, which are irrelavent in discussing international relations.

Considering that is exactly what all international relations are, your comments are amusing. I presume you are aware most politicians come from legal backgrounds

Soverign states ultimately have only one means of resolving irreconciliable differennces, ultima ratio regius - war.

The one sensible thing in the entire post. The key word is 'ultimately' as in a final resort, not the first. Austria had no intention of allowing a peaceful settlement, hence Berchtold instructing his minister in Belgrade that 'whatever the Serbian reply, it will be unacceptable!' Maybe that is why Austria didnt make any show of evidence, the traditional bluff of claiming you know something new and then escalating events because of it.

"Considering that is exactly what all international relations are, your comments are amusing. I presume you are aware most politicians come from legal backgrounds"

If you're amused by international relations, you don't understand them.

International relations hardly consists of arguing cases before the Hague. The only people that get tried there are the losers.

In 1914 few politicians were lawyers. Diplomats are rarely lawyers, either in 1914 or today.

Like I say, you have a lawyerly mindset. You even see them where they don't exist.

The Serb state was willing to go to war to protect "rogue officers"? It was and did, so they weren't "rogue", were they?

Terence Zuber

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"and I begin to see how you (for yourself) justify Germanys actions in 1914..."

At no point in the entire post do I mention Germany. The subject is Austrain reaction to the Serb attack.

You're going to have to accuse me of being "to the Austro-Hungarians what Salesie is to the Brits" but that doesn't quite have much bite, does it?

Terence Zuber

Perhaps we should form an alliance, Terence? I'll stay neutral if you "attack" you know who, and you stay neutral if I "attack" him. On second thoughts, perhaps we should forget it - after all, why give him the benefit of only having to fight, at a any one time, on one front (side) of the fence he likes to think he sits comfortably on. :lol:

Cheers-salesie.

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The Germans knew that the Russains had decided on partial mobilization against Austria alone, and did nothing.

Not true. Jagow told them that they could mobilize, but if they acted against Austria at all it would mean war with Germany. Moltke was desperately telling Conrad to order mobilization so he could invoke the casus beli and mobilize Germany too, so Germany would have gone to war because Austria mobilized, irrespective of wether Russia had mobilized on the German border areas or not!

I presume you do not agree with Moltke's view of the situation?

In his memorandum, Moltke outlined how a number of partial and general mobilizations would follow one another in a domino effect. Austria had so far only mobilized against Serbia, but, when faced with Russian mobilization in the districts of Kiev, Odessa and Moscow, she would have to mobilize her remaining forces against Russia. Once Austria mobilized her entire army, however, a clash between Austria and Russia would become unavoidable. This, in turn, would imply the casus foederis for Germany, who would have to mobilize herself, or break her alliance agreement and allow Austria to be destroyed by superior Russian forces.

So Moltke himself considered that the very first decision for war originated in Vienna. Bethmann noted the following about the situation;

"Although the Russian mobilization had been declared, her mobilization measures cannot be compared with those of the West European states…Moreover, Russia does not intend to wage war, but has been forced to take these measures because of Austria."

So it looked like both Moltke and Bethmann agreed that the war started with Austria, until it became important to play the blame game when it suddenly became everyone elses fault.

In the first two points you are citing contingency planning by Germany.

You need to cite the time and context for Bethmann's statement. I think you'll find them enlightening.

In fact, Russia did not mobilize only against Austria. She moboilized against both Germany and Austria in the full knowledege that this obligated her to invade Germany.

Terence Zuber

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If you're amused by international relations, you don't understand them.

Maybe you need to read what was written again?

International relations hardly consists of arguing cases before the Hague. The only people that get tried there are the losers.

Are you saying its ok to commit war crimes as long as you win?

In 1914 few politicians were lawyers. Diplomats are rarely lawyers, either in 1914 or today.

Actually most politicians were from the legal profession in 1914. Asquith, Lloyd-George, Haldane, Bethmann, Jagow, Berchtold etc were all from that background. Diplomats were not even covered by what I said, though as they take their directions from the politicians it matters little.

Like I say, you have a lawyerly mindset. You even see them where they don't exist.

Maybe you need to look more. For example the legal profession has produced most MP's in Britain for almost 150 years, medical professionals are second iirc. As the main asset of a lawyer and politician is that they are able to convince people in discussion, it should hardly be a surprise.

I note that you neither dispute nor address that Austria had absolutely no information to implicate Apis in 1914, so pretending that this was why Austria had to go to war is at best confused.

