Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Austria-Hungary Wanted to Invade Serbia — In 1913!

The ex-premier of Italy, Signor Giolitti, in a speech delivered in the Chamber of Deputies on 5 December 1914, revealed the fact that in 1913 Austria-Hungary had planned to attack Serbia. He said that on 9 August 1913 he had received the following telegram from Foreign Minister Marquis di San Giuliano:

Austria has communicated to us and to Germany her intention of taking action against Serbia, and defines such action is defensive, hoping to bring into operation the casus foederis of the Triple Alliance.

The Empire's Most Tireless Advocate of a Punitive War Against Serbia

He replied:

If Austria intervenes against Serbia, it is clear that a casus foederis cannot be established. It is a step which she is taking on her own account, since there is no question of defense, inasmuch as no one is thinking of attacking her.

The fact that the Treaty of Bucharest (the settlement of the Second Balkan War, which gave Serbia a massive increase in territory and population) was signed on the day following Giolitti's receipt of the telegram reveals Austria's motive as a desire to prevent Serbia from profiting by the conclusion of a highly advantageous treaty.

The telegram indicates that the assassination of the Archduke was the occasion rather than the cause of Austria's ultimatum to Serbia, and it reveals the reason for Austria's action in July 1914 in omitting to notify Italy in advance of her demands upon Serbia.

The authenticity of the telegram is established by the fact that the Austrian government has not denied it. Its contents are brought into relief by the statements of M. Pichon, ex-minister of foreign affairs of France. The Paris correspondent of Il Giornale d'Italia reported (29 December 1914) a conversation which he had with M. Pichon on the subject of Giolitti's disclosure. M. Pichon said that in June 1913, when he was minister of foreign affairs, at the time of the affair of Scutari, the Italian Government informed him that Austria had notified it of her intentions with regard to Serbia, and that the Italian government had replied that the casus foederis was not applicable.

Source: Anderson, Frank Maloy and Amos Shartle Hershey, Handbook for the Diplomatic History of Europe, Asia, and Africa 1870–1914. Prepared for the National Board for Historical Service. Government Printing Office, Washington, 1918.

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