Foreign Affairs: 100 Years
A New Americanism
Why a Nation Needs a National Story
THE COMING OF THE WAR: 1914. By BERNADOTTE E. SCHMITT. New York: Scribners, 1930. 2 vols., pp. 539, 515.
THE publication of Schmitt's important volumes makes it a convenient moment to survey the field between June 28, 1914, and the outbreak of Armageddon. Documents and memoirs now abound. Poincaré has written much and (unlike some chief critics) has carefully read most of the literature and has modified some of his views under criticism. Sazonov wrote an account without documents being to hand. We still await Berchtold's apologia, but the Tisza and Conrad papers have appeared. Grey has given us his full views, as has Asquith; so have several German personages. We are now beginning to sift out the truth from the endless smaller studies. One general survey in German is Ludwig's "Juli 1914." This is better than most historians will admit, for its emotional thesis that all peoples were innocent and all governments guilty has a certain merit. But a close inquiry into Ludwig will show that he puts the most guilt on the government of Austria-Hungary, a good deal on that of Russia, and is rather kind to Germany. Similarly Renouvin, who exhibits a scientific detachment amazing in a Frenchman, on the whole endorses, though very moderately, the French standpoint. Seton-Watson has surveyed one aspect brilliantly in "Sarajevo," but no British writer has given us a complete study.
Fortunately there are a number of American writings which have at least the opportunity of showing impartiality. Fay's "The Origins of the World War"[i] and Schmitt's "The Coming of the War" lift us to an atmosphere of relative serenity. But even these two distinguished writers have their personal views. Schmitt on the whole is kind to the Entente, Fay on the whole is kind to the Central Powers. Impartiality is nearer, but it is by no means attained.
The historian of war origins has to be at once a practical soldier and a practical diplomat before he can understand some things. Recently a German historian quoted evidence to show that before 1914 Belgian and English military experts met and discussed all sorts of details about the French areas of concentration near the Belgian frontier. He argued that this knowledge could have come only from the French themselves and founded on this a "proof" of a concerted Franco-Belgian-British military staff agreement before the war. Without giving any opinion on this specific point, I might suggest that the method of proof shows very little knowledge of military intelligence methods. If intelligence agents supplied Belgian and British staffs with full details of German concentration, etc., would this be proof of a concerted German-Belgian-British staff agreement? If not, can the obtaining of similar full details about French concentration be proof of a Franco-Belgian-British staff agreement? Obviously the answer is no in both cases.
Diplomatic methods, like military ones, must be understood before they can be criticized. Schmitt complains of the "jargon" in which diplomatic dispatches are written, and procedure as well as jargon may mislead us. There is a diplomatic method and manner of doing things, of which the public and even learned historians are often ignorant. Certain things are fair, certain things are unfair, in the diplomatic code. We know, for example, that British statesmen thought Aehrenthal deceived them in 1908 over the Bosnian annexation. In other words, they thought that he had broken the rules of the game. Goschen, however, the man most concerned, did not say that Aehrenthal lied, though the contrary has been asserted. But Schmitt at one time said that von Jagow lied in declaring he knew nothing of the Austrian ultimatum, and he speaks now of his "unreliability as a witness" (I, p. 383) and of the bad effects it had on French, Italian and British diplomats, and particularly just before the end, when it was all-important for Germany's sincerity to be accepted. Fay also says von Jagow was "virtually lying." I am not sure that I would go further than to say that von Jagow's avowal of ignorance was considered to be technical and not real. This attitude was harmful to Germany but it does not strike me that it was resented as Aehrenthal's was in 1908, though it may have produced serious consequences.
But accusations of lying are dangerous unless the matter is very carefully weighed. For instance, H. E. Barnes says "the most crucial and indefensible lie of the whole crisis was that of Sir Wm. Tyrell [sic] to Lichnowsky at 4 p.m. on July 31 when he told Germany that England possessed no information of any kind about the Russian mobilization."[ii] What Tyrrell really denied was that England had information about a mobilization of the whole Russian army and navy. This statement was quite true. It was not till 5:20 p.m. on July 31, or over half an hour after Lichnowsky had sent his telegram to Berlin, that England received official intelligence of the general mobilization of the Russian army. Tyrrell could not have been attempting to conceal that he had heard of a partial mobilization. Not only did everybody know it but Grey had sent off a dispatch[iii] to Goschen on July 29 in which he mentioned having talked with Lichnowsky on the Russian mobilization (of four military districts) on that day. Now Tyrrell was Grey's private secretary, and his business was to know every dispatch he wrote (and indeed he probably wrote this one himself). Was he likely to deny to Lichnowsky what his chief had admitted to Lichnowsky, viz., that England had heard of a partial Russian mobilization? What he said was that England had heard of no general mobilization, which was true. In fact, the use of the phrase "whole army" was a diplomatic hint that he had already heard of a mobilization of a part of it. Had he wished to deceive Lichnowsky he would have omitted the word "whole." The only person he deceived was Barnes.