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In the first two points you are citing contingency planning by Germany.

Hardly. Jagow was perfectly specific, if Russia acted against Austria it meant war with Germany. Therefore Russia had to plan for that as Austria was refusing all talks, even those Bethmann was not belatedly trying to get started.

You need to cite the time and context for Bethmann's statement. I think you'll find them enlightening.

I know them.

Bethmann was talking to the Prussian State Council on 30th July. Moltke's memorandum was written probably on 27th July, and presented on 28th July long before anyone had mobilized. Moltke had of course written the ultimatum to Belgium on 26th July, complete with excuses too.

You seem keen to dodge the key points;

1. That Germany didnt care if Russia fully or partially mobilized, any war with Austria no matter how unwilling to talk Austria was, would lead to war with Germany too - effectively saying Austria can do as she likes or its war.

2. Moltke outlined the exact chain of events - not hard, the Austrian Crown Council had forseen them on 7th July - that Austria had acted and that this in turn had caused Russia to act - exactly what Bethmann also said - and this would force Austria to fully mobilize, in turn invoking the casus foederis with Germany - even if Russia had not fully mobilized.

3. It did not matter if Russia partially or fully mobilized, any attempt to stand up to having her foreign policy dictated by Austria would be met by war with Germany. After all, Moltke was at least certain that mobilization meant war for Germany, so when he wrote that Germany would mobilize he knew this meant war. Maybe that is why Moltke never bothered to mention full Russian mobilization, it just didnt matter which form Russian action took. Then again he wasnt looking for an excuse to blame others.

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It seems pretty clear that Belgium had no problem with France's wording of its assurances to Belgium, but you do? Just as with your flights of Whatif fantasies, how can a serious debate on this matter continue when you arrogantly assume to be more switched-on than the Belgian Government of the time?

It was the German, not Belgian governments that declared 2 August 1914 the French plan of campaign must come by way of Belgium, I fail to see, after reaching such a conclusion, what value Moltke is to put in Belgian announcements about French intentions? What specific guarantees can Belgium offer if proven wrong?

(The note was originally crafted in July and delivered about 7pm on 2 August. Mr. Zuber might be able to tell us whether Joffre had given Berlin ammunition to this accusation by having ordered the 'Belgian' variant to its mobilization by that hour. This was called 2 August, but I don't know at precisely what time that day - ie, before or after the German accusation was made.)

Where on earth are you going with this? You say my point is that, "if Germany/Britain break their contract with everybody, then they apparently had no contract to be begin with" , as if I've been playing semantics to make a species point.

<...>

Britain fulfilled its international obligations to the letter in 1914, Germany did not. Belgium was happy with the French assurances, you are not. My advice is learn to live with your disappointment, because there are no opportunities to turn non-fiction into fiction, no opportunities to find lame-excuses for Germany in this line of argument.

Cheers-salesie.

There's two separate things under consideration, the first of which pertains directly to Moltke's calculations and the other which does not. First, whether Moltke concluded Britain's policy was about Belgium or about its relationship with France. If the former, then France's alliance with Russia could not be expressed militarily in an effective way. If the latter then the 1839 Treaty was a dead letter to Moltke. From Germany's perspective, it is not about 'fulfilling obligations to the letter'. Either Britain wanted to do a deal with Germany on Belgium or they didn't. If they did then what were the terms of this offer? If they did not, then of what relevence is there for Germany? Germany and France were about to hurl 160 divisions at one another in all-out combat along a 200 mile front. Legalities aside, what exactly is the precise terms of the British offer to Germany in exchange for giving up her plan of attack? Remember that threats are not offers and Great Powers tend not to respond well to threats. Grey made no offer and the reason is not hard to see - he'd set course with France and Russia and hence had no unilateral offer he could make.

The second thing, less important to Great Power policy, was what the precise British obligation entailed. The treaty indicated that the obligation was to uphold in cooperation with Germany (and the other guarantors) the perpetual neutrality of Belgium. Perpetual means for all time, in the present and into the future. Crowe's interpretation was that this obligation was individual and severe upon each guarantor. That is to say, if every other signator save Germany and Britain defected from the the treaty, Britain and Germany were still legally obliged to one another. Britain had three specific obligations -

1. To not violate the neutrality of Belgium.

2. To assist no Power, either militarily or diplomatically, in it's violation of Belgian neutrality.

3. To stand ready in the present or at any time in the future to join with any guarantor to uphold the neutrality of Belgium against aggression.

