Primary Documents - Austrian Statement on Opening Moves in War Against Serbia, August 1914

Alexander von Krobatin Reproduced below is the text of the official statement issued by the Austrian government in the wake of the opening military action against Serbia in August 1914.

The statement, issued by Minister for War General Alexander von Krobatin, refuted suggestions (reported in the press) that the Austrian army had suffered a notable setback in its incursion into Serbia, suggesting that the Austrians' limited offensive had resulted in an 'enfeebled' Serbian army - albeit at a heavy cost in Austrian casualties.

Official Announcement from the Austrian Ministry of War
by Alexander von Krobatin, Austrian Minister for War

Since, owing to the intervention of Russia into our dispute with Serbia, we find it necessary to concentrate our entire force for the great combat in the north, the war against Serbia must be considered only as a "Strafexpedition" (punitive expedition) which, for the same reason, has become a matter of secondary interest.

In spite of that, and both in view of the general situation and of the false news which has been circulated by the enemy, an offensive action had been judged opportune.  Yet, also for the above-mentioned reason, this operation was limited to a short incursion into the enemy's territory, after the successful accomplishment of which it was necessary to return to an attitude of expectancy, in adjourning the offensive to a more favourable occasion.

The offensive executed by part of our troops was an action replete with bravery and heroism.  Its effect was to draw upon us the entire Serbian army, the attacks of which, despite a great numerical superiority, had no result, thanks to the heroism of our troops.

The fact that our troops in part suffered heavy losses should not astonish us, for our enemy possessed a numerical superiority and was, in addition, fighting for his existence.

Thus when our troops, who had penetrated a long way into Serbian territory, received the order to regain their positions on the Drina and on the Save, they left an enemy completely enfeebled on the field of battle.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. II, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

A 'Tour' was a period of front-line service.

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