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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 10 Feb 2012 20:02

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.


Whereas the Austrian policy was to attack Sebia, enhance her own prestige at the expense of Russia, parcel out territory to other states as bribes for their support and as the basis for forming a Balkan League under Austrian patronage.

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.


Austria was still herself a predator, as the aquisition of Bosnia-Herzegovina showed well enough - though as this was the source of the assassination it can be said to have been a pyrrhic success at best when you consider it also ruined relations with Russia too.

This is not to say Austria could be expected to wish to lose her status, but to attempt to aggrandise herself at the expense of Rusisa's was never going to end in anything but war after Austria humiliated Russia in 1908/9.

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.


The Austrians were the ones with the active agendas in the Balkan Wars, such as Serbian access to the sea and the Sanjak of Novi Pazar. In 1914 it was with the Austrians that the issue or war took centre stage and peace came an extremely distant second - one could say non-existant second as Berchtold always insisted any moderation was impossible over the war with Serbia, even after 1918!

Again, this is not to say Austria was unique, indeed all the Great Powers were happier to accept war than suffer a diplomatic defeat. This is why starting any war in 1914 was a dangerous and always likely to end in the general war so long predicted across Europe.

Russia understood that her general mobilization would mean a European war


Interestingly enough this would match the conclusions reached in Austria on July 7th and in Berlin on 8th and 9th July, where it was concluded an Austrian attack on Serbia would provoke Russia to war. Yet they still followed through with this insane policy in the hope to other nations would abandon their alliances and interests, whilst stating their own interests and alliances made such actions impossible.

Russia was certain of French support


This is the France that didnt support Russia in 1909 or 1912/13. As a comparison, can you tell us of a crisis where Germany did not support Austria - even when she didnt agree with Austrian policy as in the Annexation Crisis???

That something was the strongest military power on earth: England.


The strongest military was Germany on land, the most numerous was Russia. Britain by comparison had a tiny army. The naval strength was Britain first, Germany second. Much of British power was commercial.

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.


That is not a balanced view. All the nations issued versions of events that made them and their allies look blameless, so the fact that the Entente acted in this way needs to be seen in that light. Just one example; The Germans failed to include the Belgian reply to their ultimatum, maybe because it would make claims of a defensive war somewhat difficult.

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


Presumably Sazonov should have got in a nearby Tardis and travelled to 1914 to see Stalin was paranoid about how Germany wold perceive things after she overreacted in 1914. Russia had increased her armed forces by 400,000 men in 1913 in a secret mobilization and there was no war, yet in 1914 no extra troops had been added in such a way when Germany went to war - these are the Germans own figures as shown in Zuber's last book, as they had watched the entire process and not felt it to be a trigger for war.

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.


The point is not lacking at all, the problem is that you clearly do not understand it. On 31st July Germany is citing that she is being forced to war because of a Russian act that will not even start until 4th August and that this coming act makes all possibility of talking up to that time totally impossible. Russia could not be expected to allow Austria and Germany to continue their preparations whilst she ceases, and Austria and Germany had been recalling reservists since 23rd July - oddly enough it appears likely they felt a war might be coming from that date for some reason? Maybe it had something to do with the Note?
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby favedave on 11 Feb 2012 00:46

[u"suspend" does not equate with "demobilize." ][/u]

No, in the manner Germany used it meant far more than demobilize. Mobilization is the act of calling up all reserves and notifying commands and suppliers to get ready for war. The ultimatum stated Russia was required to "suspend all warlike measures against us and Austria-Hungary within twelve hours." Presumeably this meant the filling of supplies and deployment of men. It could also mean the cancelling of any planned war games , or gathering of troops for any reason near the nation's borders. So it meant a lot more than a humble request to demobilze.

But the peacetime armies of all the European nations were very large. So large in fact that Austria Hungary felt no need to mobilize before going to war with Serbia. By the way, for those too dense to get how these things work, a declaration of war, especially one followed immediately by an attack on the soil and capital of the nation the war was declared against...trumps a mere mobilization order, full, partial or otherwise.

