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4   DAYS OF PREPARATION

claimed that a friendly settlement with Austria was possible, if the latter were left to follow her own inclinations, and asserted plainly that the real obstacle to adjustment was Germany.

In the light of subsequent revelations, and the know-ledge the world has obtained during the progress of the war of the by-ways of German policy, one cannot doubt the correctness of Russia's conception of the situation. Germany had already warned England, France, and Russia that, if the latter mobilized, this action would necessitate German mobilization against both Russia and France, although Russia had already assured Germany that her southern mobilization would not be directed against Germany, but only against Austria, in case the latter crossed the Serbian frontier. On the

9th, Russia again requested Germany to participate in the quadruple conference proposed by Sir Edward Grey, for the purpose of composing the differences between Serbia and Austria. This proposal Germany rejected, and Austria, though still negotiating with Russia, began immediately the bombardment of Belgrade. On the 31st, Russia issued an order of general mobilization, and, on the same day, Germany presented two ultimatums, one to Russia demanding that her mobilization should cease, the other to France, enquiring what steps she would take in the event of war breaking out between Germany and Russia. The French answer was explicit, as Germany knew it would be, and from this time on, regarding war with France and Russia as certain, Berlin bent all its energies to the task of ensuring the neutrality of Great Britain, doubting little of the prospects of success. On the 29th, Germany offered, if Great Britain would agree to stand aside, to give assurances that, in the event of victory, she would make no territorial acquisitions at the expense of France, but would not extend the promise to the French colonial possessions, nor would she undertake to respect Belgian neutrality, to the maintenance of which she was pledged by treaty.


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