China’s New Vassal
How the War in Ukraine Turned Moscow Into Beijing’s Junior Partner
DIE INTERNATIONALEN BEZIEHUNGEN IM ZEITALTER DES IMPERIALISMUS. DOKUMENTE AUS DEN ARCHIVEN DER ZARISCHEN UND DER PROVISORISCHEN REGIERUNG, 1878-1917. Reihe I: Das Jahr 1914 bis zum Kriegsausbruch. (International Relations in the Epoch of Imperialism. Documents from the Archives of the Tsarist and Provisional Governments, 1878-1917. Series One: The Year 1914 up to the Outbreak of War.) Authorized German edition, edited by Otto Hoetzsch for the Deutsche Gesellschaft zum Studium Osteuropas. Berlin: Hobbing, 1931-1934, 5 vols., M. 42 per vol.[i]
Within a month after the revolution of November 1917 the Soviet Government electrified the world and embarrassed the Allied Governments by publishing the "secret treaties" which the latter had concluded with the Tsarist régime. Since that time the German, British, French and Austrian Governments have opened their archives for the period before 1914, and the American Government has published its papers for the years 1914-1918; similar collections have also been announced by the Italian and Jugoslav (Serbian) Governments. Never before has it been possible, within so short a time after the conclusion of a great war, for historians to examine in such detail the circumstances which led up to it. Nevertheless there are still many gaps in the evidence, and the publication of the Russian documents is most welcome.
The original commission set up by the Soviet Government consisted of seven members -- Professor M. N. Pokrovsky, perhaps the most distinguished Soviet historian, four other historians, and two Soviet diplomatists; since Pokrovsky's death in 1932, Y. A. Bersin has served as chairman. There is no indication that the commission or the editors of the several volumes have allowed their political sentiments to affect their historical scholarship, for the footnotes are rigidly factual and explanatory. Technically, too, the editing is excellent. The particular archive from which each document is taken is indicated (all pertinent archives have been drawn upon, not merely those of the foreign office); the Tsar's special mark is prefixed to the documents seen by him, and his comments are reproduced; the documents are printed as found, evident mistakes being corrected in footnotes; if a document cannot be traced, the fact is stated. The Soviet commission deserves high praise for issuing so scientific a publication.
Nevertheless, it must not be supposed that the Soviet Government has missed so good an opportunity to present its own views of war and world politics. In the collections issued by other governments, the selection has been made with reference to European politics, the system of alliances and armaments, and the outbreak of the war; documents relating to Africa and Asia have usually been published only when they have some bearing on the European situation. This is not the way of the Soviet editors. In the introduction to the first volume, Professor Pokrovsky wrote:
The war was not decided upon in July 1914, but considerably earlier. Naturally the exact moment of this decision cannot be determined: this exact moment simply did not exist -- none of the participants could have said when it was actually decided, not in general to make war (that was perhaps decided many years before 1914), but when it was decided to begin the war precisely in the summer of this year. The moment for the explosion of the mines which had long been laid was not clear even to those who had laid them. The objective situation, from which the way out could only be a European war in the very near future, finally defined itself, however, in the winter of 1913-14. At that time anyone who possessed all the political and military information of both parties (as a matter of fact, none of the directors of policy of the states which were ready to enter upon war, Germany and England not excepted, found himself in this situation) could have anticipated the explosion, "watch in hand." That is why the editors have decided to let the first series of documents begin with January 1, 1914 (o.s.). If one wished to select an earlier date, there was no reasonable ground apparent for beginning with the autumn of 1913: why should not the year 1912 or 1911 be chosen? If one starts later -- as almost all editors do -- that amounts to giving an answer in advance to the "question of guilt." If the English begin their pre-war volume with the meetings of Nicholas and the King of Rumania at Constanza and of William and Francis Ferdinand at Konopischt, this quite definitely conveys the meaning: Germany and Russia began the war, England was only "forced to intervene." If they had started with the negotiations for an Anglo-Russian naval agreement, then the matter would naturally take on a different appearance. . . . [No omission, dots in original.]
If we wished to start from the most palpable occasion for war, the most suitable point of departure would be St. Vitus' Day, 1914, June 28/15, the day on which the heir apparent of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy fell by the hand of Serbian nationalists. Yet this would be a purely external and formal approach. I must in addition call attention to a document which establishes that Serbia (Pashich) as early as January 20 (o.s.), considered herself justified in addressing to the Russian Government an urgent request to supply the Serbian army with equipment, arms and munitions. What this signifies is again thoroughly intelligible to anyone: already at the beginning of February/end of January, they felt in Serbia the immediate approach of a new war. The Russian Government delayed its answer, for it did not wish the Serbs to begin shooting until the support of England was assured; as this was not the case even in March, to say nothing of January. . . . In the light of this fact, the date of the murder of Francis Ferdinand (the actual "opening of hostilities") recedes into second place.
All these "fatal days" and "fatal weeks," to which the bourgeois historians and editors of documents attach such great importance, are for us considerations of the third order, in so far as we know that the war was not the work of the evil intentions of individual persons and individual groups, but resulted of iron necessity from the economic system of the last decades, the system of monopolistic capitalism. But it certainly does not in consequence follow, as many naïve persons think, that "there are no guilty ones," and that it is not worth while seeking for them. The grasping appetites of all imperialistic governments made for war: but none of them acknowledged this nor does so now; they were all, so they say, the victims of the grasping of others. To prove the mania of all imperialistic governments and groups for grabbing, and that not only a priori on the basis of the hypothesis that they must be grasping, but on the basis of documentary material that is unimpeachable and possesses validity for all, is to solve a problem of enormous importance. For the struggle against imperialism, we must know surely and quite exactly how it acts, of what sort are its procedure and methods. And if the grasping activity of imperialists is irrefutably established by a series of incontestable documents, we shall naturally have a bill of indictment -- but a bill of indictment not against a single person or even against a single country, but against a class, and that class the one which in 1914 held power in its hands in all great countries and in most of them still holds it (Vol. I, p. viii-x; German edition, Vol. I, p. xii-xiii).
So, in addition to the hundreds of documents relating to European politics in the first half of 1914, the student who wishes to test the thesis of the Soviet editors will find a large number devoted to Russian activities and ambitions in Manchuria and Mongolia, to say nothing of Persia, which is treated with depressing fullness, and Armenia, where Russia was hatching economic as well as political schemes. It comes, therefore, as something of a surprise to learn that Mr. Pokrovsky regarded Russian imperialism as somewhat less vile than its rivals:
The Russian documents naturally provide the richest material for revealing the grasping policy of Russian imperialism, which in its essence was military feudal imperialism, though it was already beginning, in its own way, to be transformed into capitalistic imperialism. When the Russian Consul in Asterabad naively writes: "The interference of the [Russian] detachment in local affairs is an unavoidable and natural consequence of its presence here and of our influence, and serves as the basic instrument for strengthening the latter," we thus have before us the simple military feudal imperialism. But when the Russian Government exerts itself to take its privileges from the English bank in Persia and to hand them over to the Russian bank, when it wrangles with the English Government about the direction of the Trans-Persian Railway, these are the typical little examples of the conventional imperialistic policy of the newest style. Dialectically one merges in the other, and it is not worth while arguing as to which imperialistic category the subjective motives of these or those grabbers belong, but rather to whose interests they objectively give expression. The documents here published provide the possibility of effecting a clear delimitation of the regions where the interests of Russian imperialism dominated which competed with the imperialistic policy of other countries for the purpose of securing a monopoly, and where Russian policy was a reflex of the interests of stronger imperialistic powers -- where Tsarist Russia was simply a vassal of the latter (Vol. I, x-xi; German edition, Vol. I, xiii-xiv).