After the shells started falling on Belgrade nobody had to guess what Austria-Hungary was doing. In order to have his way with Serbia, Franz Josef had decided on starting this particular General European War on the 6th of July, when he received the Kaiser's unconditional military backing. Not one action taken by the government of Franz Josef from that date did anything to slow or hinder his diplomatic corps or his military's execution of his decision. Everybody in Europe knew what the consequences of taking this course of action would be. Blaming others, Russia, France or Britain for doing exactly as they had publically announced they would do and were expected to do by both friend and foe, is the only nonsense I've seen posted on this forum.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby Appleknocker27 on 11 Feb 2012 14:31

Considering "Greater Serbia" meant a lesser Austria-Hungary and that the two states shared a common border I would personally believe that AH was defending its territory, power and prestige against an aggressor. The Russians didn't share a common border with Serbia and were not in any danger of territorial infringement, so why were they threatening war? Austria and Serbia share plenty of guilt for starting a war between themselves, but the Russians are responsible for widening the war to involve European alliances. If Russia doesn't involve itself in matters -beyond its own sovereign borders- then there is no world war.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby Terry Duncan on 11 Feb 2012 16:14

Considering "Greater Serbia" meant a lesser Austria-Hungary and that the two states shared a common border I would personally believe that AH was defending its territory, power and prestige against an aggressor.


The state of Serbia made no aggressive acts towards Austria, this is not a reason to go to war in 1914. Remember, Serbia was an Austrian ally less than a decade earlier and until she tried to buy weapons elsewhere than Austria the two states had no serious issues over the 'Greater Serbia' agenda, despite it being much older. Serbia was also the desired ally, and objective of 1914 German foreign policy, around whom to construct a Balkan League, so Germany clearly didnt feel Serbia was menacing Austria right up until an assassination carried out by Austrian subjects.

The Russians didn't share a common border with Serbia and were not in any danger of territorial infringement, so why were they threatening war?


The Russians, Austrians and Germans all saw Serbia as representing a Russian key interest, and by attacking her would thus damage Russian prestige. Direct involvement comes in one of two ways other than that; 1. The Serbian Crown Prince appealled to Russia directly on 23rd July for aid against Austrian menaces, after delivery of the Note and the fact the embassy leak in Rome had told all Europe Austria didnt want a peaceful settlement but did want war. 2. The Austrian Note cites the pledge given to all the Great Powers in 1909 and thereby acknowledges their right to become involved in a matter that concerned them too.

Austria and Serbia share plenty of guilt for starting a war between themselves, but the Russians are responsible for widening the war to involve European alliances.


Austria was the first nation to involve the alliances by seeking German support on July 8th-9th for war on Serbia, a war Austria accepted from the outset would also mean war with Russia - hence the need to ask Germany for help as Austria was scarcely so feeble she could not fight Serbia alone and win.

If Russia doesn't involve itself in matters -beyond its own sovereign borders- then there is no world war.


And if Germany had done likewise, maybe there would be a right to castigate Russia alone on the matter, but as Germany saw fit to get involved and even go on to demand the timing of the Note be changed and the date Austria went to war be brought forwards two weeks to avoid a peaceful settlement being forced upon Austria by the Entente nations, Russia cannot be held accountable alone for the spread of war to the alliances.

Then again, nations have these things they view as key interests and they dont accept them being trampled, much like the nations of today, but you can no more expect Russia to ignore its own interests when other states are unwilling to put their own interests aside.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby glenn239 on 11 Feb 2012 16:43

After the shells started falling on Belgrade nobody had to guess what Austria-Hungary was doing.


Yes, we are well familiar with this shelling hyperbole - Sazonov siezed upon it as a handy pretext by the 29th when it looked like Grey was getting reasonable with the Germans. Now, with respect to the wildly exaggerated shelling of fortresses near Belgrade 28 June, kindly prove that anyone was killed? How many Serbian houses were hit? How many Serbian civilians were killed? I suspect (but do not know for certain) that the answers are 'few houses or none' and 'no civilians'.

