Too many of us only know the Serbs as precipitators of World War I, when a Serbian nationalist assassinated Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 causing Austria to declare war.
R.G.D.LAFFAN, THE SERBS, The Guardians Of The Gate
The Murder at Sarajevo
FOR the Serbs the Balkan wars had been a period of mixed triumph and anxiety. By August 1913 they had achieved complete success. The statesmen, Serbian, Greek, and Montenegrin, who had concluded the treaty of Bucharest were greeted with enthusiasm as they arrived by water and stepped ashore at Belgrade. But the entry of the troops roused the capital to yet wilder expressions of delirious joy. Arches bearing the inscription "Za Kossovo-Kumanovo. Za Slivnitzu, Bregalnitzu" (For Kossovo, Kumanovo. For Slivnitza, Bregalnitza) spanned the road. Amidst the shouts of the crowd and a rain of flowers the Danube division marched into the city. Foot, horse, and then the all-conquering guns, all decorated with bouquets. In front came a cavalcade, the General Staff of the Serbian army, and ahead rode a single officer in plain service uniform, the Crown Prince Alexander. Slowly the great procession made its way to the palace and defiled before the windows where stood the three veterans who had guided Serbia to this hour of triumph - King Peter, M. Pashitch, and Voivoda Putnik. As a monument to Kara-George was inaugurated the guns boomed out announcing their message of victory and peace. It was the greatest moment of Serbia's history.
But such moments pass; and the Serbs settled down to the task of putting their house in order. Many problems awaited solution. An Albanian insurrection kept a large part of the army still in action. Many of our Serbian friends have been continuously mobilized since September 1912.
Lieut. Krstitch tells me that he has never been home for more than twenty days on end since the Turkish war began. Then there was the religious problem. The adherents of the Greek Patriarchate and the Bulgarian Exarchate were transferred to the obedience of the Archbishop of Belgrade, the Greeks being allowed to keep their schools. The Mohammedans were less tractable and regretted the passing of the temporal power of their faith. The free exercise of their religion was, however, secured to them, and the Turks, at any rate, have accommodated themselves to the new situation. The Roman Catholic Albanians, who had long been used as pawns in the political game by Austria-Hungary, were removed from her influence by a Concordat with the Pope which placed them directly under the Roman Catholic bishop of Belgrade.
For some time after the proclamation of peace the new territories were under strict military government. The administration had to deal with hostile elements which had long been accustomed to the practice of pillage and murder, and with the agents of the Bulgarian propaganda. It cannot be pretended that the work of introducing order amongst the population of Old Serbia and Macedonia was unaccompanied by acts of violence, mistakes, excesses. It would have been remarkable had it not been so. Time was needed to soften the harshness of excessive nationalism and to reconcile the population, accustomed to the easygoing laxity of the Turks, to the more vigorous methods of the Serbs. Remember Serbia had only had her new territories for less than a year when the present war broke out. Yet in that time the government, urged on by the parliamentary opposition, had organized a civil police, set up ordinary tribunals of justice, and disarmed most of the population.
For general security and prosperity it was necessary to settle the question of the land. Under the Turks the peasants had been tenants paying a large portion of the fruits of their labor to Turkish or Albanian landlords. The government determined to introduce the Serbian system of peasant proprietorship and to facilitate the division of the large estates into small farms. As Macedonia was very thinly populated there was much available land which was not under cultivation. In Turkish times it had not been worth while to Slough it. By opening a prospect of agricultural property in the new territories the government attracted immigrants who would otherwise have flocked to America. But the rights of the original inhabitants were carefully guarded. To them in the first instance was accorded the right to take up land; after them to Serbs of Serbia, and thirdly to Serbs or Slavs from other countries. No estate of less than five hectares was granted, and two further hectares were added for every male member of the family over sixteen years of age. Immigrants could have themselves, their animals and their implements, transported free of charge. For the first three years they were also to be free of all taxes, except an education rate. They could not alienate their property for the first fifteen years; after which period they were to enter into full ownership. By these means Serbia offered a home to many of her children who would otherwise have been absorbed in foreign lands, and set herself towards the reconciliation of her pro-Bulgarian subjects.
Lastly, there was the question of communication. Serbia had had the beginnings of an adequate railway system before 1912, but the new territories were very poorly provided. Besides the central Vardar railway from Skoplje to Salonika, there were only the branch line to Mitrovitza and the Monastir line which leaves Serbian soil after a distance of twelve miles. A whole network of new railways was now planned, radiating in every direction, to assist the development of every corner whose fertility promised adequate results. The cost was estimated at 300,000,000 francs, while five more millions were devoted to an object with which any traveller in the Balkans will sympathize; I mean the construction of roads in Serbian Macedonia.
Despite the heavy financial burdens with which Serbia was loading herself, we can readily understand the general feeling of well-being, made up of martial triumph and economic enterprise, with which the Serbs now set themselves to the various tasks that were to make their country prosperous and strong. But over their heads hung the menace of new troubles. All who knew South-Eastern Europe were very dubious about the stability of the Treaty of Bucharest. Austria-Hungary had twice seen her Balkan plans upset by the unexpected chance of war. She was determined that Serbia should not for ever stand between her and the Aegean Sea. And behind her was the far more sinister and powerful figure of the German Empire.
