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Important Links. Follow Us. App Download. Petersburg and the French military attache in Berlin. All this is deeply puzzling, given all the problems of a military nature Schmidt had discussed earlier in the book. There was obviously something wrong here—an enormous disconnect between the hard-headed technical military analysis and the rosy overall assessment of the military balance that people had come to accept. Fischer, to support his general argument, had also pointed out that German officers were delighted when they heard that war had broken out, and he argued that the German leadership had been more interested in making it seem that Germany was fighting a purely defensive war than in avoiding an armed conflict—a policy he views as successful, at least in internal political terms.
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The government has managed brilliantly to make us appear the attacked. The French, moreover, were certainly concerned with making it seem, again both with an eye to Britain and for domestic political reasons, that they were fighting a purely defensive war.
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People like Poincare were under no illusion that the French people would happily go to war for the sake of Serbia; the fact that the war began with a German attack on France and that Germany declared war on their country before they had to declare war on Germany, was exactly what they wanted. But again, as Schmidt makes quite clear, French leaders also accepted the risk of a European war with open eyes. And if not, we still have to confront the very basic issue of how war could come if no one really wanted it to. People talk in particular about the role the military system that was in place at the time played in bringing on the war.
But the great premium that was placed on the offense in prewar military planning, especially in the French case, meant that the bar was placed very high—that it was very difficult to generate the sort of military superiority that would allow such plans to succeed. And if they had little chance of success, one would think that if they were rational there would be a certain reluctance to go to war in such a world—that in other words, a world in which military planning was based on the belief that offensive military action was essential in the event of war might be more stable than many people think.
It is often assumed that serious problems were bound to develop in such a world—that the struggle for security put states at odds with each other, that states responding rationally to the pressures they felt in that kind of world would pursue policies that could easily lead to war. Or should one criticize it for not being realist enough? The French, like the Germans, were dazzled by what they saw as the rise of Russian power. If France were cut off from the other powers in that way, she would be at the mercy of Germany.
It would mean the end of French independence.
One gets the sense that that policy was rooted not in cold power political analysis but in a visceral dislike of Germany. There was little sense, for example, that France did not have a God-given right to take over Morocco, or that Austria might have had a real case against Serbia and that it was in some measure understandable that Austria might want to deal with the problem on her southern border before it was too late.
After all, as Schmidt shows, the French government knew quite well what Serbian policy was—that is, it knew from the reports of its own representatives in Belgrade how violent and warlike that policy was. These people in were not the victims of forces they were unable to control. The tragedy did not come because they were reacting in the only way they reasonably could to the situation in which they found themselves. It came because of decisions they made, decisions that could easily have been different—decisions, in fact, that remain deeply puzzling.
By Isabella Massey, vol. See ibid. This book was first published in German in This book was first published in Germany in Many other writers have stressed this point. The Schlieffen Plan, for example, was a godsend to leaders like Poincare, since it allowed them to portray the war as purely defensive and thus to rally their own people behind the war effort. The military advantages of being the first to mobilize, such as they were, were vastly outweighed in a world where mobilization meant war by the political price one would have to pay—in this case, coming across as the aggressor and allowing the enemy government to get its own citizens to support what would now be portrayed as a defensive war.
The same sort of point can be made about Japanese strategy at the end of , and especially the decision to attack Pearl Harbor rather than limit their attack to the European possessions in southeast Asia. Like this: Like Loading The Russian Agriculture Minister Alexander Krivoshein , who was especially trusted by Nicholas, argued that Russia was not militarily ready for a conflict with Germany and Austria-Hungary, and that it could achieve its objectives with a cautious approach.
On 25 July , the council of ministers was held in Krasnoye Selo at which Tsar Nicholas II decided to intervene in the Austro-Serbian conflict, a step toward general war. He put the Russian army on alert on 25 July. Although this was not mobilization, it threatened the German and Austrian borders and looked like a military declaration of war.