Britain intended to violate the neutrality of Belgium to enforce a blockade against Germany. Cabinet's naval pledge to France on 2 August 1914 was worded in a fashion incompable with the 1839 Treaty. Grey's refusal to assure conformity to obligation 2 and 3 perpetually was also incompatable with British obligations under the treaty - Grey must respond to Lichnowsky's question by stating that Britain would never, in the present or in the future, assist or ally with a violator of Belgium be that Germany, France, or anyone else.

If Britain and Germany had wanted to do a deal, then each makes the offer. The legal stuff was irrelevant

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"Considering that is exactly what all international relations are, your comments are amusing. I presume you are aware most politicians come from legal backgrounds"

If you're amused by international relations, you don't understand them.

International relations hardly consists of arguing cases before the Hague. The only people that get tried there are the losers.

In 1914 few politicians were lawyers. Diplomats are rarely lawyers, either in 1914 or today.

Like I say, you have a lawyerly mindset. You even see them where they don't exist.

The Serb state was willing to go to war to protect "rogue officers"? It was and did, so they weren't "rogue", were they?

Terence Zuber

Tankosic nor Ciganovic, the only two known participants, were not punished for Sarajevo. Apis, whose participation is less certain, was executed. But not for Sarajevo, rather, for an alleged (read, fabricated) attempt on the life of the king.

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It was the German, not Belgian governments that declared 2 August 1914 the French plan of campaign must come by way of Belgium, I fail to see, after reaching such a conclusion, what value Moltke is to put in Belgian announcements about French intentions? What specific guarantees can Belgium offer if proven wrong?

(The note was originally crafted in July and delivered about 7pm on 2 August. Mr. Zuber might be able to tell us whether Joffre had given Berlin ammunition to this accusation by having ordered the 'Belgian' variant to its mobilization by that hour. This was called 2 August, but I don't know at precisely what time that day - ie, before or after the German accusation was made.)

There's two separate things under consideration, the first of which pertains directly to Moltke's calculations and the other which does not. First, whether Moltke concluded Britain's policy was about Belgium or about its relationship with France. If the former, then France's alliance with Russia could not be expressed militarily in an effective way. If the latter then the 1839 Treaty was a dead letter to Moltke. From Germany's perspective, it is not about 'fulfilling obligations to the letter'. Either Britain wanted to do a deal with Germany on Belgium or they didn't. If they did then what were the terms of this offer? If they did not, then of what relevence is there for Germany? Germany and France were about to hurl 160 divisions at one another in all-out combat along a 200 mile front. Legalities aside, what exactly is the precise terms of the British offer to Germany in exchange for giving up her plan of attack? Remember that threats are not offers and Great Powers tend not to respond well to threats. Grey made no offer and the reason is not hard to see - he'd set course with France and Russia and hence had no unilateral offer he could make.

The second thing, less important to Great Power policy, was what the precise British obligation entailed. The treaty indicated that the obligation was to uphold in cooperation with Germany (and the other guarantors) the perpetual neutrality of Belgium. Perpetual means for all time, in the present and into the future. Crowe's interpretation was that this obligation was individual and severe upon each guarantor. That is to say, if every other signator save Germany and Britain defected from the the treaty, Britain and Germany were still legally obliged to one another. Britain had three specific obligations -

1. To not violate the neutrality of Belgium.

2. To assist no Power, either militarily or diplomatically, in it's violation of Belgian neutrality.

3. To stand ready in the present or at any time in the future to join with any guarantor to uphold the neutrality of Belgium against aggression.

Britain intended to violate the neutrality of Belgium to enforce a blockade against Germany. Cabinet's naval pledge to France on 2 August 1914 was worded in a fashion incompable with the 1839 Treaty. Grey's refusal to assure conformity to obligation 2 and 3 perpetually was also incompatable with British obligations under the treaty - Grey must respond to Lichnowsky's question by stating that Britain would never, in the present or in the future, assist or ally with a violator of Belgium be that Germany, France, or anyone else.

If Britain and Germany had wanted to do a deal, then each makes the offer. The legal stuff was irrelevant

I have no real idea what you're rambling on about in your latest post, Glen239. At this stage, I can only assume that you're one of those who think that the more complex a point is then the more profound it becomes, one of those who think that if they ramble-on, almost incoherently, then their point will fall into place. The former viewpoint is nothing but intellectual excreta, and the latter is a lack of focus leading to intellectual excreta. So, for the sake of clarity, what is your point?