The ultimatum stated Russia was required to "suspend all warlike measures against us and Austria-Hungary within twelve hours." Presumeably this meant the filling of supplies and deployment of men. It could also mean the cancelling of any planned war games , or gathering of troops for any reason near the nation's borders. So it meant a lot more than a humble request to demobilze.


I must have missed the part where Russia asked precisely what the Germans meant.

But the peacetime armies of all the European nations were very large. So large in fact that Austria Hungary felt no need to mobilize before going to war with Serbia.


Austria mobilized at Serbia starting the 28th of July and declared war on Serbia on the 28th of July. What part of this isn’t Austria mobilizing at Serbia when war is declared?
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby favedave on 11 Feb 2012 16:48

Considering "Greater Serbia" was a figment of the imaginations of some of the ethnic Serbian populations of the Balkan Peninsula, and Austria Hungary was an empire actively annexing the territory of the Ottoman Empire and attempting to control more, Austria Hungary can hardly be considered to merely be defending its territory. Serbia the nation was considered a rogue state by most of the major powers as a result of the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. But the government was not on a course to achieve Greater Serbia. At the time of Austria-Hungary's declaraton of war, Vienna had produced no proof and indeed it own investigators had concluded that the Serbian Government was not behind the assassinations in Sarajevo.

Just as Belgium enjoyed a special relationship with Great Britain due to the later's involvment in the nation's creation, Serbia enjoyed a special relationship with Imperial Russia due to its patronage of Serbia's nationhood. Certainly Imperial Germany and Imperial Austria Hungary fully understood that attacking Belgium or Serbia without just cause would automatically involve Great Britain's military in the case of Belgium and Russia's military in the case of Serbia. This was the reason Austria Hungary sought and received Germany's support on July 6th, 1914.

It is true that had Russia ignored Serbia's pleas for support against Austria-Hungary and sat cowering behind its own sovereign borders, there might not have been a world war, then. But it is also likely that one would have resulted from some other "damned foolish thing." It is also true that had Austria Hungary contacted Russia rather than Germany in early July, Austria-Hungary could have extracted her pound of flesh from Serbia in repayment for harboring the assassins and providing them with weapons. The declaration of war on the 28th hindered the discovery of Serbian Intelligence's involvment in Sarajevo and other terrorist attacks against the Dual Monarchy.

It is also true that had the Kaiser personally informed Franz Josef that Germany's support was nolonger necessary, since the Serbian reply eliminated "all reason for war" there would have been no world war.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby glenn239 on 11 Feb 2012 16:50

The point is not lacking at all, the problem is that you clearly do not understand it. On 31st July Germany is citing that she is being forced to war because of a Russian act that will not even start until 4th August and that this coming act makes all possibility of talking up to that time totally impossible. Russia could not be expected to allow Austria and Germany to continue their preparations whilst she ceases


You stated that the Russia was ordered to demobilize while Austria would continue to mobilize in Galicia. That is patent nonsense. Berchtold stated on 31 July that if Russia demobilized, Austria would as a matter of course call off her preparations as well. The Germans had not yet mobilized when their ultimatum was sent. So your point has no merit.

Russia had increased her armed forces by 400,000 men in 1913 in a secret mobilization and there was no war,


Russia retained in service the class that was to be dismissed, swelling overall numbers as the next class was called up for training. There was no overall increase in war readiness because the class called up would not be ready for battle for another year, nor was there any ‘mobilization’ of Russia forces, which by definition is the public calling up of reserve classes and their transportation to concentration zones on the borders facing the targeted Power. Hence the term 'secret' and 'mobilization' in 1914 were mutually exclusive.

That is not a balanced view. All the nations issued versions of events that made them and their allies look blameless, so the fact that the Entente acted in this way needs to be seen in that light. Just one example; The Germans failed to include the Belgian reply to their ultimatum, maybe because it would make claims of a defensive war somewhat difficult.


