WWI: The French Connection

Franz Ferdinand, Sophie Duchess of Hohenberg, and their familyBecause the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, had been married morganatically – it was forbidden for Habsburg heir to marry anyone who was not a member of one of the reigning families of Europe – Ferdinand had known that his wife could not be buried with him in the Imperial Crypt in Vienna. He had built a family tomb at his private residence, Schloss Artstetten near the Danube, so that they could be buried together. The last funeral and internment took place on Saturday 4th July: their three children were present.

On the same day, 4th July, in Berlin, the French Chargé d’Affaires, Gustave Henri Benoît, Comte de Manneville, was writing to René Viviani, Prime Minister of France and Minister for Foreign Affairs:

The Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs told me yesterday, and has to-day repeated to the Russian Ambassador, that he hoped Servia would satisfy the demands which Austrian might have to make to her with regard to the investigation and the prosecution of the accomplices in the crime of Serajevo. He added that he was confident that this would be the case because Servia, if she acted in any other way, would have the opinion of the whole civilised world against her.

The German Government do not then appear to share the anxiety which is shown by a part of the German press as to possible tension in the relations between the Governments of Vienna and Belgrade, or at least they do not wish to seem to do so.

In Germany, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in 1914 was Gottlieb von Jagow, was reported as a cautious and pessimistic adviser to the Kaiser: the Under-Secretary, Arthur Zimmerman, was a career civil servant, widely regarded as an able and ambitious man.

On 4th July, Count Szécsen (Nikolaus Graf Szécsen von Temerin) who was the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador at Paris, telegraphed to Count Von Berchtold, the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister:

To-day I communicated to M. Poincaré the thanks of the Imperial and Royal Government for their sympathy.

In referring to the hostile demonstrations against Servia among us, he mentioned that after the murder of President Carnot [25 June 1894], all Italians throughout France were exposed to the worst persecutions on the part of the people.

I drew his attention to the fact that that crime had no connection with any anti-French agitation in Italy, while in the present case it must be admitted that for years past there has been an agitation in Servia against the Monarchy fomented by every means, legitimate and illegitimate.

In conclusion, M. Poincaré expressed his conviction that the Servian Government would meet us with the greatest willingness in the judicial investigation and the prosecution of the accomplices. No State could divest itself of this duty.

On the same day, Doctor M. R. Vesnitch, the Serbian Minister at Paris, wrote to Nikola Pašić, the Prime Minister of Serbia and Minister for Foreign Affairs:

I had a long conversation on Wednesday last on the subject of the Serajevo outrage with M. Viviani, the new Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was somewhat concerned at what had occurred. I made use of this opportunity to describe to him briefly the causes which had led to the outrage, and which were to be found, in the first place, in the irksome system of Government in force in the annexed provinces, and especially in the attitude of the officials, as well as in the whole policy of the Monarchy towards anything orthodox. He understood the situation, but at the same time expressed the hope that we should preserve an attitude of calm and dignity in order to avoid giving cause for fresh accusations in Vienna.

After the first moment of excitement public opinion here has quieted down to such an extent that the Minister-President [Poincaré] himself considered it advisable in the Palais de Bourbon to soften the expressions used in the statement which he had made earlier on the subject in the Senate.

In Russia, Doctor Miroslav Spalaikovitch, the Serbian Minister at Petrograd, telegraphed on 4th July to the Prime Minister of Serbia:

The Minister for Foreign Affairs tells me that the outrages committed upon Serbs in Bosnia will increase the sympathy of Europe for us. He is of opinion that the accusations made against us in Vienna will not obtain credence. The chief thing is for public opinion in Serbia to remain calm.

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