If, as I believe, you wish to "prove" that Germany had no choice but to violate Belgian neutrality then say so, openly and clearly - but please stop going around in circles with the same point worded in different ways. You end your latest ramble by saying, "If Britain and Germany had wanted to do a deal, then each makes the offer. The legal stuff was irrelevant. What on earth does that actually mean, especially seeing as we've already established that Britain's only binding deal with Germany (or anyone else) was as a joint guarantor of Belgian neutrality, and, perhaps even more importantly with regards to showing your lack of clear thinking, immediately prior to making this unfathomable closing assertion you give two paragraphs, and a list, of your own definition of Britain's LEGAL obligations. If the legal stuff is irrelevant, why the preceding two paragraphs and three point list?

Please tell us, openly and clearly, what "If Britain and Germany had wanted to do a deal, then each makes the offer. The legal stuff was irrelevant" actually means? And what relevance it has to Germany's violation of Belgian neutrality?

Cheers-salesie.

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At this stage, I can only assume that you're one of those who think that the more complex a point is then the more profound it becomes, one of those who think that if they ramble-on, almost incoherently, then their point will fall into place.

An interesting note. However, Glenn has advanced exactly the same idea on at least two other sites to much the same response. His position is effectively that by signing the 1839 treaty each signitory state was signing that they could never fight each other too and must also remain neutral in case they are called upon to defend Belgium against an attack by another state. It is fair to say this view has very limited acceptance.

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At this stage, I can only assume that you're one of those who think that the more complex a point is then the more profound it becomes, one of those who think that if they ramble-on, almost incoherently, then their point will fall into place.

An interesting note. However, Glenn has advanced exactly the same idea on at least two other sites to much the same response. His position is effectively that by signing the 1839 treaty each signitory state was signing that they could never fight each other too and must also remain neutral in case they are called upon to defend Belgium against an attack by another state. It is fair to say this view has very limited acceptance.

If this is indeed his point, Terry, then I wish he'd make it clear and stop trying to use the smoke and mirrors of dubious complexity.

Of course, there is nothing new in such a premise; as early as 1915, Alexander Fuehr in his The Neutrality of Belgium attempted to make an identical case. As part of his argument in defence of Germany's invasion of Belgium, Fuehr not only plays semantics with the wording of the treaty and cites spurious historical events (and completely ignores other, highly relevant, historical actions), but also quotes extracts from speeches, which seem to agree unfailingly with his premise, made by Gladstone, Lords Stanley, Salisbury and Derby et al in the Houses of Parliament over several decades prior to 1914 (taken out of context, of course) in order to show that British Governments prior to 1914 agreed that the only obligation, for any signatory, under the 1839 Treaty was a collective one and, therefore, if one signatory decided that it had a right of way through Belgium and would restore Belgium independence as a matter of course once peace broke out then it had the right to do so under the treaty and, in such a circumstance, Britain should have remained neutral in 1914 in order to comply with said treaty (as confirmed by the out of context extracts from speeches made by senior members of previous British Governments).

However, in my opinion, it would be incorrect as a matter of interpretation (let alone logic) to deny the right to intervene individually under the guarantee, because if any one of the guarantors violated said guarantee, a consensus among the signatory powers on how to respond would have been impossible. Thus, the guarantee embodied in the Treaty would have been no such thing if the only right to intervene was a collective one (who else would invade Belgium apart from the five treaty signatories; Orks from Mordor perhaps?)

Cheers-salesie.

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In the first two points you are citing contingency planning by Germany.

Hardly. Jagow was perfectly specific, if Russia acted against Austria it meant war with Germany. Therefore Russia had to plan for that as Austria was refusing all talks, even those Bethmann was not belatedly trying to get started.

You need to cite the time and context for Bethmann's statement. I think you'll find them enlightening.

I know them.

Bethmann was talking to the Prussian State Council on 30th July. Moltke's memorandum was written probably on 27th July, and presented on 28th July long before anyone had mobilized. Moltke had of course written the ultimatum to Belgium on 26th July, complete with excuses too.

You seem keen to dodge the key points;

1. That Germany didnt care if Russia fully or partially mobilized, any war with Austria no matter how unwilling to talk Austria was, would lead to war with Germany too - effectively saying Austria can do as she likes or its war.

2. Moltke outlined the exact chain of events - not hard, the Austrian Crown Council had forseen them on 7th July - that Austria had acted and that this in turn had caused Russia to act - exactly what Bethmann also said - and this would force Austria to fully mobilize, in turn invoking the casus foederis with Germany - even if Russia had not fully mobilized.

3. It did not matter if Russia partially or fully mobilized, any attempt to stand up to having her foreign policy dictated by Austria would be met by war with Germany. After all, Moltke was at least certain that mobilization meant war for Germany, so when he wrote that Germany would mobilize he knew this meant war. Maybe that is why Moltke never bothered to mention full Russian mobilization, it just didnt matter which form Russian action took. Then again he wasnt looking for an excuse to blame others.

Like I said, contingency planning, never acted upon.

Germany did not mobilize until Russia conducted general mobilization.

I would refer you to Stefan Schmidt, Frankreichs Aussenpolitik in der Julikriese. If you don't speak German and French, I wrote a long review essay (6,000 words) for Global War Studies which ought to appear in six months. Schmidt did not find the protocol of Poincare's visit to St. Petersburg, but he did some damn fine research, facilitated by a stipend to stay a year in Paris that you only get in your dreams. Berchtold sent a messenger to Italy on 15 July to brief Bunsen, the British Ambassador to Rome, concerning the contents of the note the Austrains would send to Serbia. Bunsen told his government and the Russian Ambassador. When Poincare showed up in Paris, the Russians told him. So, nobody was really surprised by the contents of the Austrian note, all the theatre and playacting in that direction notwithstanding. And you know what the French are telling the Russians after 21 August? Mobilize. Mobilize. We'll support you. And the Russians are not saying "We need to negotiate with the Austrians first!" As of 21 August, according to the French military attache in St. Petersburg "Everybody was talking openly of war". Paleologue was not a loose cannon facilitating Russian aggressiveness, he was implementing French policy. The Franco-Russians never actually considered negotiations. As Schmidt says, under Poincare the Franco-Russian alliance had become militarily aggressive. Schmidt gets most of the military stuff wrong, which is normal for a young European historian, but my essay fixes that.

[Following paragraph mine, not Schmidt] Defending Serbia was a pretext for war. The Russians began secret mobilization when the Austrians delivered the note. For a while the Russians toyed with the idea of a limited war against Austria, which would spare them having to fight the Germans, something they definately did not want to do. But the French firmly told them that if they went down that road the alliance was off (which might find them facing the Austrians and Germans alone anyway) so they went for general mobilization. This put the Franco-Russian attack plan in operation, something the French dearly wanted.

Merely focusing on the Germans produces the results you want to get anyway. Now you have to confront what the French and Russians were actually doing, and it's not pretty.

Terence Zuber

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Now you have to confront what the French and Russians were actually doing, and it's not pretty.

Curiously in these debates, and I have been involved in them for possibly 15 years now, I have yet to see anyone defend Russia much at all and much the same can be said about France. There is a strange concept amongst some that the assassination somehow absolved Austria from having to act sensibly, and by extension that as long as Germany supported Austria she too is absolved of any stupid or illegal actions she took. This is wrong.

If France or Russia were nearly as predatory as you and a few others would like to belive, then surely the Austrians should never have been so high handed with their Note to Serbia, and Germany should have certainly avoided urging Austria to hurry up and declare war on 25th-27th July. You cannot point at German planning, and their knowledge of Russian and French plans, claim that these are overly aggressive, and then somehow switch to pretending that somehow Germany and Austria were taken unawares by them in the July Crisis!

Berchtold sent a messenger to Italy on 15 July to brief Bunsen, the British Ambassador to Rome, concerning the contents of the note the Austrains would send to Serbia.

Is this a new way to describe the infamous Rome embassy leak? Berchtold was perfectly aware that if he wished to brief Britain he could either instruct his ambassador in London, Mensdorff, to talk to Grey directly, or to discuss matters with the British embassy in Vienna. The leak in Rome saw anyone caring to listen that Austria was preparing for war with Serbia and that this was her desired outcome, whilst Vienna and Berlin told the world that nothing had been decided and the matter must be localised still. Nobody expected the Note to be mild, but what emerged left nobody in doubt that it was written to facilitate a war.

