Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Count Szogyeny to Count Berchtold, 12 July 1914

On 12 July 1914, Count Szogyeny, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Germany (pictured), sent a telegram to Count Berchtold, the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs. In his telegram, Szogyeny discusses Germany’s policy towards Serbia in early July 1914.


Count Szogyeny to Count Berchtold. Berlin, 12 July 1914.

To His Excellency the minister of Foreign Affairs of the Imperial and Royal Count Berchtold,

My telegraphic reports during the last days and Count Hoyos’ personal impressions have informed your Excellency that not only His Majesty Emperor William but all the other persons in authority, not only adhere firmly to the allied monarchy, but are encouraging us emphatically not to neglect the present moment, but to treat Servia with full energy, so as to clear out the conspirators’ nest once for all, and are leaving the choice of means for doing so to our judgment.

I never for a moment doubted that Emperor William and all the German Empire would loyally fulfil the duties of an ally, and I have been faithful to this conviction during the whole period of my ambassadorship in Berlin. I was not in the least surprised when in the present moment Germany assured us of its perfect loyalty and assistance.

Still I think that the fact, that His Majesty Emperor William, and with him all persons in authority, urge us to undertake an action against Servia, which may eventually end in war, needs some explanation. It is clear that after the late deplorable events, the monarchy must use all energy in its dealings with Servia, but the fact that the German government from its own point of view considers the present moment politically opportune, must be set in the right light.

According to the German way of thinking, entirely shared by myself, general political considerations, and special ones, inspired by the murder of Sarajevo, form the conclusive argument.

Germany has recently found its conviction confirmed that Russia is preparing for a war with its western neighbours, and does not regard war as a possibility of the future, but positively includes it in the political calculations of the future. This is important: it intends waging war, it is preparing for it with all its might, but does not propose it for the present, or we should rather say, is not prepared for it at the present time.

It is therefore anything but certain that if Servia is embarked in a war with us, Russia would lend an armed hand; and should the Tsar’s empire resolve for war, it would not be ready from a military point of view, and not by any means so strong, as it will be a few years hence.

Moreover the German government believes that it has proof that England would not take part in a war caused by disturbances in the Balkans even if Russia and France were involved in it. Not only have the relations between England and Germany improved so far, that Germany need no longer fear direct hostilities on England’s part, but England just now desires anything rather than a war, and would certainly not expose itself to danger for Servia’s or even Russia’s sake.

When all is said, it must be admitted that the constellation is at present as favourable as it can be.

In the past, a large portion of our population refused to believe in the separatist tendencies of our Servians, hostile to the monarchy and expressed doubts that Servia’s intrigues reached across the frontier; all are now convinced and there is a general outcry for an energetic treatment of Servia, which will finally suppress all agitation for a Greater Servia.

In a similar manner the eyes of the whole world have been opened and there is no nation that does not condemn the bloody deed of Sarajevo and all admit that we must make Servia responsible for it. If Servia’s foreign friends for political reasons do not openly blame Servia, still we cannot believe that they will stand up for it at the present moment, at least not with armed forces.

These I believe to be the political reasons why the German Empire with a clear perception of the opportunity offered, unreservedly encourages us to make clear our relations towards Servia, which Germany also feels to be untenable, in such a manner, as to stop Panslavist agitation for all time.

In Emperor William’s case these political grounds are, as I learn from a quarter, very much in His Majesty’s confidence, enhanced by a purely personal circumstance, the infinite enthusiasm for our gracious Majesty, who as his letter to Emperor William proves, is prepared to act with admirable energy, where the vital interests and the prestige of the countries, entrusted to his care, are at stake.

(signed) Szogyeny


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


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