We know the Entente thought the order of mobilization was key for determining responsibility for the war because the Entente themselves went to great lenghts to falsify the matter. They wouldn't have done this if they didn't feel the German argument about mobilization order had merit?
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby favedave on 11 Feb 2012 16:59

Yes, we are well familiar with this shelling hyperbole - Sazonov siezed upon it as a handy pretext by the 29th when it looked like Grey was getting reasonable with the Germans. Now, with respect to the wildly exaggerated shelling of fortresses near Belgrade 28 June, kindly prove that anyone was killed? How many Serbian houses were hit? How many Serbian civilians were killed? I suspect (but do not know for certain) that the answers are 'few houses or none' and 'no civilians'.


How many soldiers and civilians were killed or Southern homes hit when the South Carolina Militia started firing cannon at the U.S. Military facility known as Fort Sumter? The answer is Zero on all counts.

But it has been agreed that trying to kill people and destroying their property is an extremely hostile act of war. How good the attackers are at killing, maiming and blowing up buildings does not enter into it.
Last edited by favedave on 11 Feb 2012 17:05, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby glenn239 on 11 Feb 2012 17:01

It is also true that had the Kaiser personally informed Franz Josef that Germany's support was nolonger necessary, since the Serbian reply eliminated "all reason for war" there would have been no world war


The Kaiser stated reasons for war were eliminated only if the Serbians were compelled to implement all points of the Austrian note fully. The Russians maintained the note had to be largely withdrawn or it would be war. I don’t see how these two viewpoints were in any way whatever compatable. The use of the Kaiser's quote invariably snips off the end where he says the Serbs were rascals - the type of deliberate alteration in meaning by selective editing that drives Jon around the bend.

It is true that had Russia ignored Serbia's pleas for support against Austria-Hungary and sat cowering behind its own sovereign borders, there might not have been a world war, then. But it is also likely that one would have resulted from some other "damned foolish thing."


Actually, no, that is not true. Outside the Balkans there were no obvious triggers for a world war. So if the Russians had not started a world war over Serbia, it is not apparent how or where the war would have happened.

Considering "Greater Serbia" was a figment of the imaginations of some of the ethnic Serbian populations of the Balkan Peninsula, and Austria Hungary was an empire actively annexing the territory of the Ottoman Empire and attempting to control more, Austria Hungary can hardly be considered to merely be defending its territory


The expansion of Serbian territory between 1912 and 1914 through force is a historical fact, as are the designs Serbia had on Bosnia.

Just as Belgium enjoyed a special relationship with Great Britain due to the later's involvment in the nation's creation, Serbia enjoyed a special relationship with Imperial Russia due to its patronage of Serbia's nationhood.


So in February or January 1914 when the Tzar and Pasic were coolly discussing the transfer of 500,000 rifles to Serbia in order to forment civil war inside Austria-Hungary, this was part of that “special” relationship?
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby Appleknocker27 on 11 Feb 2012 17:02

Austria was the first nation to involve the alliances by seeking German support on July 8th-9th for war on Serbia, a war Austria accepted from the outset would also mean war with Russia - hence the need to ask Germany for help as Austria was scarcely so feeble she could not fight Serbia alone and win.


Everything associated with Russia's involvement rings hollow, they were interfering in a territorial dispute between geographical neighbors, no other power was doing that but them. A loss of territory and a direct physical threat to one's populace is a legittimate reason for a call to arms, a potential or perceived loss of prestige or a threatend political agenda are not legittimate causes for a call to arms.

Just because the Russians were in a strong position to push their agenda and back their threat with war in no way makes them right or the Austrians wrong for not backing away. The Russians were wrong and attempting to succeed through intimidation. This may seem simplistic but I really don't see the need to muddle things up with the minutae of political dialogue when the underlying intent is crystal clear and a little brevity in the overall picture maintains clarity.

