Kaiser Wilhelm II

(1) The Background, to June 1914


 

Balkans.

==14th-15th centuries > The Ottoman Turks overrun the Balkans, swallowing up Serbia and other states.

==Late 17th to early 18th centuries > The Ottoman Empire begins to weaken. Austria and Russia expand toward the Balkans and begin interfering in the region, but neither empire makes a serious attempt at full-scale conquest.

==Late 18th century > Catherine the Great of Russia plans to break up the Ottoman Empire and - with Austria - to partition the Balkans. This scheme is dropped after the outbreak of the French Revolution.

==1804-1815 > The Serbs revolt against Turkish rule. In 1815, after years of bloody conflict, the Turks finally agree to grant Serbia autonomy. The Balkan nations begin to re-emerge from Turkish rule.

 

Balkans.

==1860-1868 > With Russian support, Serbian Prince Michael Obrenović pursues plans for uniting the Balkans under his rule. Michael is assassinated before he is able to realize his goal.

 

Austria-Hungary.

==1867.Feb > The Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy is created. The Habsburgs preserve their throne with a compromise (the Ausgleich) that effectively allows Hungarian nationalists to control half the empire. The South Slavs living under the Habsburgs are politically marginalized by the arrangement.

 

Germany.

==1871.Jan.18 > THE GERMAN EMPIRE IS ESTABLISHED: Wilhelm I is proclaimed Emperor (Kaiser) in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. After defeating France in the Franco-Prussian War, the newly united Germany has become the most powerful state in Europe. Bismarck works to secure these gains by isolating France, promoting cordial relations with the other powers, and generally maintaining peace in Europe.

 

Balkans.

==1875-1876 > Widespread unrest in the Balkans. In 1876 Serbia and Montenegro go to war with the aim of seizing Bosnia and uniting the South Slavs, but they are quickly defeated by the Turks.

==1877.Apr-1878.Mar > The Russo-Turkish War. Russia invades the Balkans and reaches the outskirts of Constantinople after heavy fighting. In Mar.1878 the Russians try to impose the Treaty of San Stefano, which would allow them to dominate the Balkans. This is not acceptable to the other European powers. 

==1878.Jun.13-Jul.13 > The Congress of Berlin. The powers attempt to establish a coherent order in the Balkans in the wake of the Russo-Turkish War. Serbia, Montenegro, and Romania are recognized as independent. Bulgaria becomes effectively independent and Bosnia-Herzegovina is placed under Austrian administration, though both regions remain under nominal Turkish suzerainty. Turkey is stripped of half of her European territories. Russia loses most of her post-war gains, but Austria benefits nicely.

 

Central Powers.

==1879-1882 > Germany forms the defensive Triple Alliance with Austria-Hungary and Italy. Italy's adherence to the pact is shaky, but the alliance is regularly renewed until World War I. 

 

Balkans.

==1881 > Serbia has become a virtual Austrian protectorate - the height of Austrian influence in the Balkans.

==1886-1888 > Dangerous Russian-Austrian tensions develop over the Balkans. The possibility of the two powers peaceably dividing the region into spheres of influence has largely vanished.

 

Germany.

==1888.Jun.15 > The young Wilhelm II becomes Emperor of Germany (to Nov.09.1918).

 

Naval Arms Race.

==1889.May.31 > Britain adopts the 'two power standard,' directing that the Royal Navy should be at least equal to the fleets of the two next strongest naval powers combined. Britain begins strengthening its fleet.

 

Germany.

==1890.Mar.18 > Wilhelm II dismisses Bismarck. German foreign policy becomes more aggressive and more inept.

 

Russia.Germany.

==1890.Mar.23 > Since 1873 there have been a series of loose friendship pacts in effect between Germany and Russia. At this time, Kaiser Wilhelm decides to take a hard line against Russia and declines to renew the most recent accord (the Reinsurance Treaty). Within days of his dismissal, Bismarck's European system is already beginning to unravel. The Reinsurance Treaty lapses on Jun.18, leaving Russia isolated.

 

Entente.