Fay says (II, pp. 263-4) that "Sir Edward Grey, who is often extolled as an example of honesty and sincerity, lied just as deliberately in regard to his foreknowledge of the probable terms of the ultimatum." He points out that on July 20 Grey asked Lichnowsky for news about its probable contents, and remarked that he had not heard anything recently "except that Count Berchtold had spoken reassuringly to the Italian Ambassador." Fay then proceeds to moralize. "This kind of diplomatic lying, unfortunately, was not the monopoly of any one country, but was indulged in all too freely by Foreign Secretaries and Ambassadors almost everywhere in July 1914." Fay's complaint here is that Grey had received on July 16 from Bunsen at Vienna the forecast of an anonymous friend of what the ultimatum was likely to contain, and yet on July 20 he told Lichnowsky he "had not heard anything recently," etc. Now Bunsen's pessimistic report was qualified in a later dispatch. Also, the British chargé d'affaires at Belgrade sent a telegram in the optimistic sense to Grey on July 18 which was based on the views of the Austro-Hungarian Minister there.[iv] Thus Grey had two opposite reports. Which was he to believe? The optimistic Belgrade report in fact seemed better evidence, for it was based on an Austro-Hungarian diplomat's word, the other on that of an ex-diplomat. Both were mere rumors or reports. Now, in any case, Grey would not have denied that he had heard rumors or reports: the Austrian press was full of them. What he meant was that he had received no authoritative information from Berchtold or from his Ambassador in London. He actually indicates this fact by saying "except that Count Berchtold" etc. I quote in the footnote below an example to show that Grey's use of the term "no information" meant "no authoritative information" and I show that this practice conformed to British (and incidentally to German) usage.[v] So even if Lichnowsky was deceived (and, as I read his report of the interview, he was not) he ought not to have been.
Fay's conclusion seems to require that diplomats, if liars, should be good liars. For no one would lie in the way he suggests if the lie could not deceive. Now what lie could be clumsier than for Tyrrell to deny that he had heard of partial Russian mobilization when he knew that Grey had already talked to Lichnowsky about it? How could Grey, who knew that most of the Austrian newspapers were suggesting a stiff ultimatum, pretend that he had received no reports from Vienna about it? Such clumsy fictions are inconceivable. No one who lied in this way could deceive anybody. But the fact that lying of this type can be attributed to men of intelligence suggests very serious considerations. If assumptions like this can be made in matters on which rebutting evidence is available, one cannot help fearing that they are even more likely to be made where no such rebutting evidence is to hand. It is apparent, I think, that a natural prejudice against statesmen connected with the origins of the war leads to bias in judging even acts or utterances which are intelligible or defensible. This atmosphere of "war guilt" is like a dark cloud obscuring the light and deadening the senses of those who move beneath it.
There is no part of the whole story where lies are so abundant, and misrepresentation so easy, as the sordid and terrible tale of the conspiracy which ended in the assassination of Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo. It requires indeed a very special knowledge of Balkan statesmen, Balkan komitadjis, Balkan students and agents provocateurs to gain any insight into the possibilities. For this reason Seton-Watson's "Sarajevo" is admirable. He at any rate understands what is morally possible in Southeast Europe. And his opinions are invaluable as to moral atmosphere, even when one does not accept his conclusions. He suggests, for instance, that Lyuba Jovanovitch has boasted of having a larger share than he really had in the events ending in the murder of Franz Ferdinand in 1914, just as he did of having an undue share in the events culminating in the murder of Alexander and Draga in 1903. Again he tells us that for two years Pashitch subordinated international ethics and the good name of Serbia to the basest considerations of internal party politics. Even if he is not right in either instance (and I cannot feel certain that he is) I feel that he is right in his psychology. He has told us something of which some Balkan statesmen (even if not these particular statesmen) are certainly capable, and it is something of which very few statesmen of the West are capable. Here is a kind of touchstone for the moral psychology of the Balkans.
In this mint lies are coined for propagandist purposes in a manner most difficult for the historian to detect. Thus Fay tells us that Colonel Milan Pribichevitch "fought as a colonel in the Serbian Army at the beginning of the World War, but was murdered by his own soldiers in the woods on Jastrebac Mountain, because they regarded him as the cause of their misfortunes" (II, pp. 80-1, n.). For this statement he quotes three authorities, none of whom can have had any evidence worth the name. For Milan (as I shall hereafter call him) managed to resurrect himself. He came to England after the retreat in 1915, then went to America, where he raised some thousands of Jugoslav volunteers and had his bust made and exhibited by a well-known American sculptress. After the armistice he was Colonel Commandant at Zagreb, where I saw him repeatedly, and I have a photograph in which I appear beside him at a parade. Then he was for a time an ardent though unsuccessful politician, and finally settled down on a farm at Kossovo given him by the government; where (as I have recently been told) he still is. The legend of his death was either coined by a Serb prisoner to curry favor with his captors or was more probably a deliberate lie invented to discredit Milan and Jugoslav propaganda.[vi] Here the materials for refutation happen to exist, but in how many cases are they lacking?
A stenographic report of the trial of the conspirators at Sarajevo has only recently been available, and not in time for any of our three ablest investigators to use it before publishing their works. Even this report is not enough. The difficulty of understanding the ways of students and komitadjis has been mentioned. But those of the spy, informer and agent provocateur in the Balkans are at once stranger and darker. Thus Tchabrinovitch, one of the conspirators, admitted that his comrades suspected that he was an Austrian spy, and certain evidence suggests that he at one time was. The probabilities on the whole are against it, for he took a bold stand as a Jugoslav at the trial. But, if true, it would go a long way to justify the old theory that the Archduke was murdered with Austrian complicity. A similar depth of horror and uncertainty is touched in the case of Tsiganovitch. At first an avowed creature of "Apis" (Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevitch), he changed sides and became an agent of Pashitch and gave evidence in 1917 which resulted in the execution of "Apis." But when did he become an informer, or was he so all the time? Here is enough to confuse us completely. Again, the prisoners at the trial made a a number of depositions out of court of which the full text has never been published. These statements, extracted from the prisoners by processes of intimidation, were then used to confute them in court. Printsip complained that he had been severely beaten in prison and was in solitary confinement without books for six weeks before one examination. Michitch said that he had been scared, Grabezh that he had been tortured in various ways, Milovitch that he had been starved for four days and beaten till he was covered with blood, and all this before, or during, their depositions. When they complained of these outrages in court the judge passed hastily on to the next question in each case. It can be seen that in court the bench sometimes pressed the prisoners most unfairly. "Silence means consent." "Not to deny is to avow." "Why do you contradict all your previous assertions?" Prisoners were interrupted in statements they desired to make, and forbidden to criticize the act of accusation. On one occasion the judge even suggested that there had been no "attempts" in Austria-Hungary before that of Printsip. "Stop," answered Tchabrinovitch, "there was Sichinski in (Galician) Poland: at Sarajevo, Zherajitch, then Jukitch, Daychitch, Njegush; I know five or six attempts here." The judge was, of course, trying to suggest that the Printsip attempt came from outside and was confounded when five or six such plots hatched from within Austria-Hungary were quoted. But the judge did not usually get the worst of it. To understand evidence we must find out what the judge or the public prosecutor is trying to ascertain, what he is "fishing" for, as the phrase goes. For when a man is "fishing" he has not much real evidence. The prosecutor was obviously "fishing" to prove by the line of his questions that the Serbian Government was guilty of complicity and that the Narodna Odbrana ("National Defense") was a criminal Serbian organization. He was not exactly "fishing" to prove that the bombs were obtained from Belgrade. On this last point he did get admissions of value, just because he knew something already.