Albertini records the Austrian attitude and statements, and Bethmann's comments about them;

Noting by the way that the confidences of Mensdorff and his staff at the Austrian Embassy in London confirm that the note of 23 July ‘was intentionally so worded that it could not but be rejected’, let us turn our attention to the marginal note written by Bethmann on the 28th against these utterances:

'This ambiguity on the part of Austria is intolerable. To us they refuse information about their programme and expressly say that Count Hoyos’s remarks about a partitioning of Serbia were purely personal; in St. Petersburg they are lambs without evil intentions and in London their Embassy talks of giving away Serbian territory to Bulgaria and Albania.’

So it certainly looks like even Bethmann felt Austria was sending out very mixed messages even as late as 28th July.

Of course, we do have the evidence of what Bethmann told to Conrad Haussmann in 1916;

"Yes, God, in a way it was a preventive war. But if war was in any case hovering over us, if it had come in two years time, but even more dangerously and even more unavoidably, and if the military leaders declared that now it was still possible without being defeated, in two years' time no longer! Yes, the military!"

Bethmann was iirc a doctor of law, so it is unlikely he would hardly be one to mistake the meaning of what he said, the term preventive is significant, as this tends to show Germany was not acting simply from self defence.

As to what France and Russia were doing, there can be little doubt they they too were just as happy to risk war as Austria and Germany, the difference is that nobody is writing anything to absolve them from their responsibility for the war.

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Now you have to confront what the French and Russians were actually doing, and it's not pretty.

Curiously in these debates, and I have been involved in them for possibly 15 years now, I have yet to see anyone defend Russia much at all and much the same can be said about France. There is a strange concept amongst some that the assassination somehow absolved Austria from having to act sensibly, and by extension that as long as Germany supported Austria she too is absolved of any stupid or illegal actions she took. This is wrong.

If France or Russia were nearly as predatory as you and a few others would like to belive, then surely the Austrians should never have been so high handed with their Note to Serbia, and Germany should have certainly avoided urging Austria to hurry up and declare war on 25th-27th July. You cannot point at German planning, and their knowledge of Russian and French plans, claim that these are overly aggressive, and then somehow switch to pretending that somehow Germany and Austria were taken unawares by them in the July Crisis!

Berchtold sent a messenger to Italy on 15 July to brief Bunsen, the British Ambassador to Rome, concerning the contents of the note the Austrains would send to Serbia.

Is this a new way to describe the infamous Rome embassy leak? Berchtold was perfectly aware that if he wished to brief Britain he could either instruct his ambassador in London, Mensdorff, to talk to Grey directly, or to discuss matters with the British embassy in Vienna. The leak in Rome saw anyone caring to listen that Austria was preparing for war with Serbia and that this was her desired outcome, whilst Vienna and Berlin told the world that nothing had been decided and the matter must be localised still. Nobody expected the Note to be mild, but what emerged left nobody in doubt that it was written to facilitate a war.

Albertini records the Austrian attitude and statements, and Bethmann's comments about them;

Noting by the way that the confidences of Mensdorff and his staff at the Austrian Embassy in London confirm that the note of 23 July 'was intentionally so worded that it could not but be rejected', let us turn our attention to the marginal note written by Bethmann on the 28th against these utterances:

'This ambiguity on the part of Austria is intolerable. To us they refuse information about their programme and expressly say that Count Hoyos's remarks about a partitioning of Serbia were purely personal; in St. Petersburg they are lambs without evil intentions and in London their Embassy talks of giving away Serbian territory to Bulgaria and Albania.'

So it certainly looks like even Bethmann felt Austria was sending out very mixed messages even as late as 28th July.

Of course, we do have the evidence of what Bethmann told to Conrad Haussmann in 1916;

"Yes, God, in a way it was a preventive war. But if war was in any case hovering over us, if it had come in two years time, but even more dangerously and even more unavoidably, and if the military leaders declared that now it was still possible without being defeated, in two years' time no longer! Yes, the military!"

Bethmann was iirc a doctor of law, so it is unlikely he would hardly be one to mistake the meaning of what he said, the term preventive is significant, as this tends to show Germany was not acting simply from self defence.

As to what France and Russia were doing, there can be little doubt they they too were just as happy to risk war as Austria and Germany, the difference is that nobody is writing anything to absolve them from their responsibility for the war.

Absolutely fascinating. You've managed to completely ignore some of the most important information to become available concerning the July Crisis - ever - in favour of repeating stuff that has been known for 50 years!

Terence Zuber

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Absolutely fascinating. You've managed to completely ignore some of the most important information to become available concerning the July Crisis - ever - in favour of repeating stuff that has been known for 50 years!

