The revelation that Emperor Karl of Austria-Hungary had been carrying out secret negotiations with the Allies has created a rift between the Emperor and his German allies. Karl’s position is an extremely awkward one, given Austria-Hungary’s dependency on Germany. Today he meets Kaiser Wilhelm at the German army’s headquarters at Spa in Belgium. Wilhelm is willing to put the Sixtus Affair behind him, but he extracts a price: Austria-Hungary will have to sign up to Germany’s Mitteleuropa plan, so binding the empire to Germany that it will become little more than a vassal state, akin in some ways to the status now enjoyed by defeated Romania. Germany also demands that Austria-Hungary prepare and launch a new offensive against the Italians, to draw Allied forces away from the Western Front.
Karl has no option but to accept his country’s complete subordination to its northern neighbour. He prepares to return home to tell his generals to start planning an attack across the Piave.
Austrian magazine report on Karl’s visit to Spa (The World of the Habsburgs – The Sixtus Affair: A major diplomatic débacle)