Sidney Bradshaw Fay : The Origins of the World War
chapter 5 continued


Hitherto we have been considering the Balkan Problems chiefly from the point of view of the rival interests of Austria and Russia and the nationalist aspirations of the Balkan States themselves.  In the latter part of 1913 the appointment of the German General Liman von Sanders at Constantinople caused friction between Russia and Germany, which for several reasons deserves more attention than it has usually been given.  It was the last diplomatic crisis of importance before July, 1914, and, like the latter, involved the influence and prestige of these two Great Powers in the Near East.  But it is a good example of how such a crisis can be settled, if there is sufficient good will on both sides.  Its satisfactory settlement is a proof of the proposition that war is not “inevitable.”  We are at last in fairly full possession of the essential documents relating to the affair,249 and are therefore able to follow the inner workings of Sazonov’s mind, with its blunt rudeness of expression, its fickle alternations of pessimism and optimism, its fear of Russian “public opinion,” and its dangerous inclination to resort to military measures as a “bluff” to force a diplomatic victory.  We are also enabled to get an insight into the domestic cross currents at St. Petersburg, the secret workings of the Triple Entente, and the exceedingly moderate and conciliatory attitude of Germany.

M. Sazonov was highly indignant when he heard in November, 1913, that a German General, Liman von Sanders, was to command Turkish troops at Constantinople.  In his mind it was a sly, unjustifiable, and not-to-be-permitted move on Germany’s part to gain further power and prestige in the Ottoman Empire and so to thwart Russia in her “historic mission” of securing control of Constantinople and the Straits-regions which he curiously but significantly speaks of as “bordering on our frontier.”  He instantly telegraphed from Ialta in the Crimea to the Russian Ambassador in Berlin:

Learning about the agreement of Germany with Turkey relating to the military instructors, I am extremely astonished that this serious question was not touched upon by the [German] Chancellor at the time of my frank and friendly explanations with him.  Of itself, a German Military Mission in regions bordering on our frontier could not but provoke violent irritation, in Russian public opinion, and would certainly be interpreted as an act manifestly hostile to us.  Especially also, the placing of Turkish troops in Constantinople under a German general must necessarily arouse suspicion and apprehension among us.  Please speak in this sense to the German Government.250

Sazonov’s indignation was shared and whetted by M. Delcassé—though for somewhat different reasons.  The French Ambassador feared it foreshadowed a German “attempt to bring about a seizure of Turkey by the Triple Alliance Powers, to which the Triple Entente could not shut its eyes without prejudice to itself.” 251  Germany already enjoyed tremendous economic and political power in Asia Minor because of the Bagdad Railway, Delcassé argued;  now she would have a fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean and be getting a naval base and coaling station for it.  Italy, too, would get concessions—the building of a harbor and railway at Adalia and the establishment of an Italian sphere of influence in southern Asia Minor.  Austria would likewise want something for herself.  As far as Italian and Austrian ambitions in Asia Minor were concerned, Delcassé was not so far astray;  but Germany was opposed to satisfying them, even though they were her allies, fearing that the other Powers would demand similar “compensations,” and that this would mean the final carving up of Turkey.  To this surgical operation Germany was strongly opposed at this time, because she feared it might lead to a conflict between the Great Powers;  and also because, being tolerably well situated in Asiatic Turkey and enjoying much influence at Constantinople, she wanted to preserve the status quo as long as possible, or at least until the Powers could agree upon an amicable and mutually satisfactory basis of division.252  A few days later Delcassé sent the French Government the gloomy warning:  “The falling to pieces of Turkey has already begun, or is about to begin, and Germany will occupy a position guaranteeing to her all the advantages of a partition.”253

The Liman von Sanders Mission originated with the Young Turk desire to westernize and modernize the administration of the Ottoman Empire.  Soon after seizing power they had invited a number of distinguished foreigners to help them:  two Frenchmen, M. Laurent, as financial adviser, and M. Baumann, to train the Turkish gendarmerie;  a French trained jurisconsult, M. Léon Ostrorog, to assist in judicial reforms;  Sir Richard Crawford to reorganize the customs service;  Sir William Willcocks to start irrigation works in Mesopotamia;  two other Englishmen, Admiral Sir Douglas Gamble and Admiral Limpus were to reorganize and train the navy, while a German General, Von der Goltz, who had already been in Turkish service, was to spend part of his time in training the Turkish army.

Von der Goltz, however, had found his position difficult on account of the lack of unity among the Young Turk officers, their tendency to mix politics with military matters, and their unwise system of promotions.  He also complained of the lack of authority in his own hands, and eventually abandoned the work.254  The old Turkish officers and soldiers, into whom he had tried to infuse Prussian discipline and methods, proved poor material, and made a lamentable exhibition of themselves when Turkey was attacked by the Balkan Allies in the fall of 1912.

On January 2, 1913, during the armistice in the First Balkan War and the pending negotiations in London, the Young Turk Noradunghian confidentially asked Wangenheim, the German Ambassador in Constantinople, to find out for him as quickly as possible the terms on which the French General Eydoux had been engaged to reorganize and train the Greek army.255  He was evidently contemplating something of the same kind for Turkey after the overwhelming defeats she had suffered in the past three months.  The assassination of Nazim Pasha and the Cabinet Revolution in Constantinople, following the concessions made by the Turkish delegates in London, delayed whatever plans Noradunghian may have had in mind, but they brought into power Mahmud Shevket Pasha.  With him were a group of patriotic and determined Young Turks, who were bent on energetic reforms in Turkey, with the assistance of European advisers, as the only hope of saving their country from an early, and complete dissolution.  As Von der Goltz and his companions had already given the Turks a start in German military methods, it was obvious that Mahmud Shevket should turn to Germany rather than to any other Power for new military instructors.  Accordingly he begged the Kaiser, through the German Military Attaché in Constantinople, for the services of some Prussian officers for the strengthening of Constantinople.  The Kaiser favored the idea, and on April 2 asked his Foreign Office whether it saw any political objections to the plan, adding that the matter was not urgent, as it was not desired that the officers should go to Turkey until peace had put an end to the Balkan War.  The Foreign Office had no objections.256

Long negotiations then began between the Turkish and German military authorities, which finally resulted by November in the sighing of a definite contract for a German Military Mission of some forty-two German officers, headed by General Liman von Sanders.

Though it is commonly stated by Entente writers that Germany instigated the Liman von Sanders Mission, there is no indication of this in the German documents;  in fact, the weight of evidence is against it, and in favor of the view that it was initiated by the Turks themselves for their own salvation.257

More important, however, than the origin of the German Military Mission were its aims and potential effects viewed by the Turks, the Germans, and the Russians.

Mahmud Shevket and the Young Turks, in fear of Russian intrigues south of the Caucasus and in response to pressure for reforms in Armenia, decided in the spring of 1913 to ask for seventeen English inspectors for the Anatolian gendarmerie and civil administration.  Grey at first assented, but later cut the number down to five out of regard for Russian and German susceptibilities.258  At the same time Mahmud Shevket desired that Germany should send new military instructors to Turkey.  He believed that it was only through Anglo-German cooperation that Turkey could be regenerated.  As he explained to the German.  Ambassador on April 26, 1913:

Turkey can only bring about her resurrection if she can count on Germany and England.  That these two countries have hitherto been in opposition has been the chief cause of our misfortunes.  I must therefore take care that Turkey becomes the ground on which an Anglo-German understanding shall take place.  [After discussing the internal reforms needed, he continued.]  We have few trained and reliable officials.  Here foreign countries must help.  I shall therefore turn to the various Cabinets with a request for reformers.  For the reorganization of the army I count definitely upon Germany.  This is the most important point in my program.  The army must be reformed from the bottom up;  politics must be driven out of the [Turkish] officer group.  For this the activity of the officers of instruction, in the way they have been shoved in here and there into our organization as mere advisers, is not sufficient.  Also for the reform of education I count upon the support of the German Government.  I shall ask Italy for gendarme officers for Syria, and France for reorganizers for finance and for the postal and telegraph service.  Austria’s help I would rather not have.  On the other hand, I need the English for the different administrative branches in the provinces of North and East Anatolia. . . . The navy also will be further reformed by the English.  On the basis of a proposal by Admiral Limpus the ships will receive as commanders English officers not in active service.259

The German Ambassador listened eagerly to these plans of the Grand Vizier.  He urged Germany to accede to the request for military instructors.  He warmly welcomed Mahmud Shevket’s idea of Anglo-German cooperation for strengthening Turkey, and let his imagination wander in happy political vistas of the future:  “It opens for us prospects for an understanding with England, or at least the possibility of cooperation for the maintenance of the Turkish Empire.  On the other hand, if England should refuse such cooperation with us, she could not ignore the influence which we should acquire by our controlling position in military matters and in the instruction of the youth.  We should always be in a position through a skilful use of the German military reformers to control or paralyze possible separate efforts by the British.”260  But Wangenheim was such an optimistic enthusiast about the future of Turkey that his friends said he was “turkified,” and he was so much inclined to exceed his functions and meddle in Turkish politics that he had sometimes to be called to order by the Kaiser.261  One must therefore take his despatches with a grain of salt and be on one’s guard against accepting completely his opinions as representing those of his Government.

The Kaiser was much more skeptical, and did not altogether endorse Wangenheim’s enthusiasm.  Commenting on Mahmud Shevket’s plans quoted above, he wrote:  “Many good intentions, but much that is fantastic!  In reality this employment of various European nations for Turkey’s internal affairs is a grand bridge to intrigues and the partition of Turkey!  It is not so simple to set bounds to the Powers and restrict them to their duties!  Especially not the British;”  and he feared that a reorganized Turkish army might “also be used against us or the Bagdad Railway.”262  However, in spite of these reflections of the moment, the Kaiser had already approved the idea of German military instructors, and later urged that the slow arrangements for it be hurried up.  On the whole, as he told the Russians in the fall, he seems to have regarded the mission as primarily a military, rather than a political, affair.

