Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Berchtold to the Austro-Hungarian Ambassadors to the Great Powers

On 20 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Leopold Count Berchtold sent telegrams to the Austro-Hungarian Ambassadors to the Great Powers. In his telegrams, Berchtold (pictured) informs his ambassadors about the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia.

Leopold Count Berchtold

Count Leopold Berchtold

Count Berchtold to the Imperial and Royal Ambassadors in Berlin, Rome, Paris, London, Petersburg and Constantinople. Vienna, 20 July 1914.

The Imperial and Royal government found itself in the necessity of addressing the following note to the Royal Servian government through the Imperial and Royal Minister in Belgrade on Thursday the 23rd[see yesterday’s post].

I have the honour to ask your Excellency to communicate the contents of this note to the government to which you are accredited, and to add the following comments:

On the 31rst of March 1909 the Royal Servian government made a declaration to Austria-Hungary, the text of which is given in the above [see post]. But on the very day following this date Servia adopted a course of politics which had no other aim but to call forth subversive ideas in the minds of Austrian-Hungarian subjects of Servian nationality and to prepare the disjoining of certain portions of the territory of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy.

Servia became the centre of criminal agitation.

Very soon societies and associations were formed, some of which were openly, some secretly organised to foster disorder and discontent on Austrian-Hungarian territory. These societies have among their members generals, diplomats, government officials and judges — persons prominent in the official world of the Servian kingdom.

Servian journalism is almost entirely sworn to the service of this propaganda, which is directed against Austria-Hungary, and not a day passes on which the Servian press-organs do not incite their readers to hatred and contempt for the neighbouring monarchy or encourage plots, which are more or less openly directed against its safety or integrity.

A great number of agents is instructed to keep up agitation against Austria-Hungary and to spread sedition amongst the youth of the frontier districts of both these countries.

The love of plotting, which is peculiar to Servian politicians, and whose bloody results can be traced in the annals of Servia’s history, has been stimulated by the last Balkan crisis; individuals, who belonged to the bands, hitherto busy in Macedonia, have joined the terrorist propaganda against Austria-Hungary.

In the face of these plottings, to which Austria-Hungary has been exposed for years, the Servian government has not thought fit to take a single measure. It has thereby neglected the duty imposed by the solemn declaration of the 31rst of March 1909 and has placed itself in opposition to the will of Europe and to the commitments taken towards Austria-Hungary.

The Imperial and Royal government, territorially unselfish, used the utmost patience in the face of this provoking attitude of Servia, hoping that the Servian government would at some time find out how valuable the friendship of Austria-Hungary was to its interests. The Austrian-Hungarian government, by observing a friendly attitude towards Servian interests, hoped that the time would come, when Servia would in its turn adopt a similar attitude towards her neighbour. Austria-Hungary expected this evolution in the political ideas of Servia to take place, when after the events of 1912 the monarchy maintained its unselfish attitude, showing no resentment at the considerable aggrandizement of Servia.

The friendliness shown by Austria-Hungary to its neighbour did not however modify its attitude in the least degree, and Servia continued tolerating propaganda as before. The disastrous effects were seen by all the world on the 28th of June, on the day when the heir to the throne of the monarchy and his august wife became the victims of a plot prepared in Belgrade.

In the face of this situation the Imperial and Royal government finds itself compelled to take fresh and urgent steps in Belgrade, to induce the Servian government to stop the incendiary movement, which threatens the safety and integrity of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy.

The Imperial and Royal government is convinced that in undertaking this step it acts in accordance with the feelings of all civilised nations, which cannot tolerate; that the murder of princes of the blood should become a weapon, which may be used with impunity in political strife, or that the peace of Europe should incessantly be disturbed by the plotting carried out in Belgrade.

The Imperial and Royal government is prepared to prove these assertions by a collection of documents showing the Servian plottings and proving their connection with the bloody deed of the 28th of June, which it holds at the disposition of the government [concerned].

The identical communication is being sent to the representatives of Austria-Hungary to the other Signatory Powers.

You are authorised to leave a copy of this instruction with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.


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

Note: JulyCrisis1914 will return with new posts in  the New Year. In the meantime, I would like to wish Happy Holidays and a happy New Year to all.


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