28/7/1914 The Kaiser reads Serbia’s reply to the ultimatum, sees no further need for war

It is a month since the murder of Franz Ferdinand. In his palace at Potsdam, Kaiser Wilhelm II wakes up in good spirits and goes for a horse ride. On returning he reads Serbia’s reply to Austria-Hungary’s ultimatum. The Serbians have conceded almost everything that Vienna has looked for, a clear diplomatic triumph for Austria-Hungary. The points of difference (the Serbians’ rejection of foreign officials operating in their country) he sees as minor matters that can be smoothed over by negotiation.

At 10.00 am the Kaiser writes to Jagow, his foreign minister. Austria-Hungary should use the reply as a basis for negotiation on the outstanding points. Perhaps Belgrade will need to be occupied temporarily (largely to give the Austro-Hungarian army an outing) but there is clearly no need for war.

Seeing no particular reason for haste, the Kaiser sends his message by courier rather than by telegram or the new-fangled telephone.

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