Press release

Outbreak of World War 1 brought to life online

Foreign Office brings World War 1 diplomacy to life online with podcasts and live tweets.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


To mark 100 years to the day that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, on 28 June the FCO will bring the events leading up to the outbreak of war vividly to life online.

Known as the ‘July crisis’, the assassination sparked a diplomatic frenzy and, ultimately, led to the outbreak of World War 1 on 28 July 1914, with Great Britain joining the war on 4 August.

The FCO will be live tweeting the events leading up to the outbreak of war. Twitter accounts in the names of eleven key political and diplomatic figures from the time, including Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary, and key Ambassadors, are now live. They will be tweeting their own words, from telegrams, despatches and letters, to give an unprecedented insight into how events unfolded.

The Foreign Secretary will launch a series of eight podcasts in which he, and senior British Ambassadors from key countries involved in the war, interviewed by Richard Burge, Chief Executive of Wilton Park, will set the scene for what was unfolding in Europe and describe what it would have been like for their predecessors during that period. They will reflect on the pressures and challenges of the time, and the factors that each would have had to weigh up when reporting and providing advice.

As Sir Edward Grey, Foreign Secretary, said in the House of Commons on the eve of Great Britain’s entry into World War 1:

It is clear that the peace of Europe cannot be preserved. […] We are in the presence of a European conflagration. […] I believe, when the country realises what is at stake, what the real issues are, the magnitude of the impending dangers in the west of Europe, which I have endeavoured to describe to the House, we shall be supported throughout, not only by the House of Commons, but by the determination, the resolution, the courage, and the endurance of the whole country.

Foreign Office Minister Mr Simmonds said:

I will personally be following the story as it unfolds online, and hope most especially that schools across the UK get involved. It is a project which has the potential to connect with people throughout our communities and encourage thoughtful debate about one of the determining events of world history.

Further information

The tweets will be drawn from a volume of British diplomatic documents, first published in 1926, which captured the unravelling of events during the July crisis: ‘British Documents on the Origins of War, 1898-1914 Volume XI: The Outbreak of War, 28 June-4 August 1914’.

@WW1FO will retweet all the tweets and is the account which should be followed for the whole picture. For verification purposes the authorised individual accounts are:

  • J.F. Jones, British Vice Consul, Sarajevo @WW1Jones
  • W.G. Max Muller, British Consul General Budapest @WW1MaxMuller
  • Dayrell Crackanthorpe, British Chargé d’Affaires, Belgrade @WW1Crackanthorp
  • Sir Francis Villiers, British Minister, Brussels @WW1Villiers
  • Sir Maurice de Bunsen, British Ambassador, Vienna @WW1deBunsen
  • Sir George Buchanan, British Ambassador, St. Petersburg @WW1Buchanan
  • Sir Edward Goschen, British Ambassador, Berlin @WW1Goschen
  • Sir Eyre Crowe, Assistant Under Secretary of State, Foreign Office @WW1Crowe
  • Sir Arthur Nicolson, British Permanent Under-Secretary, Foreign Office @WW1Nicolson
  • Sir Edward Grey, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs @WW1Grey
  • Sir Francis Bertie, British Ambassador, Paris @WW1Bertie

The podcasts will be available at

Read more: ‘The lamps are going out…’: tweeting the July Crisis

Follow Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds on twitter @MarkJSimmonds

Follow the Foreign Office on twitter @foreignoffice

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Follow Wilton Park on Twitter @WiltonPark

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Published 28 June 2014
Last updated 30 June 2014 + show all updates
  1. Addition of name of Wilton Park Chief Executive

  2. First published.