Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Count Szecsen to Count Berchtold, 24 July 1914

On 24 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to France, Nikolaus Count Szecsen (pictured), sent a coded telegram to the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Leopold Count Berchtold. In his telegram, Szecsen describes French public opinion towards Austro-Hungary’s ultimatum against Serbia.

Nikolaus Count Szecsen with his family

Nikolaus Count Szecsen with his family

Count Szecsen to Count Berchtold. Paris, 24 July 1914.



Newspapers of this country [i.e. France] have not yet taken a decided attitude towards our démarche [i.e. the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia].

I am busily engaged to act upon the press in a friendly manner and to prevent its taking the part of Servia to our disadvantage. I am calling attention to the fact that Servia has not yet answered, and our intentions, which depend entirely on the nature of this answer, are still unknown. The papers must therefore be content with an expectant attitude.

[A French government official] Monsieur Pichon ([and] at present “Petit Parisien” [note: a Parisian newspaper) is of the same mind and promised to influence the papers in this sense, through Monsieur Berthelot, which whom he is great friends.

Pichon expressed himself much in the same manner as the minister of Justice did towards [the German Ambassador to France] Baron Schoen. He asked me with some apprehension whether Berlin was all in favour of a war. I said that so far as I was informed, Berlin fully recognised the justice of our point of view and desired very much that Servia should entirely comply with our wishes. But the question is regarded as an exclusively Austro-Hungarian-Servian affair, and hopes are entertained, that however events may turn out, the affair might remain strictly localised. Monsieur Pichon remarked that if Germany did not wish war, peace would be most certainly maintained. France is all for peace and the Russian government has absolutely no warlike intentions, notwithstanding the regrettable agitation of the Pan-Slavists.

Pichon still has numerous connections with the [French] Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and even a certain influence there.

As far as I have been able to learn, no information has as yet been received on the attitude which the Russian government intends adopting.


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


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