Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Szogyeny to Berchtold, 21 July 1914

On 21 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Germany Laszlo Count Szogyeny-Marich (pictured) wrote a letter to the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Leopold Count Berchtold. In his message, Szogyeny presses Berchtold to send a copy of the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia to the German Government.



Letter from Count Szogyeny to Count Berchtold. Berlin, 21 July 1914.

Dear Count,

In my telegram of today, I had the honour to inform your Excellency that according to my humble opinion it will be absolutely necessary to communicate the note [i.e. the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum] to be presented in Servia on the 23rd of July earlier, that is as soon as possible to the cabinet of Berlin, and later to the other governments.

Emperor William and all the others in high offices, from the very first promised to support our action in the most loyal manner and I cannot help feeling that it might give offence, if we informed all the cabinets at the same time of what our note to Servia contains, thus placing the German government, our ally, on the same footing with the governments of the other Great Powers.

I firmly trust that your Excellency will authorise me to give the information in question to this government without further delay.

The [German] Minister of Foreign Affairs [von Jagow] today again began to speak of the attitude of Italy in the eventuality of a conflict between Austria-Hungary and Servia.

He said that having known the Italians for many years he was afraid that in our conflict with Servia, they might become unreliable.

Herr vop Jagow thinks, though he does not mean it as advice, that if it comes to a warlike complication with Servia, we ought to communicate our intentions in a confidential discourse with Italy.

If we explained from the beginning, — Herr von Jagow does not consider this a very desirable plan — that we only planned a temporary occupation of Servian territory, Italy might be satisfied. If we confessed to the contrary the usual compensation demands would immediately be put forward, and on these it would be best to come to an understanding at once.

As Herr von Jagow during this purely academic discourse repeatedly assured me that he had not been spoken to on the subject by Italy, and as he did not even mention the interpretation of article VII of the Triple Alliance Treaty, I refrained from making use of the private decree as your Excellency instructed me.

Before concluding, I should like to call attention to the fact that the Minister of Foreign Affairs gave me to understand clearly that of course Germany would stand by us with all its forces, but that for this very reason it is of vital interest to the German government to be informed in good time “where our way leads us”, and most especially whether we planned a temporary occupation of Servian territory or whether, as Count Honyos [Berchtold’s head of cabinet] had hinted in his last conversation with the Imperial Chancellor, we considered the disruption of Servia as the ultima ratio [i.e. the final goal].

With the expression of my deepest respect for your Excellency,

[Signed] Szogyeny


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


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