Primary Documents - Serbia's Appeal for Russian Assistance, 24 July 1914

King Alexander I of Serbia Reproduced below is the text of the telegram despatched by the Serbian regent, Alexander, to Russian Tsar Nicholas II in the midst of the so-called July Crisis of 1914.  One day earlier the Austro-Hungarian government had despatched to Serbia a harsh ultimatum in response to the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand a month earlier.

In the letter Alexander appealed to the Tsar for assistance in dealing with Austria-Hungary's increasingly menacing stance against Serbia.  Although Russia proved willing to help Serbia it was to no avail; Austria-Hungary declared war against Serbia on 28 July 1914, sparking off the onset of the First World War.

Telegram from Alexander, Prince Regent of Serbia to the Tsar of Russia

Belgrade, July 24 1914

The Austro-Hungarian Government yesterday evening handed to the Serbian Government a note concerning the "attentat" of Serajevo.

Conscious of its international duties, Serbia from the first days of the horrible crime declared that she condemned it, and that she was ready to open an inquiry on her territory if the complicity of certain of her subjects were proved in the investigation begun by the Austro-Hungarian authorities.

However, the demands contained in the Austro-Hungarian note are unnecessarily humiliating for Serbia and incompatible with her dignity as an independent State.

Thus we are called upon in peremptory tones for a declaration of the Government in the "Official journal," and an order from the Sovereign to the army wherein we should repress the spirit of hostility against Austria by reproaching ourselves for criminal weakness in regard to our perfidious actions.

Then we have to admit Austro-Hungarian functionaries into Serbia to participate with our own in the investigation and to superintend the execution of the other conditions indicated in the note.

We have received a time-limit of forty-eight hours to accept everything, in default of which the legation of Austria-Hungary will leave Belgrade.  We are ready to accept the Austro-Hungarian conditions which are compatible with the position of an independent State as well as those whose acceptance shall be advised us by your Majesty.

All persons whose participation in the "attentat" shall be proved will be severely punished by us.  Certain of these demands cannot be carried out without changes in our legislation, which require time.  We have been given too short a limit.  We can be attacked after the expiration of the time-limit by the Austro-Hungarian Army which is concentrating on our frontier.

It is impossible for us to defend ourselves, and we supplicate your Majesty to give us your aid as soon as possible.  The highly prized good will of your Majesty, which has so often shown itself toward us, makes us hope firmly that this time again our appeal will be heard by his generous Slav heart.

In these difficult moments I voice the sentiments of the Serbian people, who supplicate your Majesty to interest himself in the lot of the Kingdom of Serbia.


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

Prevalent dysentery among Allied soldiers in Gallipoli came to be referred to as "the Gallipoli gallop".

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