To understand the relation of Serbia to German policy we must stop a moment and consider the map of the world. Germany, disunited till 1871 and absorbed in European affairs till 1882, had entered very late into the competition of the Powers for colonies. But for the last thirty years she had grown continuously more eager for the addition to her Empire of new countries. She was determined to be a world-power, with a decisive voice in international questions and the control of remote continents. Her writers made no secret of the national ambition. An admirable and everincreasing fleet proclaimed her intention of ultimately challenging the British navy.
Foiled in the hope of using the Boers to establish German power in South Africa, German statesmen turned their attention to the Far East. Unable, owing to the common action of the Powers and the rise of Japan, to convert their territory of Kiao-Chau into an eastern empire, they then entered on their struggle with France for Morocco and the north-west coast of Africa. The solid resistance of France and Great Britain to German expansion in that quarter caused the Pan-Germans to put their faith in another plan to which no one was prepared to take exception. This great plan is best known under the short title of ' Berlin-Baghdad '. The main idea was the erection of a system or chain of allied States under the hegemony of Germany, and stretching from the North Sea to the Persian Gulf. Berlin had long been joined to Constantinople by excellent railways, and German engineers were busy with the completion of a further line which should stretch across the 900 miles of Turkey in Asia to Baghdad and Basra and link itself up with the railway running south from Damascus to Meeca. This railway was to develop and complete Germany's economic and military control of the Ottoman Empire. The great untapped riches of Asia Minor should flow westwards to Germany, and German officers would be found in control of everything as far as the Persian mountains and the deserts of Arabia.
The plan was admirably feasible, and has been put in force almost completely in the course of this war (not quite, for our troops are solidly established on the Persian Gulf and hold Baghdad, while the Russians have penetrated far into Armenia). If ' Berlin-Baghdad ' were achieved, a huge block of territory producing every kind of economic wealth and unassailable by sea-power would be united under German authority. Russia would be cut off by this barrier from her western friends, Great Britain and France. German and Turkish armies would be within easy striking distance of our Egyptian interests, and from the Persian Gulf our Indian Empire would be threatened. The port of Alexandretta and the control of the Dardanelles would soon give Germany enormous naval power in the Mediterranean.
A glance at the map of the world will show how the chain of States stretched from Berlin to Baghdad. The German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bulgaria, Turkey. One little strip of territory alone blocked the way and prevented the two ends of the chain from being linked together. That little strip was Serbia. Serbia stood small but defiant between Germany and the great ports of Constantinople and Salonika, holding the gate of the East. Little though we knew or cared in England, Serbia was really the first line of defence of our eastern possessions. If she were crushed or enticed into the ' Berlin- Baghdad ' system, then our vast but slightly defended empire would soon have felt the shock of Germany's eastward thrust. To Germany, therefore, Serbia was an intolerable nuisance. Serbia would not be cajoled into the family of Germany's vassal-states. Therefore, Serbia must be crushed. The Serbs knew well that the Treaty of Bucharest was not the end of war in the Balkans. As soon as the German military preparations were completed, an excuse would not be wanting, and then the Serbs might look to themselves, for the last and most terrible of their wars would burst upon them.
During the year that followed the Balkan wars, South Eastern Europe was in a ferment of expectation. The old racial and national antagonisms were more embittered than before. An explosion was expected from day to day. The presence of Prince William of Wied with a crown and a council of ministers and all the apparatus of a modern ruler did not mean that Albania was any quieter than she had ever been. It was not Austria-Hungary's intention that she should be. As long as the Albanians respected neither the authority of their own sovereign nor the rights of other States, there would always be an excuse for the AustroHungarian armies to advance in the name of law and order. In the autumn of 1913 the Albanians invaded Serbian territory, and to control the unruly tribesmen the Serbs occupied several strategic positions on the Albanian side of the frontier. They were at once ordered out by AustriaHungary, and had to submit to Albanian attacks without the possibility of checking them by retaliation.
Bosnia-Hertzegovina had never been resigned to Austrian rule, and since the Serbian victories the two provinces were simmering with discontent. When the country was annexed in 1908 a constitution had been promised, but the parliament that was set up found itself forbidden to control the executive, while the laws it passed had to be sanctioned by the central government. Serbian societies or ' sokols ' everywhere kept alive the national spirit, and encouraged the people to resist the germanization or magyarization of their land. Although the Serbian government did not take part in Pan-Serbian agitation over the frontier, many Serbs of Serbia undoubtedly joined with their brothers of Bosnia-Hertzegovina to spread the enthusiasm for ' Greater Serbia '. Unfortunately, the general excitement and the repressive attitude of the government resulted in frequent attempts at assassination. A people helpless before the overwhelming force of an alien invader will always be tempted to rid themselves of obnoxious rulers by the revolver and the bomb. But we must hope that, whatever the future may bring forth, the Serbs of every country will not again have recourse to such useless methods, which alienate from them the sympathies of those who do not deny their grievances. The result of the general unrest was that in 1912 the provinces were placed under military rule, and in 1913 a state of siege was proclaimed.
