Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia


Vienna, July 28, 1914

The Royal Serbian Government not having answered in a satisfactory manner the note of July 23, 1914, presented by the Austro-Hungarian Minister at Belgrade, the Imperial and Royal Government are themselves compelled to see to the safeguarding of their rights and interests, and, with this object, to have recourse to force of arms. Austria-Hungary consequently considers herself henceforward in state of war with Serbia.

The above is a telegram send by Count Leopold von Berchtold, the Austro-Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs to M. N. Pashitch, Serbian Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs on July 28, 1914, 11:10 am.  It was one month to the day after which Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were killed by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo.  Austria-Hungary felt that a timely response was needed when they presented Serbia with the July Ultimatum. This ultimatum was part of a coercive program meant to weaken the Kingdom of Serbia as a threat to Austria-Hungary’s control of the northern Balkans which had a significant southern Slavic population, including a large Serbian community in Bosnia. This was supposed to be achieved either through diplomacy (the terms of the Ultimatum were made harsh for this purpose) or by a localized war if the Ultimatum were rejected. Confronted with the ultimatum and the lack of support from other European powers, the Serbian Cabinet worked out a compromise where Serbia accepted all of the terms of the ultimatum except for the demand in point #6 that Austrian police be allowed to operate in Serbia.With all of the tension arising between the two countries and for the failure to accept the full terms in the time allotted, Austria Hungary marched and declared war on Serbia, pushing the other alliances into a world war.