July 31, 1914

Czar Nicholas II sleeping fretfully, or maybe not at all, gets a telegram at 3am.

"...The responsibility for the disaster which is now threatening the whole civilized world will not be laid at my door. In this moment it still lies in your power to avert it. Nobody is threatening the honour or power of Russia who can well afford to await the result of my mediation. My friendship for you and your empire, transmitted to me by my grandfather on his deathbed has always been sacred to me and I have honestly often backed up Russia when she was in serious trouble especially in her last war.

The peace of Europe may still be maintained by you, if Russia will agree to stop the milit. measures which must threaten Germany and Austro-Hungary.


In the morning in a conference, he roars at his angry military commanders that this will not do, that they must cancel the general mobilization: in his mind are not political consequences, but thoughts of the deaths of millions of Russian men. In the room he is alone in his opposition, in the countryside the order for mobilization are already being carried out. It falls quiet and an aide standing behind the Tsar whispers, or maybe speaks loudly, "Yes, Your Majesty, it is a difficult decision." Nicholas has always been seen by the nation as a weak and indecisive ruler. He has never wanted to be Tsar.

General Russian mobilization is confirmed.