The imperialistic war was neither exclusively nor in the main the work of Russia. On the world stage, Russian imperialism was of second or even third-rate significance, but a European war (which from the beginning tended to become a world war, in so far as Japan -- as well de facto as also de jure -- and the United States -- de facto -- took part in it, for they became at once the principal industrial base of one of the belligerent parties) could be unchained only by an imperialistic conflict of the first order. The military power of Russia was -- or seemed to be -- of first-rate importance, and this circumstance gave to it a position in the conflict which did not at all correspond to its economic significance (Vol. I, p. xvii; German edition, Vol. I, p. xviii-xix).
In other words, the war, from the Russian point of view, was primarily a political affair, and only incidentally a manifestation of Russian imperialism; with which bourgeois historians will agree.
For this reason it is hardly necessary to dwell at length on Russian activities in the Far East during the first half of 1914. In Manchuria, the Russian Government, in order to be prepared for "the event of warlike complications with Japan," proposed to spend 1,200,000 rubles on improving the defenses of the Chinese Eastern Railway, and demanded of China a concession for five railway lines in North Manchuria which were deemed necessary for strategic reasons. The Chinese objected to giving the new railways the right to exploit the natural resources of the country, and in spite of much pressure, had not accepted the Russian proposals by the time the war broke out in Europe. In order to avoid establishing a dangerous precedent, the Russian Government refused to support the scheme of a Russian subject to build a street-car line in the Japanese zone in Manchuria. How delicate Russo-Japanese relations were was illustrated by a speech of the Japanese Minister of Agriculture, Viscount Oura, early in July, in which he announced that two divisions would be added to the Japanese army in 1915 and said that "many Japanese believe that war between Japan and Russia will not break out before 30-50 years, but there are certain grounds for assuming that the second war will begin in a few years." As a result of a Russian protest, the offending minister declared that he had not used the language ascribed to him, but the Russian Government did not feel sure of the Japanese reaction to the war in Europe.
Although the Russo-Mongolian agreement of November 1912 and the Russo-Chinese declaration of November 1913 had recognized Outer Mongolia as an autonomous state under the suzerainty of China, the Russian Government met with some difficulty in trying to bring Mongolia under its control. Russian proposals for a railway convention which would give the Russian Government complete control of railway construction in Mongolia were resisted by the Mongolian Government, which, on August 4, submitted counter-proposals, by which Russia was to recognize "the perpetual right" of Mongolia to build railways within its territory and not to interfere if Mongolia built them "with its own means." The Mongolian Government also insisted on a large reduction of the troops being trained by Russian officers and demanded a considerable supply of arms, which would be paid for from a loan of 3,000,000 rubles which Russia felt it wise to make to the weak Mongolian Government; on both points the Russians yielded, if reluctantly. More than six months were required to settle the details of the loan, and apparently the agreement had not been signed by August 4. The Mongols also showed great reluctance about joining a conference à trois with Russia and China, for they were anxious to include Inner Mongolia in their territory, to which both China and Russia were opposed. The Russians may have been afraid to apply pressure because of Mongolian intrigues with Japan; they may have been unwilling to risk throwing Mongolia into the arms of China; or they may have felt themselves too deeply involved in Persia to pursue a vigorous policy towards Mongolia and China. The fact remains that after six months' activity they had not secured what they wanted from either China or Mongolia.
In Persia, on the other hand, Russian imperialism seemed to be making rapid progress in the early months of 1914. The Russian sphere of influence in the north, as delimited by the Anglo-Russian convention of 1907, was in a fair way to passing under Russian control. Russian subjects were buying and leasing land on a large scale, with the enthusiastic approval of S. D. Sazonov, the Foreign Minister, although this was contrary to the Treaty of Turkmanchay (1829), and the taxes which they should have paid to the Persian treasury were collected by Russian consuls and turned over to the Russian Discount Bank; the Consul at Asterabad, Ivanov, was one of the largest of these landholders. Numerous concessions for the exploitation of the economic resources of the country were being demanded of the Persian Government, whose only hope of resistance lay in the support of Great Britain. The Governor-General of Azerbaijan, Shodja-ed-Dowleh, a protégé of Russia, practically ignored the government at Teheran and was supported by both the Russian Consul in Tabriz and the Russian Minister at Teheran. Since a Russian force of 12-17,000 troops was scattered through the Russian zone, the Persian Government was helpless. Nevertheless, on June 28, it addressed a spirited protest against the whole Russian policy to the Minister in Teheran, Korostovez, who ascribed this move to the machinations of his British colleague, Townley. Sazonov conceded that the collection of taxes from Russian subjects by the Russian consuls should cease and that Shodja-ed-Dowleh might be replaced, but Korostovez tried to hold back this reply and it was not formally presented until July 26, the day after the rupture between Austria and Serbia.
The real importance of the Persian situation, however, lay not so much in Persia as in its effect on the relations of Russia and Great Britain. As has long been known from documents previously published (and now included in this collection), Sazonov was exceedingly anxious, in consequence of his fiasco over the mission of Liman von Sanders, to bring about an alliance between Russia and Great Britain and, failing that, a naval agreement analogous to that concluded between the British and French admiralties. The Russian Ambassador in London, Count Benckendorff, a shrewd observer of the English scene, consistently discouraged any hope of an alliance; he quoted Sir Edward Grey as saying that an alliance was not possible: "You see, even today we do not have an alliance with France." He even warned against thinking of the naval agreement as a "convention." But the question of an alliance seems to have bothered Benckendorff relatively little, for he was convinced that England's participation in a European war depended, not on a written bond, but on her general attitude towards Germany and Russia. What did worry him greatly was the danger that English irritation with Russian policy in Persia might lead to a weakening of the Triple Entente. So from January to June he was constantly reminding Sazonov of this peril. He did not hesitate to criticize Russian methods and Russian agents in Persia; he quoted what Grey and King George said to him about Persia; he pointed out that a Unionist cabinet would be more difficult to deal with than the Liberal Government in power; Grey kept repeating to him, he said, that it was necessary to "save the face of the Persian Government" and to prevent Persian finances from falling into disorder. It was precisely these two points on which Sazonov a week later showed himself ready to make concessions to Persia. Furthermore, the British Government, early in June, presented a sharp protest against the Russian conduct in Persia, and King George wrote a personal letter to Nicholas II calling attention to "the present unsatisfactory state of affairs in Persia" and asking the Tsar to receive the British Ambassador, Sir George Buchanan, for a personal discussion. Sazonov attempted to defend his policy to Benckendorff, but evidently he was impressed by the Ambassador's outspoken letters and the British protests, for the Tsar assured Buchanan that "the Persian question will not be able to separate us," and in the draft of reply to King George which was prepared for him by Sazonov he was made to say that "it would not be difficult" to reach an understanding about Persia. The conciliatory attitude of the Russian Government is the more striking because the British were at the same time asking for a revision of the 1907 convention in respect of Tibet and Afghanistan which would have entitled Russia to concession elsewhere. In other words, Russia was prepared to modify her policy in Persia, more especially after the murder at Sarajevo, for the sake of the European situation. On July 31 instructions were sent to Russian representatives in Persia to avoid all difficulties with their English colleagues, because Russia stood "perhaps on the eve of a serious war in which the support of England is very valuable to us."[ii]
The relations between Russia and France, who had been allies since 1894, were naturally much more intimate than those between Russia and England. There were, to be sure, some surface ructions. The French were for a moment worried by a rumor that Krupps might acquire control of the Putilov munitions works in Russia and promptly offered financial assistance to prevent it. For a while they insisted, to the great annoyance of the Russians, that Norwegians be appointed as inspectors-general under the scheme for Armenian reforms. The Russians, on their side, did not like a Turkish loan floated in France, and were not a little disturbed by reports that Turkish men-of-war were being built in French yards. What might have developed into a serious difficulty was the controversy concerning the admission of Russia to the Council of the Ottoman Debt. Although the Russian holdings of the debt were small, the Russian Government had made its consent to a 4 percent increase of the Turkish customs dependent upon being granted a seat on the Debt Council. As compensation, Germany insisted on securing a second seat and an alternation of the presidency with France. But France would not consent to a second German delegate. The Russian Government brought great pressure on its ally to make concessions, but to no avail. A Turkish proposal to substitute a Turkish member for the second German delegate was unacceptable to Germany. In consequence Russia refused to sanction the customs increase, although the Ambassador in Constantinople doubted the wisdom of this course. The outbreak of the European crisis shortly afterward put an end to a discussion which was becoming more and more acrimonious.