The Porte early notified the British Government of the project,263 and it was discussed in a general way with the Tsar and King George upon their visit to Berlin on May 24 to attend the wedding of the Kaiser’s daughter to the Guelf Duke of Brunswick.  The Kaiser informed them of the Turkish request for German officers:  “The Tsar as well as King George were wholly agreed.  The King said:  ‘It is quite natural that they should turn to you for officers to reorganize their Army.  We are asked to send people to reorganize their Police and Gendarmerie, which we shall do.’  The Tsar also said that it was necessary to fortify the Tchataldja Line very strongly, so that the Bulgarians should not be able to get in [Constantinople].” 264

Later Sazonov repeatedly objected that the German Government had acted unfairly in concealing everything from Russia about the matter until the news came out in November.  He even complained of it to the King of Rumania at the Constanza meeting in June, 1914.  This caused the Kaiser to make the pertinent, if not parliamentary, comment:  “The old liar!  I told it in the spring personally to the Tsar;  if he did not inform Sazonov, that is not my affair. . . . If the Tsar did not tell him anything of it, he regarded the matter as not important enough to mention and as wholly natural.” 265

However, aside from the undoubted discussion by royalty at the wedding festivities in May, secrecy shrouded the plans for German officers in Turkey while the Balkan Wars (including Turkey) were still going on, and while the details of General Liman’s contract were being worked out.  Such secrecy was only natural, because their publication might bring upon the Germans “the reproach of taking sides and cause political difficulties.” 266  This secrecy was nevertheless unfortunate, both for M. Sazonov’s personal feelings and consequently for the friendly relations between Russia and Germany.  It was particularly unfortunate that no mention of the contract was made to him confidentially, when he passed through Berlin in October and had a frank and cordial discussion with the German Chancellor on the general political situation in Europe.  Sazonov not unnaturally felt injured in his feelings by what seemed to him to be a lack of reciprocal frankness and friendliness on Bethmann’s part.  Bethmann on his part was genuinely innocent of any deliberate suppressio veri.  He apparently failed to mention it simply because it did not occur to him.  This explanation accords with his character, with his statement to Kokovtsev later, and with the fact that he had really known little about the Liman von Sanders arrangement, which had mainly been made through the military and not the diplomatic channels.267

General Liman von Sanders himself knew nothing of the project until it was proposed to him on June 15.268  He was rightly believed to be a much abler man than Von der Goltz.  Never having been to Turkey, he at once began to read through his predecessor’s correspondence to get an idea of the kind of difficulties he would have to meet.  He had plenty of time for this, as it was still many months before a contract was signed with Turkey defining his powers and duties and those of the forty-one subordinate officers who eventually accompanied him.  These were details which had to be worked out by the German and Turkish military authorities.  In this connection General Liman says, and with truth:

The work of the members of the Mission was to be strictly military.  The wording of the contract shows this clearly.  The charge made on many sides, in writings and newspapers, that it was also to have political activity is wholly incorrect.269

At the end of November, when the contract was finally ready and signed, General Liman was commanded to an audience with Emperor William.  The Kaiser said to him in substance:

You must not care in the least whether the Young Turks or the Old Turks are in power.  You have only to do with the army.  Get politics out of the Turkish corps of officers.  Dabbling in politics is its greatest mistake.  In Constantinople you will meet Admiral Limpus who is at the head of the English Naval Mission.  Be on good terms with him.  He works for the navy and you for the army.  Each of you has his own separate field of work.270

On December 14, 1913, he finally arrived at the Turkish capital and was received with martial music and an honorary escort from the Constantinople Fire Department.  But already, a month before his arrival, he had become the object of a diplomatic conflict which threatened to involve Russian and German prestige, or even the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance.

On November 2, 1913, M. Giers, the Russian Ambassador at Constantinople, telegraphed to St. Petersburg announcing the rumor of a coming German Military Mission.  According to the friendly explanations of his German colleague, Baron Wangenheim, it was to be like the French Military Mission to Greece.  But three days later Giers learned that General Liman would also have command of the Turkish Army Corps stationed at Constantinople.  This was a new feature to which Russia and France at once, and eventually England, objected.  It gave General Liman quite a different position from that of Von der Goltz before him, or from that of the French military instructor in Greece.271

On the day the news of the German Military Mission reached St. Petersburg, Sazonov was absent in the Crimea making a report to the Tsar.  M. Kokovtsev, the Russian Premier and Minister of Finance, was in France arranging for the five-hundred-million-franc loan for the construction of Russian strategic railways, but he was planning to stop in Berlin on his way home to thank the Kaiser for decorating him with the Order of the Black Eagle.  It was therefore decided that Kokovtsev should take advantage of his visit in Berlin to set forth Russia’s objections to the new German Military Mission.  His report to the Tsar of his interviews with Bethmann-Hollweg and the Kaiser gives an excellent statement of the Liman von Sanders affair at the moment it became a serious diplomatic question.  After mentioning Sazonov’s injured feelings at not having been told of the projected Military Mission, Kokovtsev continues [his prolix circumlocutions being somewhat abbreviated] :

Both the Chancellor and the Emperor left me with the impression that the project was born last Spring, and that the Chancellor, according to his affirmation during a completely sincere talk, was scarcely acquainted with it.  He had merely learned that the Turkish Government had invited Germany to undertake the instruction of the Turkish army, that this question had been touched upon by the German Emperor in a private talk with Your Majesty in Berlin last May, and that Your Majesty had made no objection in principle, in view of the fact German officers have served as instructors in the Turkish army for more than twenty years;  but that afterwards the ultimate arrangements for the organization of a Model Army Corps, under German command in the capital of Turkey, had remained wholly unknown to him and had followed the routine through military departments of the Empire.

In repeated and entirely sincere talks, the Chancellor did not hide from me how particularly painful to him was the possibility of the thought that he had participated in the preparation of a project disagreeable to Russia, and that he had not given a timely notification to our Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“During my four years of office,” said Herr von Bethmann-Hollweg, “in the relations between the two Empires which are bound together by traditional ties of friendship and confidence, I have made every effort to avoid every occasion for the smallest misunderstanding, and my honesty guarantees that I shall never lend my hand to an act of disloyalty toward Russia.”  I have the impression that he was wholly sincere, and I do not think I am mistaken in judgment in saying that the very idea of an army corps at Constantinople under the command of German officers was really not known to him until the last few days just before my arrival, or even in part through my own explanations.

[After admitting the reasonableness of the Germans giving military instruction to the Turks and explaining mildly Russia’s objections to Germans exercising command over troops in Constantinople, Kokovtsev summed up] with a demand having the character of an alternative:  either give up completely the command over Turkish troops and merely exercise a right of inspection as formerly;  or, if that seemed impossible on account of the promises Germany had made to Turkey, concentrate the Model Army Corps, not at Constantinople, but at some other point, e.g. Adrianople or in Asia Minor, but naturally not near our frontier nor in the sphere of interests belonging to France.272

The suggestion that General Liman exercise his command, not at Constantinople where his presence might seem to overawe the Ambassadors of the Powers, but at some Turkish provincial town, at first sight seemed a hopeful way out of the objections raised by Russia.  Giers, Sverbeev, and Neratov, as well as Kokovtsev, favored this solution.  Smyrna and Adrianople were suggested.  But at once difficulties arose from the selfish interests of France and Russia themselves.  France was strenuously opposed to having General Liman at Smyrna, “where a German command would be very dangerous to French interests.” 273  Pichon, however, thought that “at the worst, it might be possible to agree to Adrianople.” 274  But the choice of Adrianople, as the Russian Ambassador in Berlin shrewdly pointed out, “would probably cause great excitement in Bulgaria, and still further estrange this country from us [Russians].” 275  Bethmann, on the other hand, in accordance with his conciliatory attitude in the whole affair and his sincere desire to find a solution satisfactory to Russia, was quite ready to consider this.  General Liman, therefore, was to be asked whether it would be possible to change the arrangements which had been made.276  But, as Sverbeev was informed at the same time, the military authorities in Berlin were of the opinion that unless the Model Corps was established at Constantinople, the activity of the German instructors would be reduced to nil, because the Military Academy and the General Staff were situated in Constantinople and with these the German officers would have to be in uninterrupted relations.  This eventually proved to be General Liman’s opinion after arriving at Constantinople.  But on being informed of Russia’s objections, he “came to the conclusion that there is no necessity for the General to command the Army Corps if there are only a sufficient number of troops to give the military schools an opportunity for practice exercises.  A German general could command the Army Corps in Adrianople.” 277  This solution was favored by the Russian Ambassador in Constantinople, but it was indignantly rejected by the Turks, who resented what they regarded as unwarranted Russian efforts to interfere in Turkey’s internal affairs.278

Without waiting to hear General Liman’s answer, Sazonov had hastened to suggest that France and England better join him in demanding “compensations.”  Such a demand for “some equivalent” was a common enough second-line form of attack in diplomacy when a direct effort at the main objective had failed.  So now M. Sazonov, after protesting “how difficult it would be for us to permit our Embassy to remain in a city in which, so to speak, a German garrison was quartered,” suggested to France and England that “if it should appear inexpedient to raise further objections in Berlin, a joint step could be taken in Constantinople to point out that the concessions made to Germany raised the question of equivalent compensations for the other Powers.” 279  France at first agreed instantly.  Pichon “is entirely of your opinion. . . . If the Porte does’ not renounce the realization of this plan, France will demand extraordinary compensations of a moral and political nature.” 280

Sir Edward Grey, however, did not at first favor Sazonov’s suggestion.  He diplomatically “conceded in principle” the possibility of compensations, but feared “it might be difficult actually to find such compensations.  Pichon’s first proposal, that officers of other countries should also receive such posts of command, he deems inpracticable and not in keeping with our [Russian] interests, because our main object, the removal of the Germans from Constantinople, would not thereby be attained.  Besides this would mean the first step in the partition of Turkey. . . . Grey thinks it best to continue friendly negotiations with Germany, in order to move her to change her original plan. . . . He believes that Emperor William, as well as the Imperial Chancellor, are seeking a pretext to extricate themselves from this situation.” 281  Somewhat ignorant of Balkan problems, he also had a certain distrust of Russian diplomacy on account of Persian affairs and he feared that Sazonov’s fickleness of mind might easily lead to some disaster.282

Unable to force Germany to yield, and abandoning the idea of accepting “compensations,” M. Sazonov decided to try to coerce Turkey into annulling or revising the contract by presenting her with something like an ultimatum from the Triple Entente.  In order to secure Sir Edward Grey’s cooperation in this line of attack, Paul Cambon was instructed to persuade Grey to join “in making the Porte understand the inadmissible consequences which would result from placing the Constantinople Army Corps under a German general.  It would, in short, place the Diplomatic Corps which resides in Constantinople under German guardianship.  It would be virtually handing over to this Power the key to the Straits.  It would make possible military interventions by the German general which might strike directly at the sovereignty of the Sultan.  It would destroy the balance among the Powers which is the guarantee for the existence of Turkey.  It might eventually bring these Powers into antagonism toward, or even into conflict with, the German Military Mission in case they had to exercise some action or demonstration at Constantinople.”  If Sir Edward agreed with these views he was to be flattered by being asked to formulate the note which the Entente Powers would present to the, Porte.283

