Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Szogyeny to Berchtold, 6 July 1914

On 6 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 and Chancellor. In addition to yesterday’s post, this telegram has been used to prove that Germany issued a “blank cheque” to Austria-Hungary.



Count Szogyeny to Count Berchtold. Berlin, 6 July 1914

In addition to yesterday’s telegram.

Have just had a long conversation with the Imperial Chancellor and the Undersecretary of State, Count Hoyos being present. Herr von Bethmann Hollweg began by saying that Emperor William had instructed him to express his thanks for the autograph letter, which he would answer personally in a few days.

He (the Imperial Chancellor) was also authorised by his Imperial master to give a precise account of the position of the German government towards the imperial letter and the memoir, which he did in these words:

German government perceives all the dangers arising for Austria-Hungary and for the Triple Alliance as well, from Russia’s plan of a Balkan league; it perceives also that in this situation we should be desirous to induce Bulgaria to join the Triple Alliance formally, but it must insist that this should be done in a way—as indeed is intended—not to violate our obligations towards Roumania. German Minister in Sofia was authorised to negotiate in this sense with the Bulgarian government, when his Austro-Hungarian colleague will call upon him to do so. At the same time he (the Imperial Chancellor) intends to instruct the German Minister in Bucharest to speak openly with the king of Roumania, to inform him of the negotiations carried on in Sofia and to call his attention to the fact that he ought to stop the Roumanian agitation against us. Herr von Bethmann Hollweg will also cause the king to be told, that he (Chancellor) has in the past always advised us to remain friends with Servia, but that after the late events he perceives that this is as good as impossible; Roumania should also take this into account.

With regard to our relations towards Servia, the German government is of opinion that we must judge what is to be done to clear the course: whatever way we decide, we may always be certain that we will find Germany at our side, a faithful ally and friend of our monarchy.

In the further course of conversation I ascertained that the Imperial Chancellor like his Imperial master considers immediate action on our part as the best solution of our difficulties in the Balkans. From an international point of view he considers the present moment as more favorable than some later time; he agrees with us that we need inform neither Italy nor Roumania beforehand of an intended action against Servia. On the other hand Italy should even now be informed of the intention to allow Bulgaria to join the Triple Alliance.

Both the Imperial chancellor and the Undersecretary of State were of opinion that it would be best to negotiate a treaty with Bulgaria only at present and to leave it to the future whether Turkey and eventually Greece would bind themselves to Bulgaria. Chancellor remarked that in view of the great interests which Germany has in Turkey, this country’s accession would be most desirable.

With regard to the step to be undertaken in Bucharest by the representative of Germany, Herr von Bethmann Hollweg thinks it might be useful, when King Carol’s answer has reached Berlin, that Count Czernin should shortly afterwards speak with the king on the same subject.

At the conclusion of our conversation, the Chancellor asked how matters were going on in Albania and warned earnestly against plans, which might endanger our relations towards Italy or the duration of the Triple Alliance.

Herr von Tschirschky [the German Ambassador in Vienna] will be informed of our conversation in strict privacy.


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


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