In October, 1914, I had contributed to the Edinburgh Review an article entitled " The Quintessence of Austria" in which I wrote:
Much light might be shed on the tragedy of Sarajevo and on the preparation of the European war, could it ever be known exactly what passed at Konopisht amid the Archduke's rose gardens during the visit paid to him there by the German Emperor and Grand Admiral von Tirpitz in June, 1914. We know only the externals of those fateful days.
Towards the end of December, 1915, an acquaintance belonging to the Austrian-Polish aristocracy who was, as a young man, attached to the Austro-Hungarian Court and had been intimately acquainted with the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, but who had not seen my Edinburgh Review article, brought to me an account of the Konopisht meeting which he had recently received from an exalted Vatican source. He told me of the antecedents of the story which had reached the Vatican through the Papal Nunciature at Vienna; and he offered it to me for publication in The Times. Had I been less familiar with the atmosphere of Vienna and with the difficulties to which the Archduke Francis Ferdinand's morganatic marriage had given rise, I should have scouted the story as wildly improbable. But since I knew that, as early as November, 1908, the German Emperor had captivated the Archduke by discussing with him the future of the Hohenberg children-rumours that they would be eventually created Dukes of Alsace and of Lorraine were then current in Austrian Court circles-and that the Archduke's prevailing passion had been to secure for them positions corresponding to their birth-rank, I thought that my acquaintance's account needed careful consideration. Therefore I submitted it to the editor of The Times and to Lord Northcliffe, who asked whether there were any evidence to substantiate it, even indirectly. For their guidance I wrote a memorandum setting forth the ascertained facts. My memorandum was thought more interesting than the story itself; but, as the one could not be published without the other and the whole was too long for publication in The Times in those days of severely limited space, it was suggested that I should offer it to the Nineteenth Century. This I did, making, however, the condition that the honorarium should be paid to my acquaintance. My article, which treated the story as an interesting hypothesis-it was and could be nothing more-appeared in the Nineteenth Century and attracted so much attention that the whole issue was sold out in a very few days.
Briefly, my acquaintance's story recapitulated the conditions of the Heir Presumptive's marriage, on July 1, 1900, with the Countess Sophie Chotek, a member of an ancient Bohemian family who had been lady-in-waiting to the Archduchess Isabella, wife of the Archduke Frederick. The Emperor's consent to the marriage had been extorted by the Heir Presumptive with great difficulty, since the whole Imperial Family, as well as the Emperor, had been opposed to it. The opposition of the Archduke Frederick and of the Archduchess Isabella had been particularly violent because they confidently expected the Archduke Francis Ferdinand to wed one of their daughters instead of the Archduchess Isabella's lady-in-waiting. The conditions on which the Emperor's assent was finally given were especially stringent. Not only was the marriage to be morganatic but the Archduke Francis Ferdinand was compelled to swear solemnly before all the other Archdukes and the dignitaries of Austria and of Hungary, in the presence of the Emperor, that, after succeeding to the throne, he would never attempt to change the Hapsburg Family Law or seek to open for his children the succession to the throne. By the Emperor's decision, this solemn oath of renunciation was recorded in the proceedings of the Austrian Parliament and incorporated by the Hungarian Parliament in Hungarian Constitutional Law.
After the birth of his three children, Sophie, Maximilian, and Ernest, in 1901, 1902, and 1904 respectively, the Archduke's resentment of this humiliation became intense. He attempted repeatedly to induce the Emperor to modify the terms of his renunciation and to raise his wife, who had received on marriage the title of Princess Hohenberg, to the rank of an Archduchess; but the Emperor was inexorable. He would go no further than to raise the Princess Hohenberg to the rank of Duchess, and this only after the annoyances to which she had been subjected by the members of the Imperial family had led to an open breach between the Archduke and the Court. Indeed, the Archduke's relations with the other members of the Imperial family degenerated into fierce reciprocal hatred. Upon this situation the German Emperor played astutely. He paid great attention to the Duchess of Hohenberg, and, first among the great sovereigns of Europe, invited her with the Archduke to Potsdam in 1909. At Konopisht, in June, 1914, according to my acquaintance, the German Emperor suggested to the Archduke that after a war, in which France was to be rapidly defeated by a few smashing strokes and Russia thereafter to be vanquished, provision should be made for the Archduke's two sons by the creation of a new Empire consisting of two new Kingdoms, over which the Archduke would reign during his lifetime but which his sons would inherit. One would include a Poland stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea; and the other, Bohemia, Hungary, the Southern Slav lands and Salonica. These kingdoms were to be federated with the German Empire, while the Archduke's nephew, Charles Francis Joseph, the second Heir Presumptive to the Hapsburg throne, would retain German Austria and Trieste, also as a federal sovereign within a greater German Empire.
