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

On 28 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to Russia, Frigyes Count Szapary (pictured), sent a coded telegram to the Austro-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Leopold Count Berchtold. In his telegram, Szapary describes Russian perceptions of the Austro-German alliance days before the outbreak of the First World War.

Frigyes Count Szapary

Frigyes Count Szapary

Count Szapary to Count Berchtold. Petersburg, 28 July 1914.


Your Excellency’s cyphered instructions did not arrive until late this afternoon, and the decree with the dossier has not arrived at all. I will speak to [the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs] Herr Sazonov in the sense of the above instructions tomorrow. My German colleague [Count Pourtalès], who saw Sazonov today, told me that the minister still adheres to his optimistic views, the grounds of which neither I nor my German colleague can guess. The serious language used by Count Pourtalès today had no effect.

Today’s press is full of news that the language of German diplomats has changed, that Germany does not reject mediation, that a friendly understanding is probable and so forth. Emissaries, for instance Schelking, and politicians are busy denouncing the attitude of Germany in the embassy. As the truth of … [missing cypher] must be precluded, the only supposition possible is the attempt to make mischief between Austria-Hungary and Germany.

Erroneous interpretation is given to fact that there is as yet no news of military operations, which were expected to have immediately followed the expiration of the term for Serbia’s answer. They think that Austria-Hungary’s resolve is not determined, perhaps on account of Germany’s attitude, and that there is still a chance for negotiations.

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

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