Countdown to war: ‘An enemy of the monarchy . . . has now been carried off’

Vienna’s ‘Freie Presse’ led its edition 100 years ago today with the death of Baron Hartwig, the Russian ambassador who encouraged Serbia to stand up to Austria-Hungary

Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie leave Sarajevo City Hall on June 28th, 1914, the day of their assassination. Russia’s ambassador to Serbia, moments before his own sudden death, denied that he had responded to the archduke’s murder with other than deference and decorousness. Photograph: JU Sarajevo Museum/Handout via Reuters

Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie leave Sarajevo City Hall on June 28th, 1914, the day of their assassination. Russia’s ambassador to Serbia, moments before his own sudden death, denied that he had responded to the archduke’s murder with other than deference and decorousness. Photograph: JU Sarajevo Museum/Handout via Reuters

Sat, Jul 12, 2014, 01:00

Herr v Hartwig has died suddenly. Friends warned him against continuing a lifestyle that could only end in an early death. He had a disposition to obesity and yet could not overcome his physical leisure, got no exercise and had a cigarette in his mouth all day until – under the influence of so many damaging influences – the heart expanded and not even pilgrimages to the carbon dioxide baths of Nauheim could help any more. An enemy of the monarchy, with a not insignificant part of the blame for the strife with Serbia, has now been carried off . . .

Fate, which was silently pulling the strings . . . let him utter some words which allowed his life end with some pathos. He told our ambassador Baron v Giels – minutes before he collapsed in his office, to believe him the claims were unfounded that he didn’t greet the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand with deference and decorousness. He wanted to rebut as quickly as possible the rumours spreading in Belgrade but also in Vienna. that on the day of the funeral he organised a banquet. With this explanation on his lips, he passed away . . .

There was a time when a plan was conceived to encircle Germany. The tempters wanted to lure the Austria-Hungary monarchy to join this circle and be unfaithful to its ally. Herr v Hartwig was an enthusiast for this politics and served it with his hot-blooded and sweeping temperament . . .

The dead Russian ambassador to the Serbian court was the most assiduous worker for a politics that is sinful because its success can only be secured through streams of flowing human blood.

Freie Presse

July 12th, 1914