On 20 July 1914, the Autro-Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs Leopold Count Berchtold sent a strictly private telegram to the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador in Rome Herr Kajetan von Merey (pictured). In his telegram, Berchtold warns of the possibility of a leak of Austria-Hungary’s planned action against Serbia.
Count Berchtold to Herr von Merey in Rome. Vienna, 20 July 1914.
(To be deciphered by a councillor of the embassy.)
From a private reliable source we have learnt that from the German side, probably through your German colleague, our intention of energetic steps against Servia, previously arranged with Germany, have been communicated to Marquis di San Giuliano [Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs]. He immediately sent instructions to Italian representatives in Petersburg and Bucharest, instructing them to use by-ways for instructing the respective governments to threaten Berlin and Vienna and prevent the action against Servia.
I need not say that any attempts at intimidation would be without effect upon us.
Herr von Tschirschky [the German Ambassador in Vienna] today showed himself very distressed on account of news from the entourage of San Giuliano, who in consequence of strongly pessimistic reports from the Duke of Avarna [the Italian Ambassador in Vienna] is exceedingly anxious about public opinion and cannot promise to continue his policy of true friendship.
The above is for your Excellency’s exclusively private information.
Source: 1919 Austro-Hungarian Red Book, with minor edits.