Much the same was the condition of Croatia. The old mutual distrust of Croats and Serbs had been steadily disappearing with the growth of the Serbo-Croat coalition. Her victories showed Serbia to be a worthy leader of the Southern Slav crusade, and enthusiasm for Serbia rose high. Here, too, there were repeated attempts at assassination, with the result that the constitution was suspended, and in 1913 the state of siege followed. The blame for these continual disturbances was laid by the Magyars to the account of the Serbian government. But in fact official Serbia was but a passive actor in the drama. It had been her successful revival that turned the hearts of her fellow Slavs towards her. No movement for liberation from Austria-Hungary would have begun but for the tyrannous nationalism of the Magyars. The blame for the Croatian troubles lies really with Count Tisza and the Hungarian government, which has been unable to tolerate Slav nationality alongside its own.
The same disturbance and insecurity existed in Austria. In 1914 the Bohemian constitution was suspended. Trieste was in rebellion against her governor. A bad budget and the prevailing high cost of living added to the general unrest.
But Austria is accustomed to crises of all kinds. Her existence has for long been a juggling performance of no little skill. The government is always engaged in playing off one national interest against another or in devising compromises which will tide over immediate difficulties. As a German professor once said to me, Austria is like the old house in Grimm's Fairy f ales which was so rotten that it was on the point of falling down; but as it could not make up its mind which way to fall, it continued to stand. Austria has weathered many storms, and left to herself she would doubtless have found some means of quieting her disturbed provinces and continuing her existence as the Central European Babel where all the races somehow pull together.
But the gamblers of the Central Empires were determined to chance the risks of a world-war. All the struggles and the rivalries of South-Eastern Europe were to be submerged in the sea of German expansion. The Germans of Austria, ardent supporters of PanGermanism, saw that success would further secure their predominance in their own country, while failure would only mean their relapse into the German Empire. Behind and controlling the whole plan were the Emperor William and the German government, powerfully seconded by the strong man of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Count Tisza. Our papers have seldom ceased during the war to represent Hungary as a most uneasy partner in the Central European firm, only too anxious to make a separate peace should the opportunity occur. No greater mistake could be made. The Magyars are a minority in their own country, and in order to continue their domination over Slavs and Roumanians they have sought Prussian support and bound themselves to the Prussian alliance.
Hungary, which is ruled by an hereditary aristocracy, sees its whole interest closely tied to Germany's success and to Germany's political ideas. It was Count Tisza and the Magyars as much as any one who brought the war upon us.
At Vienna the direction of Austro-Hungarian policy was nominally in the hands of Count Berchtold, a gentleman, as are most Austrians of high birth, but casual and dilettante, more interested in Society, sport, and country life than in the drudgery of a difficult position. Guiding him where they wished were abler men. Count Forgach, UnderSecretary for Foreign Affairs, was our old friend of the Friedjung forgeries, a bitter enemy of the Serbs, with a reputation to recover by proving that the Serbs were really an intolerable menace to the Austro-Hungarian State. Working in close touch with him and Tisza was also Count von Tschirschky, the German ambassador, ' the old spider of the Metternichgasse ', an inveterate foe of Russia and all Slavs. The old emperor was past taking an active share in the direction of policy, but the heir to the throne, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was most popular d in the army, was known to be in favour of suppressing Serbia once for all by military force. He had rattled the Austrian sabre in 1908-9, and again over Durazzo and Scutari during the Turkish war, and was regarded by the Serbs with profound distrust as being their irreconcilable enemy.
These men were preparing Austria-Hungary for the outbreak of war with Serbia. But across this simple thread in the plot runs another which it is not easy to unravel; and that is the unpopularity of the archduke in various high quarters. The emperor, who was more the representative of the Habsburg family tradition than an individual personality, always resented the marriage of his heir with the Countess Chotek, who was not of sufficiently exalted rank to enable her to be the wife and mother of emperors. He loathed the thought of being succeeded by Franz Ferdinand, and he had secured the subsequent succession to the young Archduke Karl Franz Joseph (now emperor). But Franz Ferdinand seems also to have been suspect in the eyes of the Hungarian government. Why this was so it is hard to say unless it was that the archduke was connected with the policy known as ' Trialism '. The trialist proposal was to counteract the Southern Slav agitation by creating a third and Yugoslav State, in addition to Austria and Hungary, within the empire. Such a third State would have contained a large part of Hungarian territory and completely shut Hungary off from the sea.
Several conferences took place in the spring of 1914. The two emperors met. The Austrian and German General Staffs conferred. In June the German Emperor, accompanied by Admiral von Tirpitz, visited the Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Konopisht in Bohemia. What they said to each other we cannot tell, but it has been conjectured that the attack on Serbia was arranged and the creation of a MagyarYugoslav State which would provide a crown for one of Franz Ferdinand's sons.