This, ran my acquaintance's story, was in substance the "Pact of Konopisht." Its nature was known to very few, though the Austrian Imperial family is believed to have heard of it, at any rate after the assassination of the Archduke when his papers were immediately seized at Konopisht. To me, notwithstanding its apparent improbability, it seemed not inherently impossible, given the semi-madness of the Archduke and the ambitions of the German Emperor. I had made a point of watching the Archduke closely during his visit to London in November, 1913, and had been struck by his faded appearance. I had also heard, at third-hand but on the authority of M. Paul Cambon, the French Ambassador in London (who had been informed by a member of a European Royal family in whom the Archduke himself had confided), that Francis Ferdinand expected never to reign. At Blankenberghs, in Belgium, just before coming to England in November, 1913, he had discussed with M. Cambon's informant the health of the Emperor Francis Joseph, which was then precarious; and had said: " I shall never be Emperor. When my uncle is seriously ill, something very bad will happen to me." In the memorandum upon my acquaintance's story, I reviewed the personal history of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand and of his wife, alluded to the scenes at Court which had been of public notoriety in Vienna, pointed out that the Pragmatic Sanction of 1722-23 (which regulated the succession to the Hapsburg throne) had ordained that it must be occupied by legitimate descendants of Austrian Archdukes and of wives of equal birth-rank, and explained that, as long as the Duchess of Hohenberg was denied the rank of Archduchess, this provision must exclude her children from the order of succession. I referred to the Archduke's avidity in the accumulation of property, and to the explanation I had received in Vienna from one of the closest friends of the Duchess of Hohenberg that the Archduke lived in terror of dying before he should be able to make adequate provision for his children. Politically, I showed that the Archduke's favourite project had been the solution of the Southern Slav question in favour of the Hapsburgs by incorporating Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, and, if possible, Salonica, in the Hapsburg Monarchy, and alluded to the attempts repeatedly made by the Austrian War Party to this end. Finally, I pointed out that, in the spring of 1914, Austrian agents had stirred up the Albanians to attack Serbia and that, at the end of June, the moment when the Archduke went to Bosnia-Herzegovina, a movement had been started in Vienna under official auspices to send a battalion of Austrian " volunteers " to support the Albanians.
Coming then to the actual circumstances of the assassinations, I showed that no arrangements had been made to protect the Archduke and his wife at Sarajevo and that, even after a bomb had been thrown at his motor car by a youth named Cabrinovitch, the son of an Austrian police official, no effort was made to organize an escort for them. After this first attempt on their lives, the Archduke and the Duchess of Hohenberg drove on to the Town Hall. There the Archduke protested violently against the outrage and exclaimed, within the hearing of the correspondent of The Times at Sarajevo, " Now I understand why Count Tisza [the Hungarian Prime Minister] advised me to postpone my journey." Accompanied by General Potiorek, the Commander-in-Chief of the forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and by the Chief of Police but with no other protection, the Archduke and the Duchess left the Town Hall in their car; and as the car slowed down at the corner of a street, they were shot at and mortally wounded by another assassin, named Prinzip. Neither General Potiorek nor the Chief of Police was wounded, nor were they afterwards punished for failing to protect the Archduke. So cynical was Potiorek's conduct that, when the bodies had been carried to the Government Konak, Potiorek remained alone with them, removed the Archduke's papers, and presently emerged saying to his officers, " Gentlemen, this is a terrible misfortune. Nevertheless, one must eat. Let us go to luncheon." Potiorek retained command of the Austro-Hungarian forces in Bosnia during the first campaign against Serbia. After suffering defeat, he was alleged to have become mentally deranged and was placed for a time under restraint. Whether or not he was ever really mad, this episode was sufficient to destroy the credibility of any " revelations " he might subsequently be tempted to make.
I showed further that, on the morrow of the assassinations Mgr. Stadler, the Catholic Archbishop of Sarajevo, declared to the representative of an Austrian journal that "the crime was a consequence of historical developments " and that " it must have taken place sooner or later." In the Neue Freie Presse of July 2nd, Mgr. Stadler's view was confirmed and it was stated that the Archduke could not have escaped, because he would have had to pass through " a regular avenue of bomb-throwers." The Neue Freie Presse also published a statement from a competent police authority saying that there were only one hundred and twenty police available to watch over the whole distance of four miles to be covered by the Archduke's car.