On the general political side, however, the Franco-Russian alliance was not affected by these incidents. The French government desired "un resserrement aussi étroit que possible de l'alliance" and was assured that Goremykin, who succeeded Kokovtzov as Premier in February, was "one of the most faithful supporters of the alliance." Although the Socialists continued to oppose the three years' military service restored in 1913, the Russian Military Attaché in Paris was satisfied of "the deep and blind trust of the French people in our military power." In June, when a ministerial crisis resulted in the formation of a Viviani cabinet, Izvolsky endeavored to convince Sazonov that Viviani could be relied upon, in spite of his Socialist connections, and the new Premier promptly gave definite assurances to both Izvolsky and Sazonov. In Izvolsky's opinion, the threat of resignation by the French Ambassador in St. Petersburg, Paléologue, if the three years' law were not maintained, had no effect except to diminish the Ambassador's authority at the Quai d'Orsay. Sazonov professed himself thoroughly satisfied with the situation, as he might well be. If there is absolutely nothing in these Russian documents to indicate warlike intent or ambition on the part of the French, the Russians had no reason to fear that if the alliance were put to the test France would be found wanting.
With Germany, Russia's relations were decidedly touchy. At the beginning of the year the problem of the mission of Liman von Sanders was still unsolved and Sazonov accepted the compromise offered by Germany only when his Ambassador in Berlin, Sverbeyev, made it clear that better terms were not to be secured. Shortly after this came the sensational article in the Kölnische Zeitung (March 2), whose St. Petersburg correspondent asserted that in 1917, when her military reforms had been completed, Russia "will turn her arms against Germany;" this was followed by an outburst in the Russian Birsheviya Vyedomosti (March 13) affirming that "Russia wishes for peace but is ready for war." Sverbeyev thought that Germany was trying to "intimidate us" and at the same time give the appearance that she was not afraid of Russia. Later he reported that this appearance was deceptive, for there was real "fear of the increase of our military and economic power," and therefore "military circles and the Prussian junkers did not at all conceal their desire for war;" the German Government, however, wished for friendly relations, and William II was reported to have said that "the Emperor of Russia can count fully on my friendship, just as I can on his." Other factors in the situation were the question of a new commercial treaty and the hostility of the German agrarians. The Russian Government was watching closely German economic penetration in Anatolia, in Persia, and in China; it formally protested to Berlin against the tendentious news about Russia which was supplied by the German telegraph agency to the Deutsche Japan-Post. Then two days after Sarajevo, Germany demanded the recall of the Russian Military Attaché in Berlin for espionage; this was agreed to, but in spite of German promises to keep the matter quiet, it was aired with considerable publicity. The Russian Government had also received disturbing reports of German intrigues in Sweden and Norway. Thus Russia and Germany were mutually irritated when the European crisis opened.
Italy at this time was engaged in a desperate struggle with her ally Austria for the control of Albania; officially the two countries were pursuing a common policy, with which Russia had scant sympathy and as little to do as possible. With engaging frankness the Italians explained that they thoroughly disliked their situation and would revert to the policy of Racconigi (Russo-Italian agreement of 1909) as soon as possible. When Salandra became Premier, he assured the Russian Ambassador that "Russia could not have a more convinced friend than himself." One gets the impression that the Russian and Italian Governments understood each other perfectly.
With Austria-Hungary, her historic rival in the Balkan peninsula, Russia's relations were somewhat anomalous during the first half of 1914. Although the two governments watched each other like hawks, no specific issues arose between them over Balkan questions, except in Albania. Not unnaturally, the Russian Government declined to assist Austria in her contest with Italy, refusing to send troops to assist the international commission in Albania or to exert pressure on Rumania to do so. Russian coquettings with Rumania (a cordial telegram from the Tsar to King Carol), which culminated in the famous meeting of Nicholas and Carol at Constanza, caused intense irritation in Vienna and Budapest; "so much the better," was the Tsar's comment. A good deal of suspicion was aroused by the trials at Mármaros-Sziget, Debreczen and Lemburg, in which Russia was accused of fostering conspiracies against the Hapsburg Monarchy; the Russians, who learned that Czech officers were not considered reliable by the Austrian military authorities, did not make the situation better by trying to establish a Russo-Czech club in Prague and create a secret organization in Bohemia, the moving spirit of which was the Czech deputy Klofáč, or by inviting 24 Slavs from various parts of the monarchy to a Pan-Slavist Congress in Moscow. The Austro-Hungarian press and parliamentary opinion was openly hostile to Russia, and some of the harshest attacks came from those supposed to be closest to the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the heir apparent. The Foreign Minister, Berchtold, professed a desire for friendly relations, but the Tsar commented, "Yes, but they must not push us to the limit." What the Russian reaction was to the reports that Austrian manœuvres would be held in Bosnia in June is not indicated; but there can be no doubt that the two governments were highly suspicious of each other in all respects, and that the general atmosphere was as bad as possible.
Such, then, was the diplomatic background against which Russia pursued her policies in the Near East from January to July 1914. In the face of Albanian complications, the Turco-Greek tension over the Ægean Islands and the resentment of Bulgaria at her defeat of the year before, it would have been easy enough for Russia to fish in troubled waters and create a dangerous situation. Sazonov declared, however, on March 5, that it was to the interest "of all the Great Powers and especially those of the Triple Entente" to prevent the outbreak of a new war, and in conformity with this view he exerted great pressure on Turkey and Greece, whose relations had become most threatening by the middle of June, to keep the peace, with the result that the Grand Vizier and the Greek Premier agreed to meet in Brussels; Bulgaria was also severely admonished. This does not, of course, prove more than that the Russian Government desired to avoid difficulties at that time.
