The Emperor of Austria writes to the German Kaiser: 5 July 1914

On 5 July 1914, Count Alexander Hoyos, chef de cabinet of Count Leopold Berchtold, the Austro-Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs, traveled to Berlin. He presented a handwritten letter by the Austrian Emperor to the German Kaiser. The purpose of his mission was to get German backing for Austrian action against Serbia.


Autograph letter from Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria, Apostolic King of Hungary to Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany, delivered by Count Alexander Hoyos on 5 July 1914.


I regretted sincerely, that you were obliged to give up your intention of coming to Vienna for the funeral ceremony. I should have very much liked to personally express my heartfelt thanks for your sympathy in my great grief.

By your warm-hearted condolence you have given me a fresh proof that in you I possess a true and reliable friend whom I can trust in every trying hour.

I should have much wished to speak to you about the political situation, as this has not been possible I take the liberty to send you the enclosed memoir of my Minister of Foreign Affairs, written before the terrible catastrophe of Sarajevo, and more worthy of consideration, now that this tragic event has happened.

The crime committed against my nephew is the direct consequence of the agitation carried on by Russian and Servian Panslavists, whose sole aim is to weaken the Triple Alliance and shatter my Empire.

The researches made up to the present have shown that the bloody deed of Sarajevo is not the work of a single individual but the result of a well-organised plot, the threads of which reach to Belgrade, and though it may be impossible to prove the complicity of the Servian government, there can be no doubt whatever that this governments policy, intent as it is to unite all South-slavs under the Servian flag, must encourage such crimes and that if it is not stopped, it will prove a lasting danger to my house and to my countries.

This danger is increased by the fact that Roumania, though it is allied to us, entertains intimate bonds of friendship with Servia and tolerates the same hateful agitation within its realm as Servia does.

I find it difficult to doubt the faith and the good intentions of such an old friend as King Charles of Roumania; but he has within the two last months twice declared to my minister in Bucharest, that in view of the excited and hostile sentiments of his people he would, if serious events arose, find it impossible to do his duty as an ally.

At the same time the present Roumanian government is openly encouraging the aims of the league of culture; it favours the approachment of Servia and is trying to found a new Balkan league, which cannot but be directed against my Empire.

In the beginning of the reign of Charles similar political fancies, as those which the Culture League is spreading abroad just now, troubled the healthy minds of Roumanian statesmen and the danger threatened, that the kingdom was about to launch on an adventurous course of politics. At that time your late grandfather interfered in an energetic manner and, hitting the mark, through his government showed Roumania the only way in which it could attain a favoured position in Europe, and become a reliable support of order.

Now the kingdom is threatened by the same danger; I fear that merely giving good advice will be of no avail and that Roumania can only be rescued for the Triple Alliance, if we make it impossible for a Balkan league to be founded under the patronage of Russia, by gaining Bulgaria for the Triple Alliance and making Bucharest understand clearly that the friends of Servia cannot be our friends, and that Roumania must not look to us as allies, if it does not break with Servia and does not at the same time stop the agitation directed against my Empire in Roumania.

My government’s efforts must in future be directed to isolating Servia and reducing its size. The first step on this road would be the strengthening of the present Bulgarian government, so that Bulgaria, whose real interests tally with ours, would not be tempted to turn to its old love for Russia.

If Bucharest finds out that the Triple Alliance is resolved not to renounce friendship with Bulgaria, but is prepared to cause Bulgaria to make friends with Roumania and guarantee its integrity, it is possible that Roumania will abandon the dangerous road into which the friendship with Servia has led it and the approaching of Russia has tempted it. If we succeed in this, we might make the attempt to reconcile Greece with Bulgaria and Turkey. A new Balkan league could then be formed under the patronage of the Triple Alliance, whose aim would be to stop the progress of the panslavist flood and ensure lasting peace for our countries. This will not be otherwise possible, but by pushing aside Servia and preventing it from becoming a factor of power in the Balkans, as it is at present the cornerstone of Panslavist politics.

After the recent terrible event in Bosnia, I am certain that you also are convinced, that a conciliation between Servia and us is out of the question and that the peace-loving policy of all European monarchs is threatened, while this centre of criminal agitation continues unpunished in Belgrade.


Source: Austrian Red Book



  1. […] Franz Joseph of Austria to Kaiser Wilhelm (pictured). The letter has been reproduced in the 5 July post. On 14 July 1914, Kaiser Wilhelm gave the following […]

  2. […] Franz Joseph of Austria to Kaiser Wilhelm (pictured). The letter has been reproduced in the 5 July post. On 14 July 1914, Kaiser Wilhelm gave the following […]

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