Primary Documents - Prince Alexander's Address to Yugoslav National Council, November 1918
With the Austro-Hungarian empire rapidly crumbling in 1918 moves were well underway to instigate the creation of a new Greater Serbia state.
The establishment of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes - which was formally declared on 1 December 1918 and renamed Yugoslavia in October 1929 - demonstrated the clear determination on the part of Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Montenegrins, Bosnians, Macedonians and others to win self-determination from Austria; the collapse of the empire brought such nationalist agitation to a head.
Click here to read the address of the Ante Trumbic-led Yugoslav National Council, dated 24 November 1918, which expressed its concern at Italian regional territorial aspirations arising from the April 1915 Treaty of London. Reproduced below is the Serbian government's response to the Yugoslav National Council's address.
Click here to read the text of the Corfu Declaration of 20 July 1917 which established the Allied-backed principles upon which the new state would be created and governed. Click here to read the declaration of the Montenegrin assembly - the Skupshtina - which affirmed its intention to join the new state and to depose its own monarch, King Nicholas, in favour of Serbian monarch King Peter.
Prince Alexander of Serbia's Reply to Yugoslav National Council's Address
It is only by the historic decision which the National Council of Zagreb has reached that we realize finally what was begun by the best sons of our race of three religions and three names on either side of the Danube, Save, and Drina, under the reigns of my grandfather, Prince Alexander, and of Prince Michael.
We thus realize what corresponds to the wishes and desires of my people, and in the name of King Peter I proclaim the unity of Serbia with the provinces of the independent State of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, in the Unitary Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.
May this great historic act be the best reward of all your efforts and of all who have shaken off the yoke of the foreigner by your bold revolution.
I assure you that I and my Government and all who represent Serbia will always be guided solely by brotherly love toward all that is most sacred in the souls of those whom you represent, and in the sense of the wishes which you have just expressed - wishes which we accept in their entirety - the Government will at once take steps to realize all you have said for the period of transition until the Constituent and for the elections.
Faithful to my father's example, I shall only be the King of free citizens of the State of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, and I shall always remain loyal to the great constitutional, parliamentary, and democratic principles resting upon universal law.
I shall therefore ask your collaboration in forming the Government which is to represent our united country, and this Government will always be in contact with you all at first, and eventually with the national representation. It will work with it and be responsible to it.
With the National Assembly and the whole nation, the Government's first duty will be to endeavour to secure respect for our nation's ethnographic frontiers. Together with you all, I have the right to hope that our great allies will form a just appreciation of our standpoint, for it corresponds to the principles which they themselves have proclaimed and for which they have shed so much blood, and I am sure that the world's hour of liberty will not be stained by placing under a fresh yoke so many of your valiant brothers.
I hope also that this standpoint will be admitted by the Government of Italy, which also owes its birth to the same principles that have been so brilliantly interpreted by the pen and acts of its great sons of the last century.
I venture to say that in the respect for these principles and traditions, and in the consciousness of our friendship, the Italian people will find greater well-being and security than in the realization of the Treaty of London, which was signed without you, never recognized on our part, and drawn up in circumstances when the fall of Austria-Hungary was not foreseen.
In this work and in all other respects I hope that our people will remain united and powerful to the end. It will enter the new life, proud and worthy of the greatness and happiness that await it.
I beg you to give my royal greeting to all my clear brothers throughout free and united Yugoslavia.
Long live the whole people of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes! May our kingdom be ever happy and glorious!
Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. VII, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
The Austro-Hungarian declaration of war was the first ever delivered by telegram.
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