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THE following selections from the diaries and memoirs of my great friend, Dr. Josef M. Baernreither, are taken from the volume which I have prepared for early publication in Germany. This volume will deal mainly with the Balkan problem in its relation to Austria-Hungary during the years from 1892 to the outbreak of the World War. The parts which I have chosen for publication here cover particularly the years 1912 to 1914, when the attitude of the ancient Hapsburg Monarchy towards Bosnia-Herzegovina and towards Serbia had such important consequences for all of Europe.
Josef M. Baernreither was born on April 22, 1845, of a prominent German family of Bohemia. He was educated as a lawyer and for a number of years practised both in the courts of justice and in the Ministry of Justice in Vienna. In 1885 he entered political life. From then until the collapse of the Empire he belonged to the Central Parliament of Austria, first as a member of the House of Deputies, later, from 1907 until 1918, as a life member of the Upper House. From 1890 he was one of the recognized leaders of the great German Liberal Party in the Lower Chamber, and as such he became in 1898 Minister of Commerce in the cabinet headed by Count Franz Thun. A year later he resigned, but he remained one of the leading German statesmen of Austria.
His main aim -- never fulfilled -- was to bring about a compromise between Germans and Czechs in Bohemia, for he was convinced that without such a compromise any real political progress in Austria was impossible. Austro-Hungarian foreign policy was intertwined with this problem, and he therefore gave it close study. He took particular interest, too, in the tendencies of the Southern Slav subjects of the Empire, part of whom were in Austria, part in Hungary and part in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the so-called "occupied provinces" formerly belonging to Turkey. He went almost yearly to all the South Slav lands of the Monarchy and also to the Kingdom of Serbia in order to come into personal contact with politicians, journalists and scholars. He learned to speak the Serb-Croat language and took a lively and friendly interest in all branches of Southern Slav economic and cultural life.
The Jugoslav problem as it had developed since 1848 had indeed become a question of life or death for the Hapsburg Monarchy. In 1907 Count Aehrenthal, Minister of Foreign Affairs, had got Emperor Francis Joseph's consent to transforming the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina into an annexation without previously securing the agreement of the signatories of the Treaty of Berlin. When Serbia's opposition to this momentous step produced the first of the great Balkan crises of the Twentieth Century, Dr. Baernreither, almost alone of the leading statesmen in both halves of the Dual Monarchy, stood for and worked for a policy of peaceful negotiation with Serbia. Thus he came into permanent opposition to the exponents of Magyar racial intolerance towards Croatia, and to the military imperialists who had meanwhile got a strong influence at court; of these latter the Chief of Staff, Conrad von Hoetzendorf, was the best example.
It was not merely a sense of justice but the product of ripened political wisdom which drove Dr. Baernreither to emphasize the vital nature of the Jugoslav problem for the whole Monarchy. And not less clearly he realized that the political helotism of the Rumanians in Hungary inevitably set at naught the whole Oriental policy of the Dual Alliance. Of course he knew that the greatest obstacle to a change of heart at the Ballplatz was to be found in the artificial predominance of the Magyar race in Hungary and in the not less artificial predominance of the ruling Magyar nobility in the commercial and foreign policy of the old Monarchy.
So much must suffice for introducing the reader into the curious milieu of Austro-Hungarian politics in the last years before the outbreak of the war, a milieu which, having perished forever, now belongs entirely to historical research.
The first of the fragments to be reproduced is a letter in which Dr. Baernreither gives his friend, Prince Max Fürstenberg (an intimate of Emperor William II), a report on his observations in Bosnia just after the beginning of the first Balkan War.
In fulfilment of my promise, I will give you a picture of the impressions I received during a stay of four days in Sarajevo. I had searching conversations with the Military and Civil Governor-General, Gen. Potiorek, with almost all the higher government officials, with the party leaders of the provincial diet, with various bankers, and with old friends who move in every circle.
