Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Count Berchtold sends a Circular Decree, 27 July 1914

On 27 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Leopold Count Berchtold (pictured), sent a circular decree to Austro-Hungarian diplomatic missions throughout Europe. The decree details a communique sent to the press on Austro-Serb relations.

Leopold Count Berchtold

Leopold Count Berchtold

Circular Decree. Vienna, 27 July 1914.


  1. Count Szogyeny in Berlin,
  2. Count Szecsen in Paris,
  3. Count Szapary in Petersburg,
  4. Herr von Merey in Rome,
  5. Count Mensdorff in London,
  6. Margrave Pallavicini in Constantinople,
  7. Count Czernin in Bucharest,
  8. Count Tarnowski in Sofia,
  9. Herr von Szilassy in Athens,
  10. Herr Otto in Cetinje,
  11. Herr von Loewenthal in Durazzo.

Cyphered telegram.

1.— 11.

The evening papers of today published the following communique:

The Imperial and Royal Minister. Baron von Giesl, on arriving in Vienna on 26 July, has presented the Serbian answer to our demands to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In this Note, the Serbian government endeavours to give the false impression as though it was in a great measure prepared to comply with our demands.

In reality, however, the Note is dictated by a spirit of insincerity, which makes it clear that the Serbian government does not seriously intend to put an end to the reprehensible toleration which it has hitherto shown towards the intrigues directed against the Monarchy.

The Serbian note contains a number of comprehensive restrictions and reservations, with regard to the principle by which our démarche is inspired, and also with regard to the different demands, so that the concessions which are made are of no value at all.

In particular, a meaningless pretext was used for absolutely refusing to comply with our demand that Imperial and Royal functionaries should be allowed to take part in discovering those participators in the plot of 28 June [i.e. the Sarajevo assassinations of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife] who are still on Serbian territory.

The concessions made for dealing with the publications directed against the Monarchy are also equal to a refusal of our demands.

Our wish that the Royal [Serbian] government should take the necessary measures to prevent the dissolved hostile Societies from existing under another name and in another form has not been taken into consideration at all.

As the demands contained in the Note of the Imperial and Royal government, dated 23 July, are the last modicum with which we could be content if we hoped to establish lasting peace on our South-Eastern border, we must consider the Serbian answer as altogether unsatisfactory.

The Serbian government must have been fully aware that its answer was absolutely unacceptable, otherwise it would not, at the conclusion of the Note, have proposed that we should submit our controversy to arbitration, a proposition which appears in a strange light when we learn that three hours before the answer to our Note was presented—a few minutes before the term had expired — the mobilisation of the Serbian army was ordered.

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


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