==1891-1894 > Worried by its diplomatic isolation, unhappy with Germany's growing ties to Austria, and in need of French loans, Russia forms a defensive alliance with France. The alliance endures until 1917.

 

Naval Arms Race.

==1894 > After reading Alfred Thayer Mahan's The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, Kaiser Wilhelm becomes an ardent believer in the need for a strong German navy. In 1895, he orders plans for a fleet of 25 battleships. 

 

Britain.Germany.

==1896.Jan.03 > The Kruger Telegram. The Kaiser clumsily interferes in British / South African affairs. British public opinion begins to turn sharply against Germany.

 

Naval Arms Race.

==1897.Jun > Bernhard von Bülow becomes German Foreign Minister and Alfred Tirpitz becomes Navy Minister. Germany begins pursuing Weltpolitik, an aggressively imperialist foreign policy that calls for a large fleet. 

==1898.Mar.26 > The Reichstag approves the First Navy Bill, marking the beginning of serious German naval expansion. The Second Navy Bill is passed on Jun.14.1901, more than doubling the size of the naval buildup. 

==1898 > The Navy League is established in Germany. The League very successfully whips up popular support for naval expansion - by 1914, it has over a million members. 

 

Britain.Germany.

==1898.spring-1902 > Concerned by its international isolation, Britain makes fitful attempts to form an alliance with Germany, but the two mutually suspicious nations are unable to reach an accord.

 

Britain.France.

==1898.Sep-Dec > The Fashoda Crisis. A dispute over control of the upper Nile brings Britain and France to the brink of war. This proves to be the last serious colonial dispute between the two old enemies.

 

Naval Arms Race.

==1901-1902 > British agreements with the United States and Japan ease the Royal Navy's commitments in the Western Hemisphere and East Asia, and allow it to begin concentrating its fleet in home waters.

 

Balkans.

==1903.Jun.10-11 [night] > Ultra-nationalist Serbian army officers overthrow the pro-Austrian Obrenović dynasty in a bloody coup and soon install the rival Karageorgevic line on the throne. Within less than a year, under the guidance of Foreign Minister Nikola Pašić, Serbia breaks with Austria and begins to openly align with Russia.

 

Russia.

==1904.Feb.08-1905.Sep.05 > The Russo-Japanese War. Russia is distracted from European affairs.

 

Entente.

==1904.Apr.08 > The Anglo-French Convention. Britain and France reach a general settlement on colonial issues. One part of the arrangement gives France a free hand in Morocco. Britain begins to align with France: THE START OF THE ENTENTE CORDIAL.

 

Naval Arms Race.

==1904.Oct.21 > Admiral Jackie Fisher becomes British First Sea Lord (to Jan.25.1910). The modernization of the Royal Navy accelerates.

 

Germany.Naval Arms Race.

==1904.late > On Nov.01, Navy Minister Tirpitz demands that foreign policy be subordinated to his naval buildup. In December, the Heeringen Report insists that Germany put "preparedness for war...above all other considerations." German foreign policy is becoming increasingly dominated by military issues.

 

Russia.

==1905.Jan.22 > Bloody Sunday in St. Petersburg. Russia is convulsed by revolution and disorder into 1906, its armed forces are undermined by mutinies, and its international influence is temporarily almost completely eclipsed.

 

First Moroccan Crisis.

==1905.Mar.31-1906.Apr > The severe First Moroccan Crisis. Acting while Russia is weak, Germany threatens France in an attempt to drive a wedge between France and Britain. THE FIRST OF A SERIES OF RECURRENT EUROPEAN CRISES TO 1914.

 

Russia.Germany.

==1905.Jul.24 > The Björkö Treaty. The Kaiser's ill-conceived, impromptu attempt to lure Russia into an alliance fails by late November. Russia grows suspicious of Germany and the Franco-Russian alliance grows stronger.

 

Britain.

==1905.Dec.11 > Sir Edward Grey becomes British Foreign Secretary (to Dec.1916).

 

Germany.

==1905.Dec.20 > The Schlieffen Plan is completed. In the event of war, the main German offensive against France will advance through the Low Countries.

