Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Kaiser Wilhelm to Emperor Franz Joseph

On 5 July, Count Hoyos delivered a handwritten letter by Emperor 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 reply.kaiser_wilhelm_ii

 

Kaiser Wilhelm to Emperor Franz Joseph. Bornholm, 14 July 1914.

My dear friend,

I am grateful that in the days when you were visited by tragic events and were called upon to take resolutions of the gravest importance, your thoughts reverted to our friendship and dictated the letter, with which you gave me as proof of your kind feelings. I consider the friendship with you, which I have taken over from my grandfather and my father, as a precious inheritance and the fact that you reciprocate these feelings, is to me the best guarantee of the safety of our countries. Knowing my loving devotion for you, I am sure
you will understand how hard it was for me to give up my journey to Vienna and to renounce showing to the world the deep sympathy I felt for your grievous affliction.

Your deserving ambassador, whom I esteem highly, must have given you my assurance that in the hour of serious danger you will find me and my Empire in full harmony with our old tried friendship and with our duties as faithful allies at your side. It is a pleasant duty to repeat this assurance in this place.

The horrible crime of Sarajevo has thrown a gruesome light upon the pernicious doings of insane fanatics and pan-slavist agitation, threatening the structure of our Empires. I must renounce expressing an opinion on the question, which at this moment remains undecided between your government and Servia. Still I consider it a moral duty for all cultured states and a duty towards their own preservation to oppose this practical propaganda which attacks the sound foundation of all monarchies, to the utmost of their power.

I do not close my eyes to the grave danger which threatens your countries and at the same lime the Triple Alliance from this Russian and pan-slavist agitation. I perfectly see the necessity of relieving your southern frontier from the heavy burden which oppresses it. I am therefore willing to support the efforts of your government for preventing the establishment of a new Balkan league under the patronage of Russia, hostile to Austria-Hungary, and moreover to bring about the accession of Bulgaria to the Triple Alliance.

Although I somewhat doubt the reliability of the Bulgarian character, still I have sent instructions to my representative in Sofia to support the steps your representative has undertaken in this direction.

I have moreover given instructions to my minister in Bucharest to inform King Carol in the way you wish him informed, and referring to the new situation, to persuade him that it will be necessary to renounce too great intimacy with Servia, and to stop the agitation hostile to your countries. I have furthermore instructed him to say, that I am exceedingly anxious to maintain the trustworthy relations of an ally towards Roumania, which need not suffer in any way
even if the accession of Bulgaria to the Triple Alliance becomes a fact.

Allow me to conclude with the hearty wish that after the grievous days you have passed through, you may be benefited in your health by your stay in Ischl.

With the assurance of sincere attachment and friendship, your faithful friend,

Wilhelm

 

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

Further reading: for more on German decision-making during the First World War please click on the “Further Reading” page at the top of the screen, and have a look at the link to Wold War I: Germany’s Blundered War. This short e-book is available on Amazon.

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