What effect does the war have on the mood and attitude of the people? Outwardly, one notes nothing unusual in the city -- or at most that the tobacco-shops and book-stores, where telegrams are posted, are besieged from morning till night. But there are inner vibrations, and the interest in the war is enormous. The Moslems are suppressed, silent, and avoid attention. The Catholics [Croats] are divided. The lower class is neutral and adheres to the Christian side. The newspaper under Archbishop Stadler's influence holds firmly to the Turkish side, out of antagonism to the Orthodox Church and in order not to upset the pact that has been concluded between the Catholics and the Moslems. The Serbs are naturally in high spirits. Tidings of victory are celebrated in all the restaurants. Partizan feeling goes very deep. More than 1000 volunteers have entered the Serbian Army, yet I was told that none of these were liable for military service. Cases are known in which men in secure positions have given them up and gone to Serbia to join the army. Collections are taken up for the benefit of the Serbian Red Cross. . . . Unless the Turks through some miracle are even yet victorious, nobody will deprive the Balkan peoples of what they have won. And miracles don't happen.
No less interesting, however, is the prevalent opinion here as to the future. The opinion of the Governor, who spoke frankly to me, is the opinion of everybody in Sarajevo. The moment the fate of Turkey is definitely sealed, Europe will no longer be able to do anything to prevent its partition. The sooner and more freely we recognize accomplished facts the better. Quite as unanimous is the opinion that there can be no question of taking away any territorial gains, since these are necessities to any growing state, most of all to Serbia. Commerce and intercourse must be put on the best possible political footing. With this in view, Gen. Potiorek holds that if the Slavic states increase at Turkey's expense and form a ring around her, we can put up with the situation if we arrange a tariff and commercial league with them, to be followed later by a military convention. Should this be unobtainable, he takes a gloomy view, believing that in such a case Bosnia and Herzegovina could not be treated as an independent territory, since that would not offset the attraction of the other Slavic states. But the idea that in such circumstances Bosnia and Herzegovina should be divided between Austria and Hungary is unanimously repugnant to all well-informed persons, since it would meet with fundamental opposition from both sides. Gen. Potiorek goes so far as to say that it will be necessary to fight for even the tariff union. But it is admittedly impossible to force anyone into a commercial agreement, and if it should really come to an exclusively Balkan tariff union, then our position would be critical in the extreme. Lombardy!
The "trialistic"[i] idea is pretty well spread among the Catholics and is especially promoted by the Archbishop; but it does not appeal to those who are Bosnians at heart, for they are all great autonomists. The Moslems and Serbs, who together make up almost three-quarters of the population, are opposed to "trialism." The leaders of the latter are now giving vent to very "black-and-yellow" opinions; and I believe, too, that the older among them, who are interested in the present Assembly and in politics, really mean it. How the younger generation feel, I cannot say, since opinions on this point are much divided. Many hold that it is quite vain to have hopes of winning the Serbs to Austria-Hungary, while others believe that if Austria should come to friendly terms with the future Greater Serbia, if trade and commerce with her were free, and if the Serbs were not forbidden the culture of their brothers beyond the River Drina, then the Bosnian Serbs might be held in a permanent relation to Austria. Certainly this is not a matter to be decided by violence and subjection, since the Serbs are 43 percent of the population and are the richest, most energetic, and commercially most reliable men in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The new officials of the higher ranks whom Bilinski[ii] put in office are weak, some of them notoriously incapable and even disreputable individuals. The new régime did, indeed, leave a single man in office -- chief of the Department of Justice, Mr. Shek, the man best acquainted with the country -- but he was shelved. The worst of it, however, is the disrupting effect of parliamentarism. That this arrived far too soon, at least in the form laid down by the present constitution, is agreed by all who have insight. There should have been a period of transition, in which some kind of State Council would have functioned -- an opinion which I asserted and defended in the Delegations [iii] as early as 1908. Whether the present constitution can continue to function without a breakdown is doubtful, since it possesses none of the good points of Constitutionalism though it has the bad ones. . . .
On my return journey I visited State Secretary Szterényi, the intimate adviser of Dr. Wekerle,[iv] in order to hear something about opinion in Budapest. He said, quite correctly, that the present régime in Hungary and Croatia is insecure and in a very dangerous situation, and that things must be set right internally if one is to carry on a consistent foreign policy. He observed to me that it is common opinion in all Hungary that Austria must recognize accomplished realities in the Balkans; that there can be no thought of territorial gains; that all one can do is make sure of trade and commercial agreements. But the Magyar cloven hoof speedily became apparent. When I observed that in that case a tariff union with the Balkan states was the thing to seek and make the goal of our immediate policy, he hesitated and was of the opinion that in Hungary this could hardly be put through; and that we should have to be satisfied with differential tariffs. Of course, he laid the chief guilt at the door of the Austrian Agrarian Party; but he had to admit that contemporary Hungarian politics are actually run in the interests of three hundred families owning large landed estates.
