Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Count Berchtold to Baron von Giesl and Count Tisza, 24 July 1914

On 24 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Leopold Count Berchtold (pictured) sent a private coded telegram to the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Serbia Baron Wladimir von Giesl, and the Hungarian Premier Istvan Count Tisza. In his telegram, Berchtold instructs Giesl and Tisza on the procedures to follow once Serbia replies to the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum.

Leopold Count Berchtold

Leopold Count Berchtold

Count Berchtold to Baron von Giesl and to Count Tisza. Vienna, 24 July 1914.

Cyphered telegram.—Private.

A. Baron von Giesl

I assume that according to the instructions you have received you have completed your preparations, so that you can leave Belgrade immediately with the entire legation should the term of forty-eight hours have expired without effect. The result of the time allowed for the answer can only be either the unconditional acceptance or the refusal (you are to consider in the light of a refusal any acceptance which contains conditions or reservations). The result is to be sent in a few words from Semlin [the first train station at the Austro-Hungarian border with Serbia] in claris [i.e. without code or cypher] and immediately to the military cabinet of His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty in Ischl; also in claris from Semlin and in cipher from Belgrade to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to Count Tisza in Budapest.

Taking into account the local circumstances, it will be best for you to eventually leave Belgrade by the 18:30 train which arrives in Semlin at 18:40. You can then either continue your journey without stopping, or wait for the Orient-Express in Semlin.

When you arrive in Semlin, you will use the official railway telephone at the station and get a telephonic connection with the Budapest railway directors, who must connect you with Count Tisza, whom you are to inform of your departure from Belgrade.

We will take the necessary measures, so that you can use the telephone immediately after your arrival in Semlin, and we will ask Count Tisza to give us your message immediately, so that if things go as they ought, we might receive the news of your departure as early as 19:00 on Saturday.

If our demands are complied with by Servia, you can send one of your gentlemen to do the telephoning from Semlin to Budapest.

B. Count Tisza

Baron von Giesl is instructed to telegraph the result of the forty-eight hours term immediately when the term has expired, that is tomorrow, Saturday at 18:00 to His Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesty in Ischl in claris; and to you as well as to us in cypher from Belgrade and in claris from Semlin in a few words only.

Baron von Giesl is furthermore instructed, in the eventuality of his departure, to use the train that starts from Belgrade at 18:30, and arrives in Semlin at 18:40. In Semlin, Baron Giesl will immediately use the official railway telephone and get himself connected with the directors of the Hungarian state railways and through them with Your Excellency.

I trust you will take the necessary measures, so that Baron Giesl can dispose of the telephone on the Semlin-Budapest line at 18:00 tomorrow; and I beg, furthermore, that you will immediately forward Baron Giesl’s message to me, so that I can send it on to [the Austro-Hungarian Emperor at] Ischl.

If our demands are accepted by Servia, an official of the Imperial and Royal legation will send the message under the same conditions.

 

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

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