Terence Zuber

Terence,

Your own post contains nothing that has not been available for almost ninety years, so you charge that I am relying on evidence available for fifty years would seem to indicate I am at least as up to date. You offered nothing significant or new, and then seem surprised that your post has not somehow changed everything. From your previous post;

So, nobody was really surprised by the contents of the Austrian note, all the theatre and playacting in that direction notwithstanding.

Jagow maintained he was, as he said he had no idea of the contents prior to its delivery. Admittedly we know he was lying as the Austrians admitted to supplying him an advance copy the day before, but other states were only given a very brief outline, and often this varied depending on what the nation in question was supposed to believe.

And you know what the French are telling the Russians after 21 August? Mobilize. Mobilize. We'll support you.

If am am correct this was actually detailed by Stieve in the 1920's in his work on Isvolsky, though it doesnt quite say it in the way you do here. From memory what was said was to the effect that 'if Russia mobilizes, France will support her' which should hardly come as the slightest surprise to you as the same situation is detailed in Moltke's memorandum which you describe as 'contingency planning' and seem to attach no significance at all to such comments when it arises in Vienna or Berlin.

And the Russians are not saying "We need to negotiate with the Austrians first!"

Why did Russia need to negotiate at all? Russia was not wishing to wage war on anyone at this point. Are you suggesting Russia should have made advances to Vienna to offer ideas for how Austria could attack Serbia? Usually it would be normal for the nation wishing to wage war to contact the state she desperately needs to remain neutral in the hope of finding a way forward. Austria did nothing like this. I am happy to challenge you to the same question I have offered to others with the same view. Please show Russia would have mobilized and gone to war if Austria had not tried to solve her disputes with Serbia by war.

Paleologue was not a loose cannon facilitating Russian aggressiveness, he was implementing French policy.

So prove it! This simpIe statement shows nothing and proves nothing too. I have never commented here on Paleologue, on if he was acting inside or outside French policy, though the consensus seems to be that he did excede his brief.

The Franco-Russians never actually considered negotiations.

Did not the last proposals for talks come from Sazonov?

As Schmidt says, under Poincare the Franco-Russian alliance had become militarily aggressive. Schmidt gets most of the military stuff wrong, which is normal for a young European historian, but my essay fixes that.

You say Schmidt gets the military aspects wrong, what is to say he has not got other stuff wrong too? I am not disputing the nature of the Franco-Russian alliance, as the evidence is at best contradictory, Franco-German relations from 1912 - 14 were described as the best they had been in many years by many sources.

[Following paragraph mine, not Schmidt] Defending Serbia was a pretext for war.

A 'pretext' Austria had predicted on 7th July and done nothing at all to avoid, indeed did much to encourage. I presume you have seen the minutes of the Austrian Crown Council meeting of that date?

The Russians began secret mobilization when the Austrians delivered the note.

Austrian intent was made pretty clear by the Note, and the embassy leak in Rome had been telling everyone that Austria wanted war, the Note confirmed it. Maybe you could tell us of the mobilization status of each of the German states and Austria as of 23rd July?

For a while the Russians toyed with the idea of a limited war against Austria, which would spare them having to fight the Germans, something they definately did not want to do.

This sounds very much like the Germans toyed with the idea of war against Russia alone as there was hope France would not support Russia over Serbia. Nations are often attracted to the easy win scenarios.

But the French firmly told them that if they went down that road the alliance was off (which might find them facing the Austrians and Germans alone anyway) so they went for general mobilization.

Interesting, but devoid of date and who is supposed to have said it, effectively of little value. This reads like France was somehow able to dictate Russian policy and force her to war even if Russia didnt want it. France certainly was not going to walk away from the alliance, she needed Russia far too much and knew it, so unless you can supply a way France was about to overcome her inability to defeat Germany in a 1 -1 war, this really makes very little sense at all.

So, all told only one very brief part that offers anything new at all, and that doesnt make too much sense. It also does nothing to adress points I and others have raised as counterpoints.

Terry

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Like I said, contingency planning, never acted upon.

Germany did not mobilize until Russia conducted general mobilization.

Berchtold sent a messenger to Italy on 15 July to brief Bunsen, the British Ambassador to Rome, concerning the contents of the note the Austrains would send to Serbia. Bunsen told his government and the Russian Ambassador.

Terence Zuber

The Bunsen report is as follows,

(32282) No. 50.

Sir M. de Bunsen to Sir Edward Grey.

Vienna, July 16, 1914.

D. 1:50 P.M.

R. 3:15 P.M.

Tel. (No. 85.)

