Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Hötzendorf to Berchtold, 10 July 1914

On 10 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Chief of the General Staff Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf (pictured) wrote to the Austro-Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs Count Leopold Berchtold. In his letter, Hötzendorf seeks to coordinate his military preparations with Berchtold’s diplomacy.


The Imperial and Royal Chief of the General Staff Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf to Count Berchtold. Vienna, 10 July 1914.

Your Excellency,

In addition to what I said in the conference which recently took place under the presidency of your Excellency, I should like to send you the following in writing:

In my position as Chief of the General Staff it is of the most importance that the formula be clearly defined, whether we are exert ourselves to bring about a war with Servia or whether we are merely to take into account the possibility of a war.

In what way either of these possibilities is to be treated diplomatically is outside my sphere of activity, but I must repeat, as I have fully agreed with you, that our diplomatic steps must avoid everything that would delay action by protracted negotiations, so that our antagonists would gain tune of our military preparations, which would put us at a military disadvantage, always injurious, but very much so in the case of Servia and Montenegro.

For the same reason everything should be avoided that might alarm our antagonists and cause them to take countermeasures; on the contrary, peaceful intentions should be feigned.

If, on the other hand, our mind is made up for war, our military interests demand that a single step should be taken, with a short term for the ultimatum, which, if it be answered in the negative, must immediately be followed by the order for mobilisation.

I beg your Excellency to accept the expression of my highest esteem.

(signed) Conrad


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



  1. Hello; This is such an interesting approach, and so useful to be able to access another perspective on the war – especially in translation. We’ll definitely be linking this in our learning resources. Looking forward to reading more!

    1. July 1914 · · Reply

      Thank you very much for your comment! I am glad my blog is proving useful as a learning resource. Feel free to contact me using the contact information on my “About” page if you need any help with the sources, or have any questions.

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