From these casual observations the reality unfortunately emerges: We are not prepared to-day for action on a grand scale in the direction of a trade and commercial policy of the kind that we need as we need bread. We have allowed the Agrarians to outgrow us. Hungary is in the control of vociferous interests that make every policy directed to the general good impossible; and our foreign office has in the last few years made mistakes for which a fearful punishment is now being inflicted.
The pro-Austrian Prime Minister of Serbia, Milovanovitch, was in Vienna in 1909 to secure from Aehrenthal a concession for the importation of Serbian meat -- in vain. I had a searching conversation with him at that time, and informed Aehrenthal of every word of it, meantime urging him to hold out some positive hope to Serbia. Milovanovitch sought some definite assurance from Austria in case things in Macedonia should come to a head -- a definite word, a sign of good will. But Aehrenthal answered: "My policies deal only with the present; the future will take care of itself." When I came back from Belgrade a year later and pointed out to him the necessity of strengthening the pro-Austrian groups in Serbia by meeting them half way, and of abandoning the timid policy of limiting meat importations, he replied: "Bulgaria means more to me than Serbia." He actually took it ill that I had gone especially to Belgrade. He was perpetually speaking of the Serbs in the tone Vienna used toward the Prussians before 1866: "they need a few good sound whacks." The monstrous error of his policy lay in the fact that while he did not come to grips with the Serbs and crush them -- a course which might have produced some good -- neither did he take the only other course remaining and come to an understanding with them as to what, under Prime Minister Milovanovitch, their desires really were.
At that time the Serbians might have been ours, and by admitting a greater number of pigs and oxen we might have achieved a friendship that now we must go out and seek for.
In connection with the Milovanovitch episode it is highly instructive to read the following three excerpts from the diaries of Dr. Baernreither during December, 1912.
VIENNA, DECEMBER 16, 1912.
I had a long conversation with Berchtold[v] to-day. I asked for it because Dr. Cvijitch, a Belgrade professor with whom I am well acquainted and who is a kind of Egeria to the Belgrade government in matters of Balkan geography, had pressed me to secure an interview. On the two questions in controversy, Albania and a Serbian harbor on the Adriatic, Berchtold expects a peaceful understanding. He believes that we Austrians would have our own way in regard to the neutral harbor on the Adriatic. He avoided the Saloniki question. He told me that Daneff[vi] had entered an energetic demand for Saloniki on Bulgaria's behalf. "Ce que nous voulons nous l'obtiendrons," he had asserted at the Ballplatz. His demeanor here, being very self-assertive, seems to have made a great impression. In the question of the guarantees which Serbia ought to give, a question now so often raised that it ought to receive a correct and neighborly answer, Berchtold gave an evasive one; and merely observed that these guarantees must consist of definitely concluded negotiations, by means of which Serbia might demonstrate the correctness of her attitude. I held that Daneff's double visit to Vienna and Budapest had served to promote Austrian prestige, and I asked whether this did not indicate the desirability of having Pashitch [vii] come too. The opportunity now offered itself of letting him know as much through Professor Cvijitch, who had told me he was coming to see me the next day. Berchtold objected to this, however, on the ground that the Austrian Ambassador in London now had the necessary instructions and the matter depended on the Conference of Ambassadors, so that such a step would not be opportune at the present moment.
He went on to give assurances, however, that the Monarchy had no intention of using violence toward Serbia. "We don't demand that they should bow in the dust before us," but we must work for a correct and normal relation between neighbors. "I am working for peace." At the end, after he had expressed himself hopefully and in detail with regard to the meeting of the Ambassadors, I put the question to him whether he was an adherent of the peculiar logic of the war party (among others the Reichspost, Krobatin, Conrad, etc.), which consists in the idea that war must result from the transformation of Austria-Hungary into a federalized and centralized empire, that internal difficulties will be surmounted by the after-effects of a victorious campaign, and other such ways of thinking. Berchtold laughs at these notions, but he did not deny that they do exist. Within the last week they had been put to him in the most various forms: trialism; division of Serbia between Albania, Bulgaria, Rumania and Austria; incorporation of Serbia with Austria through a tariff union and a military convention, etc. He took none of this seriously, or at least that is what he said.
