File No. 763.72119/7729

The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page) to the Secretary of State


8815. My 8780, February 22.1 On Saturday last Fürstenberg sent the following message to Czernin:

The day before yesterday, February 21, I was received privately by the King. When I informed the King briefly of the object of my visit and told him of the contents of the message I was about to hand over His Highness appeared somewhat concerned. Thereupon I read the message over again, [giving] him translation into French and explaining certain passages which were misguiding to him by reason of his defective knowledge of German. As I proceeded I gathered the impression that the apprehensions first aroused in His Majesty’s mind were gradually removed. When I had finished he declared his great willingness to undertake to forward the august message. At the same time he asked me to inform the Emperor that his experience led him to apprehend that there would be leakage and filtering into the press on account of the laxity prevailing at the White House. He laid stress upon the fact that the secret could scarcely be kept if the President accepted His [Page 139]Majesty’s offer. At the same time I should like to remark that in my opinion leakage is not improbable here.

The King also asked me whether the Emperor Charles’ step was taken with the consent of the Kaiser and the German Government which was of prime importance. I put forward the view that His Majesty could scarcely have expressed himself so plainly on the question of territory, notably as regards Belgium, unless there had been some understanding with the German authorities.

In view of possible future conversations I request Your Excellency to furnish me with instructions (apparent omission)* bring to a successful conclusion. A French translation has been made of the message for the Spanish Ambassador in Washington and the King is transmitting it in his own private cipher.

  1. “A message from Fürstenberg to Czernin just intercepted indicates that the interview took place as arranged and soon the King undertook to telegraph the Emperor’s message to Washington.” For text of the Emperor’s message, see ante, pp. 126127.
  2. Inserted by the Embassy. [Footnote in the original.]