==1906.Jan.01 > Helmuth von Moltke (Moltke the Younger) becomes Chief of the German General Staff  (to Sep.14.1914).

 

Entente.

==1906.Jan.17 > Britain and France begin holding secret staff talks, discussing plans for sending a British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to France if war breaks out with Germany.

 

Naval Arms Race.

==1906.Feb.10 > Britain launches the battleship HMS Dreadnought, revolutionizing naval design and destabilizing the naval balance of power.

 

First Moroccan Crisis.

==1906.Apr.07 > After a three-month international conference, the final Act of Algeciras marks the end of the First Moroccan Crisis. The powers recognize that France has special interests in Morocco. Germany's aggressive diplomacy has backfired disastrously: Britain now sees Germany as a real threat and has become firmly aligned with France though it refuses to conclude a formal alliance. Russia, Italy, and America are also becoming increasingly wary of Germany. European armies are beginning to make serious preparations for a general war. About this time, Lord Esher writes "Within measurable distance there looms a titanic struggle between Germany and Europe for mastery."

 

Balkans.

==1906.Apr-1908.Mar > The 'Pig War.' Austria fails in an attempt to coerce Serbia through economic sanctions. The two countries are becoming openly hostile.

 

Austria-Hungary.

==1906.Nov.18 > The highly belligerent Franz Conrad von Hotzendorf becomes Chief of Staff of the Austro-Hungarian Army (to 1911, and then 1912-1916).

 

Naval Arms Race.

==1907.Jan.01 > An influential British Foreign Office paper by Eyre Crowe warns that the British Empire is doomed if Germany achieves naval supremacy.

 

Entente.

==1907.Aug.31 > Britain and Russia sign a colonial accord. THE TRIPLE ENTENTE IS COMPLETE. The vague alignment of Britain, France, and Russia is gradually cemented by clumsy German foreign policy. Germany has become diplomatically isolated, with only Austria as a fairly reliable ally.

 

Naval Arms Race.

==1907.Nov.18 > An extreme German Navy Bill is introduced in the Reichstag - a full-blown Anglo-German naval race is underway.

 

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

==1907 > The young Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip enters commercial school in Sarajevo and begins absorbing nationalist literature.

 

Ottoman Empire.

==1908.late Jul > The Young Turk revolution overthrows the old regime in the Ottoman Empire. The Balkans and the Middle East begin to destabilize.

 

Naval Arms Race.

==1908.Aug.12-13 > The British Hardinge mission fails to reach a naval agreement with Germany. This is the last serious attempt until 1912 to negotiate an end to the naval arms race.

 

Bosnian Crisis.

==1908.Sep.15-16 > The Buchlau Conference. Austrian Foreign Minister Aehrenthal dupes his Russian counterpart Izvolsky into endorsing the Austrian annexation of Bosnia.

==1908.Oct.05 > Bulgaria proclaims its full independence from the Ottoman Empire, with Austria's tacit support.

==1908.Oct.06 > Austria announces the annexation of Bosnia (news of the impending annexation began leaking out on Oct.03). The dangerous Bosnian Crisis to Apr.1909. Russia, Serbia, the Turks, and Italy are enraged at the sudden Austrian action.

 

Balkans.

==1908.Oct.08 > Serbian nationalists establish the secret Narodna Odbrana society, eventually forming underground networks throughout the Balkans.

 

Britain.Germany.

==1908.Oct.28 > The Daily Telegraph Incident. Foolish comments by Kaiser Wilhelm in a newspaper interview embarrass Germany and annoy Britain.

 

Balkans.

==1909.Jan.16 > Russian Foreign Minister Izvolsky warns that the tensions in the Balkans will ultimately be resolved by war: "Perhaps this conflict will not break out for five or ten years, but it is inevitable..."

 

Central Powers.

==1909.Jan.21 > German Chief of Staff Moltke begins corresponding with his Austrian counterpart Conrad. Pledges made by Moltke effectively change the German-Austrian coalition from a defensive to an offensive alliance, and largely allow Austria to control events.

