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The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Discussions on all aspects of the First World War not covered in the other sections.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby Terry Duncan on 07 Feb 2012 04:18

Terry Duncan waxes passionate about Chancellor Bethmann's alleged "lies."


Not at all, I simply pointed them out. You seem to be getting somewhat passionate about denying the obvious.

Stop the presses! Bethmann lied! Or did he simply make a [very small] mistake? After all, Bethmann submitted the proposal on the evening of the 28th. A few hours later it would be the 29th.


The proposal was submitted to the Austrians in the evening of the 28th, it had been sent by Bethmann earlier in the day, indeed just after Austria declared war.

Apparently Mr. Duncan is wondering why the plan was not submitted on that date. The reason is that the Kaiser had not made his proposal until 10:00 A.M.


This was all covered once before by Jon when you made the same 'mistake' previously. The written proposal was submitted at 10.00 on the 28th, the original suggestion came on the Kaisers return the previous day.

As to the othe lie, it was mistakenly not in the sction I copied over, though it was in the original reply if you had bothered, but I will post it once again;

He had summoned the Ministers of State to today’s meeting to give them a survey of the present political situation, as far as this was possible. The situation varied from hour to hour and was still doubtful in view of the uncertain factors in developments. His Majesty had tried to get an understanding between the Vienna and St. Petersburg Governments. The Vienna Government, after the Serbian rejection of its terms, had made a declaration at St. Petersburg that it had no territorial aims and did not wish to infringe the integrity of the Serbian State [a statement which had never been made by Berchtold.]


So, Bethmann is deliberately telling lies here and inventing promises and diplomatic actions Berchtold never undertook. Why is Bethmann deceiving his own ministers?

Meanwhile, the real-life lie told by Grey on August 3d is deleted because it is off topic.

Just thought you ought to know


Peter, you can post anything about Grey and British diplomatic and military commitment in the thread YOU started on that topic, it does not belong in one YOU started on Russian mobilization. Rambling threads that wander off onto any topic that occurs to you are not the purpose of this forum, and you have been asked not to do it many times. If you do not like this simple request, feel free to post on other sites that allow such practices.

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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby peterhof on 09 Feb 2012 03:04

This thread has seen over 120 replies (so far) but not a single one one has addressed the issue of why Russia had to order general mobilization on the 30th. Was there some sort of immutable time table that Russia was obliged to follow? Was Russia in danger from Austria or Germany? Could Russia not have waited one day? Two days? How about a week? Two weeks?

To put the question another way . . .

On July 28th, Germany changes her policy [of supporting Austria] 180 degrees and Bethmann begins firing telegrams at Vienna demanding that she submit to arbitration and notifies London and St. Petersburg that he is doing so. The same day Russia decides to order general mobilization at midnight July 29th.

Is there a connection between the two events?
(Hint: YES!)
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby favedave on 09 Feb 2012 15:49

"This thread has seen over 120 replies (so far) but not a single one one has addressed the issue of why Russia had to order general mobilization on the 30th."

The answer is fairly obvious. Austria Hungary went to war with Serbia on the 29th. Germany, (the Kaiser) had threatened war with Russia should the Russians try to force Austria Hungary to back off on their plan to invade and take over the Serbian state. The Tsar had informed the Kaiser that it would take more time to demobilize than the limited time the Kaiser had given the Russians and there was no assurance that Austria Hungary would indeed back down if the Russians did so.

The real question here is why did the Kaiser declare war on Russia when there was no imminent danger from Russia to either Germany or Austria-Hungary (both had two weeks before a Russian Army could reach their borders). In previous situations of mobilization by one major nation for war against others during the 19th and early 20th centuries, cooler heads had always prevailed and war was avoided. What made this occassion different?
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby Terry Duncan on 09 Feb 2012 16:10

Peter,

Please do not start the tactic you employed at THC, that of pretending you have not been answered when you know - as also does anyone reading the thread - that you have been answered. You might not like the answer or even agree with it, but that does not mean you have not been answered. For example, on the first page of this thread in the 8th post;

Entirely on-topic as the Austrian actions are the reason Russia mobilized.


viewtopic.php?f=31&t=185692&p=1668097&hilit=Entirely+on+topic+as+the+Austrian+actions#p1668097

Was there some sort of immutable time table that Russia was obliged to follow?


Russia was no more obliged to follow a timetable than Germany was.

Could Russia not have waited one day? Two days? How about a week?


The same could be said of Austria, who wanted to go to war on 12th August had she not been presurized into the 28th July by Germany, and indeed Germany herself who did not need to declare war when she did. Lets not forget that Austria and Russia continued to talk for a week after Germany declared war, indeed until Germany told Austria this was not acceptable.

