July 19, 1914

export (6-a) The ship of state glides down the stream, a slender pleasure-boat, between whirlpools and precipices. No one really cares to take the oars, only from time to time a hand reaches to the rudder to prevent the craft from running ashore. None of the German diplomats wants a European war: in his heart each one of them hopes that the whole business will be quietly settled, for, as the report says, “thanks to her indecision and desultoriness, Austria-Hungary has now become the real ‘sick man’ of Europe. It is therefore doubtful whether Vienna will really decide on action.” Thus one Empire doubts the other’s resolution, while the other in its turn takes fright when it finds its plans encouraged by the first. Each wishes the other to put obstacles in its way, making action impossible, but throwing the consequences of inaction on the other. As neither is quite confident in its own decisions, it trusts to the other, and hopes that the enemy’s unwillingness may help them both out of their difficulty.

From time to time Jagow [German Secretary of State] sits up in the boat as it is carried down the stream — the boat which he ought to be steering — and ventures a question. He asks Vienna, timidly, “What are the ideas of Austria-Hungary’s statesmen concerning the future status of Serbia? . . . It would be useful to us to be informed to a certain extent as to where the road is likely to lead us.”

But the wily Viennese have no intention of putting the infamy they are planning in black and white, and showing it to their friends before it is irrevocable. They put off the German Ambassador, always promising to tell him tomorrow. The Baron whom the Foreign Ministry keeps to draw up its ultimatums and similar manifestoes has to rewrite the note four times before the Ministerial Council approves it. Here there comes another conflict with Tisza, who seeks to safeguard his Hungary from Austria at the very beginning by a formal renunciation of any territorial aggrandisement; just as a Crown Prince on the point of a misalliance has to renounce his children’s rights before begetting them. When Berchtold announces his intention of partitioning the greater part of Serbia among her neighbours, Tisza canvasses the whole plan energetically. Count Stiirgkh reverts to his favourite idea of deposing the Serbian dynasty. The Count has some objection to this family. Finally they agree on retaining, at most, only certain strategical points.

And is it thus, Count Berchtold, that your dearest enemy would filch, before the first shot is fired, the choicest morsels of that great booty for the sake of which you are destroying the peace of Europe? But the Minister smiles a Metternich-like smile. A Minister proposes to conquer an enemy country. His colleague has reason to fear that such an enlargement of the common Fatherland would strengthen the other’s half; therefore Tisza insures himself against the imminent danger of a victory, and bathes himself and his reluctant confreres in rays of peace and morality. He is for chastening the criminals only, not for despoiling them.

Emil Ludwig, July ’14

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