Telegrams to the Kaiser during the July crisis (1914)

The following telegrams were dispatched from German ambassadors and diplomats to Wilhelm II during the July crisis of 1918. The kaiser’s annotations on each telegram are also recorded:

June 30th 1914
From the German Ambassador at Vienna:
…Here I hear even serious people express the desire of settling accounts with the Serbs once for all. A series of conditions should be sent to the Serbs, and, if they did not accept these, energetic steps should be taken. I take advantage of every such opportunity for quietly but earnestly discouraging precipitate [hasty] measures.

(Kaiser: Who told him to do this? It is very foolish. This does not concern him in the least. It is entirely Austria’s affair to decide what it is to do.)

July 10th 1914
From the German Ambassador at Vienna:
His Majesty discussed the situation with the greatest calm. Then he expressed his cordial thanks for the attitude of our august Sovereign and of the Imperial Government and declared that he now shared our opinion completely, that he thought as we did, that decision must be reached in order to put an end to the intolerable state of affairs in Serbia.

July 14th 1914
From the German Ambassador in Vienna:
The Count told me that he had been the man who had always advised prudence, but that every day had strengthened his opinion that the Monarchy must come to an energetic decision in order to give proof of its vitality and put an end to the intolerable state of affairs existing in the south-east. As to the time for the delivery [of an ultimatum] to Serbia, it has been decided that it would be better to await the departure of [the French leader] Poincaré from St. Petersburg on July 25th.

(Kaiser: That is too bad.)

July 21st 1914
From the German Ambassador in Constantinople
Not only Bulgaria, but also Rumania and Turkey, would range themselves unreservedly on the side of the Triple Alliance, if Austria should administer a severe lesson to Serbia.

(Kaiser: We shall remind these gentlemen of this at the right moment.)

July 24th 1914
From the German Ambassador in London:
But he [British foreign minister Sir Edward Grey] doubted very much that it would be possible for the Russian Government to advise the Serbian Government to accept the Austrian demands without reservation. A state accepting such terms would cease to count among independent states.

(Kaiser: It is not a state in the European sense of the word, it is a band of criminals!)

July 25th 1914
From the German foreign minister in Berlin:
The text of the Austrian note [ultimatum to Serbia] was written in such an aggressive and awkward fashion that public opinion in Europe and Italy would be against Austria (Kaiser: Piffle!) and so the Italian Government could oppose it… My impression is that the only way to keep Italy in the Alliance is to promise her compensations in case Austria proceeds to make annexation of territory.

(Kaiser: Yes, the little thief wants to gobble up something whenever the rest do.)

July 29th 1914
From the German Ambassador in London:
Sir Edward Grey has just summoned me. The Minister was absolutely calm, but very serious, and he received me with the word that the situation was becoming more and more tense. But he deemed mediation an urgent necessity of those concerned did not with to have things become a European catastrophe.

(Kaiser: There should be a warning to St. Petersburg and Paris to the effect that England would not help them; it would immediately calm matters. England uncovers herself, now that she thinks we are chasing scarecrows… The vile rabble of shopkeepers seeks to deceive us with dinner and speeches… [Grey] knows quite well that if he said one single word in earnest and energetically to Paris and St. Petersburg and invited them to be neutral, both would instantly be quiet. But, instead of this, he threatens us! The ignoble clown! Vile dog’s excrement! England alone bears the responsibility for war or peace, it is no longer us! This must be proved publicly!)

July 29th 1914
From the German Ambassador in London:
Sir Edward Grey has just read me the following declaration which has been unanimously adopted by the [British] Cabinet:: “His Majesty’s Governnment cannot for a moment entertain the [German] chancellor’s proposal that they should bind themselves to neutrality on such terms… it would be a disgrace for us to make this bargain with Germany at the expense of France, a disgrace from which the good name of this country would never recover. The chancellor also asks us to bargain away whatever obligation or interest to the neutrality of Belgium. We could not entertain that bargain either. We must preserve our full freedom to act, as circumstances may seem to us to require…

(Kaiser: The rubbish talked by this man Grey shows that he has absolutely no idea what he ought to do.)

When I asked him whether, if we respected Belgian neutrality, he could give me a definite declaration that Great Britain would remain neutral, the Minister answered that this was not possible for him, but that this question would play a great role in public opinion here…

(Kaiser: What a low cheat!)

He had also asked himself if it would not be possible for us and for France, in case of a war [between Germany and Russia] to stand opposite each other without attacking. I asked him whether Britain was in a position to suggest France would enter into an agreement of this nature.

(Kaiser: The fellow is insane or an idiot! Moreover, the French began the war by having their aviators throw bombs. Mr Grey is a low scoundrel…)