As has long been known from documents previously published, the policy of Russia in 1914 was to preserve Turkey, in a condition neither too strong nor too weak, for as long as possible, but at the same time to make adequate preparations for seizing the Straits if and when the suitable moment arrived. Yet that moment evidently did not appear imminent, for the naval building program brought forward in March, which would enable Russia to obtain the mastery of the Black Sea after Turkey had received the two battleships then building in England, was spread over a period of five years from 1914 to 1918; and in June, when the Minister of War indicated the measures necessary from a military point of view if the Straits were to be seized, he asked that they should not be taken at the expense of the great program which was being carried out to make Russia ready for war on her western, i.e., Austro-German, front. Sukhomlinov also pointed out that the navy was not yet ready to load troops speedily enough for a successful expedition; the navy denied the charge, but proposed that the matter be postponed until the autumn. In other words, the Russians were preparing for the distant future and not for immediate action. What worried them at the moment was the possibility that Turkey, in addition to the ships building in England, might also be able to buy battleships from Argentina and Chile. The Russian Government therefore tried to buy the Argentine and Chilean ships, even asking the British Government to arrange the affair with Chile; but without success in either case. A Russian protest to England against the reorganization of the Turkish fleet by the British Admiral Limpus brought the retort that "if His Majesty's Government had refused the Turkish request, the reorganization of the Turkish fleet would surely have been entrusted to Germany;" if the Turkish fleet went on the warpath, England would consult with Russia as to "the best method of procedure."[iii]
From January on, the Armenian question loomed large in Russo-Turkish relations. After some concessions from Russia, Turkey finally accepted the reform program on February 8, but two months passed before the inspectors-general were agreed upon, and even then the Porte delayed appointing them, in spite of numerous remonstrances from Russia; a solemn promise of immediate action given on July 13 was still unfulfilled when the European crisis gave both Russia and Turkey other things to think about. By way of retaliation the Russians permitted agitation against the Young Turks from the Caucasus, and were privy, at least so the Turks suspected, to a Kurdish outbreak in March.
True to their traditions, the Turks endeavored to profit by the dissensions of the European powers. Although Russia had backed down before Germany in the matter of the Liman von Sanders mission, the refusal of Russia to promise support to Turkey in the dispute with Greece over the Ægean Islands was not to be ignored. Turkish policy therefore began to veer around towards Russia. A special Russo-Turkish committee was constituted in Constantinople, and in May a mission headed by Talaat, Minister of the Interior, visited the Tsar at Livadia. The word "alliance" was twice mentioned by the Turkish visitor, and after his return to Constantinople Talaat discussed this idea with the Russian Ambassador. A little later, however, when Turkish persecution of the Greeks in Asia Minor became known, the Russian Government used stern language to the Porte and sent a man-of-war to cruise along the Anatolian coast. With the advent of the European crisis in July, it was natural that Turkey should decide to exploit the difficulties of Russia.
Whatever the Russian policy towards Turkey might be, the attitude of Bulgaria was an important factor. In 1914 Russian influence was at a very low ebb, for the Tsar's Government was held responsible, at least by the politicians, for the disaster which had overtaken Bulgaria in the second Balkan war. In a long interview with Savinsky, the Russian Minister, King Ferdinand endeavored to defend himself from the charge of intriguing with Austria, but, although the Tsar sent a cordial telegram to the King, the Russian Government adopted an attitude of expectancy and reserve, having no confidence in the Radoslavov Cabinet, which was avowedly pro-Austrian. Repeated rumors of a Turco-Bulgarian alliance, although denied by the Bulgarian Government, did not strengthen Russian confidence.[iv] Savinsky tried to persuade the King, through his secretary, to replace Radoslavov by the leader of the opposition, Malinov, but Ferdinand was not to be bulldozed; the opposition, for that matter, was reluctant to assume power at so critical a moment. Suggestions for bribing the Bulgarian press and buying up a Bulgarian bank were made and approved, but promised little.
The real hope of Russian diplomacy lay in preventing the Radoslavov cabinet from raising a foreign loan, without which it could not hope to stay in office. So a veto was promptly imposed on a loan in Paris. But the government turned to Vienna and Berlin, and in April it became known that German bankers would make a loan of 300 million francs in return for valuable railway and tobacco concessions, with perhaps English and Belgian groups participating. In a series of frantic telegrams and fervid dispatches, Savinsky reported the efforts of himself and his French colleague, Panafieu, to prevent acceptance of the German terms, which, he asserted, would make Bulgaria an economic vassal of Germany; he complained bitterly of the lack of support from his British colleague, and the British Government was actually little disposed to interfere. King Ferdinand professed himself helpless. As the government evidently intended to accept the terms offered, the Russian Minister proposed a plan, according to which the King should be asked to dismiss the Radoslavov cabinet on the promise of a French loan on better terms. The Russian Government was not enthusiastic about this scheme; at least it wished to be assured about the new government before any loan was made, but it agreed. Unexpected difficulties, however, arose in France, where there was a temporary shortage of liquid funds; the French banks insisted that Russia must participate in the loan, and this was not easy to arrange. Weeks went by before a banker named Périer, who had hitherto not been recognized by the French Government, came forward with an offer, the terms of which were not to the liking of the Russian banks. By this time the German loan had been signed, and Savinsky hoped to prevent its acceptance by the Sobranye by getting the opposition to support the more favorable terms of Périer. But it turned out that Périer could not raise the necessary amount and the government, by cleverly misrepresenting his terms, put the German loan through the Sobranye by high-handed methods. French and Russian threats to demand immediate payment out of the new loan of advances previously made fell flat, and Ferdinand unctuously declared that he would abide by the vote of the Sobranye. Savinsky was pleased to blame Austrian intrigue for his fiasco, but the violent language which he habitually used to King Ferdinand and the Bulgarian ministers must have contributed not a little thereto. Austria, it may be noted in passing, was believed to be supplying Bulgaria with munitions and money.
If the documents leave the impression that the Russian Government was less concerned about Bulgaria than its Minister on the spot, its interest in Montenegro and Serbia was deep and constant. In Montenegro a desperate situation existed. The treasury was empty, the government corrupt, King Nicholas hopelessly discredited in the eyes of his own people. The loan promised by the London Conference of Ambassadors in 1913 had not been made, and in spite of urgent appeals from Russia to France and England, nothing had been settled by the middle of July. In the eyes of the Russian Government, the only solution lay in the union of Montenegro and Serbia, which was desired by the Montenegrin people, and in March Nicholas addressed a letter to King Peter of Serbia proposing this step, which was agreed to by Serbia. But Nicholas was secretly hostile, so that it was not until June that the Montenegrin Government was prepared to open negotiations. A few days after the murder at Sarajevo, however, Sazonov, alarmed by the tension between Serbia and Austria, advised that the negotiations be postponed. A more immediate problem was that of Russian military assistance for the Montenegrin army, which Russia had subsidized and for which she had provided instructors. That something would have to be done was recognized; the question was how to keep the untrustworthy king out of it. The Russian Minister at Cetinje was full of suggestions, but two special conferences at St. Petersburg failed to reach any decision.
A good deal concerning the relations of Russia and Serbia was revealed years ago in the Serbian documents published by M. Bogichevich, according to which Russia was giving considerable encouragement to Serbia in her hopes of an ultimate reckoning with Austria. The Russian documents are rather more circumspect. Thus there is no account of the Tsar's conversation with Pashich, the Serbian Premier, on the occasion of his visit to St. Petersburg. Perhaps the most interesting episode had to do with the Serbian request, early in February, for a large supply of arms, Serbia's resources having been exhausted by the Balkan wars. The Minister of War took the position that Russia did not have these arms to spare, and Sazonov duly notified the Serbian Government. On June 20, however, Sazonov wrote to the Chief of Staff, General Yanushkevich, asking if something could not be done; to which Yanushkevich replied that 120,000 rifles with a thousand rounds for each could be provided. Serbia promised to pay for them from the proceeds of the loan then under negotiation. It would not seem, therefore, that the matter was regarded as urgent. A second matter was the demand of the Russian treasury that the Serbian Government pay off a loan of four million francs contracted with a private bank for the Serbian officers' society ("Zadruga"). Nothing seems to have been done, for early in July the bank demanded that the Russian Government assume responsibility; but no answer had been given when the war broke out.