Immediately after this the archduke went south to attend the grand manceuvres in Bosnia. It was courting danger for the Austrian heir-apparent to visit any province of Serbian nationality at a time when feeling was running high, and the Serbs connected his presence with the Austrian policy of stimulating the Albanian tribes to activity. But it was yet further dangerous for him to enter Sarajevo, as he did, on 'Vidovdan' (St. Vitus's Day, June 28), this being the anniversary of the battle of Kossovo, which the Serbs, strangely enough, always celebrate as a national festival. The hero of ' Vidovdan ' is Milosh Obelitch, who killed the Sultan Murad in his tent on the day of the battle, and there would have been nothing astonishing if some young Bosnian Serb of unstable mind had taken it into his head to emulate that feat by putting an end to a representative of the AustroHungarian monarchy. The Serbs of Bosnia, devoted to the common Serbian cause, saw in the archduke the enemy who encouraged Roman Catholic propaganda at their expense, who had instigated Dr. Friedjung and provided him with forged papers, who had kept Serbia from the sea, and stirred up Bulgaria to the fratricidal war that had destroyed the Balkan League. Attempts at political assassination had been so frequent in recent years in the Southern Slav lands that on the occasion of the old emperor's visit to Sarajevo some years before his safety had been ensured by I,000 police, and probably by an army of secret agents. It was to be expected, therefore, that every precaution would be taken to protect the heir to the throne, above all in view of the fact that M. Pashitch warned the government on June 21 that he had reason to believe in the existence of a conspiracy in Bosnia. The Serbian authorities also communicated their suspicions of a man called Chabrinovitch, a young anarchist who had lately been in Belgrade where the police would have arrested him but for assurances from Austria-Hungary.
Despite all these indications of the hidden dangers of the Bosnian capital, the arrangements for the archduke's visit seem to have been conceived in a spirit of real or assumed confidence in the people who thronged the streets. Contrary to the usual custom, the police of Sarajevo were ordered to hand over the task of protecting the archduke and his wife to the military. As a matter of fact the exalted pair drove through the streets with General Potiorek, the military governor, followed by a second motor containing some of their suite, but unaccompanied by any body-guard whatever. As they passed along Chabrinovitch flung a couple of bombs at the leading car. One bomb appears actually to have fallen on the archduke, who with great presence of mind flung it clear. In exploding, it wounded one or two occupants of the second motor. The archduke was not unnaturally incensed at his unpleasant experience, and said as much to the mayor who met him with an address of welcome at the town hall. After the official lunch he proposed a visit to the hospital to which the victims of the morning's outrage had been taken. Several people wisely urged him not to take any more risks. As he hesitated, General Potiorek struck in, ' I know my Bosniaks. There are never two attempts on the same day. You would miss a splendid ovation.'(1) The archduke was persuaded, and started on a second drive through the streets. As the car slowed down to take a corner, a young man called Prinzip stepped off the pavement and with his revolver shot both the archduke and his wife.
The news of the double murder came as a terrible shock to all in Europe who followed the outlines of international politics. In England singularly little interest was shown. Not many people were quite clear as to who the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was. All agreed that a dastardly action had been committed, that something would and ought to be done about it, but that the whole affair was very far away and would soon be forgotten. Following the reports that came from Austria, nearly all our newspapers assumed that the outrage was the work of Serbian revolutionaries from the kingdom, that Austria-Hungary was entitled to demand some form of compensation and guarantees for the future and that then all would be calm again.
But those who knew something of South-Eastern Europe saw with the gravest misgivings that here was the very opportunity for which Austria-Hungary had been looking in order to put out her strength and strangle the rising Serbian kingdom. Here surely was the moral justification for Dr. Friedjung, even for Forgach and his forgers. If what the Austrian newspapers said was true, and the murderers had been sent from Serbia to accomplish their errand of death, then surely Europe would be obliged to stand by while condign punishment was meted out. Yet for nearly a month nothing happened. M. Pashitch, in the name of his country, hastened to offer his condolences to the Austro-Hungarian government. He asserted that the crime of Sarajevo was most severely reprobated by all classes of society in Serbia, and that his government would co-operate loyally in bringing to justice any Serbian subjects suspected of complicity in the murder. On July 3 the Serbian Minister at Vienna was able to report to his chief at Belgrade that he had had an interview with Baron Macchio, Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and that the Baron had said, ' Nobody accuses the Kingdom of Serbia nor its Government nor the whole Serbian nation' .