 

Naval Arms Race.

==1909.Mar.16 > The Dreadnought Panic. The British Parliament sharply accelerates the buildup of the Royal Navy, ending any realistic German hope of catching up with Britain as a naval power.

 

Bosnian Crisis.

==1909.Mar.22-31 > On Mar.22, Russia is compelled to yield to a German ultimatum and to recognize the Austrian annexation of Bosnia. Nine days later, Serbia is forced to submit to the annexation and to pledge friendship to Austria. The Bosnian Crisis is ended - Russia and Serbia are humiliated and embittered.

 

Germany.

==1909.Jul.14 > Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg becomes Chancellor of Germany (to Jul.1917).

 

Balkans.

==1910.late Mar-1912.Sep > Large-scale revolts in Albania weaken Turkey's grip on its Balkan domains. The Turks finally agree to Albanian terms on Sep.04.1912, a few weeks before the First Balkan War erupts.

==1910.Jun.15 > A murder attempt is made on the Governor of Bosnia. Serbian nationalists begin launching terrorist attacks against Austro-Hungarian officials.

 

Germany.

==1910.Jul.(approximately) > German political and military leaders are increasingly ready to support an aggressive foreign policy in an attempt to counteract the rising power of the Social Democrats.

 

Russia.

==1910.Sep > Sergei Sazonov becomes Russian Foreign Minister (to Aug.1916).

==end of 1910.(approximately) > Russian military power is rapidly reviving from its near collapse after the Russo-Japanese War. Russia makes plans for an immediate attack on East Prussia in the event of a general war. 

 

Balkans.

==1911.Mar.03 > Serbian ultra-nationalists establish the secret terrorist group Union or Death, later known as the Black Hand. It eventually largely replaces the earlier Narodna Odbrana network. The group is formally organized in May.

 

Second Moroccan Crisis.

==1911.Jul.01 > Responding to French military intervention in Morocco, Germany sends the gunboat Panther to Agadir in southwest Morocco. The intense Second Moroccan Crisis to November. RISING TEMPO OF INTERNATIONAL CRISES TO THE SUMMER OF 1914. From this point on, there seems to be an increasingly widespread belief that a general European war is inevitable.

 

Britain.

==1911.Aug.13 > In a memo to Prime Minister Asquith, Home Secretary Winston Churchill accurately predicts the events of August and September 1914 and envisions a long war of attrition. Churchill's memo is contemptuously dismissed by General Henry Wilson, Chief of Military Operations.

 

Tripolitanian War.

==1911.Sep.29-1912.Oct > Italy invades Turkish-ruled Libya, but encounters much tougher resistance than expected. The Tripolitanian War formally ends when the Turks cede Libya to Italy in the Treaty of Lausanne, signed on Oct.18.1912 just as the First Balkan War is breaking out.

 

Britain.

==1911.Oct.25 > Winston Churchill becomes First Lord of the Admiralty (to May.1915).

 

Second Moroccan Crisis.

==1911.Nov.04 > The Treaty of Berlin resolves the Second Moroccan Crisis on terms favorable to France. The German military and right-wing are humiliated; French confidence has strongly revived.

 

Germany.

==1911.Nov.09-10 > In the debate on the Moroccan accord, a conservative Reichstag member shouts: "After every war things are better!"

==1911.Nov.19 > The German War Ministry submits plans for a massive army expansion, acting on the assumption that war is likely in the near future. 

==1911.Dec.02 > German Chief of Staff Moltke writes to Chancellor Bethmann: "All are preparing themselves for the great war, which all sooner or later expect."

 

Naval Arms Race.

==1911.Dec.12 > Austrian Foreign Minister Aehrenthal calls British-German rivalry "the dominant element of the international situation" which will "probably lead to a European war, which is now almost unavoidable."

 

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

==1911 > Serbia establishes the 'Serbo-Croat Progressive Organization' to encourage Serbian nationalism among Bosnian students. Its members eventually include young Gavrilo Princip.

 

France.