Cambon’s potent argument, that General Liman’s contract would put into German hands “the key to the Straits”—where Admiral Limpus was supposed to assure England’s domination—did not fail to have the calculated effect upon Sir Edward Grey.  It brought him out of the fogs of the Irish question and galvanized him into an energetic action (which a little later he regretted and reversed).  He fell in with the French proposal, and speedily formulated a vigorous “declaration” embodying its arguments and amounting almost to an ultimatum.  It warned the Turkish Government that if General Liman retained his command “the other Powers would demand analogous advantages for themselves.”  It was approved by the Prime Minister, M. Asquith, and forwarded to the two other Entente Powers as a basis for identical warnings to be presented by their Ambassadors at Constantinople.  In transmitting it to the French Ambassador in Turkey, M. Pichon added, “It is essential that the Ottoman Government can have no doubt as to the absolute agreement which has been established between England, France and Russia on this question.” 284

Sazonov was now assured, as he supposed, of “the absolute agreement” of both France and England.  He now suddenly decided to try to use this as a lever at Berlin to bluff Germany into backing down, before the Entente Ambassadors should take action at Constantinople.  Such a success at Berlin would be a more signal diplomatic victory and settlement of the affair than one secured in Constantinople.  He accordingly telegraphed to Izvolski at Paris to have Bompard delay in presenting the note to Turkey.285

At the same time he instructed Sverbeev in Berlin to invite the German Government’s attention to the proposed action of the Entente Powers at Constantinople if Germany did not give a satisfactory reply.  Jagow, the German Secretary for Foreign Affairs, answered that he could not yet give a definite reply;  he had written to General Liman to look into the local conditions in Constantinople;  and if he came to an agreement with the Turkish authorities that no technical difficulties prevented the removal of the Model Corps to another center, then the German Government could easily revise General Liman’s contract.  Next day, December 5, Sazonov was told by the German Ambassador that “notwithstanding the embarrassment of its situation, the German Government was getting on with a possible settlement of the difficulty which has arisen, but some time would be necessary for this in order not to give the impression of yielding to pressure.”  Sazonov replied he “was ready to receive the proposal if the German Government did not postpone its decision to a too protracted date.”  But at the same time he instructed Sverbeev in Berlin to point out Pan-Slav Press criticisms of himself and “the necessity for us [Russians] to be able to remove the plausible reproaches printed as to the perfidy of German policy, and the desirability of winding up this whole incident as quickly as possible.  If the German Minister talks about his Government’s being unable to settle with the Porte, tell him that we should readily adopt the point of view that the question ought to be deliberated upon, not in Berlin, but in Constantinople, and that we shall take the agreed-upon steps immediately.” 286

Sazonov in fact was in no mood to wait.  He concluded that it was impossible to pry Germany into giving an immediate decision, and that his lever had therefore failed.  He also heard that the Sultan had issued on December 4 an iradé announcing General Liman’s appointment as Member of the War Council and Commander of the Constantinople Corps.  He therefore telegraphed to London and Paris on December 7:  “We consider it desirable that the three Ambassadors should at once address themselves to the Turkish Government with the following identical note which has been drawn up according to the English proposal.” 287

But M. Sazonov was now chagrined to discover that Sir Edward Grey had meanwhile changed his mind, during the interval in which Sazonov himself had desired a delay in the Entente action at Constantinople.  Sazonov now found that the agreement was not so “absolute” as he had supposed.  His proposed “note” had a sharper tone than Grey’s “declaration.”

A misunderstanding also arose as to the form in which the Entente declaration should be presented to the Grand Vizier.  Sazonov and Pichon wanted a very strong diplomatic procedure:  the simultaneous presentation by the Entente Ambassadors of an identical written note.  Sir Edward Grey, however, characteristically desired to treat the Grand Vizier more gently:  “In the opinion of Grey the notes ought to be identical, but not presented simultaneously.” 288

Meanwhile also Grey had begun to hear from the German Chargé d’Affaires in London an account of the German Military Mission very different from that which had been pictured to him by Paul Cambon.  He was informed by Kühlmann that the arrangement for a German command over the Constantinople Army Corps was simply intended to obviate the inherent weakness in the position of General Liman’s predecessor.  General Von der Goltz’s efforts had been paralyzed by lack of authority and by Turkish inertia which blocked the reforms he tried to introduce.  The new plan was to give General Liman a Model Corps over which he would have command, and in which he would therefore enjoy sufficient authority to compel real reforms.  The Corps at Constantinople had been chosen as the Model Corps, because that was the seat of the Military School and the General Staff, with which the German instructors would have to be in constant touch.  General Liman was simply to have a position in the army analogous to that of the English Admiral Limpus in the navy, against whom no Powers had protested.  The point about Admiral Limpus made a deep impression on Grey.  He began to see that he might be getting into a very illogical position if he should demand that General Liman give up the command of a single Turkish Army Corps in Constantinople while Admiral Limpus kept the command over the whole Turkish fleet.  He may well have imagined the poor figure he would cut in the House of Commons if he were questioned and forced to defend such an illogical attitude.  As the Russian Ambassador ruefully reported a few days later:  “Grey did not know until now the exact details of the contract of the British Admiral. . . . The position of the British Admiral really furnishes Germany with an argument which is causing difficulties here.  Nicolson has spoken to me about it several times.” 289

In addition to Kühlmann’s arguments, Grey was also put on his guard against Sazonov’s maneuvers by the correct information which he began to get from Sir Louis Mallet in Constantinople:  the importance of continuing the Anglo-German coöperation in the construction of naval docks for Turkey at Ismid;  Admiral Limpus’ declaration that his powers were really wider than General Liman’s;  the fact that he had leased the house in Constantinople picked out for the German General;  and finally Sir Louis Mallet’s warning that out of the Russian demands for Liman’s withdrawal might easily arise a dangerous situation like the French demand for the withdrawal of the Hohenzollern Candidacy in 1870.290

On learning more about the facts of the case, and especially about Admiral Limpus, Grey in fact virtually reversed his attitude.  He came to the opinion that Sazonov’s projected “note” to Turkey (though based closely on his own and Cambon’s proposals) was “premature”;  there must not be “any kind of threats at its close”;  instead of warning the Sultan of the dangerous consequences of General Liman’s appointment, he now suggested a mere “verbal inquiry,” politely asking the Turks for information as to the contract made by them with the German General, and the extent of the functions he was to exercise.

M. Sazonov was now much upset in his mind, as may be seen from his telegram to the Russian Ambassador in London on December 12:

I hear from a very secret source 291 that Grey has explained to the French Ambassador, that he did not wish to go too far in Constantinople, as he is afraid of a change in my attitude, which might lead to a diplomatic failure.  I should like to remark, that as to the instructors, it is not a question of a change in our attitude, but of a regrettable change in England’s attitude.  For Grey will have nothing more to do with a note, which had been based on a telegram of Grey’s to the British Ambassador [in St. Petersburg].

Should we be finally obliged to change our attitude in this question, as already in so many others, this is to be attributed only to the lack of confidence in the effectiveness of England’s support, and, indeed, this confidence will only be shaken still more by such actions on the part of England.  This lack of homogeneity and solidarity between the three Powers of the Entente arouses our serious apprehension, for it constitutes an organic fault of the Triple Entente, which will always place us at a disadvantage in face of the firm block of the Triple Alliance.

Such a condition of affairs might under certain circumstances entail grave consequences, and most seriously endangers vital interests of every Power of the Triple Entente.292

In spite of his irritation and chagrin at Sir Edward Grey’s disconcerting change of attitude, Sazonov perceived that there was nothing to be done but accept it.  On December 13, therefore, the three Entente Ambassadors at Constantinople made, one after another, their mild “verbal inquiry” as to the nature of General Liman’s contract and position, and whether it threatened Turkey’s sovereign independence and authority over Constantinople and the Straits.  They were given the desired information about the contract, but were told by the Grand Vizier that their other question was Turkey’s own private affair.  He compared General Liman’s position to that of Admiral Limpus, and therefore saw no reason for cancelling or changing the German contract.293  In view of Sir Edward Grey’s attitude there was nothing more to be gained by M. Sazonov through negotiations at Constantinople.  Though there was some talk of altering the status of both General Liman and Admiral Limpus, it came to nothing.

M. Bompard, the French Ambassador at Constantinople did not believe that Russia would ever achieve her purpose by peaceful means;  he suggested privately that Russia “should dispatch a warship to the Bosphorus and declare that it would not be withdrawn until the contract with General Liman and his officers had been altered.”  M. Paléologue, Political Director in the French Foreign Office, thought that “the Turkish batteries would scarcely dare to open fire.”  And M. Izvolski added that “in the event of our resolving upon an energetic action of this sort, public opinion in France would take our part, since it is susceptible to everything which touches national dignity, and feels most keenly the inadmissibility of German influence in Turkey.294  M. Sazonov, as will be seen in a moment, was actually contemplating military measures to coerce Turkey.  But France and England both intimated that it would be better to await the results of the efforts which the German Government was making to find a solution which would satisfy Russia without seeming to involve the prestige of Turkey or of any of the Great Powers.  Though impatient of delay because of the criticisms being levelled against him in the Pan-Slav Press, Sazonov fortunately heeded the advice.

Meanwhile the German Ambassador at Constantinople had been active in trying to find a sensible and peaceful solution of the whole affair.  He had urged Turkey to yield and modify Liman’s contract.  He tried to have the German and Russian military attachés in Constantinople work out an agreement.  He finally hurried back to Berlin and there arranged the successful solution.  General Liman was advanced a grade in the Prussian army;  by the terms of his contract, this automatically resulted in his advance in the Turkish army to rank of Field Marshal which relieved him of the command of the First Army Corps in Constantinople.  He remained Inspector of Turkish troops and Director of the Military School, but did not exercise command over troops in the Turkish capital—the point to which Sazonov had so strenuously objected.  This solution, which was satisfactory to Russia, was publicly announced on January 15, 1914.295  It brought the affair peacefully to an end, without involving the danger of a test of strength between the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance.  As the Russian Ambassador in Berlin wrote to M. Sazonov:  “The Berlin Cabinet has actually done everything in its power in order to fulfil our justifiable wishes, and this has not been easy for it, in view of the newspaper campaign directed against the Government.”296

The whole affair shows how even a serious Russo-German diplomatic crisis could be sensibly and peacefully settled, provided that Germany was willing to make some concessions, and that Russia was restrained by France and England from taking too extreme and hasty steps;  and provided also that neither side paid too much attention to the hounding criticisms of its own jingo newspapers and military alarmists.  Though Germany had had no intention of suddenly springing a surprise which would embarrass Sazonov, the unfortunate failure of the Tsar in May, and of Bethmann in October, to mention the Military Mission to the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs gave the latter a natural feeling of grievance.  This was accentuated by his fears that the Liman Mission might ultimately block Russia’s ambitions in regard to the Straits—a fact which is significant of the great importance he attached to Russia’s “historic mission”—as is further indicated by his measures of preparedness presently to be described.  The effect of the Liman von Sanders affair in Berlin was to strengthen the feeling that though Sazonov was inclined to get excited and even to bluff, it was doubtful whether he would have England’s support for his bluff.  This was one reason why Germany at first believed it probably safe to support Austria in July, 1914.