The same day Russia decides to order general mobilization at midnight July 29th.


But did not do so. This comes into the 20.00 the Tzar approves full mobilization, 21.40 The Tzar cancels full mobilization after a telegram from the Kaiser period, oddly enough after hearing Austria has shelled Belgrade AFTER Bethmann had promised he would talk to Austria.

Is there a connection between the two events?
(Hint: YES!)


Austrian unwillingness to settle for anything short of war on her terms only, refusing to listen to Grey, Sazonov, or Bethmann.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby Appleknocker27 on 09 Feb 2012 19:32

This thread has seen over 120 replies (so far) but not a single one one has addressed the issue of why Russia had to order general mobilization on the 30th. Was there some sort of immutable time table that Russia was obliged to follow?
Was Russia in danger from Austria or Germany? Could Russia not have waited one day?


I haven't seen anyone offer the answer that Russia was in no way threatend by Austria or Germany, but Russia's predatorial expansionist Balkan policy was certainly at high risk. How could Russia hope to further that expansionist Balkan policy without Serbia?

Just a thought...
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby peterhof on 09 Feb 2012 21:08

Under the dire circumstances of July, 1914, Russia had a solemn obligation to state the conditions which would trigger something as serious as a general mobilization. This was acknowledged by Grey who warned that it [general mobilization] "would precipitate a crisis" and by his subordinate, Buchahan, who warned Sasonov explicitly that Russian general mobilization would "probably" mean war with Germany. Russia could have said: "If Austria declares war on Serbia, we will mobilize." Or: "If Austrian troops cross the Serbian frontier, we will mobilize."

Favedave's comment that "The Tsar had informed the Kaiser that it would take more time to demobilize than the limited time the Kaiser had given the Russians and there was no assurance that Austria Hungary would indeed back down if the Russians did so." is nonsense. The Czar said no such thing and Germany never demanded that Russia de-mobilize - only that she suspend further mobilization. Germany was quite clear about this in her warning to Russia:

"In spite of negotiations for mediation which are still in the balance, and although we ourselves up to now have taken no measures of mobilization, Russia has mobilized its whole army and fleet, that means against us. These Russian measures have forced us for the security of the Empire to proclaim the ‘imminent danger of war’ which does not yet mean mobilization. But mobilization must follow if Russia does not suspend all warlike measures against us and Austria-Hungary within twelve hours."



The Russian decision to order general mobilization on midnight July 29th is not altered in the least by the fact that the Czar changed it to partial mobilization at the last minute.

Once again, some posters insist on forgetting that the dispute concerned Austria and Serbia - NOT Russia or any other third party. In the case of Belgium, England could at least cite the treaty of 1839, however mistakenly. But Russia had no treaty or agreement of any sort with Serbia. She was motivated only by her own self interest and this increased her obligation to state IN ADVANCE what would cause her to take such a fatal step as general mobilization.

Finally, the link supplied by Terry Duncan:

viewtopic.php?f=31&t=185692&p=1668097&hilit=Entirely+on+topic+as+the+Austrian+actions#p1668097

at no time addresses the question of why Russia mobilized. The Austrian declaration of war is nowhere mentioned in Russian documents or by Russian leaders as the reason for ordering general mobilization.

As a matter of fact, the official reason for general mobilization given by the Russians was . . . wait for it . . . the Austrian general mobilization. Yes indeed. This "reason" was not given at the time because Austria had not yet mobilized. But the Triple Entente lied about it later. I have already cited the falsification of Paleologue's telegram announcing Russian mobilization in the French Livre Jaune. Here is the same falsification as it appeared in Sasonov's memoirs, The Fateful Years, page 208:

"July 30th, our preparations for war consisted, as already pointed out, in the mobilization of four Southern military districts - i.e. we were just as much prepared for war as Austria which was already at war with Serbia. General mobilization orders were only issued in Russia on July 31, i.e. on the day that Kriegsgefahrzustand was declared in Berlin earlier in the day than they had received the news of our mobilization."

Sasonov could hardly help but lie. The Austrian declaration of war on Serbia was not sufficient to engage the Franco-Russian alliance. Any such engagement could only come in response to a general mobilization by a member of the Triple Alliance. So they all lied. Russia lied. France lied. England lied.

But the Austrian declaration of war upon Serbia was NOT the reason for Russia's general mobilization.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby Terry Duncan on 09 Feb 2012 23:56

Under the dire circumstances of July, 1914, Russia had a solemn obligation to state the conditions which would trigger something as serious as a general mobilization.


You could make much the same claim for Austria declaring war, something far more serious than mobilization. I do not recall Germany or Austria laying out what actions would start their military activities, so it is unrealistic to expect Russia to be held to a code of conduct no other power followed.

Russia could have said: "If Austria declares war on Serbia, we will mobilize." Or: "If Austrian troops cross the Serbian frontier, we will mobilize."


Russia had been making plain her position or 'Russia will accept no humiliation of Serbia' from before the ultimatum was even finished, and Austria had already concluded that if she attacked Serbia it would mean war with Russia (7th July), so it is impossible to claim the position Russia would take was unknown to anyone, least of all Austria and Germany.

Favedave's comment that "The Tsar had informed the Kaiser that it would take more time to demobilize than the limited time the Kaiser had given the Russians and there was no assurance that Austria Hungary would indeed back down if the Russians did so." is nonsense.


There is certainly one hard fact in this comment you dispute. Moltke's own intelligence estimate for the time it would take Russia to suspend mobilization was a minimum of 48 hours, therefore issuing an ultimatum demanding it take place in 12 hours was to set an impossible condition - maybe this was the be the 'unsatisfactory reply' referred to in the declaration of war? It should also be noted that the ultimatum offers no suggestion that the Austria war with Serbia will cease - or indeed the Austrian mobilization now underway. Essentially this is a 'Let Austria fight Serbia or else' ultimatum, and therefor obviously something Russia was not going to accept.

The Russian decision to order general mobilization on midnight July 29th is not altered in the least by the fact that the Czar changed it to partial mobilization at the last minute.


It was rather obviously altered, as reality shows. Should we date the German decision to go to war from the moment Jagow said 'the cannon can do the talking'? The simple fact Russia did move away from general mobilization illustrates that Russia was not determined on war even by 29th July.

at no time addresses the question of why Russia mobilized.


Please explain then what you imagine the words 'Austrian actions' referred to or meant? I was imagining people here had at least a basic understanding of the subject, though your latest comment indicates you are unaware of Austrian actions during the July Crisis.

The Austrian declaration of war is nowhere mentioned in Russian documents or by Russian leaders as the reason for ordering general mobilization.


Nor do they mention mobilizing for war with Germany or Austria, which rather destroys your strange claims totally. I am sure most people are able to link the moment Russia found out Austria had shelled Belgrade and the decision to mobilize, as they are seperated by less than five hours.

The Austrian declaration of war on Serbia was not sufficient to engage the Franco-Russian alliance. Any such engagement could only come in response to a general mobilization by a member of the Triple Alliance.


This is a curious logic that ignores the simple fact that Austria had declared war without declaring general mobilization, and thus relies on the notion a declaration of war is somehow less serious than mobilization. When the treaties were written people did not consider a nation would declare war prior to mobilizing, so the matter is not covered. However, we can see the rather silly nature of this claim when set against the German position about Russia acting against Austria. If Russia only partially mobilized and acted against Austria, Germany would still declare war on Russia, and the Franco-Russia alliance does not specify full mobilization, it says ANY mobilization by any of the Triple Alliance is enough to engage its terms. You are ignoring the actions of the time and trying to make excuses and accusations based around semantics.

So they all lied.


This at least is correct. They all lied, Austria, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and Serbia. Possibly the only nation that did not lie was Belgium.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby peterhof on 10 Feb 2012 00:22

The fact remains:

Russia ordered general mobilization in response to Austrian general mobilization by her own words - NOT in response to Austria's declaration of war upon Serbia. Only later did it transpire that this was a lie. Austria had not ordered any mobilization except against Serbia.

I note that you did not address my citation of Sasonov's egregiously false memoirs stating that Russian mobilization was ordered on July 31st. Perhaps you will do so in the future, but I won't hold my breath.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby Terry Duncan on 10 Feb 2012 01:36

I haven't seen anyone offer the answer that Russia was in no way threatend by Austria or Germany, but Russia's predatorial expansionist Balkan policy was certainly at high risk.


You only need to read any one of Peterhof's posts on the subject to see this view expressed. It ignores that Austria's high risk expansionist policy in 1914 was also highly predatorial.

Russia ordered general mobilization in response to Austrian general mobilization by her own words - NOT in response to Austria's declaration of war upon Serbia.


Rather like Berchtold used fabricated a border incident to get his declaration of war against Serbia, like Germany fabricated bombing incidents in her declaration of war on France, like Germany cited fabricated French intentions in her declaration of war on Belgium. Russia tried to spin things exactly like all the others did.