Bearing in mind these difficulties in the way of inquiry into the Sarajevo plot, let us try and summarize any ascertainable facts or probabilities. Let us begin with the latter because the historic background is most important. Seton-Watson is the only writer who gives us the origins of the anti-Hapsburg agitation and describes how discontent arose out of the Balkan War among Serb students in Bosnia, and how it soon became a seething mass of discontent producing several attempts at assassination and ending at Sarajevo. Now to take the history of the agitation three years back is a very good thing, for all the other historians take it only a few months back. But to take it forty years back is a still better thing. It is indeed hardly fanciful to say that Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by the Serbs of Bosnia-Herzegovina who made the revolution of 1875 against the Turks.[vii] For that insurrection was regarded as the most glorious event of Bosnian history, and the model for all Bosnian youths. It was sacred -- holy -- an event about which legends were told and songs sung. It was made by the Serbs of Bosnia and of Herzegovina from within, it owed little or nothing to Serbia or to Belgrade. After the Turks went the Hapsburgs came, and ultimately the same heroes, who had revolted against the Turk, rose in rebellion against the Austrians. The revolt was crushed, and completely. But anyone who knows Bosnia knows that the revolutionary spirit and tradition remained. Even the educated class -- the students -- were imbued with it at their mothers' knees. They were taught that violence and blood had freed them gloriously from the Turk in 1875, and would one day free them from the Hapsburg. But a change of method was needed. They knew by experience that insurrection by arms was impossible, but they thought that a conspiracy with bombs or pistols might succeed. Meanwhile secret Austro-Hapsburg propaganda could be pursued; for a conspiracy and assassination a favorable moment was needed. It was not until the Balkan War that the Bosnian students thought that the favorable moment had come. The Balkan War showed that Serbia might soon be strong enough to beat Austria-Hungary in warfare. Was it not now the time for Bosnian Serbs to realize their dream and to paralyze Austria-Hungary from within? That could be done by secret organization or by assassination. Even before the Balkan War the fashion had been set. In 1910 a youth called Zherajitch fired at the Governor of Bosnia (though without effect) and then shot himself. It was reported, and universally believed by Bosnian Serbs, that the Governor had spurned the body with his foot. Two years later a pamphlet called "The Death of a Hero" exhibited Zherajitch as a martyr and stressed his dying words, "I leave it to Serbdom to avenge me." The effect was tremendous on Bosnian youth. Poems and newspapers glorified the deed. Printsip admitted that he had visited the tomb of Zherajitch and sworn to avenge him. The evil train had already been laid. Several plots and attempts at assassination after 1912 both in Croatia and Bosnia fanned the widespread discontent, the hysterical excitement, of the Serb-Bosnian students. Historic memories all suggested that Bosnia should act for herself or on her own initiative. That was the glorious thing to do. If this was the moral atmosphere in Bosnia, the memories of 1875 were a great incentive to violence and to violence from within. They greatly strengthen the probability of Seton-Watson's argument that the initiative of the conspiracy did not come from Belgrade. There is also some independent evidence that students in Split and other Dalmatian towns were prepared to murder the Archduke if he visited them, and these certainly owed nothing to Belgrade. It seems that the assassination idea went on fermenting in Bosnia -- and for that matter in Dalmatia and Croatia -- quite independently of Belgrade. It was bound to end in the assassination of some important personage. The moral probabilities were all in that direction. But the hour and the man had to coincide.
Moral probabilities are, however, not material certainties. It is obvious in any case that, if the students wanted bombs (and bombs are the material for up-to-date assassins), they must leave Bosnia and go to Belgrade for them. In the same way Orsini had to go to London for bombs to assassinate Napoleon III. There was this important difference, of course, that persons in Belgrade were much more likely to sympathize with Bosnian students than Londoners were with Orsini. And, for that very reason, Bosnian students on their arrival in Belgrade were subject to new and non-Bosnian influences. Yet it is possible to prove, as Schmitt says, that the "idea of assassinating Franz Ferdinand came to the Bosnian revolutionary group independently of any suggestion from Belgrade" (I, p. 227, n.). One of these Bosnians, Pushara, who resided in Bosnia, can hardly have known of the schemes of Printsip, the chief conspirator, at all. Yet, as soon as he heard in March 1914 that Franz Ferdinand was coming to Sarajevo on June 28 (Kossovo Day) he regarded it as an opportunity for assassinating him. So he cut out the newspaper paragraph and sent it to Tchabrinovitch -- a Bosnian student residing in Belgrade -- with the word "greetings" upon it. Tchabrinovitch at once saw the point and decided to assassinate Franz Ferdinand. Ultimately he revealed his idea to Printsip and found that he and Ilitch had already decided on the same plan. Now the idea unquestionably came from Bosnia to Tchabrinovitch, and it is rather interesting, at least, that Ilitch and Printsip are believed to have first definitely plotted the assassination while on Bosnian soil during the winter of 1913-4. It is also rather significant that Colonel Dimitrijevitch ("Apis"), the chief of the Serbian Military Intelligence, who supplied Printsip and his associates with bombs, does not seem to have taken the conspirators seriously and did not believe their plot would succeed. He said they were too young. But such men would come in useful anyhow for sabotage or komitadji work, especially if there was war.