VIENNA, DECEMBER 21, 1912.
Professor Masaryk hunted me up yesterday. He has been in Belgrade three times recently and called to tell me about his experiences. As I saw that what he was doing was important I asked him to describe everything to me from his notes, which he kindly consented to do.
The first time he went to Belgrade it was at the suggestion of the editor of the Neue Freie Presse, Moritz Benedikt. He talked with Finance Minister Pachu and came to Budapest, where the Delegation was still in session, charmed with the idea of a Serbian corridor.[viii] The second time he was in Belgrade was early in December, when he had several conversations with Pashitch. In the first place, both of them were in general agreement that relations between the Monarchy and Serbia must be improved. Pashitch spoke of his willingness to curb the Serbian press, but they came to no definitely formulated plan. Then just when Masaryk was getting ready to leave, on December 10, Pashitch had him come once more and developed a quite detailed plan, leaving it to Professor Masaryk's discretion whether or not to communicate it to Berchtold -- by which he meant: "Please go to Count Berchtold and tell him what I am saying now."
According to Masaryk's notes, Pashitch declared himself as follows:
1. Serbia will and must remain completely independent both politically and economically, but we can enter into the best possible friendly relations with Austria.
2. We wanted to divide Albania, but we accommodate ourselves to Austria's desire for an autonomous state as proof of our willingness to meet Austria's wishes.
3. We are asking Austria for a harbor and for territory sufficient to provide a corridor to the harbor.
4. We are ready to give all possible guaranties and to pledge ourselves never to fortify it, not to place it at the disposal of any other Power, nor to cede it.
5. We are willing to make all possible economic concessions, to give Austria first consideration in everything, to conclude a commercial treaty in 1917, to give Austria first consideration in all loans, to abolish tariff discriminations, and to give favored treatment to Austria in deliveries. If matters cannot be adjusted along these lines we shall nevertheless maintain a correct attitude, wage no war to get the harbor, but create an outlet by way of Saloniki, attach ourselves economically to the Balkan Confederation, and buy nothing from Austria.
Pashitch will also be ready to consider Austria's prestige, is ready to come to Vienna and present his desires in person, and to negotiate with regard to them.
Masaryk came to Berchtold with these proposals on December 12. It is quite comprehensible that the latter assumed a reserved attitude and did not involve himself in the economic questions without further consideration. The main question, whether Pashitch should come to Vienna, he answered in the negative, while he went over with Masaryk the same ground that he went over with me a day later. Masaryk, however, was disappointed over the answer and did not know what to think. He came to my house but did not find me, as I was away from Vienna; talked with some South Slav friends and Wickham Steed, of the London Times; and then went off to Belgrade. He apprised Pashitch of the negative results of his journey and, it seems, disappointed him too. This final conversation with the Serbian Prime Minister took place on December 17. Meantime various papers printed the news -- which, however, did not attract much attention -- that Berchtold had deliberately discouraged a visit from Pashitch. This is the story as Masaryk told it to me yesterday.
VIENNA, DECEMBER 22, 1912.
Yesterday at four o'clock in the afternoon, three of us, Czernin,[ix] Schwegel,[x] and I, had a detailed conversation with Berchtold. I began the discussion by suggesting that now, since the meeting of the Ambassadors had settled the harbor question in accord with our view, Pashitch could no longer press the matter of the corridor, that in consequence nothing any longer stood in the way of our receiving him, and that his visit would have very striking results for Austria. After the Daneff pilgrimage a Pashitch pilgrimage to Vienna was the very thing to improve our position, exonerate us, produce a revolution in public opinion, and elicit self-confidence.
Berchtold admitted that Daneff's visit had been a success, and added: "They told me in Berlin that we were being wheedled by Bulgaria." "Then be wheedled by Serbia, too," I replied; "that will make our position all the better." But he did not go on with the idea. To all my arguments and all Schwegel's arguments to this effect, he replied: "This is not the moment for it. The matter depends on London. The new Serbian Minister, Jovanovitch, who comes to me, has instructions and proposals." In a word, there was no winning him over to the idea, although Schwegel still expatiated on how much better our position among the Powers would be if we came to some understanding with Serbia. We agreed that Berchtold could not have come to an understanding with Pashitch on the basis of the Masaryk proposals, for that would have made it seem as if the corridor suggestion was admitted to discussion. But now that the Conference of London had agreed on the harbor question there would be nothing prejudicial in talking with Pashitch; it could only help to clear up the situation. Berchtold, however, stood by his own opinion in spite of everything.
