Because of this, Austria-Hungary reached out to Germany in order to make sure that if this happened that Austria-Hungary would not be alone.
Germany was aware that any further toleration of Serbian maneuverings would weaken Serbia's continuation as a State and their situation as a great Power, therefore also intimidating the equilibrium of power in Europe. Germany was convinced that Russia saw that it was in its own best interest, to make sure that existing European equilibrium of power which was so important for the peace of the world was maintained. Austria-Hungary's fight against Serbia was conventional from beginning to end, and its aim was the necessary conservation of their situation in Europe.
The Serbian government was under a duty to uphold gracious and friendly relations with Austria-Hungary, but allowed their press to provoke hatred against the Monarchy in an unparalleled manner. Serbia allowed the propaganda with the aim of stirring up rebellion in the territories of Austria-Hungary. They did not stop well-known members of their military and civil management from destroying the public principles of the country. Because of this environment that was shaped by hateful demonstrations there was a sequence of murderous attacks on high functionaries of the Monarchy, which ended in the death of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. At this point there was not doubt that their honor, their pride and their deepest attention required that Austria-Hungary deal with the criminal plots of Serbia and gain assurances for the safety of their country.
Austria-Hungary felt that it was essential to give to Serbia all of their demands and to necessitate from them such assurances that would make certain the punishment of the people in this offense and the containment of the Great-Serbian missions. Since the unrivaled patience of Austria-Hungary had been interpreted as fault by Serbia, the Belgrade Government had to be made to understand that the Monarchy was strong willed and prepared to go to the greatest limit in order to uphold their status and the consistency of their territories. From the start, the Austro-Hungarian Government met the anxiety of the European Powers with the pledge that the Monarchy would not go further than what was essential for the defense of their own interests, and did not recommend any appropriation of territory.
The demand made by Russia for an extension of the time given to Serbia for replying to Austria Hungary's demands would have given the Serbian Government an occasion for new maneuvers and for additional procrastination, and would have opened the door to the meddling of single Powers in the well-being of Serbia. It was consequently essential to decline any continuation of the time limit. Though before sending their shrewd and elusive answer, Serbia had planned general recruitment, and thus publicly declared their aggression, Austria-Hungary waited a couple of days before proceeding to an announcement of war.
There was a proposal by the British Government that the resolution of the Serbian disagreement be given to a conference of the Powers, but it did not reach Vienna until after the beginning of fighting. This suggestion was, nevertheless, in itself, not well suited to getting the interests of Austria-Hungary. Nothing but the fundamental recognition of the Austro-Hungarian demands on the part of the Serbian Government would have given an assurance for a bearable association with Serbia. The Entente Powers, made up of France, Russia, and Britain, were directed by the desire of alternating for the victorious demands of Austria- Hungary. Serbia would have been expectant to carry on their actions to bring about a division of the Southern territories of Austria-Hungary.
It was felt that the Entente Powers were culpable of a serious wrong when, under the influence of their own political interests, they put themselves beside the Kingdom of Serbia with its burden of fault. Had they paid attention to the declarations of the Monarchy which had increased full right to their self-assurance, and had they upheld a waiting approach towards the Serbian disagreement, the world-war could have been circumvented. It is felt that they must be held accountable for the immense suffering which has come upon the human race.
There can be no doubt that the little Serbian State would never have set out, with an hostility which was barely hidden, to work for the division from the great neighboring Monarchy, Austria-Hungary, of the territories which were populated by Southern Slavs, if they had not been certain of the covert backing and defense of Russia, and if they had not been able to depend on the influential pan-Slavist tendency in the Empire of the Czar forcing the Russian Government, if essential, to come to the aid of Serbia in their fight for the understanding of the Great-Serbian projects.
As they realized that these tactics would damage significant interests of Austria-Hungary and Germany, and as it was consequently bound to come across the unavoidable opposition of these Powers, it was the endeavor of Russian strategy to depreciate their authority of resistance. The first thing that had to be done was to gather in the Austro- Hungarian Monarchy by the formation of the Balkan Union of Slavic states, and to weaken its authority in its border territories. In this criminal game of Russian mediation, which endangered the survival of the Monarchy and the peace of the world, Serbia was a pawn which Russia would not give up even in order to stay away from general war.
The Austro-Hungarian Government time and again was on the outbreak of war and guaranteed the Russian Government that they would not infringe any Russian interest, would not annex any Serbian territory, and would not touch Serbia, and that they were ready to go into discussions with the Russian Government on Austro-Hungarian and Russian well-being. Russia, on the other hand, had not articulated themselves as satisfied with the solemn statements of Austria-Hungary. In a communique of July 24th, even though Austria-Hungary had not rallied a single man against Russia, they structured the recruitment of the military districts of Odessa, Kiev, Moscow and Kazan on July 29th. On July 31st they ordered general enlistment, ignoring the frequent warnings of the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador, and the announcement of the German Government, which had been made on the 26th, that introductory military measures on the part of Russia would compel Germany to counter actions which must consist in the recruitment of the army, and that enlistment meant war.
On July 24th, the Austro-Hungarian Ambassador in conversation with the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs stressed the peaceful disposition of the Monarchy. Their only aim was to make an end to the nuisance to their dynasty from Serbian bombs, and to their territory from the radical maneuverings of Serbia. The accomplishment of this end was a fundamental question to the Monarchy. They could not, thus, allow themselves to be threatened by the opportunity of a disagreement with Russia, in the event of that nation defending Serbia. They had to put an end of the unbearable conditions, that a Russian charter would give the Serbian Kingdom sustained forgiveness in their unfriendliness to Austria-Hungary.
It was, consequently, a principal requirement for them to necessitate that the antagonistic measures of recruitment in the Empire of the Czar should be invalidated. This demand, that the Russian Government answered by organizing the whole of the Russian forces, exposed them to the utmost danger in their basic interests. Austria-Hungary and Germany saw themselves faced with the choice of defending their rights and their safety, or of giving way before the threats of Russia. They choose the path of respect and responsibility.
Austria-Hungary in the end felt that they had no alternative but to declare war on Serbia in July of 1914. They felt that their honor had been violated with the killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. They started out by giving Serbia an ultimatum, knowing that they had the support of Germany if need be. The fully expected Serbia to reject their demands and at which time they would have justification for declaring war on them. What they had not anticipated though, was Serbia's connections with Russia and the importance that this association would play in this war spreading around the world. In the end they still believed that their honor, rights and safety were in danger and must be protected at all costs, and thus war was declared.
Both Austria-Hungary and Serbia felt that they many issues worth fighting for. Austria-Hungary was outraged over the killing of their heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Serbia and felt that the wrong had to be avenged. Serbia on the other hand felt that they had worked too long and too hard to risk loosing the accomplishments that they had managed to gain. They thought that the embarrassing Austrian terms that had presented to them would have undone things that they had gained since obtaining self-government from Habsburgs. Austria-Hungary was upset that Serbia had managed to subvert the economic sanctions that they had placed on them. When Austria-Hungary straightforwardly annexed Bosnia,…