Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Count Szogyeny to Count Berchtold, 27 July 1914

On 27 July 1914, Laszlo Count Szogyeny, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Germany (pictured), sent a coded strictly private telegram to Leopold Count Berchtold, the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs. In his telegram, Szogyeny discusses a British proposal for mediation. Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, had approached Germany in the hope that it would intervene favourably with Austria-Hungary.

Laszlo Count Szogyeny

Laszlo Count Szogyeny

Count Szogyeny to Count Berchtold. Berlin, 27 July 1914.

Cyphered.— Strictly private.

[The German] Minister of Foreign Affairs [Gottlieb von Jagow], in strictest privacy, informed me that very shortly eventual British propositions of mediation would be communicated to your Excellency through the German government.

The German government assures in the most decided way that it does not identify itself with these propositions, and, that, on the contrary it advises to disregard them, but that it must pass them on, to satisfy the British government.

The German government holds the belief that it is currently of the very highest importance that the United Kingdom should not side with Russia and France. Therefore, everything must be done to prevent the wire still working between Germany and Britain from being broken. If Germany candidly told [the British Foreign Secretary] Sir Edward Grey that it refused to communicate Britain’s wishes to Austria-Hungary, which it thinks will be more regarded, if they pass through Germany’s hands, the above-mentioned might eventuality occur.

The German government will, whenever Britain has such a request to make, declare with decision that it cannot support such proposals of intervention and only passes them on to please Britain.

The British government has through the German Ambassador in London yesterday, and through the British Ambassador in Berlin, requested Herr von Jagow to support Britain’s wishes with regard to a modification of the note to Serbia [i.e. Austria-Hungary’s ultimatum to Serbia]. Jagow had answered that he would act according to Sir Edward Grey’s wish, and would send his proposals on to you, but that he could not support them, because the conflict with Serbia was a question of prestige for the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, which Germany shares to a certain extent.

He, the [German] Minister of Foreign Affairs, had therefore sent Sir Edward Grey’s note on to [the German Ambassador to Austria-Hungary] Herr von Tschirschky, but without instructing him to present the note to your Excellency; it was thus possible to inform the British cabinet that far from refusing to comply with Sir Edward Grey’s wish, he had sent the note on to Vienna. Before concluding our conversation the Minister of Foreign Affairs repeated his view of the case, and begged me to assure your Excellency, that there might be no mistake, that though he had acted as a middleman in this affair, he by no means wished to support the propositions for a mediation.

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

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