The rest of this conference, which lasted a good while, was devoted to the economic question. Schwegel brought up the question of Saloniki a number of times. The day might come when Saloniki would be demanded with equal heat by both Greece and Bulgaria -- which would lead to its being declared a free harbor, a matter of concern for all the Balkan states and also for Austria. Germany's interest in such a solution was also clear. The administration of the city would then be an international matter, or else for the five Balkan states -- a conférence à cinque, Austria, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece, and Albania. Schwegel wanted (what I had already asked for in Budapest) a Disraelian policy: purchase of territory for a harbor, etc., Berchtold listened to quietly, but nothing came of it.
We left Berchtold with the conviction that in the Pashitch question there must be some difficulty, unknown to us, since his refusal was otherwise too absurd. Czernin, who also saw that a visit such as was proposed could only be advantageous to us, was of the opinion that perhaps the Emperor was opposed. We parted on the Michaelerplatz, and I went into the Café Pucher to get some tea. There I ran into Paul Schulz,[xi] who sat down with me at once and began to talk. He assembles all kinds of people at his house -- he has an extraordinarily fine kitchen -- and is especially fond of those who are for the moment in the limelight. Just now Conrad von Hoetzendorf is coming frequently, also a very beautiful lady whom he admires. Schulz told me that on a recent evening Conrad had devoted himself with much vim and energy to developing the idea that we could not wholly put aside the conflict with Serbia; that the wound must be kept open; that if one difficulty was got over, we must create a new one in order always to have an opportunity for settlement. Serbia, if enlarged, would be a kind of magnetic mountain that would draw to it irresistibly all our Southern Slavs. That must be stopped. From Conrad's ill-disciplined utterance it may be assumed that he has spread such views in other circles, which are sufficiently permeable to let them trickle through to Belgrade. How can there be a reasonable settlement between the two states? I remember one occasion at Paul Schulz's when in my presence and with some other men standing around he called Aehrenthal a criminal. The Chief of the General Staff talking thus about the Foreign Minister!
The following passage recounts a long discussion between Tsar Ferdinand of Bulgaria and Dr. Baernreither covering the whole Balkan situation as it existed after the second Balkan War.
VIENNA, NOVEMBER 25, 1913.
At Paul Schulz's this afternoon I had a conversation for two hours with King Ferdinand of Bulgaria. Of course the discussion was wholly political. The King seemed very well -- graying, it is true, but with a good color, fresh and lively. He liked to intersperse his German with French words and sentences. He is a magnificent conversationalist, courteous -- too courteous -- full of lively turns of speech, a bit affected in spite of his frequent impatient glance. He has a lively way of speaking but he is also an attentive listener. He emphasizes things that interest him, or things that he wants it to appear interest him.
At the very beginning of the conversation he began to talk about the news in the Neue Freie Presse, which had discussed his abdication and all manner of personal tittle-tattle. He spoke ironically rather than indignantly, but expressed surprise that the Foreign Office did not put an end to this kind of thing. He explained that after eleven months of campaigning he had come to Vienna to buy Christmas presents; that he had visited Coburg and Ebenthal; and that he wanted peace and quiet. He added, laughing, that he had telegraphed his son that according to the newspapers he was in a Hungarian sanatorium. He sent the telegram in German and in clear so that the King of Rumania could read it (they intercepted his telegrams there), because people in Bucharest were très riand of knowing what such messages meant. Our political conversation embraced a great number of things. He questioned me, and then expressed his own opinion in the form of a lecture in which observations on both sides of the question are interlaced. I reproduce here the main heads of his observations, representing as it were a precipitate of the conversation.