Austria had not ordered any mobilization except against Serbia.


Actually, Austria had ordered full mobilization without knowledge of Russian actions, and Russia had ordered mobilization without certain knowledge of Austrian actions, though Austria was already at war.

I note that you did not address my citation of Sasonov's egregiously false memoirs stating that Russian mobilization was ordered on July 31st.


Gee. Would you like me to cite any number of Germans stating it was all down to whoever it suited to blame, or how their first statements in 1914 do not match later ones - Bethmann changed his mind in a fewdays on who he wished to blame for his policy going wrong, Montgelas blamed Germany from 1914-1919 and then reversed his position when entering the pay of the German Foreign Office War Guilt Section. Who blamed who at the time, and who lied about what matter very little as nobody is basing their opinions on the 1920's blame game publications, except you. Everyone else seems to have read at least some books written since 1946 when more complete knowledge became available.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby favedave on 10 Feb 2012 02:49

Favedave's comment that "The Tsar had informed the Kaiser that it would take more time to demobilize than the limited time the Kaiser had given the Russians and there was no assurance that Austria Hungary would indeed back down if the Russians did so." is nonsense. The Czar said no such thing and Germany never demanded that Russia de-mobilize - only that she suspend further mobilization. Germany was quite clear about this in her warning to Russia:

I'm glad it was my comment that was nonsense and not your tax attorney's word-parcing of history. Well so be it. I went and looked up the Nicky/Willie telegrams. And indeed the Tsar did not say "It will take more time to demobilize than the limited time you will give me as of the end of this telegram." What the Tsar actually said in informing the Kaiser that he was very hopeful that with the Kaiser help hostilities could be avoided, was the caveat that "The military measures that have now come into force were decided five days ago for reasons of defense."

The Kaiser exploded that the Tsar had betrayed him and mobilized behind his back (which is where you get your idea that Russia mobilized as of the 25th of July) and returned the ultimatum that Russia "suspend all warlike measures against us and Austria-Hungary within twelve hours." Or in other words, demobilize in 12 hours. The Tsar unfortunately did not reply.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby peterhof on 10 Feb 2012 04:53

Favedave,

"suspend" does not equate with "demobilize." Furthermore, the Czar himself confirms what we already know from Dobrorolski, Paleologue, Isvolsky, and Bogitschevitch: the Russian decision for war "was already a settled matter" ("had been decided upon") by July 25th.

The German charges with regard to alleged French violations in the Vosges, Wesel, Karlruhe, and Nuremberg, were mistakes, NOT lies. As Fay explains (p. 534):

"The alleged hostile acts were based on false information which the German Government, in its haste, had taken no care to verify."

By contrast, Sasonov lied; Poincare lied; Grey caused his opinion of Russian mobilization to be suppressed from the 1914 British Blue Book and gave birth to the falsehood that Russian mobilization had come in response to a July 30 article in the German newspaper, LokalAnzeiger, announcing German mobilization.

The German mistakes were quickly recognized and immediately acknowledged by the German Government. The Entente liars hung tough and maintained their pathetic lies to the end.

The more we look at the Russian general mobilization, the more it looks like the Entente declaration of war.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby Terry Duncan on 10 Feb 2012 15:35

"suspend" does not equate with "demobilize."


Given Russia had not even got to the official 'first day of mobilization' proclaimed - 4th August 1914 - the German demand to Russia is that Russia must do nothing whilst Austria is now fully mobilizing, and military measures have been taking place in Germany that led to the speculation that mobilization was about to be announced - the origin of the famous Berlin newspaper declaring it had been ordered - this would bring about the exact situation Russia was worried about, namely being taken unprepared for war.

The German charges with regard to alleged French violations in the Vosges, Wesel, Karlruhe, and Nuremberg, were mistakes, NOT lies.


Fay states his opinion, not surprising given his objective was to show Germany didnt start the war, though as checking the incidents would have been simple as in at least one case the main railway station was said to have been bombed! However, lets look at the passage you posted;

"The alleged hostile acts were based on false information which the German Government, in its haste, had taken no care to verify."


In 'haste' for what? To attack nearby nations that has given Germany not the slightest excuse to do so? Why is the German government in such a hurry at this time?

By contrast.....


When Germany lies you claim it to be a mistake, although you make claims other nations lied but offer no proof they did so at the time - remember, sticking to the story you told is not the same thing as deliberately constructing the lie in the first place. As for Germany not telling lies, the declaration of war on Belgium clearly shows she did. However, that is enough digression on this subject, can we please return to the subject of Russia mobilization - the acts causing it and the act itself.