Why were the Russians involved in the Balkans??? Why were they backing a small rogue state that they did not share a border with?
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby glenn239 on 11 Feb 2012 17:03

How many soldiers and civilians were killed or Southern homes were hit when the South Carolina militia started firing cannon at the U.S. Military facility known as Fort Sumter? The answer is Zero on all counts.


You stated BELGRADE was shelled, not a fort. Now you will have us believe that area attacks on cities by artillery result in no casualties? We are not that gullible.

If Belgrade was not actually shelled, instead it being the case that forts around it were, then why did you state as a fact something that is not true? Did you not actually mean to say a fort was shelled?
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby favedave on 11 Feb 2012 17:30

You stated BELGRADE was shelled, not a fort. Now you will have us believe that area attacks on cities by artillery result in no casualties? We are not that gullible.

If Belgrade was not actually shelled, instead it being the case that forts around it were, then why did you state as a fact something that is not true? Did you not actually mean to say a fort was shelled?


Actually I reported only what the Russians knew on the afternoon of the 29th, Austrian monitors on the Danube were shelling Belgrade. On learning this Sazonov shouted at Sz'ap'ary, with whom he was meeting , "You only wish to gain time by negotiations. But you go ahead and bombard an unprotected city!"
What the specific targets of the Austrian guns were is irrelivant. However, I have read other reports from the period and the Austrians were indeed shooting into the city's center as well as its fortresses. Belgrade is a European city which generally have fortresses built into them.

[b][The Kaiser stated reasons for war were eliminated only if the Serbians were compelled to implement all points of the Austrian note fully./b]

No he didn't. Or at least I can't find any translation of the Kaiser's comment which includes this caveat.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby favedave on 11 Feb 2012 17:41

Actually, no, that is not true. Outside the Balkans there were no obvious triggers for a world war. So if the Russians had not started a world war over Serbia, it is not apparent how or where the war would have happened.

The remarkable thing about World War I is there were no obvious triggers for it anywhere in the world, including the Balkans. Yet most of the world leaders fervently believed that a General European War was imminent from the beginning of the 20th century.
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby Terry Duncan on 12 Feb 2012 05:54

You stated that the Russia was ordered to demobilize while Austria would continue to mobilize in Galicia. That is patent nonsense.


It really is patent nonsense. I never once mentioned Galicia, that is a figment of your own overly fertile imagination.

Berchtold stated on 31 July that if Russia demobilized, Austria would as a matter of course call off her preparations as well.


So on the day Germany has sent Russia and ultimatum, Austria says that she will only mobilize two of her three armies and continue her war with Serbia whilst Russia must abandon her military preparations. One of the two armies still able to mobilize by this 'offer' is the one destined to deploy to Galicia if Austria elects for war against Russia, which would allow Austria a significant advantage if war arose - as indeed it would with Austria persisting in war against Serbia.

The Germans had not yet mobilized when their ultimatum was sent.


She had however taken significant military measures short of mobilization, and was expected to mobilize far faster than Russia if war did come.

So your point has no merit.


It obviously does as your skirting around the matter illustrates.

There was no overall increase in war readiness because the class called up would not be ready for battle for another year


There were 400,000 more men under arms at this point in the Balkan Crisis, in what the German military called a secret mobilization.

nor was there any ‘mobilization’ of Russia forces, which by definition is the public calling up of reserve classes and their transportation to concentration zones on the borders facing the targeted Power.


As of the moment Germany declared war, Russia had not added an extra 400,000 men to her army as she had in the previous crisis, so stood worse than she had previously when Germany did not opt for war. Transportation of troops called up had also not taken place because the first day of mobilization had not been reached.

Hence the term 'secret' and 'mobilization' in 1914 were mutually exclusive.


The notion that Germany was forced to declare war when she did is obviously incorrect, as posting red pieces of paper around Russia cities telling people to do something in 4 days time did not affect Germany until that time, and after declaring war on Russia, and thus cutting off all negotiations, Germany did nothing in the east from many days and nothing in the west that required a declaration of war for several days too.

