‘Much of the Hungarian press continues to clamour for war against Serbia’
The Vienna correspondent for Italy’s ‘La Stampa’ reports on growing tensions between Austria-Hungary and Serbia
1914: Members of the Serbian reserve forces, encamped near Belgrade. Photograph: Central Press/Getty Images
The Austro-Hungarian press promotes Serbo-phobia; A Socialist paper In Vienna denounces unprecedented reprisals in Bosnia
VIENNA, July 16th, 1914 – All the alarmist reports in recent days of attacks on the Austro-Hungarian embassy and community in Belgrade seem to come only from Austrian and Hungarian sources. It is as if they wanted to stop the truth getting out. Yet the reality is that Belgrade has never been as calm as in recent days and it is not the Serbian government’s fault if the exaggerated fears of Austrian diplomats and functionaries have prompted a groundless panic amongst the Austro-Hungarian community [in Belgrade] . . .
Then, too, the [Catholic, conservative] Reichspost newspaper in Vienna . . . points out that the Serbian government has in recent days tolerated the most violent language in the Serbian press against Austria. The Reichspost however forgets that this angry Serbian press coverage is a natural reaction to the unprecedented violence carried out against the Serbian population in Austria-Hungary, especially in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the aftermath of the Sarajevo assassinations.
Just today, the socialist Arbeiter Zeitung publishes a terrifying account of how a savage harassment of Serbs has broken out in Sarajevo whilst they also publish photos that they claim were sent to them as proof. It is also true that on the tragic Sunday [of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand] a Croat clerical paper calling for the extermination of all Serbs.
Whilst the afternoon of that day passed off quietly, around nine o’clock that night 25 young fellows, many of them drunk and led by well known agents provocateurs, caused a huge disturbance by breaking windows at the Hotel Europa, which belongs to a rich Serb called Jeftanovich.
One young man made a speech calling for revenge for the killing of the Archduke. The police let all this happen . . .
Next morning at nine o’clock, they [the young pro-Austrians] returned, invading the hotel . . . doing such damage that according to some reports not even an ashtray was left intact.
In contrast, Bosnian official reports praised the “patriotic demonstrators”, claiming that nothing had been robbed and no damage done.
Furthermore, it would seem these actions rather being a spontaneous explosion of popular, patriotic outrage [against the Serbs] were in fact all prepared in advance. This is proved by what happened when a group of these demonstrators burst into what they thought was the home of a Serb parliamentarian, Vasic.
The owner of the house confronted them and told them that Vasic no longer lived there. At that point, the leader of the demonstrators pulled out of his pocket a list of names and addresses [of Serbs] including Vasic ...
Is all this hysteria or stock market speculation? That is what the serious papers are now asking themselves when faced with reports of attacks on the Austro-Hungarian ambassador in Belgrade, or reports of Austria’s military preparations for war or indeed of how Serbia has begun to plant bombs under bridges . . .
Meanwhile, much of the Hungarian press continues to clamour for war against Serbia. Papers like L’Aekotmay, the Budapesti, the Pesti Naplo and the Vilag say that war with Serbia is inevitable. The Budapesti even claims that Serbia wants to go to war whilst the Vilag says that the current economic crisis is so serious that a war can hardly make things worse.”
July 16th, 1914