He questioned me searchingly about the situation in Dalmatia and Bosnia. I told him in detail how matters stood there. He listened quietly and very attentively, since he knew both districts; and I got the impression that all he expected of me was to hear confirmation of matters on which he was already informed -- a fact which he betrayed to me by occasional remarks. As for Bosnia, he thought we had sucked it dry; and he thought we were letting Dalmatia go to rack and ruin. The first opinion I contradicted, supporting my views thoroughly. Rumania, against which he was exceedingly incensed, concerned him most. He had always been afraid that Rumania would break loose, but his ministers had always calmed him and had maintained with much emphasis that Russia would never permit Rumania to cut loose against Bulgaria. Rumania had always had a lust for expansion, though in Bucharest nobody mentioned Bessarabia out of respect for Russia. They had also had their eyes on Rustchuk and Varna. Maps were circulating in Rumania on which the Bukowina and the Siebenbürgen were included. The upper classes in Rumania, the intelligentia, were against the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy -- and not against Hungary alone, either, but against Austria as well. Old King Charles is still faithful to the Triple Alliance, a point which he emphasized.
In connection with Greek affairs he has some very hard words for Germany. The Germans snatched Saloniki and Kavalla away from the Bulgars. He was quite accurately informed on the German point of view, which von Jagow[xii] went over with me in March of this year. The Crown Princess of Greece (the present Queen and sister of Kaiser Wilhelm) besought him, the King, in Saloniki, to leave Saloniki to Greece, because the stability of their dynasty depended on this. The German Kaiser had ridiculed his brother-in-law for years; now he sent him a Field Marshal's baton. It was not the Greeks who conquered Saloniki but the Bulgars. For if it had not been for the Thracian victories, the Greeks would never have reached the city at all. The Greeks will destroy the Austrian trade in Saloniki, for they will enter an alliance with the French and try to crowd Austria out. The King maintains that the Serbs and the Greeks had already reached an agreement during the first Balkan War; during his stay in Saloniki he secured certain definite information that the Serbian and Greek Crown Princes had concocted schemes against Bulgaria. He warns us especially against the Serbian Crown Prince.
He then spoke in detail about Serbia. On one occasion, when he was with the King of Italy, the latter praised the Karageorgevitch dynasty and advised him to conclude an alliance with them. The Serbian corps of officers and their artillery are extraordinarily fine. He (Ferdinand) had personally smashed the Balkan League and thereby done Austria the greatest service. He asserted that Austria strengthened him in his determination to come to grips with the Serbs and that he had ground for reckoning on our help. . . . It had always been his effort to keep his distance from Russia but he had to find support somewhere.
Several times, during various turns of the conversation, he came back to one thought which I will sketch here. He wholly approved our coming to a good understanding with Serbia, that being a necessity on account of our Southern Slav population. He also heard with interest that in Bucharest Czernin wanted to use the Rumanian government as a means of improving our relations with Serbia. I took this opportunity of telling him some facts about Czernin, explaining that he would under no circumstances lend himself to a policy of intrigue or doubledealing. He seemed to know about our intention of improving relations with Serbia via Rumania -- or at least he so interpreted the Czernin mission. He had nothing against it. Now, however, came an extremely serious exhortation to me. He said that we should not dare forget Bulgaria because of our drawing closer to Serbia. He asked me whether perhaps an encirclement of Bulgaria was not envisaged -- which I could not deny. To his further question, what kind of policy we then should pursue toward Serbia, I answered that we should have to pursue a double policy: We should have to reach better political relations with Serbia, but above all adopt a different method of governing our Southern Slavs, so as to make Serbia's attraction less effective. . . .
He had some bitter things to say of Germany. German policy by no means coincides with Austro-Hungarian policy in the Balkans, and this is most strikingly true in Serbia. . . .
A discussion which Dr. Baernreither had with a prominent Serbian statesman on the first day of June, 1914, seems like the last peaceful voice before the terrible events at Sarajevo on the 28th of that month unleashed the furies of the World War.
VIENNA, JUNE 1, 1914.
