Russia’s entry into World War I: Echoes and reactions in Serbia (July–August 1914) Cover Image

Russia’s entry into World War I: Echoes and reactions in Serbia (July–August 1914)

Author(s): Miroslav Radivojević
Contributor(s): Denis Eugenievich Alimov (Translator)
Subject(s): History, Military history, Recent History (1900 till today), Pre-WW I & WW I (1900 -1919)
Published by: Издательство Исторического факультета СПбГУ
Keywords: World War I; July crisis; Serbian-Russian relations; Kingdom of Serbia; Russian empire

Summary/Abstract: The paper aims at highlighting Serbian reactions and responses to the support provided to Serbia from Russia during the July crisis of 1914 and after Austro-Hungary’s announcement of war against Serbia. The work is based on historical data, published documents, journalism, as well as diaries and memoirs of contemporaries. The review includes the position of diplomatic, political and military leaders of Serbia. Public opinion and views of prominent figures of the time are also examined. Upon receiving the Austro-Hungarian ultimatum on the 23rd of July, the Minister of Finance Lazar Paču first contacted Vasiliy Shtrandtman. Russian chargé d’affaires was thus, according to his own words, the first foreigner cognizant of the ultimatum contents. The diplomat was soon visited by Regent Alexander and the head of the Serbian government Nikola Pašić, who sought advice. Regent Alexander’s telegram to Tsar Nicholas II, sent on the 24th of July, was the following step in the Serbian officials’ reliance on the powerful Slavic state. At the same time, Serbian diplomatic representatives abroad (among whom the most important were those in Rome and London) were informed from Belgrade that the key to the situation lay in the attitude of Russia. The Russian government then counselled Serbia to withdraw the troops if it wasn’t capable of defence, and to allow the great forces to solve the dispute. Russia created and endorsed peace initiatives. In response to the aforementioned letter of Regent Alexander, which Nicholas II sent on the 27th of July, he advised Serbia to support his efforts directed towards «avoiding bloodshed», but he also assured the Regent that «Russia would not abandon Serbia» even in the case of war. Serbia’s great expectations from the orthodox empire were fairly conspicuous. Shtrandtman remembered very emotional reception of the aforementioned Tsar’s telegram. In the official diplomatic relations, the representatives of the Kingdom of Serbia expressed gratitude to Russia for its help. Each move of the Slavic empire was minutely analysed and examined, and there was a «mystical confidence» in its power. The public followed the messages from St. Petersburg very carefully. These were some of the headlines in Serbian newspapers: «Friends care about Serbia»; «Serbia is not alone»; «Serbia is safe, Russia supports it»; «The Russians for the Serbs»; «Russia rises» etc. While protecting its «small ally» from devastation, Russia simultaneously protected its own interests and the reputation of a great power. Moreover, Serbia was given the opportunity to fight for its own survival, and to accomplish its war aims. By a cruel irony, the Russian empire disappeared in the whirlwind of war, and thus its actions were even more respected.

  • Issue Year: 19/2016
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 159-170
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: Russian