The Russian Minister in Belgrade, Nicholas Hartvig, even in his lifetime bore a sinister reputation for stimulating Serbian hostility to Austria. Hence there has long been much curiosity about his correspondence with St. Petersburg, which, it was thought, would afford proof of his evil influence.[v] Actually, his numerous reports reveal almost nothing about his own conduct. He kept his government fully informed of what was happening, but said little about himself, except that he saw the Crown Prince Alexander frequently. Thus both he and the Military Attaché, Colonel Artamonov, described at length the cabinet crisis of June 1914 and its antecedents, but from these accounts one would never learn that the action and influence of Hartvig was responsible for Pashich continuing in office, as the Serbian writer "Marco" has affirmed. It is interesting to note that both Russians refer quite casually to the "Black Hand," whose opposition to the radicals was a primary cause of the crisis, as if there were no secret about its existence. Hartvig's silence does not, however, acquit him of the charge brought against him, for Savinsky, who visited him at Belgrade, wrote to Sazonov in February that from his conversation he derived the conviction that "Hartvig aims to incite Serbia against Austria." Hartvig himself noted with satisfaction that "with the exception of about ten political hangers-on without any roots and obscure corruptible agents, there are at present, as is generally admitted, no Austrophiles in Serbia;" how far this was the result of his own machinations is a question that can hardly be answered.
The most ticklish problem affecting Serbia early in 1914 was the matter of the Oriental Railway, which belonged to Austrian capitalists. Serbia wished to take over that part of the line which lay in her new territory, but the Austrian Government was loath to surrender so potent an instrument for controlling the economic life of Serbia. As a way out of the difficulty, a Franco-Austro-Serbian combination had been proposed, but the Serbs disliked both the French and the Austrian terms. To complicate matters still more, Italy demanded participation, nominally to ensure the economic independence of Serbia, really to cause the failure of the negotiations; both Russia and France were reluctant to have Italy associated with the scheme. Austria then offered to let Serbia buy the railway if she were given a monopoly of orders for railway materials, which was opposed by the French. Russia urged Serbia to accept the original French plan and on no account to discontinue the negotiations. As the deadlock continued, Austria finally demanded the return of the line to its Austrian owners, to which Serbia countered by threatening to build a rival line. Austria then declared her willingness to let Serbia buy the line, and in June the price was fixed at 42,000,000 francs. The details of the transaction were being amicably discussed when suddenly, on July 1, three days after Sarajevo, the Austrians broke off the negotiations. Agreement would not, however, have prevented, sooner or later, a clash between Austria and Serbia. Writing just before the Austrian ultimatum of July 23 was sent to Serbia, the Russian Chargé in Belgrade observed: "Since the close of the Balkan wars Serbia has entered upon the second and final period preparatory to the realization of her national task, which can be briefly described as to be ready, when the favorable moment arrives, to unite all Serbs under the rule of the kingdom and to conquer its own assured way to the Adriatic." This preparation, so the Russian diplomatist thought, would require at least three years, but it was impossible to state definitely when normal relations with Bulgaria would be restored and "when Rumania would be induced to take an unflinching decision in the desired sense."
Whatever the ultimate aim of Russian policy may have been, no encouragement was given to Serbia, so far as these documents show, to provoke Austria. Nor is there any indication that Russia was contemplating war in 1914. True, the French Ambassador reported court gossip to the effect that Kokovtzov was dismissed from the premiership because he "subordinated the general and the foreign policy of Russia to the interests of the treasury" and that there was to be "a new orientation of general policy." As a matter of fact, it is difficult to discover any change of policy, unless it was the attempt to secure an alliance with Great Britain; in the Near East, Sazonov held to his course of preventing complications. Possibly sinister intentions can be read into a long discussion in March by the financial committee of the government on the question of Russian deposits abroad. The committee was of the opinion that, since Russia was none too well financially prepared for war, the amount of money on deposit abroad (some 700,000,000 rubles) should be gradually reduced, and it asked for an expert legal opinion on the question whether, in the event of war, money on deposit could be seized by the enemy government; in the discussion Germany was the one country mentioned by name. On June 20, the legal expert of the foreign office, Professor Nolde, rendered an opinion that Russian funds abroad were not protected by treaties and that the only sure method of protecting them was to withdraw them from countries "concerning whose peaceful intentions complete certainty does not exist." It was doubtless this opinion which caused the Russian Government, on July 24, to recall the sums on deposit in Germany and Austria-Hungary. What significance is to be attached to the manœuvres held at Kiev in April 1914, the increase in the yearly contingent of recruits by 136,000 men, and the calling up of two classes of reservists for the autumn of 1914 cannot be determined, for they are mentioned in only one document, which is a report from Vienna indicating a certain nervousness in Austria.
So we are left very much where we were before the publication of these documents as to the innermost secrets of Russian policy in the first half of 1914. All that can be said is that the documents do not provide proof of Russian intention to go to war, either in 1914 or at any other determined moment.
This is especially true of the documents in Volume IV, which covers the period from June 28, the day of the murder at Sarajevo, to July 22, the eve of the Austrian ultimatum. During these weeks the various negotiations involving questions in various parts of the world which had in some cases been going on for months are continued as if the tragedy at Sarajevo were only an unfortunate incident. Sazonov's lack of concern is revealed by his going on leave for some days and by the fact that he addressed only two communications to Belgrade and three to Vienna; nor did he take any soundings in London, Paris, Berlin or Rome as to the possibility of action in the event of a crisis. The Ambassadors in Paris, Berlin and even Vienna went on leave. No military measures are recorded. If the documents present a correct picture of the situation, the Russian Government was taken by surprise when the stern Austrian ultimatum was issued.
From Vienna, the news was on the whole reassuring. Military circles in Sarajevo indeed clamored for an expedition against Serbia; the German and clerical press in Vienna, and Tschirschky, the German Ambassador, were trying to excite public opinion against Serbia and Russia; the garrisons on the Serbian and Russian frontiers were reported to have been strengthened. As the month of July progressed, there was an ominous silence at the Ballplatz, until on July 16 the Russian Ambassador, Shebeko, learned that demands would be made on Serbia, "in which the Austrian Government will bring the question of the Sarajevo murder into connection with the Pan-Serbian agitation within the frontiers of the empire." But Berchtold's assurances that Austria "in no way intended to provoke a conflict," and perhaps the fact that Austria had made a new overture to Serbia on the Oriental Railway, led Shebeko to leave Vienna on July 21. Sazonov's only reactions were to warn the Austrian Chargé in St. Petersburg against demanding an investigation in Serbia of the murder and to call Berchtold's attention to the danger of the Austrian press quoting from irresponsible Serbian newspapers.
Very little information about the murder at Sarajevo was received except the outward details. Hartvig reported that Chabrinovich had been allowed to remain in Belgrade at the request of the Austrian Consul, and that Printsip had had to sell his overcoat for eight francs in order to leave Belgrade, yet money had been found on him at Sarajevo. The Russian Consul at Sarajevo criticized the inadequate police measures of the local authorities. Finally, on July 16, Shebeko transmitted a long report from Prince Gagarin, who had been sent to Sarajevo to make an investigation. This report made much of the demonstrations against the Serbs after the murder; also "it is hardly to be assumed that the threads of the conspiracy lead to Belgrade" for "the bomb thrown by Chabrinovich was obviously prepared by himself," being "a simple bottle filled with nails and some kind of explosive." The incriminating revelations of the connection with Belgrade which were allowed to trickle through the Viennese press were apparently not reported to St. Petersburg by the Russian Embassy, so that Sazonov was not prepared for the accusations of Serbian complicity which were made in the Austrian ultimatum.