To-day Dr. Velimir Bajkitsch, from Belgrade, visited me and talked about Serbian affairs for four hours. He had had to do with the negotiations for the commercial treaty in 1904, had been in the campaign, and was now traveling on a commission for the Carnegie Foundation to study the after-effects of the war on economic and social conditions in the Balkan states. He had a great many interesting things to tell me which unfortunately I cannot record here, since the whole night would hardly be long enough to get them all written down. It was not specifically stated anywhere during the whole conversation that in the depths of the Serbian heart the national idea and the hopes linked with it are slumbering, but nevertheless this is the vibrating string in all dealings with Serbia. In the last analysis, Bajkitsch favors a relationship to the Monarchy based on mutual advantage. He explained to me in detail the position of the various political personages and parties so far as this question is concerned. The Nationalists, under Ribara&cgrave;, adhere closest to this conception, and the Young Radicals also will not hold back. Pashitch does not seem to be clear in his own mind; at least he has not yet given up his policy of delay. The export of cattle is not a matter of great importance to Serbia compared to the export of pigs on a large scale. For any considerable increase of the quota Serbia would always be ready to make a significant counter-concession. Export of sheep across Bosnia to the Adriatic would also be of use to Serbia. He told in a very interesting way how he participated in the conference on a commercial treaty in Vienna in 1905, and how at that time a very rigid treaty between the Monarchy and Serbia was in preparation and near completion; how the web was torn across by the news that Serbia had concluded a tariff union with Bulgaria. But now, he said, after Serbia had met with success abroad through the Eastern Railway negotiations, it was a duty to herself to give up the policy of delay and conclude a commercial treaty, a railroad convention, and a maritime treaty with the Monarchy. He also told me, as so many others do, that Rumania was going forward proudly and energetically. She has already, since the close of the Balkan confusion, concluded a commercial treaty with Greece, in order to supply that country with bread-stuffs. Our agreement with Greece is a treaty in name only.
He pictured the Macedonian situation as I have often read of it. The Macedonian Slav is an intermediate creature, and Bajkitsch believes that Serbia will assimilate him. Migrations of the peoples in the Balkans are deliberately furthered by Greece. He believes that the league between Rumania, Serbia, and Greece is very firm and also rests on a military understanding. In March and April a desire to break the peace was operative on both the Turkish and the Bulgarian sides, but the firm union of these three killed the idea in the germ. People in Serbia have had all the war they want. Emigration is due to disgust with warlike appearances and prospects. Otherwise Serbia would have no emigration, as there is no economic occasion for it, especially now when there is land enough in the depopulated new provinces. Among these, Uskub will be an economic centre.
Summa summarum: The Serbs might now come to a good economic understanding with the Monarchy. The links with Austria-Hungary are after all indestructible. Serbia needs them now, since she must have a few years to rest and pull herself together. In the lowlands there is shortage of money. In Belgrade, abundance of money, rising prices, and speculation. Bajkitsch frankly declared that Austria could pursue one or the other of two policies in Serbia: either occupy it or live on friendly terms with it.
On this point I had a long conversation with Clam[xiii] in Budapest. He is for the first policy: saigner à blanc. He was very much under the influence of the Hungarian nobility, with whom he exclusively associates there. People in Budapest are more intransigent toward the non-Magyar nationalities than ever. Nagy, the Reporter for Foreign Affairs in the Hungarian Delegation, declared to me that if matters went further in this direction, it would some time be necessary to knock down Rumania. They believe in a war with Russia, regarding it as inevitable. Even the Hungarian ministers talk like that.
In the month of June, 1914, Dr. Baernreither entered in his diary the following report of a dinner with Parliamentary friends. Dark clouds were hanging over the Hapsburg Monarchy.
VIENNA, JUNE, 1914.
Czernin has been with me. He is discontented with the Delegation because the policy of inactivity has its sanction. Quite properly, he says that if one can't annihilate the Serbians one must give up prejudices against them, have no more mental reservations, come to agreement with them -- and the same holds with the Rumanians. For this conception, which is the only right one, it is impossible to get a hearing either in Vienna or Budapest.
A few gentlemen spent last evening with me (Riedl, Wimmer, Thayenthal, Deputies Licht, Urban, Lecher, Freisler, Redlich). We had a thoroughgoing conversation about commercial policy on the basis of a report submitted by me. I put forward the same idea that Czernin urged on me to-day: to seize the favorable moment to come to an understanding with Serbia. Pashitch goes, or will have to come round. The Serbians need quiet and the economic support of the Monarchy. Riedl assured us that he had this end in view. Redlich complained again of the decay of the state, the corruption of the press, senseless government, and prophesied the worst. Abroad, these internal affairs are too lightly estimated. People say that monarchistic vigor in Austria still is a great force if the Government is left free to manage affairs by applying Article 14 of the Constitution.[xiv] Anything like that would be unthinkable elsewhere.
