Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Berchtold to the Austro-Hungarian Ambassadors to the Great Powers, 20 July 1914

Happy New Year to all! Welcome back to JulyCrisis1914. We continue our journey in 2015 with the Austro-Hungarian Red Book.

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.

  1. Berlin.

When your Excellency on Friday, the 24th personally informs the government of the enclosed official decree [e.i. the Autro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia], you will remark that the perfect political understanding with the German government already achieved, saves you the trouble of a confidential verbal explanation of our step in Belgrade.

The reasons why we could not undertake measures in Belgrade before yesterday had been told to Herr von Tschirschky [the German Ambassador in Vienna] verbally at the time, and your Excellency has communicated them to the German government from my telegram the 15th of July.

  1. Rome.

Your Excellency will render the enclosed official decree to the Royal Italian government; should the Marquis di San Giuliano still be absent from Rome, render it to his representative, on Friday the 24th in the forenoon. Your Excellency will not find a verbal explanations necessary, since you will have seen the Marquis shortly before, and will have prepared him. But perhaps your Excellency will think it useful to call attention to the fact that the society Narodna odbrana, to which all the persons compromised in the plot of the 28th June belong to as members, is a combative organisation spread all over Servia, whose activity, according to the authentic programme in our possession, now that Turkey no longer counts, is exclusively directed against our monarchy.

  1. Paris.

The enclosed official decree which is to be communicated to the government, refers to the demands, which we are compelled to address to the Royal Servian government, to confine the movement in favour of Greater Servia. Your Excellency will render the document to the government on Friday the 24th in the forenoon.

The explanation of this document is so clear that it saves me the trouble to ask your Excellency to add a verbal explanation of the step we are taking with regard to Servia. Still it will be useful if your Excellency, in tendering this document, reminds the French government, that in all difficulties, which have arisen in European policy daring latter years, France has always played the grateful part of a mediator between the discordant groups of powers.

  1. London

Your Excellency will be good enough to render the enclosed official decree to the State Secretary [Sir Edward Grey] or his representative on Friday the 24th in the forenoon.

Your Excellency might verbally explain upon this occasion that British policy and that of the monarchy in the near East have during latter years most satisfactorily shown a converging tendency; reciprocal confidence has been re-established and the British public has, after a short period of vacillations, which is over, taken interest in the position of Austria-Hungary as a Great Power and pays attention to life in the monarchy. The assassination of the Archduke-heir to the throne (of which the dossier is at the available to the Powers), has shown plainly what may be expected, if Servia is not compelled to break off all relations with political conspirators (such as the Narodna odbrana), whose threads reach to all the countries and territories of the monarchy. England, where so much indignation was shown when the Servian King and his queen were murdered, will certainly understand that public opinion in the monarchy is crying out for atonement of the moral complicity and the criminal toleration of the authorities in Belgrade. The utterances of Servian diplomats and officers prove that Servia does not as yet conceive the degree of abomination of the Sarajevo plot; every line printed on the subject in Belgrade papers proves the same, and more than anything, the fact that the Servian government has not yet moved a finger to seize the accomplices of the crime of the 28th of June, who are still on Servian territory.

  1. Petersburg.

Your Excellency will forward the enclosed official decree to the Minister of Foreign Affairs or to his representative on Friday the 24th in the forenoon.

I beg your Excellency to add to the explanations of the document, the following verbal elucidations:

The Imperial and Royal government feels no ill-will or grudge against Servia; as lately as 1912 the Imperial and Royal government by its loyal and territorially disinterested attitude gave Servia a chance to become nearly twice the size it was before. Even now the monarchy is undertaking this serious step in Belgrade only because its self-preservation and self-defence demand as much.

All the Imperial and Royal government asks, is to preserve its territory from the insurrectional miasm spreading from across the neighbouring kingdom and to put a stop to the indulgent toleration, with which the Royal Servian government has hitherto treated the efforts, which by word, script and deed were in Servia directed against the integrity of the monarchy.

The assassination of the Archduke-heir to the throne naturally exhausted the patience of the Imperial and Royal government with regard to Servian plotting. (The dossier on the crime, which is made available to the Imperial government, shows the connection of the criminals with the society Narodna odbrana).

The murder of Sarajevo must at the same time strengthen the feeling of solidarity between the great monarchies whose common interest it is to defend themselves against the murder of monarchs, from whatever quarter it may come, or whoever suffers by it.

  1. Constantinople.

Your Excellency will tender the enclosed official decree to the Minister of Foreign Affairs or to his representative on Friday the 24th in the forenoon.

 

Source: 1919 Autro-Hungarian Red Book, with minor edits.

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