In the beforehand hours that July 29, 1914, Czar Nicholas II that Russia and his first cousin, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, start a frantic exchange that telegrams about the newly erupted war in the Balkan region and the possibility of its escalation into a general European war.

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One work prior, Austria-Hungary had claimed war top top Serbia, one month ~ the assassination in Sarajevo the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by a Serbian nationalist. In the wake of the killings, Germany had actually promised Austria-Hungary its unconditional support in every little thing punitive activity it determined to take in the direction of Serbia, nevertheless of whether or not Serbia’s powerful ally, Russia, stepped right into the conflict. By the time an ultimatum indigenous Vienna come Serbia was rejected top top July 25, Russia, defying Austro-German expectations, had currently ordered preliminary mobilization come begin, believing that Berlin was using the assassination situation as a pretext come launch a war to shore up its power in the Balkans.


The relationship between Nicholas and also Wilhelm, two grandsons that Britain’s Queen Victoria, had actually long to be a rocky one. Though Wilhelm explained himself as Victoria’s favourite grandson, the great queen consequently warned Nicholas come be careful of Wilhelm’s “mischievous and also unstraight-forward proceedings.” Victoria did no invite the kaiser, who she defined to her prime minister as “a hot-headed, conceited, and also wrong-headed young man,” to her Diamond Jubilee celebration in 1897, nor her 80th birthday 2 years later. Czar Nicholas himself commented in 1902 after a meeting through Wilhelm: “He’s raving mad!” Now, however, the two cousins stood in ~ the center of the dilemm that would soon escalate into the first World War.


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“In this serious moment, ns appeal come you to assist me,” Czar Nicholas composed to the kaiser in a telegram sent out at one o’clock on the morning of July 29. “An ignoble war has actually been claimed to a weak country. The indignation in Russia shared completely by me is enormous. I foresee that really soon ns shall it is in overwhelmed by the pressure forced upon me and also be forced to take too much measures i beg your pardon will result in war.” This article crossed through one from Wilhelm come Nicholas expressing concern around the effect of Austria’s declaration in Russia and also urging calm and also consideration together a response.

After receiving the czar’s telegram, Wilhelm cabled back: “I…share your wish the peace should be maintained. But…I cannot take into consideration Austria’s action against Serbia an ‘ignoble’ war. Austria knows by endure that Serbian assures on file are completely unreliable. I know its action must be judged as trending to get complete guarantee the the Serbian guarantees shall come to be real facts…I therefore suggest the it would certainly be quite possible for Russia to continue to be a spectator the the Austro-Serbian dispute without entailing Europe in the many horrible battle she ever before witnessed.” despite Wilhelm assured the czar that the German government was functioning to broker an agreement in between Russia and also Austria-Hungary, he warned that if Russia were to take army measures versus Austria, war would it is in the result.

The telegram exchange ongoing over the next couple of days, together the two males spoke of their desire to keep peace, also as their particular countries ongoing mobilizing because that war. On July 30, the kaiser composed to Nicholas: “I have actually gone come the utmost borders of the feasible in my initiatives to save peace….Even now, you can still save the tranquility of Europe by stopping your army measures.” The adhering to day, Nicholas replied: “It is technically impossible to avoid our military preparations which to be obligatory fan to Austria’s mobilization. We are far from wishing because that war. As lengthy as the negotiations with Austria ~ above Serbia’s account are occurring my troops shall not make any kind of provocative action. I provide you my solemn word for this.” yet by that time things had gone too far: Emperor Franz Josef had actually rejected the kaiser’s mediation offer, speak it came also late, together Russia had already mobilized and also Austrian troops were already marching on Serbia.


The German ambassador to Russia delivered an ultimatum the night—halt the mobilization in ~ 12 hours, or Germany would begin its very own mobilization, a step that would certainly logically proceed to war. By four o’clock in the afternoon of respectable 1, in Berlin, no reply had come from Russia. At a meeting v Germany’s civilian and also military leaders—Chancellor Theobald Bethmann von Hollweg and General Erich von Falkenhayn—Kaiser Wilhelm i agreeed to sign the mobilization orders.

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That very same day, in his last contribution to what were referred to as the “Willy-Nicky” telegrams, Czar Nicholas pressed the kaiser for assurance the his mobilization go not definitely mean war. Wilhelm’s an answer was dismissive. “I yesterday stated to your government the way by i m sorry alone war might be avoided….I have…been obliged to mobilize my army. Prompt affirmative clear and also unmistakable answer indigenous your federal government is the only means to avoid countless misery. Until I have received this price alas, ns am can not to talk about the topic of her telegram. Together a issue of reality I should request you to immediatly order her troops ~ above no account come commit the little act the trespassing end our frontiers.” Germany asserted war on Russia that very same day.