Letter from Franz Josef to the Kaiser (1914)

The following personal letter from Franz Josef, the Austro-Hungarian emperor, to Kaiser Wilhelm II was dated July 5th 1914:

I sincerely regret that you were unable to fulfil your intention of going to Vienna for the funeral ceremonies. I should have liked personally to express to you my sincerest thanks for your sympathy in my keen sorrow, a sympathy which has greatly touched me.

By your warm and sympathetic condolence you have given me renewed proof that I have in you a sincere friend worthy of confidence, and that I may count upon you in every hour of grave trial.

I should have liked very much to discuss with you the general situation, but as that has not been possible, I take the liberty of sending to you the attached memo, prepared by my Minister of Foreign Affairs, which was drawn up before the terrible catastrophe of Sarajevo, and which now, following that tragic event, appears particularly worthy of attention.

The attack directed against my poor nephew is the direct consequence of the agitation carried on by Russian and Serbian Pan-Slavists, whose sole aim is the weakening of the Triple Alliance and the destruction of my Empire.

It is no longer an affair at Sarajevo of the single bloody deed of an individual but of a well organised conspiracy, of which all the threads reach to Belgrade and if, as is probable, it be impossible to prove the complicity of the Serbian government. Nevertheless it cannot be doubted that the policies leading to the reunion of all the Southern Slavs under the Serbian flag will nourish crimes of this sort, and that the continuance of this state of things constitutes a constant danger to my house and to my empire…

The efforts of my government should in consequence be directed toward isolation and the diminishment of Serbia. Serbia, which is at present the centre point of Pan-Slavist policy, [must be] eliminated as a political factor in the Balkans.

Franz Josef