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

On 24 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Leopold Count Berchtold (pictured), sent a coded telegram to the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to London, Albert von Mensdorff. In the following telegram, Berchtold instructs Mensdorff on how to present Austria-Hungary’s Serbian policy to the British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey.

Leopold Count Berchtold

Leopold Count Berchtold

Count Berchtold to Count Mensdorff. Vienna, 24 July 1914.


Referring to your telegram of yesterday [see post].

I must beg you to explain immediately to Sir Edward Grey that our démarche [the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia] of yesterday in Belgrade must not be regarded as a formal ultimatum; it is nothing more than a limed démarche, which—this you will tell Sir Edward Grey in confidence—will, when the term has expired, be followed by nothing more than the breaking-off of diplomatic relations, and the beginning of the necessary military preparations, since we decidedly resolved to insist upon our justified demands.

You will add that it is your personal conviction that should Servia, after allowing the term to expire, see fit to accede to our demands, we should have to make her responsible for the amount of the military costs we should incur. You will call to mind that in 1908 and in 1912 we have had to order two mobilisations on Servia’s account.


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


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