Yet, when the Emperor Francis Joseph had visited Sarajevo, in June, 1910, more than one thousand uniformed police and probably double the number of " plain clothes men " were employed to protect him. In June, 1914, when the Heir Presumptive went there, the police were warned off. Equally strange were the arrangements made for the Archduke's funeral. It was at first announced that foreign sovereigns would be represented by special envoys and that the German Emperor would be present in person. These arrangements were suddenly countermanded. Prince Arthur of Connaught, who was to have gone from England, did not start; and, on July 2nd, it was announced in Berlin that " owing to a slight indisposition " the German Emperor had abandoned his journey to Vienna. Nevertheless, he gave audiences as usual on that day. The Kings of Bavaria and Saxony, who wished to be present, were told that it was intended to keep the funeral ceremonies as private as possible. No reception of the bodies would have taken place on their arrival in Vienna had not the new Heir Presumptive, the Archduke Charles Francis Joseph, broken bounds and gone to the station to do honour to his dead uncle in defiance of the official Court arrangements. The High Chamberlain of the Court, Prince Montenuovo, ordered the body of the Duchess of Hohenberg to be sent straight to the Archduke Francis Ferdinand's vault at Artstetten on the Danube, instead of being brought, with that of her late husband, to the Imperial Chapel at the Hofburg; but this arrangement caused so great a scandal that it was altered. The two coffins were therefore placed in the Hofburg Chapel, that of the Archduke being large and that of the Duchess small. On a cushion by the Archduke's coffin were placed his two jewelled coronets. By that of the Duchess were only a pair of white gloves and a black fan. No wreaths were sent by the Emperor Francis Joseph or by any member of the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Family. The Hohenberg children sent wreaths but were not allowed to attend their parents' funeral.
Inasmuch as the Archduke had been the acting Head of the Army and Navy, it was presumed that he would be buried with full military honours. Only after a protest from the chief members of the Austrian and Hungarian aristocracy did the Emperor, at the last moment, allow the troops of the Vienna garrison to line the streets. Even then, the aristocracy were not invited to the funeral. Some hundred and fifty of them therefore assembled in full uniform near the Hofburg and followed the bodies to the railway station without authorization. Only at the station were the bodies met by the Archduke Charles Francis Joseph and some other archdukes. Subsequently, the Emperor Francis Joseph wrote to the High Chamberlain of the Court thanking him for the way he had performed his responsible duties " in accordance with His Majesty's intentions." On reaching Poechlarn, opposite Artstetten, on the Danube, the coffins were deposited on the floor of the public waiting-room, where the local firemen in charge of them squatted about until they could be ferried across the Danube. In short, the Heir Presumptive to the Austrian and Hungarian thrones, and his consort, were buried with as little honour as possible.
These and other considerations I set forth in the Nineteenth Century. The reasons for the extraordinary behaviour of the Emperor and of the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Family may never be precisely known. Of the state of the Heir Presumptive's health and mind they were certainly aware. It seems improbable, to say the least, that the Sarajevo police should not have suspected the existence of a plot, or plots, to assassinate him and the Duchess of Hohenberg. No one acquainted with the completeness of the police arrangements in Bosnia-Herzegovina could doubt it. In any case, the assumption seems justified that the possibility of a " removal " of the Heir Presumptive and his consort, by Bosnian or Serbian conspirators, was not thought entirely deplorable from the point of view of the Hapsburg Family. It removed the serious danger that, in the event of the demise of the Crown, the vast Hapsburg " Family Fund," upon which most of the eighty archdukes and archduchesses depended financially, would pass under the absolute control of a monarch of unsound mind and possessed by the fixed idea of assuring great positions to his children. Moreover, after the assassinations, belonged, certainly felt that an excellent pretext had been provided for the lone-desired attack upon Serbia.
The Emperor Francis Joseph himself seems not at first to have thought of war. In a rescript to the Austrian and Hungarian Premiers on July 5, 1914, he declared that the murders were an outcome of " the fanaticism of a small band of misguided men," and expressed " the resolve to follow to the last breath the way I know, to be right for the welfare of my peoples." But, on that very day, his letter was delivered to the German Emperor at Potsdam,- and, by July 14th, the Austro-Hungarian Government had decided, after receiving from the German Emperor promises of the fullest support even against Russia and France, to address to Serbia such an ultimatum as to make war inevitable.