To the superficial observer this kind of government is an evidence of the Crown's strength, which wins it definite respect. On such an insecure basis rests all that official optimism nourished by Stürgkh. But in the long run Redlich is right. If matters continue as at present this imperial strength will lose the ground from under its feet. Things still go along to-day because of the deference felt for the old, sick Emperor. What then? Czernin says that the successor to the throne will have to show in the first few weeks that he is going to rule with the people and not with a couple of counts. If that really happens, if we are pleasantly disillusioned, and if he really sets about popular reforms, then there will be a transformation in public opinion. Certainly -- if!
That will be the question of his life and ours.
The following passage, for which I go back to Dr. Baernreither's diaries of the year 1911, serves very well as a final judgment on the general development of Austro-Serbian relations as produced -- not exclusively, but primarily -- by the lack of political wisdom and enlightenment on the part of those who ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire in its last period.
VIENNA, JUNE 20, 1911.
The formation of the Serbian speech into a literary language, the beginnings of literary creation, European forms of life, European commercial needs -- all these the Monarchy has brought to the Serbs across the Save. If ever political union through the nature and development of individual branches of a race was foreshadowed, this is the case here. Our unfortunate attitude toward Serbia has grown up against nature, against geography, against community of language, against original inclinations, against the natural relationship of the people on our side of the Save and on the other side. Whether it is still possible to retrieve the blunder, to set right the mistakes that have been made on both sides and that have caused so much bitterness and misunderstanding -- that is the big question mark.
The question mark was soon to be abolished. On June 28, 1914, Archduke Francis Ferdinand fell a victim of the pistol shot of a Bosnian youth. The annihilation of the old Empire, the erection of the Kingdom which now unites the whole Jugoslav race in one large political unit, were the answers which fate gave to the anxious question raised by one of the last and best Austrian patriots and statesmen. Baernreither witnessed the whole terrible judgment that was pronounced against the rulers of the Dual Monarchy. He died September 19, 1925.
[i] "Trialism" was the political term used to describe the idea of uniting all the Southern Slav provinces of Austria and of Hungary with Bosnia and Herzegovina in one political and administrative unit which should stand to both states of the Hapsburg Monarchy in the same relation that Hungary stood to Austria. Thus the "Dualism" of 1867 would become "Trialism."
[ii] Dr. Leon von Bilinski was Minister for Imperial Finance, and, as such, responsible to the Austrian and to the Hungarian Parliaments for the administration of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
[iii] The standing committees of both the Austrian and Hungarian Parliaments, which deliberated upon and finally voted the annual estimates for the so-called "common purposes" of the Empire. They also surveyed the administration of the annexed provinces, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
[iv] Dr. Alexander Wekerle, who had been one of the most successful Prime Ministers of Hungary, again became Prime Minister during the war after the resignation of Count Tisza and his successor, Count Esterhazy.
[v] Count Leopold Berchtold, Count Aehrenthal's successor as Minister for Foreign Affairs.
[vi] Prime Minister of Bulgaria, who recently had visited Vienna.
[vii] Prime Minister of Serbia.
[viii] The idea was to give the Serbian state a right of way through the annexed provinces to one of the ports of Southern Dalmatia, where a free zone should be conceded to Serbian trade. It could have been easily done by building the missing railway link between Uzice, the end of the Serbian railway, and Vardiste, at the end of the Bosnian railway, a distance of not more than 60 kilometers.
[ix] Count Ottokar Czernin, later Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria-Hungary.
[x] Baron Schwegel, former Chief of Section in the Austro-Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, member of the Austrian House of Lords, by birth a Slovene but educated as a German and in political action a moderate German Liberal.
[xi] Dr. Paul Schulz was one of the most interesting figures in the innermost political circle of Vienna during the fifteen years preceding the collapse of the Empire. He knew personally all the prominent politicians, military and naval officers, scholars, artists and men of letters, and his house was an interesting meeting-place. As Second President of the Austrian High Court of Accounts, he stood on one of the highest rungs of the bureaucratic ladder. The Chief of Staff of the Army, Conrad von Hoetzendorf, was one of his intimates.
[xii] German Minister for Foreign Affairs.
[xiii] Count Heinrich Clam-Martinic, the leader of the party of the feudal Conservatives in Bohemia, a personal friend of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand; later Prime Minister, appointed by Emperor Charles.
[xiv] The clause giving dictatorial powers of legislation in cases of public emergency.