M. Sazonov is pictured by many “revisionist” writers as being “converted” in the fall of 1913 to the “Franco-Russian war plot” which MM. Poincaré and Izvolski had been weaving since 1912 by “Balkanizing of the Franco-Russian Alliance.”[297]  But this picture does too little justice to M. Sazonov’s independence of attitude, and gives too much weight to the influence exerted by Izvolski and Poincaré on Russian foreign policy.  M. Sazonov often pursued Balkan policies which by no means wholly harmonized with those of Izvolski and still less with those of Poincaré.  In the winter and spring of 1914, Russian policy can be more accurately followed in his reports to the Tsar and in the minutes of Russian Councils than in the self-important despatches of the Russian Ambassador in Paris.  Izvolski’s influence on Russian policy has been exaggerated by Izvolski himself and by writers who take him at his own valuation.  M. Poincaré, to be sure, in his recent self-righteous memoirs, goes much too far to the other extreme in attempting utterly to discredit Izvolski.  But there seems to be little doubt that in the early months of 1914 Izvolski’s influence was somewhat on the wane both in Paris and St. Petersburg.  He was terribly alarmed by the rumor that he might be superseded by Kokovtsev.

M. Sazonov’s real views are well revealed in a long report to the Tsar early in December, 1913.[298]  In this he summed up the general situation after the Balkan Wars, and especially the danger to peace caused by the long failure of Turkey and Greece to come to terms.  In view of Turkey’s weakened position, Sazonov concluded that the final dissolution of the Ottoman Empire was not far distant, that all the Powers were calculating the parts which they would appropriate when the final partition took place, and that Russia must therefore decide what attitude she would take in the premises.

An impartial reading of his report, which is too long to quote in full, shows that he did not desire to bring about a European war.  On the contrary, he repeatedly stated that he wished to preserve the status quo as long as possible.  But the situation in the Balkans was very unstable.  Russia could never permit the Straits to pass into the hands of any other Power, as they had been in danger of doing when the Bulgarians advanced to the outposts of Constantinople in 1912.  Therefore he and the other Russian Ministers must concert plans of preparedness to seize the Straits, in case of European complications which he feared might occur at any moment.  Hence he requested the Tsar to allow him to consult with the other Ministers on these measures of preparedness:

It is not at all in our direct interest to strive for any increases of territory whatever.  All the needs of our internal development make the task of maintaining peace of first importance.  However, while not abandoning this principal and primary task, we cannot close our eyes to the dangers of the international situation, dangers the prevention of which does not depend on us alone.  That is why we cannot neglect, any more than the other Powers, to raise the question of preserving in advance our rights and interests, if events should demand that we defend them by armed force.

Uncertainty as to the stability and longevity of Turkey raises for us the historic question of the Straits, and a weighing of their importance for us, both from a political and an economic point of view. . . . In case of a change in the status quo, Russia cannot permit a solution of the question counter to her interests;  in other words, she cannot, under certain circumstances, remain a passive spectator of events. . . .

At present the question of safeguarding the Straits is settled at bottom in a fairly satisfactory manner as regards our direct interests.  Turkey is a State neither too strong nor too weak—unable to be a danger to us, but at the same time obliged to give consideration to Russia, which is stronger than she.  The very weakness of the Ottoman Empire, and its inability to regenerate itself on the basis of law and civilization, have hitherto been to our advantage, creating among the peoples subjected to the Crescent that aspiration toward Orthodox Russia, which is one of the fundamental bases of our international position in the East and in Europe. . . .

Can we permit the transfer of the Straits into the full possession of another State?  To put the question, is to answer it in the negative.  The Straits in the possession of a strong State would mean that the economic development of all South Russia would be subjected to it. . . . He who possesses the Straits will not only hold the keys of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean;  he will have also the key to the penetration of Asia Minor and the hegemony of the Balkans;  consequently, the State which replaces Turkey on the shores of the Straits will probably aspire to follow the paths followed formerly by the Turks. . . .

[Rejecting as unsatisfactory all proposals for neutralizing and demilitarizing the Straits, Sazonov reiterated the need of a detailed program of preparedness.]  We must study the measures which can be taken to increase our military and naval strength in the Black Sea.  What ought the War and Navy Departments to do to accelerate mobilization, by means of new railways and the development of our means of transport? . . . Is it possible, or not, to determine the task of our army and navy in forcing the Straits and seizing Constantinople, if circumstances should demand it?

Returning to the political aspect of preparedness, one must again repeat that an early dissolution of Turkey could not be desirable for us, and it is necessary to do everything possible, through diplomacy, to postpone such an outcome.

[M. Sazonov then indicated the principal questions to be discussed:  (1) the accelerated mobilization of an adequate expeditionary force;  (2) the preparation of the lines of communication necessary for this mobilization;  (3) the increase of the Black Sea Fleet so that it will surpass the Turkish Fleet, and be able to force the Straits and occupy them temporarily or permanently, if necessary;  (4) the increase of naval transports;  and (5) the construction of strategic railways in the Caucasus.]

Renewing the wish expressed above for the prolongation as far as possible of the status quo,[299] it is also necessary to repeat that the question of the Straits can hardly be advanced a step except through European complications.  These complications, to judge from present conditions, would find us in alliance with France, and in a possible, but not at all assured, alliance with England, or at least with her as a benevolent neutral.  In the Balkans, in case of European complications, we could count on Serbia, and perhaps on Rumania. . . .[300]

The Tsar approved Sazonov’s report, and the discussion by various Ministers, as proposed, took place on January 13, 1914.  Sazonov also sent a copy of it to M. Grigorovitch, the Naval Minister, who passed it on to the Admiralty Staff for examination.  The latter naturally endorsed very heartily Sazonov’s proposal for strengthening the Black Sea Fleet.  They urged that only by this means could Russia make her voice heard in the concert of Europe and in dealings with Turkey, where Russia’s influence was already sadly inadequate.  The Admiralty Staff suggested several measures for the immediate strengthening of the Black Sea Fleet:  speeding up the construction of vessels already being built;  the purchase of Dreadnoughts abroad, and the prevention of their purchase by Turkey;  and the preparation of plans for the combined action of the Baltic and the Black Sea Fleets against Turkey.[301]

On the basis of these suggestions the Naval Minister made a long report to the Tsar, endorsing Sazonov’s ideas:

The systematic and successful preparations of operations of our fleet for the dominating control on the sea at the Constantinople channel and in the waters of the Aegean and Mediterranean adjacent to it demand careful and persistent work, not only by the Navy Department, but also by the War Ministry and some others, especially the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Commerce, Industry, and Finance.  This preparedness can be completed only in the course of some years.  Therefore the Navy Department wholly agrees with the proposal of the Minister of Foreign Affairs (after the termination of certain preparatory studies) about the necessity of holding a Special Council for the working out of these guiding principles, which result from the idea approved by Your Majesty that Russia cannot allow any Power whatever to establish itself on the Straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles;  and that Russia must therefore be ready to take possession of the Straits, in case great European complications should bring up the Eastern Question for a final settlement.[302]

Meanwhile, on January 5, 1914, Sazonov drew up a memorandum for circulation among the other Ministers to serve as a basis for discussion at the Special Council.  It summarized the Liman von Sanders negotiations, and went on to declare:

3.  Decisions must now be taken to provide for the possible necessity of supporting our demands by measures of compulsion.

4.  The measures of compulsion on our part might take the form of the occupation of some point in Asia Minor, e.g. Trebizond or Bayazid, with a declaration that we should stay there until our demands were satisfied.

5.  After it had been clearly established what measures of compulsion we should be able to employ, a confidential exchange of views on the subject must be set on foot with the British and French Governments, since measures of compulsion can, necessarily, only be undertaken after we have ascertained whether we can count on corresponding steps on the part of these two Powers.

6.  In the negotiations with the said Governments, the necessity for extremely cautious and unanimous action on the part of the three Powers must be insisted on, in order, if possible, to prevent the conflict becoming more acute, as a European war might result.  At the same time efforts must be made on our part to prepare France and Great Britain for the necessity of pursuing to the end an action once begun in the common interests.

7.  Should this point of view be accepted by all three Powers and the negotiations in Berlin not lead to the desired result, an understanding must be arrived at as to an ascending scale in the measures of compulsion:

(a)  A rigid financial boycott of Turkey;

(b)  Should this method fail to produce the required effect, as in the case of the Adrianople question, the three Powers might withdraw their representatives from Constantinople;

(c)  At the same time the Governments of Russia, France, and Great Britain would acquaint the Porte with the date fixed for the fulfilment of their demands, after which the measures of compulsion might begin to be put into force, with the warning that they would not be withdrawn until the demands had been complied with.

8.  Should certain preparatory steps of a military nature, such as reinforcements of troops in the Caucasus, be necessary to enable us promptly to put measures of compulsion into effect, it would be desirable to keep these steps as secret as possible.  From the political point of view, however, it is clearly necessary that it shall be possible, after issuing a threat, should that become necessary, to take prompt steps to translate the threat into action.[303]

This memorandum indicates clearly Sazonov’s desire, “if possible, to prevent the conflict becoming more acute, as a European war might result,” but at the same time his determination to resort to “measures of compulsion” and a threat of force as a bluff to secure a diplomatic victory, and his readiness, if necessary, “to take prompt steps to translate the threat into action”—provided he could feel sure of British and French support.  He told the Tsar on January 9 that he believed a firm stand on Russia’s part would probably have the desired effect on Germany and Turkey, “but the risk of serious European complications must undoubtedly be kept in view.”  He was determined that Russia must not accept the Liman von Sanders Mission as a fait accompli, because “a yielding would be equivalent to a political defeat and might have altogether ruinous consequences.”  It would make Germany and her allies more arrogant, and “in France and England there would be strengthened the dangerous conviction that Russia will accept any conditions whatever for the sake of preserving peace.  Once such convictions were strengthened in our friend and our ally, the not very close solidarity of the Triple Entente Powers might be finally broken up, and each of them would endeavor to seek security for its interests by making agreements with the Powers of the opposing camp.”

