Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Berchtold to Emperor Franz Joseph

On 14 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs Count Leopold Berchtold (pictured) wrote a report for the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph. In his report, Berchtold informs the Emperor of the proceedings of the 14 July Crown Council and its decision to sent an ultimatum to Serbia.

Count Leopold Berchtold

Count Leopold Berchtold

Report of Count Berchtold to Emperor Franz Joseph. Vienna, 14 July 1914.

In today’s Crown Council, in which both premiers and the Hungarian minister at the court of Vienna took part, a perfect agreement was established with regard to the demands to be addressed to Servia. The text of the note is at present being settled and will be submitted for approval in the Crown Council on Sunday 19 [July]. When the text of the note has been agreed upon, it will be presented hi Belgrade on Saturday 25, and the Servian government will at the same time be informed, that the term for the answer to the note has been fixed at forty-eight hours, within which space of time our demands must be met.

The date was selected out of consideration for the visit of the President of the French Republic to the Tsar, which is to last from the 20th to the 25th of July. All those present were of the same mind as myself, that if we sent the ultimatum during the meeting in Petersburg, this might be regarded as an affront. Moreover, if the ambitious President of the Republic was to personally discuss the new situation created by the ultimatum with the Tsar, there is more probability than otherwise that France and Russia may interfere.

Count Tisza has given up his objections to an ultimatum with so short a term, because I showed him the military difficulties which would arise from delayed action. I also argued that even after the mobilisation a peaceful arrangement might be possible if Servia gives way in good time.

Of course if this happened, we should have to make Servia pay the costs of the mobilisation, and until payment is made we should have to ask for a pledge in Servia.

Count Tisza most decidedly declared that he would give his consent to the intended action, if before the ultimatum is sent, a Crown Council of Austria and Hungary votes a resolution that the monarchy is not striving to acquire territory by war, except what might accrue from small adjustments of the border.

The text of the note, to be sent to Belgrade, as it was settled today, is such that we must reckon with the probability of war. Should Servia decide to accept our demands, this incident would not only signify a downright humiliation for the kingdom, but pari passu a blow to Russian prestige in the Balkans, and it would no doubt procure for us certain guarantees that Servian intrigue and underground work on our territory will be restrained.


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


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