Despite the fact that she had no alliance with Serbia, the Council agreed to a secret partial mobilisation of over one million men of the Russian Army and the Baltic and Black Sea Fleets. It is worth stressing, since this is a cause of some confusion in general narratives of the war, that this was done prior to the Serbian rejection of the ultimatum, the Austrian declaration of war on 28 July or any military measures taken by Germany.
As a diplomatic move this had limited value since the Russians did not make this mobilisation public until 28 July. In addition Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Sazonov believed that war was inevitable and refused to acknowledge that Austria-Hungary had a right to counter measures in the face of Serbian irredentism. On the contrary, Sazonov had aligned himself with the irredentism, and expected the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Crucially, the French had provided their clear support for their Russian allies for a robust response in their recent state visit just days before.
Christopher Clark states, "It would be difficult to overstate the historical importance of the meetings of 24 and 25 July",  as it emboldened Serbia and raised the stakes for Germany, which was still hoping for a conflict localized to the Balkans. Russian policy was to pressure the Serbs to accept the ultimatum as much as possible without being humiliated too much. Petersburg, the acting head of the French government, Jean-Baptiste Bienvenu-Martin took no line on the ultimatum.
On 25 July, Grey suggested again that Germany inform Austria that the Serbian reply to the Austrian ultimatum was "satisfactory". Petersburg wants a war".
Jagow accepted the Franco-Russian offer as it offered the best chance to sever Britain from France and Russia. On 26 July, Berchtold rejected Grey's mediation offer, and wrote that if a localization should not prove possible, then the Dual Monarchy was counting, "with gratitude", on Germany's support "if a struggle against another adversary is forced on us".
Petersburg stated that the principal aim of German foreign policy now was to make it appear that Russia had forced Germany into a war, in order to keep Britain neutral and ensure that German public opinion would back the war effort. On 26 July, in St. Austrian demands" and willing to do almost anything to save the peace. Grey stated that a compromise solution could be worked out if Germany and Britain were to work together.
Conrad wanted to wait until a military offensive was ready, while Berchtold thought that the diplomatic window for a retaliatory strike would have passed by then. On 27 July, Grey sent another peace proposal through Prince Lichnowsky asking for Germany to use its influence on Austria-Hungary to save the peace. Petersburg if Germany should "counsel moderation in Vienna, since Serbia had fulfilled nearly every point".
On 28 July, after reading Serbia's reply, Wilhelm commented, " But that eliminates any reason for war"  or " every cause for war falls to the ground". Wilhelm's sudden change of mind about war enraged Bethmann Hollweg, the military, and the diplomatic service, who proceeded to sabotage Wilhelm's offer.
The Kaiser wants peace He even wants to influence Austria and to stop continuing further. General Falkenhayn told Wilhelm he "no longer had control of the affair in his own hands". Bethmann Hollweg mentioned two favourable conditions for war in his telegram to Vienna: that Russia be made to appear the aggressor forcing a reluctant Germany into war, and that Britain be kept neutral.
Later, on 27 July, Austria-Hungary started to complete the preparations for war. We must therefore avoid any action [that] might cut the line, which has so far worked so well, between Germany and Britain". In London, Grey told a meeting of the British Cabinet that they now had to decide whether to choose neutrality if war did come or to enter the conflict. Our attitude gives rise to the opinion that we want war at any price. Moltke ended his assessment with: "We shall never hit it again so well as we do now.
I appeal to you to help me. An ignoble war has been declared on a weak country Soon I shall be overwhelmed by pressure brought upon me To try and avoid such as a calamity as a European war, I beg you in the name of our old friendship to do what you can to stop your allies from going too far. Shortly after declaring war on Serbia, Conrad informed the Germans that Austria-Hungary could not start operations until 12 August, to much fury in Berlin.
But a successful war on three fronts viz, in Serbia, Russia and France can not be initiated and carried on such a basis.