The more we look at the Russian general mobilization, the more it looks like the Entente declaration of war.


Only the wilfully deluded could arrive at such a conclusion. If this were to have any validity, war would have been declared the moment it was known Austria had attacked Serbia. That the Tzar cancelled the full mobilization order on 29th is proof enough that even Russia was undecided about what to, this is supported by the Kaiser's own marginalia on the matter, whilst France would hardly have simply 'looked to her own interests' if this were true as there would be no need to worry about British support, and we do know France was indeed very worried Britain was not going to aid her.

So at the very most all that can be said about Russian mobilization that is supported by evidence is that;

24th July: The matter was first discussed once the Austrian Note was seen, and the decision to support Serbia was made.

25th July: The Tzar ratified the decision to allow the military districts of Kiev, Odessa, Moscow, and Kazan to prepare for mobilization.

26th July: Russia starts to recall reservists, a phase preliminary to mobilization itself.

27th July: The Russia staff decide that a partial mobilization against Austria will be suicidal as Germany will support Austria under any circumstances.

28th July: Russia learns of the Austrian declaration of war against Serbia (late afternoon). Sazonov asks for both full and partial mobilization orders to be prepared despite being told by Yanushkevitch that partial mobilization is dangerous. After consulting with the Tzar, Sazonov says partial mobilization will start on 29th July.

29th July: Tzar signs both mobilization decrees. Berlin learns of the imminent Russian partial mobilization - Jagow tells the Russian Ambassador Sverbeev that “Germany would be obliged to mobilize as well. There was therefore nothing more to do: from now on diplomats would have to let the cannons talk.” The Tzar signs order for full mobilization(20:00). The Tzar cancels the order after receiving a warning telegram from the Kaiser (21:40). Russia orders partial mobilization against Austria (00:00).

30th July: Sazonov tells Pourtales that Russia will halt mobilization if Austria drops demands that threaten Serbian sovereignty (02:00). Russia informs France of its partial mobilization (03:00). Sazonov persuades the Tzar to order full mobilization (15.10-16:00). Russia orders full mobilization, though the notices are posted overnight the first official day of mobilization is 4th August (18:00).
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby Appleknocker27 on 10 Feb 2012 18:06

You only need to read any one of Peterhof's posts on the subject to see this view expressed. It ignores that Austria's high risk expansionist policy in 1914 was also highly predatorial.


Austria's policy can be compared with Serbia's and considered a reaction to a neighbor who wished to destabilize Austria and benefit from dissecting the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I see AH as a declining great power defending itself (and its status as a great power/sphere of influence, etc.) from an aggressive neighbor and Russia as opportunistic predator. The Russian agenda was denied in 1912-13 and would not be denied again, thus mobilization with powerful backing because the right opportunity presented itself. The Russian expansionist agenda came first, peace second. AH's issue with her neighbor was a local dispute, it was the Russians who decided it needed to be an issue among great powers.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby peterhof on 10 Feb 2012 18:35

This analysis by Appleknocker27 is correct as far it goes. But consider:

Russia understood that her general mobilization would mean a European war, but she had no hope of victory against Austria and Germany. Russia was certain of French support, but Sasonov had earlier stated his concern that Russia and France by themselves could not be confident of victory against the Central Powers. Something more was needed. That something was the strongest military power on earth: England.

It was British support that finally gave Russia the confidence to roll the dice . . .
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby glenn239 on 10 Feb 2012 19:02

Or in other words, demobilize in 12 hours. The Tsar unfortunately did not reply
.

The failure to reply was a reply.

contrast, Sasonov lied; Poincare lied; Grey caused his opinion of Russian mobilization to be suppressed from the 1914 British Blue Book and gave birth to the falsehood that Russian mobilization had come in response to a July 30 article in the German newspaper, LokalAnzeiger, announcing German mobilization.


The degree to which the Entente falsified information about mobilization in 1914 is indicative of the importance the Entente placed on the question in assessing responsibility for the war.

The more we look at the Russian general mobilization, the more it looks like the Entente declaration of war.


The Russians elsewhere in history bent over backwards to avoid having military measures seen as a declaration of war. Witness Stalin in 1941.

Given Russia had not even got to the official 'first day of mobilization' proclaimed - 4th August 1914 - the German demand to Russia is that Russia must do nothing whilst Austria is now fully mobilizing


The Austrians stated 31 July that as a matter of course their own mobilization in Galicia would be suspended, and the Germans had not mobilized at the point they demanded the Russians suspend theirs, so your point is lacking.
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