The agent of "Apis," who dealt more directly with Printsip, was Major Tankositch, and his creature was Ciganovitch. These two were not people to stick at much and the Major was a particularly reckless and resolute man, a "Black Hander" like "Apis." Tankositch seems to have tried to provoke an assassination plot in Bosnia in the autumn of 1913. It is interesting that this attempt from without did not succeed. Ideas of the same kind came quite independently to various Bosnians in the winter of 1913, notably to Printsip, Tchabrinovitch and Grabezh while they were actually in Bosnia. Their resolves crystallized in Belgrade early in 1914, when they secured the bombs and revolvers; they then crossed the frontier to murder the Archduke. But the four other chief conspirators whom they found in Bosnia were by no means equally resolved. They resembled a number of other young men in Bosnia who in a vague way knew of the plot or approved of someone assassinating the Archduke, though they kept quiet about it. I made careful inquiries in Sarajevo just after the armistice about this, and none of my informants put the number of these at less than 100 and some as high as 150. This is a larger number than I have seen suggested elsewhere but the evidence is important, being of the winter 1918-9. Legend grows quickly in the Balkans and later reports are less trustworthy. In fact the material weapons (bombs and apparently even revolvers) were bound to come from Belgrade, and Bosnians had to go there to get them. While there, they were likely to be influenced by komitadji leaders like Tankositch, and in the direction of violence. But so far there is no certain evidence proving that the real initiative came from Belgrade as to the formation of the plot. The inference is the other way. Persons at Belgrade can only have strengthened a purpose already certain, and "Apis" seems to have doubted even whether he had strengthened a purpose.
It would settle most difficulties if we could find out whether the Narodna Odbrana was, or was not, a terroristic society. For it originated in Belgrade and had extensive ramifications in Bosnia. It was launched in 1908 under the auspices of Pashitch and other cabinet ministers. Its head was General Jankovitch, who had special reasons for wishing to ingratiate himself with the government. Consequently it would be difficult for the government to disavow responsibility for its formation or even for its growth. Yet it would have been particularly unsafe for the government to permit it to become a criminal society, for they had promised Austria-Hungary in 1909 not to indulge in subversive propaganda. If the Narodna Odbrana really was a terroristic society, the Serbian Government could hardly avoid the charge of complicity in terrorism.
Now at the trial the conspirators made out a pretty good case for the view that the activities of the Narodna Odbrana were purely cultural. But that this was its avowed policy does not mean that all of its members were so pacific. In Serbia training in bomb-throwing formed part of the activities of the society, or seems at least to have been practiced by some members. But that could be for use in guerilla warfare and against the Turks as well as against the Austro-Hungarians. Moreover, there was not much concealment about this activity, nor was it undertaken on Bosnian soil. It is not necessarily proof of a planned assassination.
What were the views of Colonel Milan Pribichevitch, the man we have just resurrected from the dead? Because he really drew up the statute of organization and remained its presiding genius until the war. For reasons too long to be mentioned here, Milan had strong personal reasons for being anti-Hapsburg. Some vague evidence from Austrian sources has been produced to suggest that he favored violence; and it has been stated from Lyuba Jovanovitch at second-hand that Milan knew of the plot and informed Pashitch at the end of May or early in June 1914.[viii] Should this be true, it would be decisive as to the complicity of Milan and probably of the Narodna Odbrana. Schmitt has assembled evidence to show that Milan was not a "Black Hander" and "disapproved of terroristic methods." I can confirm this from personal experience. During the winter of 1918-9 I was at Zagreb for six weeks and saw Milan almost every day and discussed all these matters, talking also with others who knew him intimately. I also made inquiries at Sarajevo. Everyone agreed that Milan had held the cultural idea, no one suggested that he knew of or took part in the plot. Seton-Watson in 1911 termed him "a garrulous visionary" and this rather unkind designation hits off a certain aspect of him which was generally admitted. Such a man would not be likely to be told secrets. He was ideal for propaganda. My own notion of him was of an enthusiastic dreamer, with a tremendous belief in moral ideals, but also with a markedly chivalrous strain in his nature even towards personal opponents. Of all Jugoslavs I have ever met he seemed to me the very last man to countenance assassination. That was not his way, for he thought moral ideals were stronger than material ones. Personal impressions may of course be mistaken; but this kind of evidence, of which much could be adduced from other sources, is at least as good as the vague charges made against him by informers or opponents.
If the Narodna Odbrana was innocent of terrorism, at any rate the Black Hand[ix] was not. It avowedly represented terrorism in an extreme form and "Apis" and Tankositch were its typical representatives. It is obvious, in fact, that the Austro-Hungarian police at the trial had mixed up Black Hand and Narodna Odbrana. The mistake was very natural, for some persons were members of both, a very important fact. Further, there is some evidence that the Black Hand at times used the Narodna Odbrana as cover for its extremes. One thing, however, is very important in this connection. The Regent Alexander and Pashitch have been accused of complicity in the plot. But it is not denied that Alexander was deeply offended with the Black Hand and had withdrawn his patronage from the society. Nor is it denied that Pashitch was at daggers drawn both with "Apis" and with his society and was only awaiting the result of the general election to crush both of them at one blow. The methods of the Black Hand, i.e., terrorism at all costs, were not such as to appeal to statesmen. "Apis," it seems, was mad enough to think that Austria-Hungary could be paralyzed by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. But no one can believe that either Alexander or Pashitch thought that this was possible.