==1912.Jan.14 > French nationalist Raymond Poincaré forms a government. France becomes more assertive to Germany and more supportive of Russia. The Triple Entente grows stronger.

 

Germany.

==early.1912 > The reactionary General Bernhardi publishes the influential book Germany and the Next War, advocating the destruction of France and the establishment of a German-controlled central European federation.

==1912.Feb.02 > Peter Spahn, the leader of the German Catholic Center Party, predicts that an Austrian attack on Serbia will lead to a European general war. 

 

Naval Arms Race.

==1912.Feb.08-11 > The British Haldane Mission fails to relieve Anglo-German tensions.

 

Austria-Hungary.

==1912.Feb.17 > Leopold von Berchtold becomes Austrian Foreign Minister (to Jan.1915).

 

Balkans.

==1912.Mar.13-May.29 > Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece form the Balkan League. The League is largely brokered by Nikolai Hartwig, the extremist pan-Slav Russian ambassador to Serbia, who seems to be conducting his own foreign policy independently of St. Petersburg. Originally intended to be directed against Austria, the Balkan states redirect their alliance against the Turks.

 

Germany.

==1912.May.10 > The Reichstag agrees to a massive increase in land forces - the start of serious German army expansion.

 

Balkan Wars.

==1912.Oct.08-18 > Montenegro declares war on the Turks on Oct.08, followed by Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece on Oct.17-18. The First Balkan War to Jun.1913. Within a few weeks the Turks are driven out of the Balkans and back to the outskirts of Constantinople. Bulgaria is soon at odds with its allies.

==1912.Nov.24 > Alarmed by Serbia's victories, Austria supports an independent Albania to block Serbian expansion. This angers Serbia's ally Russia. Albanian crises to late 1913. Germany's support of Austria intensifies as the crisis heats up during November.

 

Britain.Germany.

==1912.Dec.03 > Viscount Haldane tells German ambassador Lichnowsky that Britain is committed to preserving a balance of power in Europe and will not tolerate an Austrian attack on Serbia or a German attack on France. Britain is unhappy with Germany's unequivocal support of Austria in the Albanian crisis.

 

Germany.

==1912.Dec.08 > The 'Kriegsrat' (war council). Infuriated by Haldane's comments of Dec.03, Kaiser Wilhelm holds a bellicose meeting with his military chiefs. The Kaiser welcomes the prospect of an Austrian attack on Serbia and seems eager for a general European war. Moltke supports him, commenting "the sooner, the better," but recommends a press campaign first to prepare public opinion. Tirpitz is cautious. Despite the bloodthirsty mood of the conference, no concrete preparations are made for war. 

 

Balkan Wars.

==1912.Dec.17-1913.Jan.13 > The London Peace Conferences attempt to negotiate a Balkan settlement.

 

Germany.

==1913.Jan.05 > Gottlieb von Jagow becomes German Foreign Minister (to Dec.1916).

==1913.Feb.26 > German Chief of Staff Moltke reportedly muses "When starting a world war, one has to think very carefully." Also around this time, Moltke instructs the German General Staff to consider a Russian mobilization as tantamount to a declaration of war.

 

Entente.

==1913.Apr > The British and French navies reach an understanding on operations in the event of war - Britain agrees to protect the English Channel and France agrees to secure the western Mediterranean. But since this naval accord is not backed by a formal alliance, France remains insecure. If Britain should choose to remain neutral in a war between France and Germany, the French Channel coast would be left defenseless.

 

Germany.

==1913.late Jun > German Chancellor Bethmann writes: "The more distant future is quite dark... I am fed up... with the clamor for war... It is high time that the great nations calmed down again... or there will be an explosion no one desires."

 

Balkan Wars.

==1913.Jun.29-Aug.10 > The Second Balkan War. Feeling that it has been cheated of compensation for its efforts in the First Balkan War, Bulgaria suddenly attacks its Greek and Serbian allies in Macedonia. It is swiftly defeated. Romania and the Turks take the opportunity to join in and grab territory from the loser. The war is ended by the Treaty of Bucharest on Aug.10.

 

Germany.