Sazonov feared particularly that England and Germany might come to some separate solution of the Liman von Sanders affair by changing the status of Admiral Limpus, and then Russia would be left alone to face Germany.  “Russia would be finally left in complete political isolation, because it would hardly be possible to reckon separately even upon France, who also, even without this [possible Anglo-German agreement], is inclined to sacrifice great political interests for the sake of the financial advantages of a settlement. . . . If, however, the replies of France and England [in regard to the use of measures of compulsion] should be regarded as satisfactory, then, reserving all necessary strength and caution for the complications necessity may demand, it would remain for us to defend firmly our interests to the end.” [304]

That Sazonov should suspect England’s loyalty to Russian interests in the Balkans is not altogether surprising.  But that he should also speak thus of France indicates what a strong element of suspiciousness there was in his character, especially in view of the fact that Izvolski had informed him only a few days before that “Poincaré, in the most decisive terms, confirmed Doumergue’s declaration . . . that France is firmly determined to act with us in this connection.  From Poincaré’s words, I have been able to conclude that the expressions of the declaration mentioned have been most carefully weighed by him and his Ministers, and that, in spite of France’s love of peace, these words express, with full and deliberate intent, a quiet resolution not to withdraw, under existing circumstances, from those obligations imposed upon her by her alliance with us.”[305]  It was this suspiciousness which led him to intercept and decipher from time to time the despatches between the French Government and the French Ambassador in St. Petersburg.  It was perhaps a realization of this suspiciousness which caused M. Poincaré so frequently to assure Russia that France would support her;  these assurances are probably to be interpreted as efforts to strengthen the Franco-Russian alliance and tighten up the Triple Entente, rather than as incitements to bring about a European war by which France might recover Alsace-Lorraine.

On January 13, 1914, just as the Liman von Sanders Affair was about to be given a satisfactory solution, the Special Conference, which M. Sazonov had proposed several weeks earlier, finally met under the chairmanship of the Premier and Minister of Finance, M. Kokovtsev.  There were present only the most important officials:  the Ministers of War (Sukhomlinov), Navy (Grigorovitch), Foreign Affairs (Sazonov), the Chief of Staff (Zhilinski), and a couple of recording secretaries from the Near East Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[306]  M. Sazonov reported that, according to the latest news, General Liman was about to be promoted to the highest rank in the Turkish army and would therefore give up the command of the Army Corps in Constantinople;  this seemed good news, but the promotion was not yet an accomplished fact, and one should not therefore be too optimistic.

General Sukhomlinov energetically expressed the opinion that Turkey ought to be persuaded to abandon the German Military Mission altogether, and that all discussion about modifying the terms of its activity was a subordinate matter.  Sazonov replied that any advice given in Constantinople would be without result unless accompanied by measures of compulsion such as he had proposed.

M. Kokovtsev, however, wise, peace-loving, and conciliatory, wished to put the brakes on any hasty aggressive action.  Before proceeding to discuss measures of compulsion, he begged to lay stress on two matters of primary importance:

1.  The German Government is looking for a way out of the situation created by Russia’s demands.  In this connection the Berlin Cabinet points to the necessity, in the interest of a satisfactory solution of the question, of Russia’s avoidance of any categorical declaration, of the character of an ultimatum to Germany, as this might compel Germany to adhere still more firmly to her standpoint, sine regard must be had to the difficult position of the German Government in the face of public opinion in its own country.

2.  The negotiations with the Berlin Cabinet, which have now been going on for two months, should be continued until the Russian Government is convinced that it is impossible to attain in this manner the object indicated.

M. Kokovtsev also pointed out that even the measures of compulsion ought to be taken only “in closest association with the other Powers of the Triple Entente.  Before any, decision is come to, the Russian Government must know to what extent it will receive the support of France, and whether active participation by Great Britain in the pressure on the Porte can be relied on.”

M. Sazonov replied that he contemplated this, and added:  “It seems still to be uncertain how far Great Britain would be prepared for energetic action.  As regards France, the Russian Government can count on effectual support to the uttermost limit.  M. Delcassé has assured the Minister, in the name of the French Foreign Minister, that France would go as far as Russia may wish.”

M. Kokovtsev was of the opinion that any measures of compulsion such as the occupation of Asia Minor territory “would inevitably be followed by war with Germany, and put the question:  “Is war with Germany desirable, and can Russia wage it?”  In reply, Sazonov agreed with Kokovtsev “that in principle a war with Germany would be undesirable;” as to whether Russia could wage it, Sazonov “did not consider himself called upon to decide this.”  But “the Minister of War and the Chief of Staff declared categorically the complete readiness of Russia for a duel with Germany, not to mention one with Austria.  Such a duel is, however, hardly likely;  those Powers would be much more likely to have to deal with the Triple Entente.”  This categorical statement of the Russian militarists disposes of the argument that Russia did not want war in 1914 because they did not think her preparations were sufficiently complete.

M. Kokovtsev, in opposition to all the others, again insisted that an occupation of Trebizond or Bayazid would inevitably lead to intervention by Germany.  But Sazonov thought this “would be a very effective measure, and might deter Germany from intervening.”  His views were shared by the Ministers of War and Navy and by the Chief of Staff.  “M. Kokovtsev, who considered that a war at the present moment would be the greatest misfortune for Russia, expressed the opinion that it would be most undesirable to entangle Russia in a European conflict—a view which was shared by the other members of the Conference.”

M. Kokovtsev finally summed up the sense of the meeting to the effect that negotiations were to be continued at Berlin to secure General Liman’s removal from the command of troops in Constantinople;  if it became quite clear that the negotiations would fail, measures of compulsion might be applied, if the Entente Powers were in agreement;  but “Should Russia not be assured of the active participation of France and England in common steps with Russia, it does not seem possible to adopt measures of compulsion which might lead to a war with Germany.”  It was to secure the closer support of England, which was necessary to enable Russia to carry out her ambitions in the Near East, which made Sazonov redouble his efforts in the spring of 1914 to get more definite and binding obligations from Sir Edward Grey in the shape of an Anglo-Russian Naval Convention.  Negotiations for this were soon begun, but had to be dropped when news of them leaked out.

From the minutes of this Special Conference one sees clearly that Sazonov sided fully with the militarists in being ready to adopt measures of compulsion to oust General Liman from the command of the Turkish Corps in Constantinople.  While not desiring war with Germany and preferring a diplomatic victory, he was nevertheless quite ready to adopt measures which would probably lead to war with Germany, provided he was sure of the support of the Entente.  He was ready to use a threat of force, and “to translate the threat into action,” if the threat did not prove to be an effective bluff.  This was his attitude in July, 1914, and it led to war.  In January, 1914, it did not lead to war, because Germany made timely conciliatory concessions in the Liman von Sanders Affair, and because M. Kokovtsev used his influence to prevent any over-hasty provocative action on Russia’s part, like the occupation of Trebizond or Bayazid.  This Conference reveals sharply the contrast between Kokovtsev’s moderate, conciliatory, and restraining influence on the one hand, and, on the other, the dangerous policy of military pressure urged by Sazonov and the military and naval officials.  Kokovtsev, as Minister of Finance, looked at affairs more from a business man’s point of view than from that of a politician.  Like Count Witte, he had an eye for economic, as well as purely political, considerations.  He was not blinded by the diplomatist’s shibboleths about Pan-Slav interests, Russia’s “prestige,” and her “historic mission.”  He kept in view the probable catastrophic effects which a European War would have upon Russia’s commerce, finance, and internal political structure.  When he put bluntly the question, “Is a war with Germany desirable?” the other members of the Conference were forced to agree with him that it was not.  It was therefore an incalculable misfortune for Russia and the world that, a few days after this Conference, M. Kokovtsev followed Count Witte into political retirement, and left the field free to M. Sazonov and the Russian Pan-Slavs and militarists.[307]

M. Kokovtsev’s retirement from the Premiership gave rise to a rumor that he might be appointed Russian Ambassador at Paris, and that Izvolski would be transferred to Rome or some other post.  This threw Izvolski into a panic.  He abjectly besought Sazonov to prevent it:

A transfer to Rome would involve me in the greatest financial difficulties, since every moving causes great expenditures, and the salary at Rome is 40,000 francs less than here.  Dismissal through appointment to the Council of the Empire on the other hand would be for me a direct catastrophe. . . . You know my personal means are very limited, and that I have not yet put my son on his feet nor provided for my daughter.  I am compelled to place especial value on my office.  [If he lost it, he says, he would have to seek private employment with some bank.]  After nearly forty years of diplomatic service, this would be very hard and bitter for me.

Izvolski’s plea was effective.  A few days later he thanked Sazonov effusively for having “prevented M.N. Kokovtsev’s effort to sit himself in my seat.” [308]

It is interesting to speculate on how the course of history might have been changed, if Kokovtsev had replaced Izvolski at Paris, or if he had still been able as Premier to exert a restraining influence at St. Petersburg in July, 1914.  With his sweet reasonableness, his firm character, and his friendly personal relations with the Kaiser and the Berlin authorities, he might have been able to prevent the over-hasty steps which helped cause the World War.  It was Russia’s misfortune that she discarded real statesmen like Count Witte and M. Kokovtsev in favor of prestige diplomats like Izvolski and Sazonov.

Although the Liman von Sanders Affair had been happily settled in January, 1914, M. Sazonov, freed from M. Kokovtsev’s pacific influence, continued his examination of preparedness plans, and even took up again the discussion of the aggressive project for a sudden seizure of the Straits by an armed landing force, which had been seriously contemplated in 1896 and 1912, but in both cases postponed because of lack of preparations.[309]  At another Special Conference on February 21, 1914, presided over by himself, and including military and naval experts and also M. Giers, the active and aggressive Russian Ambassador at Constantinople, Sazonov called attention to his report of December 5, approved by the Tsar,

that it was necessary to proceed without delay, to the preparation of a program, elaborated in every direction, which should aim at the assurance in our favor of the historic question of the Straits.  [Though admitting that at the moment political complications in the Balkans were not likely, Sazonov] expressed the firm conviction that should events result in the Straits slipping from Turkey’s control, Russia could not permit any other Power to establish itself on their shores.  Russia might thus be compelled to seize possession of them, in order then to secure in one shape or another a state of things along the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles corresponding to her interests.  The success of this operation would depend in large degree on the rapidity with which it was carried out. . . . [He therefore asked for a technical discussion of measures for expediting the mobilization and transportation of a sufficiently strong landing force;  the strengthening of the Black Sea Fleet, so as to be able, jointly with the landing force, to occupy the Straits;  and the construction of strategic railways in the Caucasus.]