Meanwhile Serbia had behaved very well. The celebrations of St. Vitus' Day had been stopped as soon as the murder at Sarajevo was known. Pashich was determined "not to react to the unworthy provocations of Austria;" he used "all legal means" to keep the Serbian press in hand, and declared that "if undoubted proofs of the participation of certain persons in the crime were produced by Austria, the Serbian Government would hand them over to trial without delay, whoever they might be." This willingness was made known to the Powers by a circular telegram which was communicated to the Russian Government on July 22. The anxiety of Serbia was well attested by the action of the regent, the Crown Prince Alexander, who informed the Russian Chargé that the Serbian army had only 100,000 rifles, "a circumstance which constituted a great temptation for the enemies of the kingdom."
The German press was reported as being strongly anti-Serbian, but the Russian Chargé believed that "a great satisfaction was felt in Berlin that Vienna had not yet made any representations in Belgrade," because Germany did not wish to lose the steadily improving Serbian market. Only on July 22 did Bronevsky report that the German Foreign Minister was evasive and the French Ambassador "somewhat pessimistic," because the approaching German manœuvres would mean a temporary increase of the German army by 450,000 men. Bronevsky also transmitted a rumor picked up by the British Naval Attaché to the effect that some German reservists had been warned of "a possible mobilization."
The most interesting communications received by the Russian Government during this period were from the Ambassador in London. Benckendorff in three letters dilated on Grey's concern over the European situation. In Grey's opinion, the main danger lay in the fact that Berchtold was "weak;" therefore the essential thing was to reassure Germany: "the more Germany is reassured, the less will she support Austria." He thought that an offer of good offices should be made before it was too late; perhaps the Tsar might write to the Emperor Francis Joseph. He also suggested that Sazonov might speak in a conciliatory tone to the Austrian Ambassador in St. Petersburg. Benckendorff likewise reported a conversation with Lichnowsky, the German Ambassador, who was "distinctly uneasy" and left the impression that "he does not count on so effective a moderating activity on the part of Bethmann-Hollweg as on previous occasions."
If Sazonov took no action in regard to the European situation during the first weeks of July, the explanation is presumably that he wished to consult the French statesmen Poincaré and Viviani, who were scheduled to arrive in the Russian capital on July 20. Apparently no records have been preserved, if any were made, of the Franco-Russian conversations, for the only documents given are the toasts exchanged between Poincaré and Nicholas II at the state banquets which have long been known. Only the French documents can reveal these secrets. But it is known that one thing was done: it was decided to make representations in Vienna that Russia and France were not disposed "to tolerate an unjustifiable humiliation of Serbia" and to express the hope that "reason will prevail at Vienna over bellicose tendencies." Before this could be acted upon by the French and Russian representatives in Vienna, the Austrian ultimatum had been issued.
The ensuing crisis is covered by the fifth volume of the collection, which offers more than 500 documents for the study of Russian policy. Unfortunately it was not the practice of the Foreign Office to note the hour when telegrams were received or dispatched, and the lack of this data makes it impossible to determine the exact moment at which decisions were taken or to know what information was available at a given moment. Moreover, Sazonov did not record his conversations with ambassadors and ministers, and the statements of Baron Shilling, whose well-known diary of the crisis, "How the War Began," is reproduced, are often inadequate. Nor have the archives yielded documents which elucidate many troublesome questions concerning the Russian mobilization, presumably because the question of mobilization was settled in direct conferences or by telephone. A complete and fully satisfactory analysis of Russian policy is therefore out of the question.
For some years the German writer, Alfred von Wegerer, has maintained, largely on the basis of newspaper evidence, that up to noon of Saturday, July 25, the Serbian Government was disposed to accept the Austrian ultimatum in toto, but that in consequence of encouragement or advice received from St. Petersburg revised its attitude and delivered a reply, just before the time limit expired, which the Austrian Government declared unsatisfactory and evasive. The Russian documents do not in any manner support this argument. On July 24 Pashich said that the Austrian note could be neither accepted nor refused and that he proposed to indicate "the acceptable and the unacceptable points;" the Crown Prince considered "particularly humiliating" point 4 and those involving the activity of Austrian agents in Serbia. On its side, the Russian Government sent only two telegrams to Belgrade, one on July 24 urging Serbia not to resist an Austrian invasion, but to withdraw her army into the interior and to appeal to the Powers, the other on July 25 advising Serbia to seek the mediation of England. The telegram from Alexander to the Tsar asking for help was not received by Nicholas until July 26. The Tsar commented: "A very modest and worthy telegram. How shall I answer it?" The Serbian Minister in St. Petersburg, Spalaykovich, has denied that he sent telegrams of the kind imagined by Herr von Wegerer, for Sazonov had urged upon him the necessity of conciliation and the acceptance of the ultimatum as far as possible. It would seem to be a fair conclusion that Russia, except in a very general way, left Serbia to make her own decisions.
Not that Russia was indifferent to the fate of Serbia. It has been known for years that on July 24, immediately after the Austrian ultimatum was issued, the Russian Government decided in principle on the mobilization of the four southern military districts and of the Black Sea fleet, Sazonov being empowered to determine when these measures should be executed. The precise intentions of the government were stated on the following day by the Chief of the General Staff, Yanushkevich, to the committee of the General Staff which had met to discuss the technical details:
His Majesty the Emperor has been pleased to declare that it is necessary to support Serbia, even if we have to order mobilization and begin warlike operations, but not, however, until the Austrian troops had crossed the Serbian frontier.
According to the information received, some steps preparatory to mobilization in Austria-Hungary and Italy had been carried out. Therefore His Majesty the Emperor has been pleased to confirm the decision of the Council of Ministers that the period preparatory to mobilization should begin in the night of July 25/12-26/13.
Should it prove necessary to order mobilization, the All-Highest, in consideration of the fact we must limit our action to against Austria alone, has ordered that the military districts of Kiev, Odessa, Kazan and Moscow be mobilized. The other districts are to be mobilized only in the event that Germany joins Austria, not before this, in order that still greater diplomatic complications may be avoided.
In plain language, the Russian Government acted on the assumption that Austria intended to make war on Serbia, but it decided to postpone the order for mobilization until the overt act was committed by Austria. In the meantime Russia must take the steps preliminary to mobilization, and the "period preparatory to war" was instituted; the text of the document containing the details of this measure is published in full, for the first time. But no irremediable decision seems to have been reached. At any rate, Sazonov, on July 26, telegraphed to Bucharest that "we are doing everything possible to avert an Austro-Serbian conflict," and on the following day the Tsar stated that he had informed his mother, who was in England, that "hope for peace still exists." This did not prevent the military authorities from going ahead with their preparations. Thus the period preparatory to war was extended to the Caucasus and Asia; the export of horses was forbidden; and Sukhomlinov, the Minister of War, asked that the sale of liquor be stopped in the districts slated for mobilization. Numerous directives were also issued to the naval commanders in the Baltic. But none of these documents indicates any attempt to control the policy of the foreign office.