(1) This sounded promising. But opinion in the Dual Monarchy was being inflamed by the press, and the government did little to control the demonstrations hostile to Serbia. There were riots at Sarajevo, where the Serbian quarter was burned, as well as in the bigger towns of Austria and Hungary. The newspapers persistently referred to the authors of the outrage as ' Serbs ', in order to give the impression that they were subjects of King Peter, since the Serbs of Bosnia had long been officially designated as ' Bosniaks '. They also published wholly fictitious accounts of the assassination of several Hungarian journalists in Serbia, and of a demonstration against the AustroHungarian Minister at the funeral of M. Hartwig. Considering that M. Hartwig had been beloved by all Serbs as a true and powerful friend of their nation and that his sudden death while drinking coffee in the AustroHungarian Legation was ascribed by Serbian public opinion to poison, it would not have been surprising if the immense crowd that followed the Russian diplomat's coffin to the grave had expressed its indignation against the supposed murderer. As a matter of fact it is clear that these newspaper stories had no foundation; for not only were they officially denied by M. Pashitch,l but Freiherr von Giesl, the Austro- Hungarian Minister, in his reports on events at Belgrade prior to July 21, made no more serious complaint than that great bitterness was generally expressed against Austria-Hungary both in the press and in Society.2 The Serbian press was indeed violent in tone; but, as the Prime Minister pointed out, complete liberty of the press existed in that country. On the other hand, the same excuse could hardly be made for the AustroHungarian journals. Nor was opinion in Serbia calmed by learning that the Crown Prince Alexander was receiving almost daily from AustriaHungary letters threatening him with death.(3)
Meanwhile the inquiry into the facts of the murder proceeded at Sarajevo in secret. At first this did not prevent the Hungarian papers from publishing certain ' confessions ' of the prisoners incriminating various persons in Serbia, especially General Yankovitch, the president of the ' Narodna Odbrana '. Suddenly, in the middle of July, these reports and revelations ceased in obedience to the government's orders, and the press began to represent the whole affair not as a trial of individuals but as an international affair which must ultimately be settled by war. It is surely not an unnatural surmise to suppose that this change of policy was dictated by the course of the trial. At first the AustroHungarian authorities expected no doubt to discover proofs of Serbian official complicity in a great plot. As they found themselves unable to trace the murder to the quarters required, they turned the attention of the public from the facts concerned with the murders towards incitement of a general kind against Serbia as a perpetual menace to AustriaHungary.
Nevertheless no very serious consequences were expected. The Serbian Minister at Vienna thought on July Is that Austria- Hungary was preparing a note to Serbia in which that nation would be ordered to give guarantees of neighbourly behaviour, and also a circular note to the Great Powers asking for their support to this end.(1) The AustroHungarian government was so reassuring that the Russian ambassador at Vienna left his post to go on leave, the President of the French Republic with his Foreign Minister paid a visit to Petrograd, while M. Pashitch and other Serbian ministers left Belgrade for the interior in connexion with the approaching elections. It was at this moment that the blow fell from Vienna, like thunder out of a clear sky. On July 23 the famous ultimatum was handed to M. Pashitch's substitute at Belgrade. This document accused Serbia of having tolerated and even encouraged anti-Austrian propaganda for the previous five years, of retaining in her service officers who had engineered the murder at Sarajevo, and of having supplied the conspirators with weapons from the State arsenal at Kraguyevatz. The note contained demands formulated in ten clauses asking for the suppression of notoriously anti-Austrian societies in Serbia, the dismissal from the State service of officials guilty of anti-Austrian proceedings, the arrest of two individuals, the suppression of illicit traffic in arms over the frontier, apologies for certain hostile utterances of public men since June 28, and the admission of AustroHungarian representatives to assist in the suppression of propagandist societies and in the trial of persons suspected of complicity in the murder. The Serbian government was called upon to accept the note in its entirety within the space of forty-eight hours from 6.o p.m. on July 23, failing which the acting Serbian Prime Minister was informed that diplomatic relations would be suspended.
Before considering the Serbian reply to these proposals, let us return and examine some of the details concerning the murder itself. Who killed Franz Ferdinand ? Or rather, on whom does the ultimate responsibility for his death rest ? The Austro- Hungarian official case is that the murder was perpetrated by Serbs�Bosnian Serbs, it is true, but recently resident in Serbia�and that the authors of the two attempts used bombs emanating from Kraguyevatz and Browning pistols given to them in Serbia. The case certainly looks black at first sight and points to Serbian complicity, though the evidence after all had only been produced in the course of a secret trial whose proceedings have never been published.
On the other hand, let us apply a test which is much to the point. To whose interest were the results brought about by the crime ? Manifestly not to the interest of the Serbian kingdom, which had just emerged impoverished and exhausted from two wars. Nothing could have been more disastrous for Serbia at such a time than to provoke a conflict with a neighbouring Great Power, particularly under circumstances that would alienate the opinion of every civilized State. For the Central Empires, however, the violent death of the archduke provided just the needful excuse for the suppression of independent Serbia. The change in the succession to the Habsburg crown from Franz Ferdinand to the young Karl Franz Joseph was known by all to be most gratifying to the old emperor, while the murder of the advocate of Trialism could not but be acceptable to Hungarian nationalists, who had been infuriated by the late archduke's plans for a Southern Slav monarchy. Considerations of policy therefore would show that Serbia had no interest in the crime, while powerful forces in Central Europe would have been inclined to welcome and profit by it. Of course an enlightened view of national interests cannot be expected from all Serbian individuals. But what we may consider ourselves entitled to assume is that the Serbian government would view the situation calmly and be unlikely to permit its subordinates to draw down well-merited punishment on their country.
