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

On 25 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Leopold Count Berchtold (pictured), sent a private telegram to the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Russia, Frigyes Count Szapary, and the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Germany, Laszlo Count Szogyeny. In his telegram, Berchtold ensures his Ambassadors stick to Austria-Hungary’s policy towards Serbia by following the same policy line.

Leopold Count Berchtold

Leopold Count Berchtold

Count Berchtold to the Imperial and Royal Ambassadors in St-Petersburg and Berlin. Vienna, 25 July 1914.


  1. Frigyes Count Szapary in St-Petersburg

Referring to your Excellency’s telegram of 24 July.

I beg your Excellency, for the present, not to mention the question of our territorial désintérressement [i.e. disinterest] either to [the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs] Herr Sazonov or to your Italian colleagues [i.e. the Italian Ambassador to Russia].

  1. Laszlo Count Szogyeny in Berlin

Count Szapary telegraphed on 24 July as follows:

“After a Council of Ministers, which lasted five hours, [the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs] Herr Sazonov in the evening received the German Ambassador [to Russia, Count Pourtalès], with whom he had a long conversation, much animated at times, but ending on friendly terms.

The Minister defended what was probably the view of the Council of Ministers, that the dispute between Austria-Hungary and Servia was not a concern, limited to these two States, but a European affair, since the arrangement of 1909, ending with a declaration by Servia, had been accomplished under the auspices of all Europe. (This absolutely mistaken point of view—since England was the mediator—is, I am sorry to say, indirectly acknowledged in our Note, where Servia is accused of having placed itself in opposition to “la volonté de I’Europe” [i.e. “the will of Europe”] and where a communication to the “Puissances signataires” [i.e. “the Signatory Powers”] is mentioned.)

The Minister complained most particularly of the offer of examining a dossier, when at the same time an ultimatum had been sent out. Russia would have asked for an international examination of the dossier offered. My German colleague called Herr Sazonov’s attention to the fact that Austria-Hungary would not accept interference in its …. [note: cypher illegible] to Servia, and that Germany must also protest against imputations, that would offend its ally’s dignity.

During the course of the conversation, the Minister declared that what Russia would not regard with indifference Austria-Hungary’s eventual intention “to devour Servia”. Count Pourtalès replied that he did not suppose Austria-Hungary had any such intention, all the more because this would be altogether against its own interests. Austria-Hungary was probably merely anxious “to inflict a well-deserved punishment upon Servia”. Herr Sazonov expressed doubts that Austria-Hungary would be satisfied with this, even if it gave declarations to this effect.

The conversation concluded with an appeal from Herr Sazonov that Germany might help Russia to preserve the peace. The German Ambassador assured the Russian Minister that Germany certainly had no desire to bring about war, but that it would naturally stand up for the interests of its ally.”

The above is for your Excellency’s information and for strictly confidential communication to the German Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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


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