Willy-Nicky Correspondence

Feb 2014
Kingdom of the Netherlands
Some historians dismiss the Willy-Nicky correspondence at the eve of the First World War as meaningless telegrams, while others point out that as absolute rulers (in the case of Nicholas) and semi-absolute rulers (in the case of Wilhelm II) it was in their power to halt Europe falling into the abyss in that critical summer month of 1914. Both cousins wrote to eachother how they were determined not to let a world war come about and urged eachother to put pressure on their allies. What do you make of the Willy-Nicky telegrams? Are they of real relevance and could they have altered the outbreak of the First World War?



Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
Between a rock and a hard place
The Willy-Nicky Telegrams - World War I Document Archive

They were blood relatives, who cared both for their own people, and for their royal houses. They had very different views on both Austria and Serbia. Austria, whilst an empire and a continental power was in danger of coming apart at the seams, and Germany was keen to prop up its main european ally.
Russia on the other hand was allied to Serbia and was keen to stand by the small Slavic nation. Neither the Kaiser nor the Csar was opposed to war, but both preferred a limited war that did not involve the other.
Stronger and more resolute leadership by the pair of them might have been able to avert disaster, , but each was beset by ministers who clamoured for action. Nicky and his ministers wanted freedom of action against Austria without involving Germany. Whilst A-H and Germany wanted freedom of action against Serbia without involving Russia
The lessons of 1870 proved to be the elephant in the room. Military plans required speedy mobilisation and the fear of being out mobilised dominated events. Though 1914 may have been the era of the railways, mass communications were in their infancy, and the fear was, that once the trains rolled they could not be stopped without causing chaos.
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