Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Count Szapary to Count Berchtold, 26 July 1914

On 26 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Russia, Frigyes Count Szapary (pictured), sent a coded telegram to the Austro-Hunarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Leopold Count Berchtold. In his telegram, Szapary informs Berchtold of Russia’s impending general mobilisation. Russia was the first Great Power to mobilise its army in the July Crisis.

Frigyes Count Szapary

Frigyes Count Szapary

Count Szapary to Count Berchtold. St-Petersburg, 26 July 1914.


The [Austro-Hungarian] Military Attaché [to Russia] has asked me to communicate the following to the [Austro-Hungarian] Chief of the General Staff [Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf]:

News reached here from different sides that the military districts of Kiev, Warsaw, Odessa and Moscow have received orders to mobilise and to ball up the reserves; the districts of Petersburg and Wilna, and probably also Kasan, are to prepare for mobilisation, without reserves.

All over European Russia, the troops have orders to return to their garrisons.

These dispositions will be followed by extensive movements of troops, and it will be difficult to discern, which movements are due to the mobilisation and which to the troops returning from leave to their garrisons.

Surprise was caused yesterday when the military cadets were made officers, and it is supposed that this was the case in all military schools.

Camping in Krasnoje-Selo [i.e. one of the Russian Tsar’s summer residence and the location of annual military manoeuvres] was broken up yesterday.

The First Guards Cavalry Division was summoned to Petersburg a few days ago, to suppress the strike, which, in consequence, is much less discernible.

35 Serbian officers, who were doing service here, left for home via Romania.

During the Parade in camp on 12 July, general feeling seemed much excited and aggressive, contrasting with what one could observe on 11 July, but in military circles a belief prevails that Austria-Hungary is only bluffing.

Today, my Turkish colleague told me in strict confidence, that an alliance between Turkey and Bulgaria exists, a fact which up to the present he had always denied.

My Romanian colleague tries to please both sides; he appears to have been instructed to betray something of Russia’s intentions and mobilisation movement.

My Bulgarian colleague refuses to believe that Russia is disposed to interfere actively.

It is difficult to judge things correctly, but the excessively aggressive war party is working hard, “to excite public feeling, which might then carry along the government”.

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


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