Primary Documents - Emperor Franz Josef on the Italian Declaration of War, 23 May 1915
Reproduced below is the formal reaction of Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef - that is, the official Austrian proclamation of war - to news that Italy had finally abandoned her policy of neutrality and entered the war against the Central Powers on 23 May 1915.
Given Italy's earlier alliance with both Germany and Austria-Hungary an indignant reaction from both countries was to be expected; in the event Italy had also negotiated a secret treaty with the Allies in London in April 1915 which promised sizeable territorial gains for Italy were she to join the Allied cause.
Emperor Franz Josef on the Italian Declaration of War
The King of Italy has declared war on me.
Perfidy whose like history does not know was committed by the Kingdom of Italy against both allies. After an alliance of more than thirty years' duration, during which it was able to increase its territorial possessions and develop itself to an un-thought of flourishing condition, Italy abandoned us in our hour of danger and went over with flying colours into the camp of our enemies.
We did not menace Italy; did not curtail her authority; did not attack her honour or interests. We always responded loyally to the duties of our alliance and afforded her our protection - then she took the field.
We have done more. When Italy directed covetous glances across our frontier we, in order to maintain peace and our alliance relation, were resolved on great and painful sacrifices which particularly grieved our paternal heart. But the covetousness of Italy, which believed the moment should be used, was not to be appeased, so fate must be accommodated.
My armies have victoriously withstood mighty armies in the north in ten months of this gigantic conflict in most loyal comradeship of arms with our illustrious ally. A new and treacherous enemy in the south is to you no new enemy.
Great memories of Novara, Mortaro, and Lissa, which constituted the pride of my youth; the spirit of Radetzky, Archduke Albrecht, and Tegetthoff, which continues to live in my land and sea forces, guarantee that in the south also we shall successfully defend the frontiers of the monarchy.
I salute my battle-tried troops, who are inured to victory. I rely on them and their leaders. I rely on my people for whose unexampled spirit of sacrifice my most paternal thanks are due. I pray the Almighty to bless our colours and take tinder His gracious protection our just cause.
Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. III, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
Observation balloons were referred to as 'sausages'.
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