==1913.Jun.30 > The Reichstag passes a gigantic Army Bill.

 

Central Powers.

==1913.Jul and Oct > Italy warns that she is not likely to support Austria in an aggressive war.

==1913.Jul > Berchtold threatens to join the Entente if Germany doesn't support Austria-Hungary completely.

 

France.

==1913.Aug.07 > A major French Army Bill is ratified - a rapid French military buildup is underway.

 

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

==1913.mid Sep > Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne and Inspector General of the Austrian Army, decides to observe military maneuvers at Sarajevo in 1914.

 

Balkans.

==1913.Oct.25 > Austria compels Serbia to withdraw from northern Albania.

 

Central Powers.

==1913.Oct.26 > Kaiser Wilhelm reassures Berchtold that he's "…ready to draw the sword whenever your actions makes it necessary... whatever comes from Vienna is for me a command."

 

Balkans.

==1913.Nov > Berchtold concludes that war with Serbia is inevitable, and will lead to the destruction of either Serbia or Austria-Hungary. Some Austrian leaders are becoming fixated on Serbia. In the course of the year 1913, Chief of Staff Conrad proposes an attack on Serbia 25 times.

 

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

==1913.Dec.03 > A Serbian nationalist journal in Chicago editorializes on Franz Ferdinand's proposed visit to Sarajevo in 1914: "Take holy vengeance! Death to the Habsburg dynasty!"

 

Russia.Germany.

==1913.Dec.14 > The Liman von Sanders affair. The arrival of a German military mission in Constantinople sets off a sharp Russian-German crisis to mid-January.

 

Europe.

==1913 > European military spending has increased by 50% since 1908.

 

Balkans.

==1914.Feb.02 > Tsar Nicholas tells the visiting Serbian Premier Pašić "For Serbia, we shall do everything."

 

Russia.

==1914.Feb.18 > The Russian courtier Benckendorff writes "...absolutely no one wants war or adventure but over the last few months the feeling that war is inevitable has...grown in all classes."

==1914.Feb > Pyotr Durnovo, a conservative former Interior Minister, writes a memo predicting an impending general European war, leading to an extreme social revolution in Russia. The Tsar evidently ignores the report.

==1914.early Mar > The Tsar's mother writes "...I see that we are going by great steps toward some kind of  catastrophe..." 

 

Germany.

==1914.early Mar-Apr. > In Germany, there is increasing agitation for war. The German Army opens an anti-Russian press campaign on Mar.02. On Mar.11, a German newspaper headline predicts that "a war, the like of which history has never seen, is approaching." On Apr.19, the influential Pan-German League warns that "France and Russia are preparing for the decisive struggle with Germany and Austria-Hungary and they intend to strike at the first opportunity."

 

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

==1914.Mar.27 > Gavrilo Princip begins plotting to kill Franz Ferdinand when the Archduke visits Sarajevo.

 

Central Powers.

==1914.May.12 > The last pre-war staff talks take place between Moltke and Conrad. Both military commanders desire a preventive war.

 

Germany.United States.

==1914.May.15-Jul.29 > Edward House, chief political adviser to President Wilson, travels to Europe in an attempt to ease international tensions. After meetings with leading Germans, the appalled House reports to Wilson on May.29 "…the situation is extraordinary.  It is militarism run stark mad... The whole of Germany is charged with electricity... Everybody's nerves are tense; it only needs a spark to set the whole thing off." House meets with the Kaiser on Jun.01, and attempts to convince him to allow the US to broker a naval accord between Britain and Germany. Wilhelm counters with the bizarre proposal that "the Teutonic powers" (Germany, Britain, and America) should lead a grand alliance to defend Western civilization against "the Oriental races."

 

Germany.

==1914.May.20 (or Jun.03) > Moltke asks Foreign Minister Jagow to "orient our policy at the early provocation of war" with Russia. Also around this time, Moltke warns the Kaiser that by 1917 Russia will be able to quickly crush Germany, and demands universal conscription.