[With reference to the possibility that Russia’s seizure of the Straits might be opposed by Greece and Bulgaria, Sazonov remarked that] in view of their historical enmity and their present conflicting interests, there was a good deal of reason to suppose that, if one of these States came out as our enemy, the other would range itself on our side, so that they would cripple one another. . . . Sazonov said that it could not be assumed that our operations against the Straits could take place without a general European war, and that it was to be assumed that under such circumstances Serbia would direct all her forces against Austria-Hungary. . . . The favorable turn in Rumanian policy and public opinion, now to be observed, justified a certain doubt whether, in the event of our being at war with Austria, Rumania would actually come out against us. . . . In the event of our coming into collision with the Triple Alliance, Germany and Austria would send no troops towards the Straits, and, at the worst, Italy might send landing parties, though it would be dangerous for Italy to expose her frontiers to attack from France.[310]

Thus, according to Sazonov, the diplomatic situation seemed not unfavorable for landing an armed force to seize the Straits, even though it might lead to a collision with the Triple Alliance.  But General Zhilinski, the Chief of Staff, “expressed the conviction that the struggle for Constantinople would hardly be possible without a general European war,” in which case the troops which it was proposed to send to seize the Straits would be needed on the Western Front against Germany;  success there would also mean success in the question of the Straits.  M. Giers suggested that the troops for the landing expedition might be taken from the Caucasus Front;  but General Zhilinski and General Danilov declared that this would be impracticable, both because they would be needed in the Caucasus in case of war with Turkey, and because, for technical reasons, they could not be mobilized quickly.  Both these military experts were agreed that, with a battle proceeding or expected on the Western Front, the diversion of considerable troops to the Straits must be regarded as indefensible and impossible:  “The only good strategy is strong strategy.  The war on our Western Front would demand the utmost application of all the forces of the State, and we could not dispense with a single army corps to be left behind for special tasks.  We must direct our energies to ensuring success in the most important theatre of war.  With victory in this theatre, we should secure favorable decisions in all secondary questions.” [311]

In spite of more optimistic arguments by the naval experts in favor of a landing expedition in the Straits, the Chief of Staff seemed to express the general sense of the Conference that such an expedition could only take place during a crisis which would lead to a general European war and that the troops for it would be needed on the Western Front against Germany and Austria.  Therefore no separate landing expedition should be attempted for the present.  Nevertheless, everything should be done to prepare for one.  Accordingly, after a long discussion of the technical details involved, the Conference decided to recommend to the Tsar a series of preparatory measures.  These included increasing the strength and rapidity of mobilization of the expeditionary landing army;  the gathering and subsidizing of adequate naval transports provided with sufficient collapsible horse-boxes and small boats for speedy embarkation and disembarkation;  the increasing of the Black Sea Fleet by a second squadron of most modern and powerful battle cruisers, if possible, by the purchase of ships abroad;  and the building of more strategic railways in the Caucasus, in order to speed up mobilization there, as a necessary part of “the measures required in preparation for our offensive on the Bosphorus.” [312]  The minutes of this Special Conference were laid before the Tsar on April 5, and received his entire approval.

The Duma also voted 110 million rubles to carry out the naval program for strengthening the Black Sea Fleet during the years 1914-1917.[313]  As only 25 millions of this were to be spent in 1914, it would appear that no immediate expedition against Constantinople was intended unless something should occur to threaten the status quo and cause a general European war.

From the minutes of this Special Conference it appears that Sazonov contemplated the forcible seizure of the Straits.  But the military experts regarded it as impracticable;  they wished to reserve the troops for use in the main theatre of war against Germany and Austria.  All were agreed, however, that Russia could not allow the Straits to fall into the hands of any other Power.  Therefore the fullest preparatory measures must be taken for a landing expedition at the Straits in case European complications should afford an opportunity.  This was regarded as probable in the future, but not as immediately imminent.


We may now sum up very briefly the main Balkan Problems.

The origin of the trouble lay in the progressive decay of the Ottoman Empire, which was no longer able to maintain control over the Christian subject nationalities.  These had become filled with a natural desire for political freedom and national unity.  But, owing to the events of past history, considerable sections of these peoples still lived under Turkish or Hapsburg rule, and could not fulfil their nationalistic aspirations except by the further disintegration of Turkey and the partial dismemberment of Austria.  Hence the Balkan Wars of 1876-78 and 1912-13.  Hence also the antagonism between Austria and Serbia, which grew steadily more acute, because each had a vital interest at stake—Austria to preserve her very existence as a State, Serbia to satisfy twentieth century ideals of political liberty and national unity.

As Turkey declined in power, Russia and Austria became increasingly jealous of each other’s influence in the Balkans, Russia wishing to achieve her “historic mission,” and Austria to prevent the danger threatening to her from too great Slav power on her southern frontier.  Bismarck and the League of the Three Emperors, and later Russia’s venture in the Far East, for many years prevented this rivalry from disturbing the peace of Europe.  But with the ambitious aims of M. Izvolski and Count Aehrenthal the rivalry became acute through the outcome of the Buchlau Bargain.  Aehrenthal succeeded in annexing Bosnia and Herzegovina, while Izvolski failed to open the Straits, because Austria had the support of Germany, but England was unwilling to accept Izvolski’s one-sided proposal to open the Straits to Russian warships but not to those of the other Great Powers.  Though the Annexation Crisis was settled without war, thanks to the solution proposed by Germany, it increased the antagonism between Austria and Serbia on the one hand, and between Austria and Russia on the other.  Henceforth Russia encouraged Serbia to prepare for the future, when, aided by Russia, she could achieve a “Greater Serbia” at Austria’s expense.  Until Russia was ready, however, Serbia was to wait.

Having made the Racconigi Bargain with Italy, and believing that he could count on the support of the Triple Entente, Izvolski took advantage of the Tripolitan War to make a third diplomatic effort to open the Straits by means of the Charykov negotiations with Turkey.  But again he failed largely on account of lack of support from France and direct opposition from England.  Henceforth he came to the conclusion that his aim could be achieved only in connection with a general European war, and used all his efforts to strengthen and tighten the Triple Entente for this “inevitable” conflict.

Meanwhile MM. Neratov, Hartwig, and Nekliudov had used the unrest caused in the Balkans by the Tripolitan War to help bring about the Balkan League, its nominal purpose being the preservation of the status quo, but its practical effect being an encouragement to the Balkan States to open war on Turkey.  Though the Great Powers, especially England and Germany, managed to prevent Europe from being involved in a general conflict, the Balkan Wars resulted in a universal increase of suspicion, hatred, intrigues, and uncertainty, not only among the Great Powers who increased their armaments, but among the Balkan States themselves, and especially in Austria and Serbia.  Serbia, greatly embittered at her exclusion by the Powers from a political and economic outlet on the Adriatic, had found some compensation in Macedonia.  But this involved Bulgaria’s deadly hatred.  Serbia therefore tightened her relations with Greece and Rumania under Russian patronage, partly as a protection against Bulgarian revenge and partly with a view to the future struggle as the “Piedmont” of the Balkans, against the hated Hapsburg rule.  Though M. Pashitch and the Serbian civil authorities did not want or plan war in 1914, they tolerated an agitation which contributed to a series of assassinations which culminated in the tragedy of Sarajevo.  Austria meanwhile became more and more alarmed at the dangers threatening her very existence:  the “Greater Serbia” agitation within and without her frontiers, the “desertion” of Rumania, and the closer ties which Russia was establishing with these two countries whose nationalist aspirations could only be satisfied through the dismemberment of Austria-Hungary.  Whether Austria could have averted the danger from the “Greater Serbia” and “Greater Rumania” irredentist agitation, by giving democratic and reasonably liberal rights to her Slav and Rumanian subjects, or by some form of “trialism,” is a hypothetical question to be touched upon later;  at any rate she did not do so.  Instead she chose to see her salvation in a war in which Serbia would be reduced in power by having to cede territory to Bulgaria, Rumania, and Albania.  Several times Austria was ready to wage such a w war on Serbia, but was held back either by Germany, as in July, 1913, or by concessions on the part of Serbia, as in March, 1909, and October, 1913.  But in July, 1914, as will be seen later, Austria welcomed the opportunity for localized war on Serbia afforded by the assassination of the Austrian Heir to the Throne.

M. Sazonov, though caring little for the Serbs them selves, and leaving them in the lurch in crucial moments nevertheless encouraged and supported them at other times as an outpost of Slavdom in the Balkans and as an asset in a future war with Austria.  Desiring peace, but fearing the power and criticism of the Russian Pan-Slavs and militarists, M. Sazonov was anxious to fulfil Russia’s “historic mission.”  Observing Izvolski’s failures to open the Straits by peaceful diplomatic means and his own failure to coerce Germany into an instant modification of General Liman’s command at Constantinople, owing in each case chiefly to Sir Edward Grey’s attitude, the Russian Foreign Minister came to the conclusion that he could succeed in his Balkan aims only as a result of “European complications .”  While Izvolski had attempted the more modest task of merely opening the Straits to Russian warships, Sazonov wanted to achieve the wider Pan-Slav “historic mission” of obtaining possession of the Straits and controlling Constantinople.  It was because the Liman von Sarders Mission seemed to lessen the likelihood of this that Sazonov was so alarmed by it.  Hence his proposal of “measures of compulsion” to force Turkey to abandon it;  these, however, were not put into effect, owing to Germany’s timely concessions and M. Kokovtsev’s restraining influence.  Hence also Sazonov’s contemplation of landing force to seize the Straits, which the military experts declared was impracticable at the moment but should be prepared for in case of European complications in the future.  During the spring of 1914, together with M. Izvolski and President Poincaré, he worked to tighten the bonds with England by negotiations for an Anglo-Russian Naval Convention, in order that, when the “inevitable” war broke out, the solidarity of the Triple Entente should be more perfect than on former occasions.  Consequently, if a new crisis arose, Germany and Austria would have to yield—or fight a war in which the superior forces would be on the side of the Triple Entente.  In July, 1914, with the restraining hand of Kokovtsev removed, Sazonov believed that this Entente solidarity was virtually assured, when the murder of the Archduke and the Austrian ultimatum caused the “European complications” by means of which he calculated that Russia could finally achieve her “historic mission.”

