Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Szogyeny to Berchtold, 5 July 1914

On 5 July 1914, Count Szogyeny, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Germany (pictured), sent a strictly private telegram to Count Berchtold, the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs. The Ambassador details his conversation with the German Kaiser. This telegram has been used to prove that Germany issued a “blank cheque” to Austria-Hungary.



Count Szogyeny to Count Berchtold. Berlin, 5 July 1914.

When I had informed Emperor William that I had an autograph letter from His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty, which Count Hoyos had just brought and which I was to give to him, I received an invitation to lunch with Their Majesties at noon in the Neue Palais.

I gave the autograph letter and the enclosed memoir into the hands of His Majesty. In my presence the Kaiser read both with the greatest attention.

The first thing he assured me was, that he had expected some serious step on our part towards Servia, but that at the same time he must confess that the detailed statement of His Majesty made him regard a serious European complication possible and that he could give no definite answer before having taken council with the Imperial chancellor.

After lunch, when I again called attention to the seriousness of the situation, the Emperor authorised me to inform our gracious Majesty that we might in this case, as in all others rely upon Germany’s full support. He must, as he said before, first hear what the Imperial Chancellor has to say, but he did not doubt in the least that Herr von Bethmann Hollweg [the Imperial Chancellor] would agree with him. Especially as far as our action against Servia was concerned. But it was his (Emperor William’s) opinion that this action must not be delayed. Russia’s attitude will no doubt be hostile, but to this he has been prepared for years, and should a war between Austria-Hungary and Russia be unavoidable, we might be convinced that Germany our old faithful ally, would stand at our side. Russia at the present time was in no way prepared for war, and would think twice before it appealed to arms. But it will certainly set other powers on to the Triple Alliance and add fuel to the fire in the Balkans.

He understands perfectly well that His Apostolic Majesty, in his well-known love of peace, would be reluctant to march into Servia; but if we had really recognised the necessity of warlike action against Servia, he (Emperor William) would regret if we did not make use of the present moment, which is all in our favour.

As to Roumania he would take care that King Carol and his councillors would observe a correct attitude.

He cannot sympathise with the idea of concluding an alliance with Bulgaria; he never trusted King Ferdinand and does not trust him now, nor his former or present councillors. Still he would make no objections to a treaty between the monarchy and Bulgaria, but this treaty must contain nothing to offend Roumania and it must as the memoir proposes be communicated to Roumania.

Emperor William intends to leavie tomorrow morning for Kiel, from which he starts for his northern tour, but before leaving, His Majesty will talk with the Imperial chancellor on the subject in question. For this purpose he has sent for him to Hohenfinow [the Chancellor’s estate], and will see him in the Neue Palais this evening.


Source: 1919 Austro-Hungarian Red Book, with minor edits


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