As has been well pointed out by Schmitt, the arguments of common sense in 1914 were all for delay and for avoidance of all provocation of Austria-Hungary. This policy links up interestingly enough with the view that the Serbian Government sanctioned only cultural promotion of the Jugoslav idea. The longer an active struggle could be averted the more the Jugoslav idea would have time to permeate Bosnia and Croatia -- and the more certain would it be that Serbo-Croat soldiers would not fight against the Serbs in case of war, and the nearer came the ultimate paralysis of the Hapsburg Empire. If a gradual cultural influence was to sap the Hapsburg state, time was needed and terrorism must be discountenanced. For the existence of terrorism would discredit, and perhaps lead to the discovery and suppression of, the cultural crusade. What is really interesting is that this silent sapping cultural process was so successful that the Sarajevo police knew only of the existence, and really nothing of the ramifications, of the Narodna Odbrana.
It seems therefore that the Serbian Government must be acquitted of any connection with the Black Hand, or of any direct complicity in the plot. The thing of which they can perhaps be accused is that of having known something of the plot beforehand, and of having failed to warn the Hapsburg Government. Lyuba Jovanovitch[x] in his famous indiscretion stated, in brief, that Pashitch in the presence of some cabinet ministers announced that he had heard that some persons were going across the frontier to kill the Archduke and that he intended to stop them. He tried to stop them and failed, for the frontier guards, being sympathetic with the youths, let them through. The evidence at the trial seems to prove that the frontier guards acted thus on a suggestion from Belgrade. But the suggestion or a hint from Belgrade came ultimately from the Black Hand ("Apis" and Tankositch). There is no absolute proof that the government tried to stop the conspirators but failed; but I see no reason to doubt the fact.
What has since been asserted is that the Serbian Government, knowing that the assassins were now in Bosnia, did not warn Vienna. Jovan Jovanovitch, then Serb Minister at Vienna, says he warned Bilinski, the Minister for Bosnia, but he says the warning was vague, general in its terms, and given on his own authority. He denies having received instruction or suggestion from Pashitch or his government at Belgrade. Now Jovanovitch waited some years before he made any public statements on this subject, and in the interval he had been badly treated by Pashitch. With every respect for his character, I cannot help wondering if his just resentment at Pashitch has not obscured his judgment. It seems at least possible that he acted on a hint from Belgrade which he has subsequently forgotten. Pashitch was notoriously hostile to independence among his diplomats, and Jovanovitch has not convincingly explained why he dared to take so unusual a step without authority.
Now the situation was very difficult. Lyuba (not Jovan) Jovanovitch explains that the warning was not officially given because of the peculiar character of Austro-Serbian "relations." Vienna would have thought that the warning was a Serb way of preventing the Archduke going to Sarajevo, and might have become very irritated. This is quite probable in itself. But there were other very strong reasons why Pashitch had to be wary. Suppose he had given instructions as follows: "Tell Vienna that I (Pashitch) know that assassins have been provided with bombs at Belgrade and have crossed into Bosnia to kill the Archduke. I tried to stop them but failed because the frontier guards sympathized with them." Vienna would have at once seized on the admission that the conspirators had got the bombs from Belgrade. The Foreign Office at Vienna would not have believed the assertion of Pashitch that he had tried to stop them, and would have pointed out that the sympathy of the frontier guards either proved the complicity of the Serb Government or called for the most careful investigation. Vienna would thus have had better and more plausible evidence than they actually had when they drafted their ultimatum. It was, therefore, very dangerous to give a direct warning. On the other hand it was even more dangerous to give no warning at all. The plot might succeed and that would help the Black Hand and precipitate war, both of which things Pashitch wanted to avoid. The obviously right policy was therefore to give the warning, so as to make the plot fail.[xi] But it had to be given in a roundabout way, so that the Serbian Government would avoid chief responsibility for the plotters and for the compromising action of the frontier guards in enabling them to cross the frontier. To give the warning in the way Jovan Jovanovitch gave it was a very good way of getting out of the difficulty. The fact is, if we assume Pashitch to be a man with a conscience, he would certainly have warned Vienna. But if we assume him to be a man purely swayed by expedients, we must accept the logic of the position. "Apis" may have believed Franz Ferdinand's murder would avert war; but Pashitch knew that it would produce it and must have been anxious to avert it, which he could do only by authorizing some sort of warning. This conclusion was reached by me some time ago and since then has been given out independently by Fay. It has since been confirmed by two witnesses, though not of the best type.[xii]
There, then, the Serbian mystery rests. The moral initiative for assassination came from Bosnia, the materials (bombs and revolvers) and some secondary stimulation from the Black Hand came from Belgrade. The probabilities seem to me in favor of the directors of the Narodna Odbrana not being terroristic, and of the Serbian Government having given some kind of warning to Vienna. But these remain matters of opinion.
There are three other points which do not seem matters of opinion. It seems to me that Russian complicity in the plot is really impossible. Schmitt shows there is no real evidence against Hartwig, the Russian Minister, and a document published by Seton-Watson shows that Hartwig on June 24 (four days before the murder) addressed a letter to the Russian Military Attaché, then on holiday, not only suggesting that there was nothing pressing to demand his return, but stating that the military dispatches from St. Petersburg were piling up unopened on his desk![xiii] Is it possible to supply a more decisive proof of Russian innocence?