But there are details to consider, and though we cannot pretend to penetrate the obscurity in which the whole affair is wrapped, the examination of some of the facts may help us to form a provisional estimate of the guilty parties, pending the publication of decisive proofs.
First of all, then, why were no precautions taken to protect the life of the archduke in so dangerous a spot as Sarajevo? Why was Chabrinovitch not arrested when denounced by the Serbian government as a dangerous character? or at least, why was not some check placed on his freedom of movement I Why were no escort and no police provided to guard the archduke on his drive through the streets ? After the crime the president of the Bosnian Diet made the most extraordinary revelations. There were, it appears, two bombs under the table of the dining-room, and a third in the chimney.1 It is hardly possible to imagine that any police force would overlook the presence of little things like that stuck about a dining-room that was to receive royalty. The presence of the bombs, to my mind, points to an attempt, made either before or after the murder, to prove the existence of a widespread conspiracy.
There are other suspicious points in the attitude of the Austro-Hungarian authorities. General Potiorek was the man who innocently or deliberately sent the archduke to his death. Why was not the general broken, or placed on the retired list ? Why does he appear soon afterwards at the head of the great army that invaded Serbia in November ?
Again, a Serbian officer tells me that he saw a postcard sent from Sarajevo a few days before the fatal Sunday to a brother officer in Serbia. On the card was a message to the effect that ' Vidovdan ' was approaching and that then it would be known who was true and who was not. On it was also drawn a little plan of the streets of Sarajevo, with dots at the very points where the attempts took place. Now there was the strictest censorship on the Serbo-Bosnian frontier. So carefully had the frontier been guarded that the Serbs declared that the birds could not fly over it. Who would be fool enough to post so incriminating a document, knowing that it would have to run the gauntlet of a searching examination 7 Yet bombs, pistols, and conspirators' correspondence crossed that frontier quite easily. Once more, it looks as though the Austro-Hungarian police had been allowing criminal preparations to go on, and even adding a touch or two to the evidence.
As recently as last April the Echo de Paris published an article which throws a weight of suspicion on the Hungarian government.l According to the writer the Commissairc central of Zagreb a month before the murder received two warnings of a plot, with names. The Croatian government proceeded at once to advise the government at Buda-Pesth. A third warning from Dr. Marco Gagliardi, a well-known Serbophil of Zagreb, was also transmitted to the Hungarian capital. Yet nothing was done. The blame for this inactivity ascends to the highest quarters and must rest on the Premier, Count Tisza. Either he did not know of the warnings, in which case it is odd that he did not censure his subordinates when the facts became public, or else he knew and deliberately let events follow their course.
M. Hinkovitch, one of the heroes of the Zagreb conspiracy trial, adds to our suspicion of the Hungarian government. In a pamphlet published in London, he declares that the priest Locali, leader of the Transylvanian Roumanian party, promised in December 1915 to publish documentary proof that Count Tisza and certain other officials were responsible for the crime.(2)
The fact that tells most heavily against the AustroHungarian official case is the secrecy in which the trial of the culprits has from the beginning been wrapped. Why has that damning evidence, on which the ultimatum purported to be based, never been given to the world ? And how curious it was that, as the trial proceeded and the evidence no doubt came to light, the newspapers of the Dual Monarchy were forbidden to publish the ' confessions ' of the prisoners, as they had at first been allowed to do!
One last point. The antipathy of the emperor and the imperial family for the late archduke and his wife was conspicuously shown in the circumstances of their funeral. No wreaths were sent. The ceremony had nothing of the character of a public event, and would have been almost unattended but for the unexpected presence of the present emperor and a number of young members of the noble families of Austria, who resented ' the burial of the dog ' accorded to their late Commander-in- Chief and Crown Prince. The emperor's master of the ceremonies forgot nothing that could show indifference to the fate of the deceased. Beside the coffin of the murdered princess lay only a fan and a pair of white gloves, the insignia of her ' true ' station in life, that of a lady-in-waiting.
In all this there is no positive proof. The mystery has points that baffle the most cock-sure. But on the strength of the arguments here put forward I think an opinion can be based. It is that the murder was the work of one or two fanatics of Serbian race, but of Austro-Hungarian allegiance, who were roused to fury by the unsympathetic treatment of the Orthodox inhabitants of Bosnia-Hertzegovina; that these Serbs or Bosniaks were probably in touch with ' comitadjis ' of Serbia, who were ignorant of Europe and did not realize with what inflammable material they were playing, that the Serbian government and public services in general did not know what was being prepared; but that the AustroHungarian government did know and used the plot as a Heaven-sent means to remove an undesirable heir to the throne and to incriminate Serbia in the eyes of the world.
