Imperial German Ambassador to the Court of St. James’s from 1912-14, Karl Max, Prince Lichnowsky, was the only German diplomat who raised objections to Germany’s efforts to provoke an Austro-Serbian war, arguing that Britain would intervene in a continental war.
On July 25, he implored the German government to accept an offer of British mediation in the Austro-Serbian dispute.
On July 27, he followed with a cable arguing that Germany could not win a continental war. This cable was not shown to Kaiser Wilhelm II.
A cable on July 28 relayed an offer from King George V to hold a conference of European ambassadors to avoid general war.
A final cable on July 29 to the German Foreign Office stated simply “if war breaks out it will be the greatest catastrophe the world has ever seen.” These warnings went unheeded, and by the time the final cable reached Berlin, Austrian troops were already bombarding Belgrade.
On Britain’s declaration of war on 4 August 1914, Lichnowsky returned to Germany. So highly was he thought of that a military guard of honour saluted his departure; a rare privilege in the circumstances.