In the face of such evident duplicity of Russian politics, a further delay such as was desired by Sir Maurice de Bunsen would have been for every German statesman a crime against the security of his own country.
On the other hand, upon what German measures did the Russian Government base its order for mobilization? The British “White Paper” proves how frivolously steps leading to the most serious results were ordered in St. Petersburg. On July 30 Sir George Buchanan telegraphed:
M. Sazonof told us that absolute proof was in possession of the Russian Government that Germany was making military and naval preparations against Russia, more particularly in the direction of the Gulf of Finland,—(British “White Paper” No. 97.)
On the other hand, Buchanan’s telegram of July
31 (British “White
Paper” No. 113) states:
Russia has also reason
to believe that Germany is making active
military preparations, and she cannot afford to let her get a
start.—(British “White Paper” No. 113.)
So, from one day to the next the “absolute proof” changed to a reason for the assumption. In reality, both were assertions that lack all proof.
The finishing part of a telegram sent by the British Ambassador in Berlin to Sir Edward Grey on July 31 deserves special mention:
He [the German Secretary of State] again assured me that both the Emperor William, at the request of the Emperor of Russia and the German Foreign Office, had even up till last night been urging Austria to show willingness to continue discussion—and telephonic communications from Vienna had been of a promising nature—but Russia’s mobilization had spoiled everything.—(British “White Paper” No. 121.)
Therefore, the German Chancellor, in his memorandum placed before the Reichstag, stated with full justification:
The Russian Government has smashed the laborious attempts at mediation on the part of the European State Chancelleries, on the eve of success, by the mobilization, endangering the safety of the empire. The measures for a mobilization, about whose seriousness the Russian Government was fully acquainted from the beginning, in connection with their constant denial, show clearly that Russia wanted war.
To this is to be added that the English Government also was made fully cognizant of the intentions of the Russian mobilization, by a witness that could not be suspected, namely, its own representative in St. Petersburg, and therefore must bear full responsibility.
* * * * *
Grey’s omissions and errors.
We have seen from the “Blue Book” that the Secretary of State in London was informed at the very latest on July 24 by his Ambassador in St. Petersburg of the plan of the Russian mobilization and consequently of the tremendous seriousness of the European situation. Yet eight to nine days had to elapse before the beginning of the war. Let us see whether Sir Edward Grey used this time to preserve peace, according to his own documents.