Confidential.

From language held by Minister for Foreign Affairs to a friend of mine, who has repeated it to me, I gather that situation is regarded at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in a serious light and that a kind of indictment is being prepared against the Servian Government for alleged complicity in the conspiracy which led to assassination of the Archduke. Accusation will be founded on the proceedings in the Serajevo Court. My informant states that the Servian Government will be required to adopt certain definite measures in restraint of nationalist and anarchist propaganda, and that Austro-Hungarian Government are in no mood to parley with Servia, but will insist on immediate unconditional compliance, failing which force will be used.Germany is said to be in complete agreement with this procedure, and it is thought that the rest of Europe will sympathise with Austria-Hungary in demanding that Servia shall adopt in future more submissive attitude.

My informant states that Count Forgach entirely shares these views with his chief and that they are very generally held by all classes in this country.

I asked if Russia would be expected to stand by quietly in the event of force being used against Servia.

My informant said that he presumed that Russia would not wish to protect racial assassins, but in any case Austria-Hungary would go ahead regardless of results. She would lose her position as a Great Power if she stood any further nonsense from Servia.

This language is also held by a portion of the press, including the"Neue Freie Presse," which is now in touch with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The official "Fremdenblatt" is more moderate.

I hope to see Minister for Foreign Affairs Friday.

(Repeated to Belgrade.)

Cf. Despatch No. 56. MINUTE.

Count Trauttmansdorf spoke to me (quite informally) at great length to-day, giving expression to very much the same views. R. A. C. July 16.

The minute is interesting because it references a second conversation on the matter, and this is the only mention of it in the British Documents. On a hunch I investigated whether or not this was Trauttmansdorf's first foray into lengthy unofficial conversations with high-level Foriegn Office staff. As it turns out, it was not. In flipping through other records, I found at least one contact report filed by Foriegn Office officials for off-the-record briefings given by Trauttmansdorf. No contact report is in the B.D. on the Crowe discussion - it seems unlikely to me he failed to file one considering the subject matter.

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At this stage, I can only assume that you're one of those who think that the more complex a point is then the more profound it becomes, one of those who think that if they ramble-on, almost incoherently, then their point will fall into place.

An interesting note. However, Glenn has advanced exactly the same idea on at least two other sites to much the same response. His position is effectively that by signing the 1839 treaty each signitory state was signing that they could never fight each other too and must also remain neutral in case they are called upon to defend Belgium against an attack by another state. It is fair to say this view has very limited acceptance.

The conclusion as to the perpetual duty was the Foriegn Office's own, not mine. It reads,

I conclude that Sir E. Grey's questions should be answered by the following proposition:

Great Britain is liable for the maintenance of Belgian neutrality whenever either Belgium or any of the guaranteeing Powers are in need of, and demand, assistance in opposing its violation. (emphasis mine)

E.A.C. C[ROWE]

Nov[ember] 15, 1908.

Minutes

The liability undoubtedly exists as stated above, but whether we could be called upon to carry out our obligation and to vindicate the neutrality of Belgium in opposing its violation must necessarily depend upon our policy at the time and the circumstances of the moment. Supposing that France violated the neutrality of Belgium in a war against Germany, it is, under present circumstances, doubtful whether England or Russia would move a finger to maintain Belgian neutrality, which [sic] if the neutrality of Belgium were violated by Germany it is probable that the converse would be the case. - C.H.

I am much obliged for this useful minute; I think it sums up the situation very well, though Sir. C. Hardinge's reflection is also to the point. - Edward Grey.

Crowe says that Britain is required to at all times be in a position to join with any guarantor - including Germany - to uphold Belgian's neutrality. Obviously, this can't be done if Britain has already declared war on Germany. The continental Powers all opted out of the treaty; neither Austria nor Russia cared a whit whether their ally violated Belgium, and France's concern was solely about British policy, not mortibund experiments in collective security. The exception was Great Britain, which in 1870 had shaped policy in a war by upholding the 1839 Treaty, hence her nearly unprecedented dual treaties with France and Prussia pertaining to future contingencies, possibilities that could see Britain fight against either France or Prussia. This was not a fluke or a mistake, because a Power shaping policy on the 1839 Treaty was not free to choose sides in a continental free for all; their hands were bound by the question of Belgium.

Note that the resolution of Grey's policy dilemma a vs. Britain's legal obligation to Germany under the treaty of 1839 is in Hardinge's minute about fingers.

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