Austro-Hungarian Red Book: Count Mensdorff to Count Berchtold, 28 July 1914

On 28 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Albert Count Mensdorff (pictured), sent a coded telegram to the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Leopold Count Berchtold. In his telegram, Mensdorff discusses the Great Power conference proposed by British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey.

Albert Count Mensdorff

Albert Count Mensdorff

Count Mensdorff to Count Berchtold. London, 28 July 1914.

Cyphered.

I have just spoken to [British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey’s Principal Private Secretary] Mr. [William] Tyrrell.

He considers it as a most hopeful symptom that there is a direct exchange of opinions between Vienna and Petersburg. Sir Edward Grey would be very glad if this led to an amicable arrangement.

With regard to Grey’s proposal [for a Great Power conference], Tyrrell said that the Foreign Secretary regretted having used the word “conference”; what he was really thinking of was a constant exchange of ideas between him and the three ambassadors.

I got my visitor to confirm again that from the beginning Sir Edward Grey held the opinion that our difference with Serbia was a concern of our own; that only if Russia interfered, would there be a necessity for the Powers to mediate, to prevent great calamities.

When I remarked that even if the hostilities between us and Serbia had broken out, it must still be possible to keep Russia from interfering, he said: “Serbia has no doubt given way as much as it has, under the pressure of Russia; if the Powers are to interfere, to make Russia keep quiet, we must give them material with which they can impress Petersburg.”

I have spoken to my Russian, German and Italian colleagues, who all place their hopes in direct relations between Vienna and Petersburg; it must be hoped, they say, that nothing irreparable will happen, such as Austria marching into Serbia, because in this case the Russian government would be forced to act according to the will of public opinion.

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

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