Mobilization as an immediate measure is first mentioned in a telegram of July 28 from Yanushkevich to the commanders of all the military districts except the Amur: "July 30/17 will be announced as the first day of our general mobilization. The announcement will follow according to the telegram agreed upon." This telegram has been known for many years, but under date of July 29. Now, according to the testimony of the Russian Generals Dobrorolsky, the Chief of the Mobilization Section, and Danilov, the Quartermaster-General, the question of mobilization became acute as soon as news was received of the Austrian declaration of war against Serbia on the afternoon of July 28, for the declaration of war was considered tantamount to the opening of hostilities. Sazonov, for diplomatic reasons, opposed a general mobilization, upon which Yanushkevich insisted, for technical military reasons. The result was a compromise, by which two ukases should be prepared for the Tsar's signature, one for partial, the other for general mobilization, the question being left open as to which should be published. Yanushkevich's telegram shows that either he was trying to force the situation or was confident of securing the Tsar's consent to general mobilization, for the question of mobilization was not taken up with Nicholas until the following day, July 29. But the general seems to have been over-confident. Historians of the crisis have generally agreed, relying on the recollections of the Russian generals and on Baron Shilling's diary, that the Tsar did sign the ukase for general mobilization on July 29.[vi] But at 6:38 p. m. of that day, the Minister of Marine telegraphed to the Commander of the Baltic Fleet:
His Majesty the Emperor has ordered that, beginning at midnight of July 29/16-30/17, the mobilization of the Baltic and Black Sea fleets and of the districts of Kiev, Odessa, Kazan and Moscow is to be carried out, in order to place them in a state of war.
That is to say, the Tsar had ordered partial, not general, mobilization. This is the only mention of mobilization in the official documents for that day. Yet there can be little doubt, in view of what Shilling and Dobrorolsky record, that at some time during the day the Tsar consented to general mobilization, which he later rescinded, after receiving a conciliatory telegram from the German Emperor. Indeed, at 2:20 a. m. on July 30, the Chief of the Admiralty Staff telegraphed to the Commander of the Baltic fleet: "In consequence of the negotiations of His Majesty the Emperor with William, His Imperial Majesty has cancelled the general mobilization, but has left in force the order for the mobilization of the Baltic and Black Sea fleets and of four districts." While the character of the evidence makes certainty impossible, the first telegram quoted above tends to confirm the statement of Shilling that it was a threatening communication delivered by the German Ambassador warning Russia not to mobilize which caused Sazonov to seek the Tsar's consent to general mobilization and induced the monarch to yield. The Tsar's entry in his diary for June 29 implies that there was considerable discussion between him and his Ministers: "The day passed in unusual activity; I was called constantly to the telephone, now it was Sazonov, now Sukhomlinov or Yanushkevich at the instrument." Although Nicholas did not indicate the subject of his conversations, the mention of the Minister of War and the Chief of Staff speaks volumes.
The documents for July 30 throw no light whatsoever on the circumstances in which Sazonov finally persuaded his master to order general mobilization for the second time. Two laconic telegrams are printed, the first ordering partial mobilization, the second substituting general mobilization; but the hours of dispatch are not given. At the time, and in his memoirs, Sazonov justified the general mobilization on the ground of German military preparations. The only military information concerning Germany recorded in the Russian documents was contained in two reports from the Military Attaché in Paris, the first stating that German troops in Posen and East Prussia were being "gradually mobilized," the second that all German fortresses were being placed in a state of defense and reservists since 1902 recalled from France. Sazonov's assertion is hardly borne out by the information available to him. One matter, however, is definitely cleared up. In the Russian "Orange Book" published in 1914, a telegram from the Ambassador in Vienna was printed, under date of July 28, according to which "the order for general mobilization has been signed." The telegram has long been suspect, and the editors state that it could not be found in the archives. What Shebeko did telegraph on that date was that eight corps, that is "half" of the Austrian army, had been mobilized; on July 29 he reported that general mobilization was expected on the following day, which may have influenced the decisions in St. Petersburg.
Two brief hints are given of the Tsar's state of mind. On July 30 Izvolsky telegraphed that in the opinion of the French Government, Russia, in her measures of precaution, "should not immediately take any step which may offer Germany a pretext for a total or partial mobilization of her forces." When he saw this telegram on the following day, after he had agreed to the general mobilization, the Tsar noted: "This telegram arrived too late." One wonders if the telegram was held up by Sazonov, for it was sent from Paris early in the morning. In spite of the mobilization, Nicholas may have continued to hope for peace, for on August 1 he instructed Sazonov to carry on the negotiations with the Austrian Ambassador, who had been instructed to begin a discussion with the Russian Minister. Interesting also is the statement of the Chief of the Naval Staff on July 31: "Yesterday evening the situation was very critical, not more than a 5 percent chance for peace; today it has greatly improved, one can already reckon 10 percent for peace." The Admiral thought that "Germany does not wish to make war" and had been so impressed by the Russian mobilization that she would agree to negotiations. Russia could not countermand the mobilization, but the Tsar was ready to promise "not to use our power in case our point of view is accepted in regard to the complete integrity and independence of Serbia." On that same day Nicholas did make such an offer to William II. But since he was already thinking of going to the front, his offer was probably intended as a gesture. The real expectation of the Russian Government is probably revealed by a bid for Rumanian assistance which was the fourth of its kind and definitely offered Transylvania as a reward.
The documents add nothing to our knowledge of the political exchanges between Russia and France, but the telegrams of the Military Attaché in Paris reveal clearly the attitude of French military circles. On July 28 Ignatyev reported that the Minister of War and the Chief of Staff had expressed "complete and enthusiastic readiness to fulfil truly the obligations of the alliance;" on July 29 he stated succinctly that "everything possible has been done in France, and the ministry is quietly waiting on events." The next day, July 30, he said that in the opinion of the French Minister of War, Russia might "hold up the course of our mobilization," which, however, would not prevent preparations from going ahead, "in so far as we refrained as far as possible from moving masses of troops." In a written report of the same date Ignatyev explained that these reservations were not to be interpreted as a tendency "to draw back at the last minute" and that they "had no effect on the normal course of France's preparations for war;" "no importance" was attached to the demonstrations against war, which were restricted to the boulevards, and the tone of the press caused "general satisfaction." If the documents say nothing about the effort of the French Minister of War -- according to his post-war recollections -- to get in touch with the Russian staff in order to insist that the Russian armies take the offensive as soon as possible in East Prussia, it is evident that the Russians had every reason to suppose that their ally would march with them. Presumably this confidence was the ultimate factor in their decision to order mobilization, just as it was the assurance of German help which caused Austria to refuse any and all suggestions of compromise or mediation.
From the Russian point of view, the great enigma was England. Benckendorff sent forty-six telegrams, in which he acutely analyzed the state of public opinion in England and the attitude of the British Government; he also wrote several letters, though it is doubtful if these were received in time to affect the decisions of his Government. Although the Ambassador felt certain that Grey personally accepted the Russian view and favored intervention if war came, he made it clear from the beginning that "England will not declare herself until the war becomes general and the European equilibrium is thereby called in question." Grey could not act because he was "not sure of his public opinion" and in spite of a constantly improving tone of the press, in spite of the fleet being held together, Benckendorff had to admit on July 29 that "war remains unpopular," on July 31 that the attitude of Parliament was still uncertain, and on August 1 that there was no sentiment in the country in favor of military action. It was only after the declaration of war against Russia and the occupation of Luxembourg by the German army that "public opinion suddenly swung around completely." Probably these communications had little effect on Sazonov, for in the several appeals which he addressed to the British Government for a declaration of solidarity, the Russian Minister always took the position that if war came, England would have to come in, and there is no evidence that he was worried by the daily news from London.