Having decided on the course to be followed, the statesmen of Vienna brought about the rupture with overwhelming suddenness and rapidity. On the very day that the ultimatum was presented Baron Macchio had an interview with the French ambassador, and never dropped the slightest hint of what was to be done that afternoon at Belgrade. Serbia� and with her also the Powers friendly to her�had only fortyeight hours in which to consider and accept a note of considerable length and many points. It is worth noticing that even if Serbia accepted the whole of the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum, she was still to be called upon to pay for the Austro-Hungarian mobilization. In the same way might a bully demand an apology for an imaginary insult, and, on receiving it, insist that the victim should pay for the stick with which the necessary intimidation had been performed.
To the ultimatum was annexed a series of findings of the criminal court at Sarajevo. If all the charges there put forward are true, the greater part of the Austro-Hungarian demands are but reasonable measures of self-protection. But the whole document was the product of the Foreign Office of Vienna, assisted by von Tschirschky and Tisza. It was surely too much to ask of the governments of Europe that they should accept in two days, that is to say, after the most cursory examination, accusations brought forward by the most notorious forger of recent years, Count Forgach. Austria-Hungary indeed took up the attitude that the matter only concerned herself and Serbia. But she laid her grievances before all the Powers, and in any case Serbia herself had the right to ask that the charges should be substantiated. The Russian Foreign Minister pointed out the futility of submitting the case against Serbia to his government after the ultimatum had been dispatched. To which the AustroHungarian ambassador replied that the results attained by the investigation at Sarajevo ' were quite sufficient for our procedure in this matter >,1 and that the information had only been laid before the Powers for Austria- Hungary's public justification. Thus, while loudly protesting her innocence and parading her grievances, Austria-Hungary gave neither Serbia nor Europe an opportunity of judging the truth of her statements.
Yet, despite the bullying tone of the ultimatum and its unsupported charges, Serbia acted on the advice of her more powerful friends and returned an unexpectedly humble and accommodating reply. Out of the ten demands eight were in substance accepted, though with a number of verbal alterations which Austria-Hungary used to support her case. The ' Narodna Odbrana ' was to be dissolved; all anti-Habsburg propaganda shown by Austria-Hungary to exist in Serbian schools and colleges was to be suppressed; any military officers denounced for the same offense would be tried and, if guilty, cashiered; one of the individuals named had already been arrested; the other, an Austro-Hungarian subject, the government had not been able to arrest; the proofs of their guilt were asked with a view to their trial; energetic measures were promised against any illicit traffic in arms across the frontier; explanations would be given of any anti- Habsburg utterances of Serbian public officials. What then did Serbia refuse ? Clauses 5 and 6 of the ultimatum had insisted on the admission of Austro-Hungarian delegates to assist in the suppression of hostile propaganda and in the trial of persons suspected of complicity in the murder. Here were demands that could not be granted without the sacrifice of Serbia's national independence. As M. Sazonov said, Serbia would no longer be master in her own house if she submitted to such control. ' You will always be wanting to intervene again,' he said to the AustroHungarian ambassador, ' and what a life you will lead Europe.' 1 Yet even so, the Serbian refusal of these two clauses was studiously non-provocative. The Serbian government agreed to ' such collaboration as agrees with the principle of international law, with criminal procedure and with good neighbourly relations ', and, while refusing the services of Austro-Hungarian delegates in the murder trials, agreed to try any persons accused by AustriaHungary and to inform her of the results of the investigations. Finally, should this almost abject reply not be acceptable to Vienna, Serbia suggested that the matter should be referred to the Hague Tribunal or to the Great Powers who had ended the crisis of 1909 by drawing up the declaration then made by the Serbian government. Three days later the charge d'affaires at Rome even told our ambassador that Serbia would probably accept the whole of the ultimatum if she were informed exactly as to what powers were claimed for the Austro-Hungarian delegates in the investigations on Serbian territory.
But the ultimatum had been sent in order that it might be rejected. No other explanation of the treatment of Serbia's reply is possible. M. Pashitch handed his answer to Freiherr von Giesl at 5.45 p.m. on Saturday, July 25. We have already seen that it was of such a nature as to deserve the most careful consideration from any government desirous of keeping the peace. Yet on returning to his office M. Pashitch received a note from the AustroHungarian Minister informing him that the Serbian reply was not satisfactory and that diplomatic relations were accordingly broken off. The Minister, with the entire staff of the Legation, quitted Serbian territory by special train the same evening, showing thereby that every preparation had been made on the assumption that war would be forced upon Serbia. On July 28 Count Berchtold sent the Serbian government a formal declaration of war.
In England we could hardly believe the seriousness of the situation. There had been so many Balkan crises engineered from Vienna. Surely this one would subside like the others. But our Foreign Secretary was alarmed at the rapidity with which events had developed. He had done his utmost to induce Germany and Austria-Hungary to agree to a conference of the Powers to discuss the ultimatum. He now said that he had hoped that the Serbian reply would furnish a basis for discussion and agreement. To this Count Berchtold answered that Serbia had ordered her mobilization on July 25. 4 Up to then we had made no military preparations, but by the Serbian mobilization we were compelled to do so.' (1) So Sir Edward Grey was to understand that Austria-Hungary, with all her immense forces ready on the Bosnian frontier, was afraid that Serbia would invade her territories !
