File No. 763.72/854

The Minister in Roumania, Servia, and Bulgaria ( Vopicka ) to the Secretary of State

Servian Series]

No. 28]

Sir: I have the honor to submit herewith a brief report on the present crisis between Austria-Hungary and Servia, and to inform the Department that it has proven extremely difficult from Roumania to keep in touch, except after a lapse of time such as to make telegraphic communications with you inexpedient, with the kaleidoscopic movement of recent events between Austria and Servia. It has been generally known since the perpetration of the Sarajevo crime that a rigorous investigation into the circumstances of the assassination was being made by the Austrian authorities, and that representations to Servia in regard thereto were likely.

An ultimatum in the severe tone of a note presented to the Servian Government on July 24, was hardly expected. An answer to this note was demanded within the time of 48 hours. The principal demands of the Austrian note, as summarized by the well-informed correspondent of the London Times were as follows:

That the Servian Government give a formal assurance that it condemns Serb propaganda against the Monarchy;
That a declaration expressing this condemnation be published on the front page of the Servian Official Journal of Sunday next;
That the declaration shall also express regret that Servian officers and officials participated in the anti-Austrian propaganda;
That the Servian Government promises to proceed with the utmost rigor against all who may be guilty of such machinations;
That this declaration be simultaneously communicated by the King of Servia to his Army as an order of the day, and be published in the official bulletin of the Army;
That all Servian publications which incite to hatred and contempt of Austria-Hungary be suppressed;
That a society styled the Naradno Obrana (National Union) be dissolved and its means of propaganda confiscated;
That teachers and methods of education in Servia which tend to foment feeling against Austria-Hungary be eliminated;
That all officers and officials guilty of propaganda against Austria-Hungary be dismissed from the service, the Austro-Hungarian Government reserving [to] itself the right to communicate to Servia the names and doings of such officers and officials;
That representatives of Austria-Hungary shall assist Servia in suppressing in Servia the movement directed against the territorial integrity of the Dual Monarchy and take part in the judicial proceedings on Servian territory against persons accessory to the Sarajevo crime;
That Servia furnish the Austro-Hungarian Government with explanations in regard to the utterances of high Servian officials in Servia and abroad who ventured to speak ill of the Austro-Hungarian Government after the Sarajevo crime;
That the execution of the foregoing measures be notified immediately to the Austro-Hungarian Government; and
That the Servian reply to this note be made by 6 o’clock on Saturday evening at latest.

After such consideration of the Austrian demands as was possible in the limit of time, Servia submitted a reply granting everything which her powerful neighbor demanded except those terms which were inconsistent with the sovereignty of the country. As Enclosure No. 11 with this despatch I beg to transmit a complete English text of the Servian reply.

As the Servian response did not prove a categorical acceptance of the Austrian demands, the Austrian Minister at Belgrade, upon the expiration of the time limit named in the note, withdrew, and the same evening the Servian Minister at Vienna was handed his passports.

I was informed July 29 by the Roumanian Minister for Foreign Affairs that Austria had issued a formal declaration of war.

Telegrams which I had received from the American Consulate at Belgrade reported that there was great excitement in that city. Latterly however, all telegraphic communications with Belgrade had ceased and it is reported that the Servian Court and Government, fearing the approach of the Austrian troops, have retreated into the interior of the country. I will not here comment upon the possible effects throughout Europe of this war and I will not fail to keep the Department fully informed of the developments.

I have [etc.]

Charles J. Vopicka
  1. Not printed: the enclosure consists of a clipping the Londan Times of July 27, 1914.