 

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

==1914.May.24-27 > Princip and his fellow conspirators travel to Serbia, contact the terrorist Black Hand organization, and receive revolvers, bombs and cyanide… with instructions to kill themselves after the assassination. The weapons are supplied by a Serbian army officer. The leading figure in the Black Hand is another officer, Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijovic, also known as 'Apis,' who is chief of intelligence for the Serbian general staff. He played a key role in the bloody 1903 coup that installed the ruling king. Apis has contacts with the Russian embassy, but there is no indication that the Russians are aware of the assassination plot.

 

Germany.

==1914.Jun.01 > Commenting on a general war, Moltke writes: "We are ready and the sooner it comes the better for us."

 

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

==1914.Jun.04 > Franz Ferdinand almost cancels his trip to Bosnia. On the same day, his assassin Princip returns to Sarajevo.

==1914.Jun.12-14 > Kaiser Wilhelm and Franz Ferdinand have an amicable meeting at Konopischt, during which they stroll through the Archduke's rose gardens.

 

Britain.Germany.

==1914.Jun.15 > Britain and Germany reach an accord on the Persian Gulf region and the proposed Baghdad railroad. Anglo-German tensions are showing some signs of easing.

 

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

==1914.mid Jun (approximately) > There are widespread rumors of a plot to assassinate Franz Ferdinand.

 

France.

==1914.Jun.20-Jul.28 > The attention of the French public is distracted from foreign affairs by the dramatic murder trial of Madame Caillaux, the wife of a former prime minister.

 

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

==1914.Jun.21 (or possibly Jun.05) > In Vienna, Serbian envoy Jovanovic meets with Austrian Finance Minister Bilinski and vaguely hints that Franz Ferdinand's visit to Sarajevo might be dangerous. This is probably an attempt by Serbian Premier Pašić, who opposes the Black Hand, to discretely warn Austria of reports of an assassination plot. In any event, Bilinski fails to act. Other attempts by Pašić and his allies to stop the conspiracy fail as well. The Black Hand also makes unsuccessful attempts to abort its own assassination plot.

 

Britain.Germany.

==1914.Jun.23-30 > Kiel Week: the German Navy holds a grand review. A British naval squadron pays a visit and Kaiser Wilhelm tours a British dreadnought wearing a Royal Navy admiral's uniform.

==1914.Jun.24 > The German ambassador to London reports that during an cordial meeting, Foreign Secretary Grey "said that it was his endeavor to go hand in hand with Germany into the future."

 

Balkans.

==1914.Jun.24 > There is disagreement in Austria and Germany over Balkan policy. At this point, Kaiser Wilhelm and Franz Ferdinand hope for improved relations with Russia and Serbia and support a Romanian alliance. The Kaiser also desires rapprochement with Greece. But on Jun.24 a major Austrian foreign ministry memorandum proposes a much more aggressive strategy. Fearing that Russia could form a new Balkan League hostile to Austria, the memo recommends alliances with Bulgaria and Turkey directed against Serbia. It favors breaking with Romania, which is unfriendly to Hungary, and expects Greece to align against the Turks and Bulgarians. After Franz Ferdinand's assassination, the memo becomes the basis for Austrian policy. 

 

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

==1914.Jun.24-Jun.27 > Franz Ferdinand departs Vienna during a rainstorm on Jun.24. The electric lights fail as he boards the train, and he quips that the candles in his darkened railroad car make it look as though he's entering a tomb. The Archduke and his wife arrive near Sarajevo the next day. He oversees army maneuvers through Jun.27.

 

Britain.United States.

==1914.Jun.27 > American envoy Edward House has lunch with British Foreign Secretary Grey. House warns that although the Kaiser wants peace, the German army is aggressive and "that Germany would strike quickly when she moved." Grey pays little attention, evidently assuming that House is too inexperienced in European affairs to be able to judge the situation.

 

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

==1914.Jun.27 [evening] > Franz Ferdinand and his wife hold a formal banquet at their hotel for military officers and local officials. Outside the window, the Sarajevo garrison band performs a concert of light music on the hotel lawn.


Gavrilo Princip

courtesy of Photos of the Great War  (World War I Document Archive)

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