10 August, 1914:
Telegram from Wilhelm II to President Wilson
This is the text of a telegram handed to US Ambassador Gerard by Wilhelm
II for delivery to President Wilson, in response to Wilson's offer to negotiate.
The original telegram consisted of five pages of official telegraph message
paper, handwritten in English, by Wilhelm II.
Note: Text between asterisks (*) was underlined in the handwritten original.
the President of the United States personally.
1. H. R. H. Prince Henry was received by his Majesty King George V in London,
who empowered him to transmit to me verbally, that England would remain
neutral if war broke out on the Continent involving Germany and France,
Austria and Russia. This message was telegraphed to me by my brother from
London after his conversation with H. M. the King, and repeated verbally
on the twenty-ninth of July.
2. My Ambassador in London transmitted a message from Sir E. Grey to Berlin
saying that only in case France was likely to be crushed England would interfere.
3. On the thirtieth my Ambassador in London reported that Sir Edward Grey
in course of a "private" conversation told him that if the conflict
remained localized beween *Russia* -not Serbia -and *Austria*, England would
not move, but if we "mixed" in the fray she would take quick decisions
and grave measures; i.e., if I left my ally Austria in the lurch to fight
alone England would not touch me.
4. This communication being directly counter to the King's message to me,
I telegraphed to H. M. on the twenty-ninth or thirtieth, thanking him for
kind messages through my brother and begging him to use all his power to
keep France and Russia-his Allies-from making any war-like preparations
calculated to disturb my work of mediation, stating that I was in constant
communication with H. M. the Czar. In the evening the King kindly answered
that he had ordered his Government to use every possible influence with
his Allies to refrain from taking any provocative military measures. At
the same time H. M. asked me if I would transmit to Vienna the Britiih proposal
that Austria was to take Belgrade and a few other Serbian towns and a strip
of country as a "main-mise" to make sure that the Serbian promises
on paper should be fulfilled in reality. This proposal was in the same moment
telegraphed to me from Vienna for London, quite in conjunction with the
British proposal; besides, I had telegraphed to H. M. the Czar the same
as an idea of mine, before I received the two communications from Vienna
and London, as both were of the same opinion.
5. I immediately transmitted the telegrams vice versa to Vienna and London.
I felt shat I was able to tide the question over and was happy at the peaceful
6. While I was preparing a note to H. M. the Czar the next morning, to inform
him that Vienna, London and Berlin were agreed about the treatment of affairs,
I received the telephones from H. E. the Chancellor that in the night before
the Czar had given the order to mobilize the whole of the Russian army,
which was, of course, also meant against Germany; whereas up till then the
southern armies had been mobilized against Austria.
7. In a telegram from London my Ambassador informed me he understood the
British Government would guarantee neutrality of France and wished to know
whether Germany would refrain from attack. I telegraphed to H. M. the King
personally that mobilization being already carried out could not be stopped,
but if H. M. could guarantee with his armed forces the neutrality of France
I would *refrain from attacking her, leave her alone* and employ my troops
*elsewhere*. H. M. answered that he thought my offer was based on a misunderstanding;
and, as far as I can make out, Sir E. Grey never took my offer into serious
consideration. He never answered it. Instead, he declared England had to
defend Belgian neutrality, which had to be violated by Germany on strategical
grounds, news having been received that France was already preparing to
enter Belgium, and the King of Belgians having refused my petition for a
free passage under guarantee of his country's freedom. I am most grateful
for the President's message.
WILLIAM, H. R.
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