Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Count Berchtold to the Austro-Hungarian Ambassadors to the Great Powers, 23 July 1914

On 23 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Leopold Count Berchtold (pictured) sent a private telegram to the Austro-Hungarian Ambassadors to the Great Powers. In  his telegram, Berchtold elaborates his views on  British foreign policy towards Austria-Hungary and the ultimatum to Serbia.

Leopold Count Berchtold

Leopold Count Berchtold

Count Berchtold to the Imperial and Royal Ambassadors in London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Petersburg and Constantinople, and to the Imperial and Royal Minister in Bucharest. Vienna, 23 July 1914.


England being that power of the Entente which is most likely to judge our steps in Belgrade in an unprejudiced manner, I will beg you in the conversation to follow the presentation of the circular note on 24 July, to remind the [British] Foreign Office that Servia could have avoided the severity of our serious démarche [i.e. the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia] which it must necessarily have expected, by taking the measures for instituting an inquiry in Servia against the Servians who took a part in the crime of 28 June [i.e. the assassinations at Sarajevo], and to reveal the connections leading from Belgrade to Sarajevo in the affair of the murderous plot.

The Servian government has to this day, though a number of well-known circumstances point to Belgrade, not only undertaken nothing in this direction, but has even attempted to obliterate some of the important evidence.

Thus a telegraphic report of our legation in Belgrade shows that the strongly compromised state-official Ciganovic, whom the murderers accuse of complicity, was still in Belgrade on the day of the murder, but three days later, when the newspapers began to publish his name, had already left the city. The chief of the Servian press at the same time declared that Ciganovic was absolutely unknown in Belgrade.

The short term given to Servia for its answer must be attributed to our experience of Servia’s dilatory ways in treating political questions.

We cannot allow the demands, which we have addressed to Servia, and which contain nothing that would not be considered natural between two neighbours, living in peace and harmony, to be made the subject of negotiations and compromise and we owe it to our economic interests not to consent to political methods which would allow Servia to prolong the crisis, in which we find ourselves, at its pleasure.


Source: 1919 Austro-Hungrian Red Boook, with minor edits.


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