We know the Entente thought the order of mobilization was key for determining responsibility for the war because the Entente themselves went to great lenghts to falsify the matter. They wouldn't have done this if they didn't feel the German argument about mobilization order had merit?


That is incorrect. All it shows is that the Germans cited this as the reason. They did not make it public that the policy that had led to this situation had been predicted to provoke Russia to mobilize from the outset. Provoking a nation and then crying foul when they react is cynical manipulation intended to hide the real responsibility.

The expansion of Serbian territory between 1912 and 1914 through force is a historical fact, as are the designs Serbia had on Bosnia.


As are the Austrian designs on Serbian territory to hand out to other states as rewards for neutrality or bribes to form a new Balkan League under Austrian patronage.

So in February or January 1914 when the Tzar and Pasic were coolly discussing the transfer of 500,000 rifles to Serbia in order to forment civil war inside Austria-Hungary, this was part of that “special” relationship?


It didnt happen though. Should we cite the very numerous Austrian discussions over war with Serbia from 1912-1914, often for no better reason than Serbia existed as a state, as proof Austria was not a 'good neighbour' to Serbia?

a potential or perceived loss of prestige or a threatend political agenda are not legittimate causes for a call to arms.


Yet these very reasons are those cited by Austria as the reason she had to go to war with Serbia in 1914.

Just because the Russians were in a strong position to push their agenda and back their threat with war in no way makes them right or the Austrians wrong for not backing away.


So by this reasoning the US is responsible for Pearl Harbor, a rather unusual standpoint indeed. Austria picked a fight knowing it would spread to involve all of Europe, therefor Austria must take responsibility for these actions, as must Germany for supporting such a dangerous policy. This does not relieve Russia of her responsibility for the part she played in events, but you may well be unaware of the agenda Peterhof follows. He maintains Austria and Germany have no responsibility whatsoever for the war, which is not only unsupportable when all the evidence is viewed, but so counter-factual as to constitute Alternate-History.

The Russians were wrong and attempting to succeed through intimidation.


The problem with this is that the policy of Bethmann during the July Crisis was to force Russia to back away by the threat of force in the hope France would not support he over a Balkan crisis and the result would be to split Russia from the Entente. So both sides were trying to intimidate each other in a gigantic game of brinksmanship, hoping the other side would do something anathema to themselves. Nobody blinked, as was rather predictable - in the words of Franz-Joseph on seeing the Note to be sent to Serbia, 'Russia will never accept this. There will be a really big war!' He was correct.

Why were the Russians involved in the Balkans???


The same reason the Germans were involved in the Balkans.

Why were they backing a small rogue state that they did not share a border with?


This is the same 'rogue' state that had been an Austrian ally/client state less than a decade earlier, and that Germany sought as an ally and the keystone around which she intended to build a Balkan League in 1914? German foreign policy in 1914 clearly found Serbia a desirable focus for a coalition of armed and fractious states, so either Serbia was not as bad as some people like to claim, or Germany was following a highly immoral policy?

You stated BELGRADE was shelled, not a fort.


Belgrade was shelled. If the target was the fort, Austrian gunners were so poor as to be unbelievable. Interestingly enough Austrian gunners proved highly accurate when shooting at Belgian fotresses only a few days later, so it is fair to conclude that rounds were intended to hit Belgrade in deliberate 'misses' intended to get around the Hague Conventions on bombarding civilian targets.

So if the Russians had not started a world war over Serbia, it is not apparent how or where the war would have happened.


Maybe you will like to take this opportunity to point out who Russia declared war on in 1914 and on what dates when she started this war?

[The Kaiser stated reasons for war were eliminated only if the Serbians were compelled to implement all points of the Austrian note fully.[b]


No he didn't. Or at least I can't find any translation of the Kaiser's comment which includes this caveat.