On August 1 King George telegraphed to Nicholas II "a personal appeal" to remove German misapprehensions and to "leave still open grounds for negotiations and possible peace." In his reply, which was composed by Nicholas and Buchanan, the British Ambassador, the Tsar stated that he had been compelled to order mobilization "in consequence of complete Austrian mobilization," which was not the case. No such statement was made in the draft reply formulated by the Russian Foreign Office. This document recited that Germany and Austria had made mediation impossible, and then continued:
Only when the favorable moment for pressure on Austria had passed did Germany declare herself ready to undertake mediation between Russia and Austria, but without making a precise proposal in this sense. At the same time Austria began to mobilize in a manner disquieting to us, and this was followed by the news, unexpected by me, of the declaration of war against Serbia and the bombardment of Belgrade. In face of these facts, and after I had convinced myself of the futility of negotiations which were only to gain time, I saw myself forced to mobilize.
Buchanan thought the Foreign Office draft couched "in too official language" and helped the Tsar to rewrite it. Who was responsible for the statement about "complete Austrian mobilization" must remain a mystery.
Three highly interesting documents are printed as appendices to the fifth volume. The first (no. 8) is a long dispatch, dated August 6, from Strandtmann, the Chargé in Belgrade, who carried on after Hartvig's death, describing the course of events in Serbia after the receipt of the ultimatum. He states that Pashich was "deeply shaken" by the rupture with Austria, for the Serbian Premier had hoped that "the far-reaching concessions" of the Serbian reply would suffice to prevent an armed conflict, for which Serbia was quite unprepared. The second document (no. 7) is a lengthy memorandum by Bronevsky, the Chargé in Berlin, on the situation in the German capital from the murder at Sarajevo up to July 29, when the Ambassador returned to his post. According to Bronevsky, the Serbian reply was handed to Jagow, the German Foreign Minister, on the morning of July 27, confirming the testimony of the French and Austrian Ambassadors; this doubtless helps to explain why Jagow was so unsympathetic to Grey's proposal for a conference, which he called a "court of arbitration." After the beginning of military operations against Belgrade, the Austrian Ambassador admitted that Jagow's professed ignorance of the Austrian demands before the presentation of the ultimatum "did not exactly correspond with reality." The German Government had not seen the final text, but "those demands which it was desired to put in the ultimatum had been communicated to the cabinet of Berlin." The third document (no. 6) is a similar memorandum by Ambassador Sverbeyev, continuing the narrative of events down to the rupture, which was published some years ago in English translation in Shilling's "How the War Began."
The problems of Russian policy which are left unsolved by this collection of documents will probably remain unsolved, for the Soviet editors have certainly ransacked the archives for available materials. The imperialistic aspects of that policy in Manchuria, Mongolia and Persia may very well predispose one to a harsh judgment of Russian policy in the Near East, for at times it was somewhat truculent towards Turkey. Nevertheless the impression left by a perusal of the documents is that Russian policy in the Near East was pacific, at any rate after the failure to block the mission of Liman von Sanders. Nor does it appear that Russia was exciting Serbia or contemplating war against Austria and Germany. Nevertheless the Russian Government was keenly aware of the unstable conditions prevailing from Vienna to Baghdad, and was feverishly pushing on its military and naval preparations in order to be ready for "the day" when it arrived; in this attitude it was at one with every other Great Power in Europe. So far as one can judge, "the day" -- Sarajevo -- arrived unexpectedly, when Russia was not yet fully prepared. But Russia realized that the Austro-German program of action against Serbia, if successfully executed, would destroy the position so laboriously built up by Russian arms and Russian diplomacy during many decades, and therefore, ready or not, Russia had to fight. Her reaction was immediate, instinctive and irrevocable. But, in the reviewer's opinion, it is not proved by these documents that the Russian Government desired or worked for war in July 1914. It stated its conditions for keeping the peace: respect for the integrity and independence of Serbia, and it repeatedly declared its willingness to negotiate. But it assumed, as it was bound to assume after the ultimatum, that these conditions would not be accepted by Austria, and it therefore began military preparations in order to be able to help Serbia effectively. Given the criteria of world politics which were universally accepted in 1914, Russia could not have been expected to act otherwise, and to this day it is difficult, not to say impossible, to comprehend why Germany expected her to act otherwise. Nevertheless the Russian mobilization was not ordered until Austria had declared war on Serbia and her guns had bombarded Belgrade. But for this premature action (Austrian mobilization would not be complete for another fortnight), it might have been possible for diplomacy to arrange a compromise which would have averted war in July 1914.
[i]Note. These volumes are the German translation of the five volumes of Series Three of "Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniya v epokhu imperializma. Dokumenty iz arkhivov tsarskogo i vremennogo pravitelstv 1878-1917 gg.," the great collection of Russian documents now in course of publication by a commission appointed by the Central Executive Committee of the Soviet Government. This collection of documents is comparable to those already issued by other countries. It will consist of three series, the first covering the years from the Congress of Berlin to the Russo-Japanese War, 1878-1904; the second, the years 1904-1913; and the third, the period from January 14/1, 1914, to the overthrow of the Provisional Government in November 1917. The Deutsche Gesellschaft zum Studium Osteuropas, of which Professor Hoetzsch is the directing spirit, is responsible for the German translation. The volumes reviewed in this article are the first five of Series Three, from January 14/1, 1914, to the outbreak of war. (Unfortunately, the German translation is marked "Series One," so that confusion in citation is likely to occur.)
[ii] Before leaving this question, it is worth noting that these Russian documents contain no reference to the new overtures made by Sazonov to Buchanan on July 7 and July 19 for an Anglo-Russian alliance ("British Documents on the Origins of the War," Vol. XI, p. xi). It does not seem necessary to speak of the difficulties between the British and Russian Governments over the Trans-Persian Railway or the suspicions aroused in Russia by the activities of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, in which the British Government was a heavy shareholder. Both questions are discussed in numerous documents.
[iii] In January a rumor reached the Russian Government that Germany was disposed to sell a battle cruiser to Turkey, the Goeben or the Moltke; this evoked from the Tsar the comment, "That is certainly illuminating and shows how little one can trust the declarations of Germany." In May it was reported that the firm of Voss & Blum had offered Turkey a cruiser that it was building for the German navy. Both stories were without foundation.
[iv] On May 13, 1915, the French Embassy communicated to the Russian Government the text of a treaty supposed to have been concluded between Bulgaria and Turkey on January 25, 1914, but did not guarantee its authenticity. In his book "Bulgarien und die Weltkrise" (Berlin, 1923), p. 117, Radoslavov stated that the Turco-Bulgarian alliance was concluded on August 6, 1914.
[v] Statements by the Serbian writer, M. Bogichevich, and the Russian writer, N. P. Poletika, that the Hartvig papers had been removed from the archives of the former Ministry of Foreign Affairs are incorrect, at least so far as concerns his official correspondence. Many private letters are also available, but since they were not numbered, it is impossible to determine whether all of them have been preserved.
[vi] B. E. Schmitt, "The Coming of the War: 1914" (New York, 1930), II, 99; S. B. Fay, "The Origins of the World War" (New York, 1928), II, 452-456; P. Renouvin, "Les Origines immediates de la guerre" (Paris, 2nd edit., 1927), pp. 138-140; H. W. Wilson, "The War Guilt" (London, 1928), p. 241; H. Oncken, "Das Deutsche Reich und die Vorgeschichte des Weltkrieges" (Berlin, 1933), II, 805.