On July 28, after informing the ambassador at Petrograd that war had been declared that day, Count Berchtold went on to say that this step had been rendered necessary by the enemy's attack on the Hungarian frontier. Yet it is curious to observe that in his declaration of war Count Berchtold said nothing about any Serbian acts of hostility, and confined himself to the unsatisfactory nature of the reply to the ultimatum.l
The fact was that Austria-Hungary felt her golden opportunity had come. While the memory of the murdered archduke was still fresh she must hustle Serbia into was. If there was any delay the Serbs might be able to prove their innocence, or at least the Powers would discover a compromise and so preserve the independence and integrity of the Serbian State. That was what AustriaHungary had no intention of allowing. Serbia was not merely to become a vassal of Vienna as in the days of King Milan. She was now to be stripped of territory and rendered helpless. The Italian government was informed on July 30 that Austria-Hungary could not promise to respect thee territorial integrity of Serbia.2 Thus, while the cabinets of Great Britain, France, Italy, and Russia were striving to prevent a general conflagration and sending notes in every direction, the Austro- Hungarian guns were already bombarding the defenseless streets and houses of Belgrade.
As the Hungarian newspaper, Pesti Hirlap, acknowledged in its issue of June 28, I9I6, the war was thrust upon Serbia by Austria-Hungary. 'To-day', ran the article, 'we can frankly say that the cause of this war was not the tragedy of Sarajevo . . . but we saw that are were obliged to finish once for all with the Serbian agitation, which after the Balkan wars had become insupportable (3). That was part of the issue.
Austria-Hungary saw in Serbia the potential deliverer of the Southern Slavs. There can be no doubt that there was much Southern Slav agitation in which some Serbs of Serbia were taking part. But Austria-Hungary's remedy was not necessarily war. By Trialism, or any other federal form of government that would have allowed justice and liberty to the Serbo-Croats of the Empire, the Serbian danger might have been avoided. AustriaHungary, however, had further ambitions. She now felt herself strong enough to break down the Serbian barrier that stood between herself and the East. If we can feel some sympathy for an antiquated imperial system beset by rising national forces, we can have none for an aggressive and disingenuous government which seeks to destroy a neighbouring State for the offence of being situated across an advantageous trade-route.
But if we lay the blame for the first hostilities upon Austria- Hungary, the main responsibility for the spread of the war to all the Great Powers of the world lies elsewhere. It became clear at once to the diplomats of Vienna that they had not only to reckon with Serbia. As soon as he received the news that war was declared, the Serbian Minister at Petrograd addressed on July 28 an appeal for help to Russia. ' In bringing to your notice ', he wrote to M. Sazonov, ' the act that a Great Power has had the sorry courage to commit against a little Slav country which has scarcely emerged from a long series of heroic and exhausting struggles, I take the liberty, in circumstances of such gravity for my country, of expressing the hope that this act, which breaks the peace and outrages the conscience of Europe, will be condemned by the whole civilized world and severely punished by Russia, Serbia's protector.' (1) The Russian reply was an assurance that Serbia would not be left to her fate. That meant a certainty of European war, and AustriaHungary appears to have wished to draw back before the prospect of such a cataclysm. On July 3 I our Foreign Office learned with relief that Vienna and Petrograd had resumed their abandoned negotiations, and that the former was prepared to guarantee the independence and integrity of Serbia. Despite the contrary declaration at Rome, to which we have referred, it is possible to believe that AustriaHungary was in earnest, and wished at the last moment to avoid the overwhelming consequence of her late action by a dignified withdrawal. Too late ! Germany had arranged a European war and was not to be baulked by the discretion of her ally. Although not herself a party to the quarrel, she stepped in and declared war upon Russia on August 1. In the last resort it was the firm will and inhuman policy of Berlin that drove Austria- Hungary to the logical issue of her Pan-German policy. Instead of sending what she had called ' a punitive expedition ' to give the naughty boys of Serbia a sound thrashing, AustriaHungary found that she had created a world-war.
Our generation will not forget the crowded emotions of those first days of August I914. When Germany challenged Russia, France declared her faithfulness to her ally. Italy showed the hollowness of the German claim to be on the defensive by refusing to support the Central Empires. Everywhere was feverish haste to be prepared for the first shock. Amongst ourselves the rising indignation at German aggression was still checked by the passionate desire even at the last moment to deliver the world from the tidal wave of horror that was about to burst. Military enthusiasm was to most of us a distant virtue of past history. We breathed an atmosphere of 'live and let live', and were strangers to the irreconcilable conflicts of the continental races. Yet it was impossible to stand by and see France crushed, as German writers had announced that she must inevitably be. As we halted between a generous longing to plunge into the common struggle against the disturber of Europe and the peaceful traditions of four generations, there came the news of Belgium violated. Here was the crime which we had said we would not tolerate. The tension of uncertainty was over, and the nation as a whole, with many regrets, but with the fervour of crusaders, applauded its rulers' decision to enter the lists and to forge again the sword of Britain for the cause of European liberties and international justice.