Dave would appear to be correct on this matter, nowhere does the Kaiser state Serbia must impliment all points of the Austrian Note, though he does say she must make good on the promises she has made. He does state that the few areas were Serbia has not met the terms of the Note 'can be cleared up by negotiation' which is clearly not insisting on unconditional acceptance of the terms in the Note.

The Kaiser's marginalia from which 'Halt in Belgrade stems is as folows;

[b]A brilliant achievement in a time limit of only forty-eight hours! It is more than one could have expected! A great moral success for Vienna; but with it all reason for war is gone and Giesl ought to have quietly stayed on in Belgrade! After that I should never have ordered mobilization.


The Kaiser communicated the idea in writing to Jagow in the form of this written instruction;

On reading through the Serbian reply which I received this morning I am persuaded that on the whole the wishes of the Danubian Monarchy are met. The few reservations made by Serbia on single points can in my opinion well be cleared up by negotiation. But capitulation of the most humble type is there proclaimed urbi et orbi and thereby all reason for war falls to the ground.

Nevertheless this scrap of paper together with what it contains can only be regarded as of limited value as long as it is not translated into deeds. The Serbs are Orientals, therefore liars, deceitful, and master hands at temporizing. In order that these fine promises may become truth and fact, the exercise of gentIe (douce) violence will be necessary. This will best be done by Austria’s occupying Belgrade as security for the enforcement and execution of the promises and remaining there until the demands are acfually carried out. This is also necessary in order to give an outward satisfaction d’honneur to the army which has for a third time been mobilized to no purpose, an appearance of success in the eyes of the rest of the world and enable it to have at least the consciousness of having stood on foreign soil. Without this the calling off of the campaign might give rise to an ill feeling towards the dynasty which might be extremely hazardous. Should Your Excellency share this opinion of mine, I should propose to say to Austria: the retreat of Serbia in a very humiliating form has been attained and we congratulate her on this. Thereby of course a reasern for war no longer exists, but what is necessary is a guarantee that the promises would be put into execution. This would doubtless be attainable by the temporary military occupation of a part of Serbia. Just as we in 1871 left troops posted in France until the milliards were paid up. On this basis I am ready to mediate for peace in Austria. Contrary proposals or protests from other states I would firmly reject, especially as they all more or less openly appeal to me to help to preserve the peace. This I will do in my own way and thus in a manner sparing of Austrian national sentiment and the military honour of her army. The latter has already been appealed to by the supreme war lord and is about to respond to the appeal. It must therefore unquestionably have a visible satisfaction d’honneur; that is a prerequisite of my mediation. Will Your Excellency therefore submit to me a proposal in the sense here outlined which shall be communicated to Vienna. I have ordered Plessen who entirely shares my views to write in the above sense to the Chief of the General Staff.


The full history of this idea is chronicled in Albertinis' The Origins of the War of 1914 Vol II p467-470.

What is perfectly clear from this is that the Kaiser felt the Serbian reply suitably compliant to allow negotiations to take place, hence the comment 'Giesl ought to have quietly stayed on in Belgrade!' as this only makes sense if negotiations are to take place.

It is also notable that the Kaiser comments that the Austrian army has now mobilized for the third time, and must now somehow justify doing so by undertaking some form of military action! Therefore Austria managed to mobilize twice without going to war - directly counter to the turgid 'mobilization means war' dogma - and only after doing so a third time must she do something, even then only to avoid looking stupid and to uphold her army's honour, but could still do so somewhat short of war!!!
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Re: The Russian General Mobilization of 1914

Postby Appleknocker27 on 12 Feb 2012 16:29

This does not relieve Russia of her responsibility for the part she played in events, but you may well be unaware of the agenda Peterhof follows. He maintains Austria and Germany have no responsibility whatsoever for the war, which is not only unsupportable when all the evidence is viewed, but so counter-factual as to constitute Alternate-History.


I disagree and I've been reading your posts, his and everyone else's for years... Occasionally I comment.
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