The second point is connected with the ultimatum. It is true, as Schmitt says, that the Serbian Government was not directly charged with complicity. From a technical diplomatic standpoint it was difficult so to charge any government. But the point is more technical than real. The charges practically amount to that, and the evidence then known did not justify Vienna in even making the accusations it did. And Schmitt treats this matter so fairly (I, pp. 362-3) as actually to obscure its meaning. As Grey pointed out, and as most people admit, Demand No. 5, which gave Austria-Hungary power to appoint officials who should have authority in Serbian territory, was inconsistent with Serbia's independence. And it was one of several demands infringing her sovereignty. Now the logic here is irresistible. What right had Austria-Hungary to destroy the independence of the Serbian state, unless that state in its official capacity had sanctioned or promoted the murder?
The third point need not be stressed -- because it has been admitted by both Fay and Schmitt -- viz., that Austria-Hungary's ultimatum was not meant to be accepted. Yet Musulin has stated -- and it is rumored that Berchtold is going to state -- that it was meant to be accepted. I can only refer to the words of that great diplomat, Sir Ernest Satow, when I discussed Musulin's book with him: "There are not many things of which I feel certain at my age [he was over eighty], but no one with my diplomatic experience can believe that that document was meant to be accepted." These were among the last words of a man unrivalled in Europe for his knowledge of diplomatic practice, technique and phraseology.
Alongside the picture of Serbia between June 28 and the outbreak of war we can now for the first time place an authentic description of the action of Montenegro. The pro-Serbs have always contended that King Nicholas played a double game with Serbia; they say that, while professing openly to support Serbia, he was negotiating secretly with Austria-Hungary, offering to exchange Mount Lovchen for Scutari in return for neutrality, and that he desisted from this attempt only because he feared public opinion in Montenegro. It has often been said (and sometimes thought) that these charges were slanders, and were simply pretexts to disguise the Serb design (now accomplished) of absorbing Montenegro. It is remarkable, as Schmitt points out, that these suspicions appear to be largely justified by the newly published Austrian documents. King Nicholas and his Foreign Minister are represented as saying to Vienna that "Montenegro might be forced by public opinion, altogether against the King's will, to take part, in the event of a war between the Monarchy and Serbia." And clear suggestions are made that the price of their neutrality would be Scutari. Conrad, the Austro-Hungarian chief-of-staff, commented: "Don't spare money." We do not know whether he did spare it, but it is pretty safe to assume that the Serb charges are -- in substance -- true.[xiv]
It is impossible to deal with all the other contentions in Schmitt's new book within the limits assigned. There are so many interesting suggestions. We must confine ourselves to some of great importance connected with the British entry into the war. Schmitt examines (II, pp. 40-2) Grey's attitude towards Russia. He discusses with admirable candor the question how far Grey thought it right not to object to Russian mobilization and how far this attitude encouraged her to mobilize. But I do not think Schmitt, or any other writer to date, has quite grasped England's relations to Russia at the moment. It was very important for England to be on good terms with her because of pending negotiations in Asia, and these considerations influenced her until the war became imminent. Next -- and not least important -- if Grey put pressure on Russia not to mobilize, Russia might say, "All right, we will not mobilize now, because we rely on you. You will support us, will you not, if it comes to war?" To that suggestion Grey certainly could not have said "Yes" until August 2, and probably not till the 3rd. In deciding not to condemn a Russian mobilization Grey was keeping his hands free as regards the larger question of England's coming into the war. The situation of France was different and it is not always remembered that, as in the case of Germany with Austria-Hungary, it was the duty of the ally to put on the pressure. England was not the ally even of Russia. Her situation as third party in relation to each group of allies was therefore most delicate.
Two points about which much misunderstanding has arisen may be taken here. Fortunately, Sir Austen Chamberlain's revelations, which have hardly yet been used by historians, seem to settle both. Mr. Churchill has made very grave assertions as to Sir Edward Grey. He says that after dinner on August 1 he found Asquith, Grey, Haldane and Crewe at 10 Downing Street. Churchill said he was going to finish mobilizing the fleet, though unauthorized by the Cabinet. Grey said to him [Churchill], not apparently in the hearing of the others: "I have just done a very important thing. I have told Cambon [the French Ambassador] that we [England] shall not allow the German fleet to come into the Channel."[xv] Schmitt quotes this and says quite rightly: "There is no record of this conversation in the published British or French documents." He assumes, however, that it is true, and that Asquith had sanctioned this action without waiting for the Cabinet. Here I think our admirable guide "nods," for it seems practically certain that Churchill misinterpreted the facts of Grey's interview with Cambon on August 1. Grey wrote a dispatch on this day in which he says that he refused to give Cambon the pledge required -- i.e., defense of the northern coasts of France. But Grey says that he added: "The French might be sure that the German fleet would not pass through the Channel, for fear that we should take the opportunity of intervening, when the German fleet would be at our mercy."[xvi] Thus Grey indicated the probability that the Germans would not attack the French fleet in the Channel, but refused to assure Cambon that the English fleet would intervene to prevent them. His dispatch goes on: "I promised, however, to see whether we could give any assurance that, in such circumstances, we would intervene." Now there seems to be good evidence that no such assurance was given by Grey to Cambon at any time until the afternoon of August 2. After the August 1 interview with Grey, Cambon went out and complained to Sir Arthur Nicolson (Permanent Under-Secretary): "Ils vont nous lâcher." Sir Arthur was much moved. He went and spoke angrily to Grey and afterwards wrote an urgent minute to him, based on a suggestion of Cambon's. This was acknowledged by Sir Edward Grey as follows: "I have spoken to the P[rime] M[inister] and attach great importance to the point being settled tomorrow (i.e., August 2). E. G. 1/8/14."[xvii] This document suggests that he gave no assurance on the 1st. There is other evidence. George Lloyd (now Lord Lloyd) was acting as intermediary between Cambon and the leaders of the Conservatives in opposition. Cambon told him on the 1st, apparently in the afternoon or evening, that England would give no assurances to France. He added -- in the one undiplomatic utterance of his life -- "Honor, does England know what honor means?"