Turkey and the Balkan States were in unstable equilibrium.  An inherent opposition of interests necessarily caused persistent enmity between Greece and Turkey, between Turkey and Russia, and between Austria and Serbia.  But Bulgaria and Rumania were pursuing opportunist policies, and were ready to side with whichever group of the Great Powers seemed likely to prove the stronger and offer the greatest gains.  No Power ever wants to yield on a matter of prestige, but this Balkan situation made an additional reason why neither France, Russia, Germany nor Austria was at first willing to yield in the Austro Serbian conflict of July, 1914—it might have a determining effect of the policy of Bulgaria and Rumania.  For several years it, had been recognized that a strong Balkan bloc would have all influence in a general European war almost equal to that of a Great Power.  Hence in the spring of 1914, Russia was seeking to win Rumania and build up such a bloc including Serbia and Greece, while Austria in turn was preparing to form a counter-bloc with Bulgaria and Turkey.  Such was the situation when the shots at Sarajevo precipitated the Austro-Serbian conflict and caused a crisis involving the prestige and power of the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente.

The writer of these lines does not believe that the World War was “inevitable.” But he is quite ready to admit that of all the major conflicts of interest which have been alleged as making it “inevitable,” the Balkan problems were those most nearly incapable of a peaceful solution.

249 From the Russian side, M.F.R., pp. 629-693 contains a satisfactorily abundant correspondence between Sazonov and his diplomatic agents—Giers at Constantinople, Izvolski at Paris, and Benckendorff at London;  only part of this is included in L.N., II, 173-279;  Stieve, III, 352-439, IV, 1-28;  and Siebert-Schreiner, pp. 678-708.  The interesting report to the Tsar of the conversations of the Russian Premier, Kokovtsev, with Emperor William and Bethmann-Hollweg on the subject is printed in M.F.R., pp. 624 ff.;  L.N., II, 414 ff.;  Stieve, III, 415 ff.  For the minutes of the Secret Ministerial Councils concerning counter-measures to compel Germany and Turkey to abandon the German Military Mission, see Adamov, Konstantinopol i Prolivy, I, 61-77 (with Sazonov’s reports to the Tsar);  I. Zakher, “Konstantinopol i Prolivy” in Krasnyi Arkhiv, VI, 48-76; VII, 32-54, 1924 (with important and significant Russian Admiralty Reports);  Pokrovski, Drei Konferenzen, pp. 32-45;  Stieve, Iswolski und der Weltkrieg (Berlin, 1924), pp. 234-266 (English trans., appendix, III;  Stieve, however, fails to observe the distinction between Old Style and New Style in discussing these councils.  See also Affaires Balkaniques, III, 81-107, which evidently omits many important telegrams from the German side;  Deutschland Schuldig?  (Berlin, 1919), pp. 159-181;  and, most important of all, G.P., XXXVIII, 193-318.
      Good brief accounts of the Liman von Sanders affair may be found in Liman von Sanders, Fünf Jahre Türkei (Berlin, 1920), pp. 9-30;  Montgelas, The Case for the Central Powers, 93-95;  Brandenburg, pp. 393-395;  Dickinson, pp. 348-9; and more fully, R.J. Kemer, in the Slavonic Review, VI, 12-27, 344-363, 543-560 (June, Dec., 1927;  March, 1928).

250 Sazonov to Sverbeev, Oct. 28/Nov. 10, 1913;  sent also to Giers at Constantinople;  M.F.R., p. 633. Cf. G.P., XXXVIII, 206-209.

251 Cf. Declassé’s Tgs. 700, 701, omitted from the French Yellow Book, but quoted in part by Adamov, p. 59.  The first reference to the Liman von Sanders affair in the French Affaires Balkaniques (III, 81) is the apparently mild and laconic telegram from Delcassé of Nov. 17, 1913:  “The sending of the new German military mission, whose head is to have the command of the Constantinople Army Corps, is preoccupying M. Sazonov.”  For other indications that Delcassé and Pichon at first encouraged Sazonov in his attitude of protest, see ibid., pp. 84, 88, 92f., 96f.;  G.P., XXXVIII, 211, 224ff.;  and Siebert-Schreiner, p. 678f.;  see also below, note 294.

252 For evidences that Germany was strongly opposed to the partition of Asiatic Turkey, though of course if the Entente Powers forced it, she wanted to have her fair share, see G.P., XXXIV, 207, 219 ff., 229 f., 255 f.;  XXXVII, 474 ff.;  XXXVIII, 41-48, 54-66, 93 ff., 129, 196-202;  Conrad, III, 569 ff.;  and Brandenburg, 389 ff. [Eng. trans. p. 456 ff.].

253 Adamov, I, 59.

254 G.P., V, 182, 186;  IX, 3f., 36 ff., 41, 226;  XII, 134, 562, 566 ff.;  XXIV, 150;  XXV, 490, 527, 541, 612-622;  XXVII, 243, 275-284;  XXXVIIL 214 f.

255 G.P., XXXVIII, 193.

256 G.P., XXXVIII, 195 f.

257 On Jan. 28, 1913, the Austrian Military Attaché in Constantinople, after hearing Wangenheim set forth “in his usual lively manner” Turkey’s need of a general reorganization, reported to Conrad (III, 40) :  “As I now learn from a sure Turkish source, this reorganization plan does not originate with Baron Wangenheim, but with the former Turkish Ambassador in Paris, Munir Pasha.  The latter put his views down in a memoir which he recommended to his friends and to Mahmud Shevket Pasha.”  Hilmi Pasha, the Turkish Ambassador in Vienna, correcting Dumaine’s assertion to the contrary, assured Tschirschky that “the initiative came exclusively from the Turkish side” (G.P., XXXVIII, 228).  Djemal Pasha, who was Minister of Public Works in January, 1913, and then became Military Governor of Constantinople in charge of the Army Corps which he later handed over to General Liman, explains in detail (Memories of a Turkish Statesman, 1913-1919, London, pp. 65-70), quoting Mahmud Shevket, how the German Military Mission originated with the latter’s determination to strengthen the Turkish army by reorganizing it along the lines which German instructors for thirty years had been trying to introduce.  His statements on this point deserve all the more credibility as they coincide very closely with Mahmud Shevket’s expression of views to Wangenheim at the time, as now revealed in the German documents (especially G.P., XXXVIII, 198 ff.).  Against this unanimous Turkish evidence is only the casual remark of General Liman himself (Fünf Jahre Türkei, pp. 12, 25) that the Mission was due to Wangenheim’s initiative;  but General Liman knew nothing of the whole matter until several months after it had been first broached;  he may have gotten this erroneous idea from Wangenheim’s zeal in furthering the Mission, or from the German Ambassador’s tendency to magnify his own importance.

258 G.P., XXXVIII, 32-41, 49-54, 58 f., 98.

259 Wangenheim to Bethmann, April 26, 1913;  G.P., XXXVIII, 198 ff.  These views of Mahmud Shevket, set forth on April 26, are the key-note and first elaboration of the Military Mission plan, and are echoed a month later in Wangenheim’s despatches of May 21 and 29 (see next paragraph) which Professor Kerner quotes at length (l.c., pp. 15-18).

260 Wangenheim to Bethmann, May 29, 1913;  ibid., p. 59;  cf. also his despatch of May 22 repeating and endorsing Mahmud Shevket’s request for a German military mission;  ibid, 201 f.

261 Cf. G.P., XXXIII, 323, 340.

262 G.P., XXXVIII, 201.

263 Wangenheim to Berlin Foreign Office, May 26, 1913 (ibid., p. 49):  “In the undeveloped conditions here the administration and gendarmerie need unconditionally the support of the army.  Therefore a basic Anglo-German understanding concerning the work of reform is imperative.  The Porte has informed London that the reorganization of the army and instruction is to fall to Germany.  The English Embassy counsellor said to me day before yesterday of his own accord:  ‘Whether Germany and England want to or not, they will be led by necessity to uphold Turkey.’ ”  Grey told Lichnowsky on May 30 that he agreed with Germany in wishing to preserve and strengthen Turkey, but thought all the Powers ought to assist in the reform work (ibid., p. 55 note).

264 Kaiser’s marginal note, Dec. 3, 1913;  ibid., p. 232;  cf. also to the same effect the Kaiser’s statements to Kokovtsev, the Russian Prime Minister, in November, 1913;  ibid., 216, 219 comment 2;  M.F.R., p. 638;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 676f.  Professor Kerner also mentions this marginal note of Dec. 3 (l.c., p. 18), but later seems to cast doubt upon its trustworthiness, for he speaks of “a vague reference in May, 1913,” which the Kaiser “asserts” (p. 25) and “claims” (p. 26) he made to the Tsar and George V. One might doubt the trustworthiness of the Kaiser’s memory or sincerity in his notes and statements six months after the event, were it not that this Willy-Nicky-Georgie May conversation is confirmed by Jagow’s contemporary despatch to Lichnowsky (May 27;  G.P., XXXVIII, 52), and by the fact that the Tsar himself subsequently “admitted that the plan to send a German Military mission to Turkey had been told to him by the Kaiser at the time of the marriage festivities in Berlin” (Pourtalès to Bethmann, Jan. 31, 1914;  ibid, 307).  What King George replied, when he was asked by Grey about this May conversation, does not appear (cf. Siebert-Schreiner, p. 705).

265 G.P., XXXVIII, 318.  For the quite different light in which Sazonov represented this Constanza conversation in his report to the Tsar, cf. Adamov, I, 357f.;  L.N., II, 378.

266 Jagow to Wangenheim, Aug. 24, 1913;  G.P., XXXVIII, 204.

267 G.P., XXXVIII, 212 ff.  Bethmann and the Foreign Office did not learn the final terms of General Liman’s contract until they received a copy of it on Jan. 8, 1914, from the Prussian Ministry of War (ibid, p. 213 note).

268 Liman, p. 9 ff.  Bethmann was not informed of Liman’s selection until June 30;  G.R. XXXVIII, 202f.

269 Liman, 11.

270 Liman, 11.

271 Giers to Sazonov, Tgs. 928, 936, Oct. 20/Nov. 2, and Oct. 23/Nov. 5, 1913;  M.F.R., p. 631.  Neratov to Sverbeev, Russian Ambassador in Berlin, Tg. 3032, 25 Oct./7 Nov. (M.F.R., p. 632) :  “Discuss in a friendly way ... the very undesirable impression which would be made upon us by the placing of divisions and corps in Constantinople under German officers.  Acts of this sort, causing unnecessary suspicion, hinder friendly relations with the Berlin Cabinet which are maintained on our side at such serious cost.  We should not object to a command, not in the capital;  but in other parts of Turkey not in our neighborhood.”

272 Kokovtsev’s report to the Tsar, 19 Nov./2 Dec., 1913;  M.F.R., 624ff.;  L.N., II, 411ff.  The accuracy of Kokovtsev’s report is confirmed by G.P., XXXVIII, 212-217.

