Monday, July 28, 2014

Austria Declares War -- July 28, 2014

New York Tribune, July 29, 1914

100 years ago today, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia (then often called Servia) and the First World War began.  Austria-Hungary had dithered for a month after its heir was assassinated:

This article is from the 29-July-1914 New York Tribune. 


Grey's Plan for London Peace Conference

Is Abandoned, While War Spirit

Fills Continental Capitals.


British Fleet Practically Prepared to Sail?Feverish

Military and Naval Activity Prevails in France and

Italy Also as Great Conflict Threatens.

[By Cable to The Tribune]
London, July 29 -- Dispatches from Vienna announce that offensive operations against Servia were begun immediately after the Austro-Hungarian declaration of war.
Austrian troops have crossed the frontier at Mitrovitza, the Servians being driven back.
Twenty thousand of the Temesvar army corps are concentrating near Semendria and are preparing pontoons for crossing the Danube, while another corps, concentrated opposite Belgrade, is laying a pontoon bridge to take the place of the railroad bridge blown up by the Servians on Monday.
Servian vessels with contraband of war have been seized by the Austrians in the Danube. General Morinovich, a Servian staff officer, was arrested yesterday at Marienbad while returning to Servia from Carlsbad, but, like General Putnik, was released.  From Russia comes news that military preparations are proceeding apace on all sides. Russia has already 80,000 men on the Austrian frontier, while more troops are being constantly hurried west and all the rolling stock of the railroads rushed to the frontier, the ordinary business of the country being paralyzed by the movements of troops and the disorganization of the railroad service.
Another Vienna report tells of sharp fighting along the River Drina, Servian volunteers attempting to cross the river being resolutely opposed by Austrian frontier troops. It was also reported that the Servians fired on their own river transports by mistake, killing and wounding a number of Servian soldiers.

German dispatches indicate that the Fatherland is ready on sea and land. The North Sea fleet has been mobilized and the mobilization of the army is in progress, if not already in large measure completed, but, as in the case of Austria, the German censorship is so rigid and so strictly enforced that very little definite news is coming through -- practically nothing as regards the military forces and only such diplomatic news as the government desires to have published.
A dispatch from Gumbinnen. Eastern Prussia, says Russia has occupied Wirballen. Russian Poland, with a force of engineers, cavalry, artillery and two regiments of infantry, while Russian guards have been placed along all roads on the frontier. 
The dispatch adds that a squadron of German Uhlans has advanced to Eydtkuhnen, on the Russian frontier.
Germany has made it clear in St. Petersburg that even the partial mobilization of the Russian army will be answered by the mobilization of the German army.

France is taking all necessary steps for an immediate mobilization. The French fleet is in active preparation and the railroads are concentrating their rolling stock for troop trains. Mobilization has not been ordered in France, but there have been many movements of troops near the frontier, and regiments manoeuvring in the open country have been sent back to quarters.
Italy has summoned three warships from the Clyde to the Mediterranean, and even Holland and Belgium are taking steps to guard their frontiers.

Great Britain has made no movement for the mobilization of her land forces, though conferences have been held between Lord Kitchener and Sir Edward Grey, but the fleet is practically ready to take the sea at any minute. All leave has been stopped and men and officers are held close to their ships.

In the meantime, the diplomatic efforts continue, but these have now narrowed to direct negotiations between St. Petersburg and Vienna, and Sir Edward Grey's plan for a conference has been abandoned.
Austria has declined Sir Edward Grey's offer of mediation between herself and Servia, saying that the matters in dispute are too vital for submission to any kind of arbitration tribunal and that full reparation must be exacted from Servia at whatever cost,
Germany's refusal of the invitation to the conference caused the abandonment of the idea. Germany takes the Austrian view that the dispute cannot be settled by arbitration.

Monday's optimism in Germany has given place to pessimism.  Paris regards the situation as extremely grave. Behind all its endeavors to And a reason for optimism, the fear bulks large that the Austrian invasion of Servia, even if confined to the occupation of Belgrade, will be followed by the immediate general mobilization of Russia. Such mobilization will put Europe in flames.
On all the bourses of Europe severe depression reigned.

News of the declaration of war reached this city at 6 p. m., and the first result thereof was an immediate heavy slump in the street trading in American stocks (Shorter's Court). Canadian Pacific was the centre of the storm and tumbled headlong to 170 though the closing price on the exchange was 176 1/2. The quotation dropped whole dollars at times, and the question, "What's the price now?" received answers quite unreliable, so swiftly shifting was the market. At 170 the trading steadied a little, but general uneasiness was still apparent.

Canadian Pacific's fall is regarded as the index of Continental apprehension over hostilities, and  also as showing the anxiety of New York. Nothing as sharp as this spectacular drop has been witnessed since 1907 in Shorter's Court. Occasionally other shares were mentioned, such as Steel, Southern Pacific, Union Pacific and Erie, all of which fell from 1 to 3 points. Half an hour before the closing of the street trading a slight rally, due to bear covering took place, but brokers, pale-faced and nerve-racked, sighed a sigh of relief when the final minute came.
The bulk of the selling on the regular market and in the street is still coming from the Continent, and with the Brussels. Vienna and Budapest bourses closed and only limited dealings being possible on the Paris Parquet, the brunt of foreign liquidation hit London hard.
A saving feature of the day was comparative steadiness of the gilt-edged list. There was no repetition of the previous day's sensational fluctuations in consols. The prices of consols went lower, but there appeared to be some substantial support, limiting the drop to half a point.

The monetary situation is considered very sound here, with gold coming to London from South America and the United States. Anxiety will prevail until Thursday, with the possibility of a rise in
the bank rate as a wise precautionary measure. Ugly rumors are afloat in financial circles over impending disasters here.
The manner of the day's developments provides food for reflection.  Germany's announcement of the rejection of the British scheme to bring four powers together in conference for medialion was accompanied with the explanation that her ally could not be expected to submit her acts to a European council as though she were one of the Balkan states. 

This pronouncement preceded the declaration of war by only two hours, thus giving an exhibition of the perfectly harmonious working of the partnership between the two nations which stood so firmly together through the Bosnian crisis of 1909.
The centre of interest has now shifted sharply to St. Petersburg, which holds the decision whether a European war which would probably rearrange the entire map of Europe is to break out. The nature and progress of the conversations now proceeding between Vienna and St. Petersburg are wrapped in the thickest mystery, but they are the last plank the neutral powers are clinging to in face of a storm which may wash all under.

Vienna, July 28. -- The text of the declaration of war, which was gazetted here late to-day, follows:
"The royal government of Servia not having replied in a satisfactory manner to the note remitted to it by the Austro-Hungarian minister in Belgrade on July 23, 1914, the imperial and royal government finds itself compelled to proceed to safeguard its rights and interests and to have recourse for this purpose to force of arms.

"Austria-Hungary considers itself, therefore, from this moment in a state of war with Servia.

"Minister Foreign Affairs of Austria-Hungary."

No comments: