28/07/1914 Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia

Berchtold visits Emperor Franz Josef. The foreign minister tells the emperor that Serbian forces have already fired across the Danube; this is not true, something Berchtold probably knows to be the case. At 11.00 am Franz Josef signs a declaration of war against Serbia. No military action follows, as the army will not be ready to move until mid-August.

The tersely worded declaration of war is sent to Belgrade by telegram. The message is immediately brought to Pašić, who is in a café with the temporary head of the Russian mission. The Prime Minister is confused. No one has ever declared war by telegram before and he wonders whether he might be the victim of an elaborate hoax. He sends immediate telegrams of his own to London, Paris and St. Petersburg, describing the message he has received and asking whether they think Austria-Hungary has really declared war.

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