Cambon was thus in despair because Grey had refused to give him an assurance. Now if Churchill is right, Grey had given Cambon an assurance anyhow before 8 p.m. on the 1st. But at about 11 a.m. on the 2nd, Lloyd gave Sir Austen Chamberlain a paper which he had just received from the French Embassy, of which the text exists. The important part for our purpose is: "Private. Grey tells Cambon we probably shall not allow an attack on French coasts." Now this was an authorized communication from the French Embassy to the leaders of the Opposition, describing Cambon's view of the attitude of Grey up to 11 a.m. on the 2nd. It does not quite agree with Grey's own quoted version. Cambon assents Grey said that "England will probably not allow," Grey asserts he said that "Germany will not venture upon," an attack upon French coasts. But the two versions agree that Grey discussed only "probabilities," and that no assurance, as stated by Churchill, was given to Cambon on the 1st or before 11 a.m. on the 2nd.[xviii] Whether Grey gave an assurance verbally on the 1st or not, all agree that he gave the required written assurance to Cambon after 2 p.m. on the 2nd, Churchill says at 2:20 p.m., Chamberlain at 4 p.m., anyhow before 4:45 p.m. That Churchill misunderstood Grey on the 1st is made clear by Sir Austen's evidence as well as by that of Grey and even of Cambon. At that time of fever and excitement, when Churchill was seeking for any pretext to finish mobilizing the fleet, misunderstanding was easy. He did go off and finish mobilizing the fleet on the 1st. But it is impossible now, in the face of the evidence, to assert that Grey gave an assurance to Cambon about defending the French coasts on the 1st, when evidence direct from Cambon himself denies he did.
One more point -- again from Sir Austen's evidence -- can perhaps be quoted. Sazonov and Poincaré have asserted, and others with wearisome reiteration have repeated, that there would have been no war if England had said -- early in the crisis, at any rate at some time before August 1 -- that she would stand by France and Russia if they were attacked. Now it is, of course, quite arguable that this bold stand by Great Britain might have succeeded in averting war. But it is not arguable, in view of evidence soon to be quoted, that Grey could at any time have given this pledge before August 2nd. If any such pledge were to be possible, it would have required a long process of education among the less directly interested ministers and long discussions in the Cabinet of what Lord Sanderson wrote that Cabinets never satisfactorily discussed -- that is, of potentialities. For not discussing such potentialities, at some date or year previous to July 24, 1914,[xix] Grey and Asquith may have been to blame, though such discussion is extremely alien to the mind of the British politician. But, as the evidence will show, it is not fair to blame them for not adopting this attitude after July 24. The majority of the Cabinet were absolutely against any such action till the 2nd or even till the 3rd of August. The Cabinet was sitting constantly and Grey kept reporting to it. It was absolutely impossible for him to have given a pledge on his own responsibility even had he himself desired to do so.
British Cabinets always keep their secrets well. There is not much published hitherto, except Asquith's diary, which is in the exactest sense contemporary. The accounts of Grey, Churchill, Morley and some others are influenced -- to some extent, at least -- by subsequent revelations, and all, even Asquith's diary, are necessarily individual in their point of view. But Sir Austen has revealed a document expressing the sense of the Cabinet as a whole on August 2, at the most crucial moment of decision. It is most regrettable that its whole text has not been published. The Cabinet had received promise of Conservative support in case of war and this probably influenced its decision about giving the assurance to Cambon. It rose at 2 p.m. on Sunday, the 2nd, and Grey gave assurance to Cambon soon afterwards.
Some time in the afternoon of the 2nd, Asquith gave a memorandum to Bonar Law which was discussed by some of the Conservative leaders in the evening. This memorandum was intended to express the policy of the Cabinet and is described by Sir Austen Chamberlain in the following terms: "It was most unsatisfactory. It stated that we were under no obligations to France. We rather inconsistently admitted immediately afterwards that the disposition of the French fleet made it impossible for us to allow the German fleet to attack them in the Channel [i.e., the assurance to Cambon]. It referred us to Mr. Gladstone's declaration (Hansard 203, 1887)[xx] for the Government's view of the obligations of the Treaty of Guarantee of Belgium. It admitted that it was a British interest not to see France crushed. But the whole document appeared extremely wavering and looked as if the Government were searching for excuses to do nothing."
At an interview held between Lansdowne, Bonar Law and Asquith before the Cabinet of August 3 at 10:30 a.m., the Prime Minister revealed that his memorandum "did not represent his real state of mind. He apparently was with Grey and Winston Churchill, but was mainly occupied in trying to preserve as large a portion of his Cabinet as possible." A Cabinet was held by Asquith soon after this interview on the 3rd. It was known by then that Belgium had received an ultimatum from Germany, and though Asquith doubted the truth of the statement before the interview, it seems to have been assumed as certain at the Cabinet. To judge by the evidence available, the state of uncertainty in the Cabinet had been cleared up even before it met. The waverers had rallied to the Grey-Asquith side in spite of certain resignations being inevitable. Decisions were then taken. Formal sanction was given to the completed mobilization of the fleet and to the immediate mobilization of the army. These were all the decisions the Cabinet itself ever took. Grey's speech in the afternoon of the 3rd decided the country, and the ultimatum to Germany, the declaration of war, and the dispatch of the Expeditionary Force were all on the authority of the Prime Minister acting with individual colleagues. But all were, in effect, anticipated by the decisions of the Cabinet on the 3rd of August.
If Sir Austen is right, and Asquith's memorandum seems to prove it, a curious situation still existed on August 2. The assurance to Cambon was accepted by him as decisive. "I calculated that the game was won. . . . A great country does not make war by half." But, despite assertions to the contrary, the "extremely wavering" memorandum of Asquith seems to prove that this was not the case and that the Cabinet had on the 2nd decided on what they thought was a half-measure, and probably one which they did not think would necessarily mean war.
