Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Count Berchtold to Count Szapary, 25 July 1914

On 25 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Leopold Count Berchtold (pictured), sent a confidential telegram to the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Russia, Frigyes Count Szapary. In his telegram, Berchtold clarifies Austro-Hungarian policy towards Russian in the Serbian Crisis.

Leopold Count Berchtold

Leopold Count Berchtold

Count Berchtold to Count Szapary. Vienna, 25 July 1914.

 Confidential.

The Russian Chargé d’Affaires called this morning, while the Minister [i.e. Berchtold] was absent and was therefore received by the Section Chief, to whom in the name of his government he expressed the wish that the term for the answer to the Note to Servia [i.e.. the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum to Serbia] might be prolonged.

The wish was justified by the circumstance that the Powers had been completely taken by surprise by our step, and that the Russian government would regard the postponement of the term as an act of consideration from the Vienna cabinet to the other cabinets in Europe, by giving them an opportunity of examining the grounds on which our communication to the Powers is based, and also of studying the dossier which has been offered.

The Section Chief informed the Chargé d’Affaires, that he would immediately inform the Minister of what he had been told, but that he could say at once, that there was no possibility that the term would be prolonged. As to the grounds on which the wish of the Russian government was based, he could not help thinking, that there was a mistake. Our Note by no means had the purpose of asking the Powers to communicate their objections, but was meant as information, which according to the duty of international politeness had to be given. We regarded the whole action as an affair between us and Servia, which concerned no one else, and which we had to undertake very much against our will, because the patience and endurance we had shown for many year, did not prevent circumstances developing in a way which made us fear for our most vital interests.

 The above is for your Excellency’s information and for the regulation of your speech.

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

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