28/7/1914 The Kaiser is furious with Bethmann Hollweg and the Austrians

When Kaiser Wilhelm learns of Austria-Hungary’s declaration of war, he is furious. He summons Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg to Potsdam and berates him. “You have got me into a right mess,” he apparently says. He orders Bethmann Hollweg to cajole Austria-Hungary into negotiations with Russia.

Bethmann Hollweg returns to Berlin and sends a message to his ambassador in Vienna. He criticises the declaration of war, given Austria-Hungary’s inability to follow it up with decisive military action. Bethmann Hollweg tells Tschirschky that Austria-Hungary must negotiate with Russia and convince it that no destruction or dismemberment of Serbia is envisaged, just a temporary occupation of Belgrade to enforce compliance with the ultimatum terms.

Bethmann Hollweg also telegrams his ambassadors in London, Paris and St. Petersburg to say that he now favours talks between Russia and Austria-Hungary.

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