Here, then, is the key to the whole situation in Great Britain during the days of crisis. If Asquith only with great difficulty and after disclosing promises of Conservative support, brought the Cabinet to give Cambon the assurance of the 2nd, it is quite clear that no suggestion of England going into the war could possibly have been accepted by the Cabinet before that date.
Whatever, therefore, were the merits of the Poincaré-Sazonov suggestion that England should have declared herself earlier than she did, the suggestion was not practical politics. The earliest day at which any decision was reached by the British Cabinet was August 2, and it is very doubtful if the decision then reached was regarded by the majority as committing them to war. The steps taken on the 3rd were more decisive, as is shown by the resignations of Morley and Burns. And on that day we may assume that the majority of the Cabinet had decided on war or at least to run the risk of it.
This survey of the immediate origins of the war has touched only two points, Serbia and Great Britain. For reasons of space all other questions have been omitted. Yet it may be that on these two cardinal points decisions ultimately turned. Had there been no contacts between these two poles the lightning might not have flamed forth. The murderous tendencies of certain Bosnians, aided by one or two Serbs, involved the governments of their respective countries and produced the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum. But it was just because these events were so remote -- and the interests of England in the Balkans so small -- that the English Cabinet held so long aloof from the struggle. Little sympathy with Serbia was felt in England until the Continent was involved in the struggle and Belgium at length threatened. It is one of the most profoundly interesting studies in history to note how the actions of a few individuals in a remote corner of Europe eventually involved the fortunes not only of nearer and more interested neighbors but of a great Empire which knew and cared very little about them. It was said of Pitt when he decided to enter the European war in 1793 that his decision was the most important of any belligerent, for England alone had it in her power to remain neutral. It was added, "With every justification for war, the highest wisdom would have chosen peace." It is an interesting question for Americans to decide, whether either of these observations applies to Great Britain's entry into the war in 1914.
[i] "The Origins of the World War." By Sidney B. Fay. New York, Macmillan, 1928. Reviewed by Pierre Renouvin in FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Vol. VII, No. 3.
[ii] Responsibility for the War: Quarterly Review, Budapest, July-October 1928, p. 17. This is not even a correct quotation. Lichnowsky telegraphed: "Sir William Tyrrell informs me that the Government here has no news of any kind about the mobilization of the whole Russian army and navy." Whole, which I have italicized, is omitted, and the omission makes all the difference to the meaning. Cf. Gooch & Temperley, "British Documents on the Origins of the War," Vol. XI, p. 218. Note to No. 347. Some discussion has arisen as to the delay over the arrival of the telegram announcing general mobilization, but it has been impossible to find that London knew anything about it before 5:20 p.m. on the 31st except via Lichnowsky.
[iii] "British Documents on the Origins of the War." Edited by G. P. Gooch and H. Temperley, Vol. XI, p. 181. No. 285.
[iv] Gooch and Temperley, op. cit., pp. 39-40. No. 50; p. 41. No. 53; pp. 44-5. No. 56; p. 45. No. 57.
[v] Cf. Gooch and Temperley, op. cit., p. 36. No. 44. Sir H. Rumbold writes "I asked von Jagow at his weekly reception what news he had from Servia. He replied that he had none, but added that if the Servian press continued to use the language it did, matters would become serious." Thus von Jagow admits that he has heard about the Servian press but denies that he has any (i.e., any authoritative) information. Rumbold reports this without any comment, thus showing that he knows this will be understood at home.
[vi] An equally groundless statement was made by one of the officials at the trial. One of the accused feared to give evidence against Major Tankositch. He was at once assured Tankositch was dead, a statement which was wholly untrue.
[vii] In Bosnia-Herzegovina, the revolt originated in Nevesinje and is always spoken of as the Nevesinje insurrection. It is significant that the official guidebook, issued by the Austro-Hungarians, carefully omitted all reference to this interesting and picturesque town.
[viii] Schmitt, I, p. 235.
[ix] The correct name is "Union or Death," but that of "Black Hand" was common and is convenient.
[x] Seton-Watson has given strong reasons for suspecting his story, but Fay and Schmitt point to the artlessness of the narrative and this is certainly rather convincing.
[xi] Schmitt enumerates six pieces of evidence in favor of Pashitch having given a warning, and then shows the difficulty of accepting each (I, pp. 241-4). I admit the difficulties, but think the moral probabilities in favor of the view in the text.
[xii] Magrini, "Il Dramma di Seraievo," pp. 106-7, quoted by Schmitt. One of these witnesses is likely to have known the truth. But the statements are reported by an Italian journalist and are rather of the "hearsay" type, and some other statements in the book are incorrect.
[xiii] Slavonic Review, March 1928, p. 710. The document was supplied by Artamonov, the military attaché to whom it was addressed.
[xiv] Schmitt: II, pp. 456-7. I may say that a study of the Austrian documents as a whole, to which he refers, is even more convincing as to general impressions.
[xv] Churchill, "The World Crisis," Vol. I, p. 231. Schmitt, II, p. 356.
[xvi] Gooch and Temperley, op. cit., p. 260. No. 447. Italics my own.
[xvii] Nicolson, "Portrait of a Diplomatist," p. 304. Sir Austen Chamberlain's revelations are in the Sunday Times, December 1 and 8, 1929, based on a contemporary diary and documents.
[xviii] Wickham Steed ("Through Thirty Years," II, p. 14) says he had a conversation on the lines of Lloyd with Cambon at midday on the 2nd. Unfortunately Roux (Revue des Deux Mondes, August 15, 1926, p. 739), quoting Cambon, puts this conversation on the evening of the 1st.
[xix] This was the date at which the Cabinet began to sit almost en permanence, after it recognized the seriousness of the crisis.
[xx] This reference is, I think, wrong, and should really be Third Series, Vol. 203, p. 1787.