Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Baron Giesl to Count Berchtold, 23 July 1914

On 23 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Serbia Baron Wladimir Giesl (pictured) sent a coded telegram to the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Leopold Count Berchtold. In his telegram, Giesl, having previously confirmed the delivery of the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia (see post), now describes it. This is one of the key documents of the 1914 July Crisis.


Baron Wladimir von Giesl


Baron von Giesl to Count Berchtold. Belgrade, 23 July 1914.



The interim [Serbian] Premier Pacu, after some hesitation, conceded a meeting for 18:00, and received me at the striking of the clock. Secretary-General Gruic was with him, because Pacu does not know French.

I gave him the note and added that the term for the answer had been fixed for Saturday at 18:00 and that if by that time I had received no answer or an unsatisfactory one, I should leave Belgrade with the entire [Austro-Hungarian] legation; that at the same time as the answer, I wished to receive the Servian translation of both enunciations, which we were desirous to compare.

Pacu, without reading the note, answered that the elections were being carried on and some of the ministers were absent from Belgrade. He feared it would be physically impossible to assemble a complete council of ministers in time for taking what he must believe to be an important decision.

The council of ministers had been assembled ever since 17:00. I answered that in our age of railways, telegraphs and telephones, and the diminutive size of the country, it could only be a question of a few hours to assemble the ministers, and that in the forenoon I had advised to inform [the Serbian Prime Minister] Herr Pasic. But this was an internal Servian concern that I had no right to judge. Nothing more was discussed.


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


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