Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Berchtold to Szogyeny, 22 July 1914

On 22 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Leopold Count Berchtold (pictured) wrote a coded private telegram to the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Germany Laszlo Szogyeny. In his telegram, Berchtold discusses Italy’s foreign policy.

Leopold Count Berchtold

Leopold Count Berchtold

Count Berchtold to Count Szogyeny in Berlin. Vienna, 22 July 1914.

Cyphered telegram.—Private.

Accompanying the decree which Herr von Merey [the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Italy] received on the 20th of July. I sent him a private notice to this effect:

“If your Excellency should be induced by the [Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs] Marquis di San Giuliano to make use of the arguments defending our interpretation of article VII [of the Triple Alliance], as exposed in the notice, and the minister maintains his point of view, it will be desirable that you do not continue the discussion on this subject, and justify yourself to the minister by saying that neither of you would succeed in making the other accept any interpretation but his own. That your Excellency believed that it would be in the interests of both, instead of carrying on a juridical discussion on the interpretation of an article, to discuss the great interests of Austria Hungary and Italy as friends and allies.

I must add for your Excellency’s information that I should take it as a grave symptom if the discussion of article VII led to irritation on either side which might endanger the existence of the entire treaty.”

This is for your Excellency’s exclusive personal information. Should [the German Minister of Foreign Affairs] Herr von Jagow allude to the question of the interpretation you will make use of the same arguments remarking that a discussion between us and Italy on the interpretation of article VII had better be avoided at the present moment. When Italy occupied certain islands in the Aegean Sea, we could, according to our way of seeing, have demanded compensation, but we preferred observing the friendly attitude of an ally and did not hinder Italy’s action.


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


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