273 Izvolski to Sazonov, Tg. 550, Nov. 12/25;  M.F.R., p. 641, but omitted from L.N., and Stieve.  Cf. also Izvolski’s Tg. 555 (M.F.R.,p.642; L.N., II, 189;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 678) :  “Pichon has again insisted on the fact that France cannot consent that Germans shall command at Smyrna or Beirut;  he has suggested Adrianople to the Porte.”

274 Izvolski’s Tg. 550.

275 Sverbeev’s confidential letter to Sazonov, Nov. 8/21;  M.F.R., p. 649;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 677.

276 Sverbeev to Sazonov, Tg. 277, Nov. 13/26;  M.F.R., p. 643.

277 Giers to Sazonov, Tg. 1069, Dec. 7/20;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 694.

278 Giers to Sazonov, Tgs. 1072, 1073, 1078, 1086, Dec. 7/20 to Dec. 11/24, M.F.R., 670-672, and in part in Siebert-Schreiner, p. 695.  Wangenheim’s despatches of Dec. 16, 17, 18, 19;  G.P., XXXVIII, 259-268;  Liman, p. 14 f.

279 Sazonov to Benckendorff and Izvolski, Tg. 3220, Nov. 12/25;  M.F.R., p. 642;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 678. Cf. G.P., XXXVIII, 235 f., 241.

280 Izvolski to Sazonov, Nov. 13/26;  M.F.R., p. 642;  L.N., II, 189;  Stieve, III, 354.

281 Benckendorff to Sazonov, Nov. 15/28;  M.F.R., p. 644;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 679.

282 Cf. Sazonov to Benckendorff, Nov. 29/Dec. 12, 1913;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 687.

283 Pichon to Cambon, Nov. 29;  Affaires Balkaniques, III, 91 f.

284 Pichon to Bompard at Constantinople, Dec. 3, 1913;  ibid., III, 96.

285 Tgs. 3281 and 3282, indicated in Izvolski’s reply Tg. 565, Nov. 21/Dec. 4;  M.F.R., p. 648;  this telegram is not included in L.N., Stieve, or Siebert-Schreiner,

286 Sazonov to Sverbeev, Nov. 22/Dec. 5, 1913;  MF.R., p. 648.

287 Tg. 3309;  M.F.R., 650;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 681.

288 Etter to Sazonov, Tg. 799, Nov. 19/Dec. 2;  M.F.R., p. 646;  SiebertSchreiner, p. 681. Cf. Cambon to Pichon, Dec. 2 (Affaires Balkaniques, III, 93) :  “The Prime Minister [Asquith] has approved the proposal of Sir Edward Grey for an action at Constantinople.  He thinks this ought not to be collective but identical, and that the Ambassadors could express themselves in about the same terms.”

289 Benckendorff to Sazonov, Tg. Nov. 29/Dec. 12, 1913;  M.F.R., p. 657;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 688.  Cf. also Tg. 813, Dec. 1/14:  “I asked Nicolson, for what reason Grey had changed his original standpoint.  He replied, that meantime details concerning the position of the British Admiral in Constantinople had come to hand from the British Ambassador in Constantinople, which had deprived Grey of every possibility of agreeing to the draft proposed by you.”

290 G.P., XXXVIII, 232 ff., 240f., 245f., 249 ff., 270 ff., 282f.;  and preceding footnote.

291 This “very secret source” may have been another case of Sazonov’s deciphering telegrams sent by the French Government to the French Ambassador in St. Petersburg, similar to the case which contributed to the famous attempted dismissal of M. Georges Louis in May, 1912;  cf. Judet, Georges Louis, pp. 85-88, 99; Poincaré, I, 377 f.

292 Sazonov to Benckendorff, Nov. 29/Dec. 12, 1913;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 687.  See M.F.R., p. 657 ff. for Benckendorff’s replies.  Cf. also Buchanan, My Mission to Russia, I, 149 f., and the approximately correct surmise of the situation by Kühlmann in London, with the Kaiser’s comments (Dec. 12; G.P., XXXVIII, 250) :  “Apparently an extraordinarily strong pressure is being exercised from the Russian side [Kaiser: ‘Rascals!’].  The Russian Government is said to have gone so far as to say to Sir Edward Grey that it must regard his attitude in this question as a touchstone for his feelings toward Russia in general [Kaiser:  ‘Aha’].  Because Sir Edward in his policy wants to avoid a break with Russia [Kaiser:  ‘Ass!  He betrays his country’s own interests’], he is said to have decided to participate formally in the inquiry in the matter but without showing a strong interest in it himself [Kaiser:  ‘Then the Grand Vizier can calmly be rude’].”

293 M.F.R., pp. 658-662;  Siebert-Schreiner, pp. 688-692;  GP., XXXVIII, 250-268.

294 Izvolski to Sazonov, Dec. 19/Jan. 1;  M.F.R., p. 602;  L.N., II, 222;  Stieve, IV, 10;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 701.  For pacific assurances by the French to Germany and Germany’s impressions thereof, see G.P., XXXVIII, 241, 247, 255, 272, 274 ff., 286f., 307.

295 G.P., XXXVIII, 265-302.

296 Sverbeev to Sazonov, Jan. 3/16, 1914;  M.F.R., p. 689; Siebert-Schreiner, p. 707.

297 Cf. Stieve, Izvolski and the World War, pp. 186ff.;  H.E. Barnes, The Genesis of the World War, pp. 110ff., 138ff.;  and note 299 below.

298 Sazonov’s report of Nov. 23/Dec. 6, 1913;  L.N., II, 363-372;  Stieve, III, 374-383 (with the date, Nov. 25/Dec. 8);  summarized by Adamov, pp. 70-75;  approved by the Tsar at Livadia, Nov. 27/Dec. 10.

299 Stieve, Izvolski and the World War, p. 189 ff., quoting this paragraph, suppresses the important clause “Renewing ... status quo” as well as other similar phrases, in which Sazonov expresses his desire to preserve peace and the status quo.  Having suppressed the words which do not fit in with his theories, he says:  “this passage is an admission of enormous import,” and proceeds with the misleading and unwarranted conclusions:  “The kernel lies in the first [!] clause, with the declaration that ‘the question of the Straits can hardly be advanced a step except through European complications’ [italics are Stieve’s]. . . . The passage establishes Sazonov’s conversion to the idea of world war.  Thus at the end of 1913 the Russian Foreign Minister had, as regards the attainment of the specifically Russian aims, completed that fateful change of course which Poincaré on behalf of France had resolutely made as long ago as the end of 1912, when he was ready to attack Austria and Germany. . . . It was this that sealed the doom of Europe,” etc.  Barnes, p. 139, follows Stieve in suppressing passages in which Sazonov expresses his desire to preserve peace and the status quo.

300 For the continuation of Sazonov’s report, concerning Rumania, Serbia, and Austria, see above at note 222.

301 Report of the Admiralty Staff, Dec. 9/22, 1913;  Zakher, “Konstantinopol i Prolivy,” in Krasnyi Arkhiv, VII, 33f.

302 Grigorovitch’s report, approved by the Tsar Dec. 30, 1913/Jan. 13, 1914;  Krasnyi Arkhiv, VII, 35 ff.

303 Pokrovski, Drei Konferenzen, 32 f.;  Stieve, Izvolski and the World War, 219 f.

304 Sazonov’s report to the Tsar, Dec. 27/Jan. 9;  Adamov, pp. 62-64.  It is possible that Sazonov used this argument—that Russia was in danger of being politically isolated—in order to persuade the peace-loving Tsar to approve the discussion of plans for preparedness.

305 Izvolski to Sazonov, Dec. 23/Jan. 5;  M.F.R., p. 686;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 704;  Stieve, IV, 17.  Cf. also Izvolski to Sazonov, Dec. 17/30, 1913, and Jan. 2/15, 1914;  M.F.R., pp. 478-481, 674;  L.N., II, 218, 229;  Stieve, III, 437;  IV, 25-28;  Siebert-Schreiner, p. 697.

306 The Minutes of this Conference of Dec. 31/Jan. 13 were published by M.N. Pokrovski in Russian in 1919;  in German in 1920 (Drei Konferenzen, pp. 32-45);  and in English by Stieve, Izvolski and the World War, pp. 219-229.

307 For the intense nationalism of influential men like the President of the Duma, see M. W. Rodzjanko, Erinnerungen (Berlin, 1926;  Eng. trans., The Reign of Rasputin, London, 1927), passim. How strongly Russian diplomacy seems to have been influenced during the Liman von Sanders Affair and the spring of 1914 by the Grand Duke Nicholas, the militarists, and the Pan-Slav Press (which Sazonov apparently often encouraged yet always feared), is indicated in the shrewd and carefully balanced observations of Pourtalès, the German Ambassador in St. Petersburg (G.P., XXXVIII, 253 ff., 269f., 293 ff.; XXXIX, 540-589, passim) ;  Pourtalès, however, was not an alarmist;  in fact, after July, 1914, he was criticized for not having been sufficiently so.  On this subject in general, see also A. Fischel, Der Panslawismus bis zum Weltkrieg (Stuttgart, 1919) ;  E.H. Wilcox, Russia’s Ruin (New York, 1919) ;  G. Frantz, Russlands Eintritt in den Weltkrieg (Berlin, 1924), and Russland auf dem Wege zur Katastrophe (Berlin, 1926).

308 Izvolski to Sazonov, Jan. 30/Feb. 12, and Feb. 12/25, 1914;  M.F.R., 488 f.; L.N., II, 238 f.;  Stieve, IV, 52, 56.

309 On the 1896 project, see above, note 13;  and on that of 1912, Zakher, in Krasnyi Arkhiv, VI, 50-61, with Admiralty Staff reports.

310 Minutes of the Special Conference of Feb. 8/21, 1914;  Pokrovski, Drei Konferenzen, p. 46 ff.;  Stieve, Isvolsky and the World War, p. 232 ff.

311 Minutes of the Special Conference of Feb. 8/21, 1914;  Pokrovski, Drei Konferenzen, p. 46ff.;  Stieve, Isvolsky and the World War, p. 232ff.  This strategic point of view, always urged on the Russians by the French (cf.  A. Zaiontchkovski, et al., Les Alliés contre la Russie, Paris, 1926), and embodied in General Danilov’s detailed plan of campaign drawn up for the Russian General Staff in March, 1914 (printed by Frantz, Russlands Eintritt in den Weltkrieg, pp. 112-162), was of course the one actually put into operation four months later.

312 Pokrovski, pp. 65-67;  Stieve, pp. 244-246.

313 Duma vote of Mar. 17/30, 1914;  Zakher, in Krasnyi Arkhiv, VII, 51.