'A Chain of Friendship' - appeared in the American newspaper the Brooklyn Eagle in July 1914. The caption read: “If Austria attacks Serbia, Russia will fall upon Austria, Germany upon Russia, and France and England upon Germany.”
Activity: The Ultimatum
The Austrian-Hungarian government set out an ultimatum, a set of conditions, which the Serbian government needed to respond to in 48 hours. It was the Empire’s way of defeating the rise of nationalism in Serbia and to provide an example for other ethnic groups it governed to heed. Below are two documents: the first is
Austria-Hungary’s declaration to Serbia, followed by the Serbian reply. Read through the documents and consider the questions below. You may wish to stage a debate using the documents and breaking into teams so that each group can defend its position. You may also take the activity one level further by staging a hearing before the International Tribunal at The Hague, a request made by the Serbian government.
- As you read the Austrian-Hungarian ultimatum were you convinced that there were some points that the Serbian government would not accept? If so, what were they? Why did you have the response that you did?
- What terms were reasonable? How can you defend your position?
- What terms interfere with a “free press?”
- How is the Austrian Hungarian Empire defining the term propaganda?
- What if anything, surprised you about the Serbian response? Did you find the language conciliatory? Confrontational?
- Which country or countries acted responsibly in these official documents? Provide examples to support your claim.
- In your opinion, was the Serbian request to refer the matter to the International Tribunal, a reasonable request?
- In your opinion, was war necessary? Defend your thinking.
Austrian-Hungarian Conditions to the Serbian Government
The Royal Serbian Government . . . has[since 1909] tolerated the criminal machinations of various societies and associations directed against the [Austro-Hungarian] monarchy, unrestrained language on the part of the press, glorification of the perpetrators of outrages, participation of officers and officials in subversive agitation, unwholesome propaganda in public education, in short tolerated all the manifestations of a nature to inculcate in the Serbian population hatred of the Monarchy and
contempt for its institutions . . .
It is shown by the depositions and confessions of the criminal authors of the outrage of 28 June, that the Sarajevo murders [of the Archduke and his wife] were planned in Belgrade [capital of Serbia], that the arms and explosives with which the murderers were found to be provided had been given them by Serbian officers and officials belonging to the Narodna Odbrana (Black Hand) [a Serbia-based nationalist organization promoting the ideal of a Greater Serbia, i.e., the political union of Bosnia and Serbia] and finally that the passage into Bosnia of the criminals and their arms was organized and effectuated by chiefs of the Serbian frontier service.
. . . the results … impose on [the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy] the duty of putting an end to the intrigues which constitute a permanent threat to the tranquility of the Monarchy.
In order to give a formal character to this undertaking the Royal Government of Serbia shall cause to be published on the front page of the Official Journal [i.e., the Serbian government gazette] of the 26 July the following declaration:
[Serbia] condemns the propaganda directed against Austria-Hungary … and it sincerely deplores the fatal consequences of these criminal proceedings.
[Serbia] considers it its duty formally to warn the officers, officials and all the population of the Kingdom that henceforward it will proceed with the utmost rigor against all persons who may render themselves guilty [of participating in anti-Austrian propaganda] . . ..
The Royal Serbian Government further undertakes:
- To suppress any publication which incites the hatred and contempt of the Monarchy….
- To dissolve immediately the society styled Narodna Odbrana…and to proceed in the same manner against the other societies … which engage in propaganda against [Austria].
- To eliminate without delay from public instruction in Serbia, both as regards the teaching body and the methods of instruction, all that serves or might serve to foment the propaganda against Austria-Hungary.
- To remove from the military service and the administration in general all officers guilty of propaganda against [Austria--names to be given over by the Austrian government].
- To accept the collaboration in Serbia of organs of [Austrian-Hungarian government] in the suppression of the subversive movement directed against the territorial integrity of the Monarchy.
- To take judicial proceedings against the accessories to the plot of 28 June who are on Serbian territory; Organs delegated by [Austria-Hungary] will take part in the investigations relating thereto.
- To proceed without delay to the arrest of [two named persons implicated according to the preliminary investigation undertaken by Austria].
- To prevent by effective measures the cooperation of [Serbia] in the illicit traffic in arms and explosives across the frontier …
- To furnish [Austria] with explanations regarding the unjustifiable utterances of high Serbian officials both in Serbia and abroad, who … have not hesitated since the outrage of 28 June to express themselves … in terms of hostility towards [Austria].
- To notify [Austria] without delay of the execution of the measures … [Austria] expects the reply of [Serbia] at the latest by Saturday 25 of this month [July] at 6 p.m.
Annex--attached to the ultimatum: (conclusions of the court of investigation):
- The plot … as formed at Belgrade [Serb capital] by [five persons named].
- The 6 bombs and 4 Browning pistols and ammunition … were delivered … at Belgrade.
- The bombs are hand grenades from the munitions depot of the Serbian army.
- [Instruction on the use of weapons was given on Serbian soil].
- To enable [the perpetrators] to cross the frontier [into Austria] … a secret system of transport was organized [by the named Serbian State employee].
The Serbian Reply to the Austrian-Hungarian Conditions
… [Serbia] cannot be held responsible for manifestations of a private character, such as articles in the press and the peaceable work of societies . . .[The Serbian government] has been pained and surprised at the statements, according to which members of the Kingdom of Serbia are supposed to have participated in the preparations of the crime … However, Serbia is] prepared to hand over for trial any Serbian subject … of whose complicity in the crime of Sarajevo proofs are forthcoming [as well as officially condemn all propaganda against Austria-Hungary]
- [Serbia will] introduce…a provision into the press law providing for the most severe punishment of incitement to hatred and contempt of the [Austrian-Hungarian] Monarchy …
- [The Serbian government] Possesses no proof…that the Narodna Odbrana and other similar societies have committed up to the present any criminal act of this nature … Nevertheless, [Serbia] will … dissolve the Narodna Odbrana and every other society which …
- [Serbia will] eliminate without delay from public instruction … everything that serves or might serve to foment the propaganda against [Austria-Hungary], whenever [Austria] furnish them with facts and proofs …
- [Serbia] also agree to remove from the military service all such persons as the judicial inquiry may have proved to be guilty of acts directed against the integrity of the territory of [Austria-Hungary], and they expect [Austria] to communicate … the names and acts of these officers for the purpose of the proceedings which are to be taken against them.
- [The Serbian govt. does] not clearly grasp the meaning or the scope of the demand … that Serbia shall undertake to accept the collaboration of the representatives of [Austria-Hungary but they declare that they will admit such collaboration as agrees with the principle of international law, with criminal procedure, and with good neighborly relations.
- … As regards the participation in this inquiry [which Serbia intends to hold] of Austro-Hungarian agents ... [Serbia] cannot accept such an arrangement, as it would be a violation of the Constitution ...
- [states it has not yet been possible to arrest one of the persons named; request proofs of guilt from Austria]
- [agrees to reinforce measures against illegal trafficking of arms and explosives across the frontier with Bosnia-Herzegovina]
- [offers explanations of anti-Austrian comments by Serb officials if Austria sends examples of their actually having been made]
- [Serbia will duly notify the measures taken, but if Austria is not satisfied with the reply] the Serbian government … is ready … to accept a … understanding, either by referring this question to the decision of the International Tribunal of the Hague [i.e., the World Court], or to the Great Powers….
Activities, Research and Further Investigation: The Chronology of the Great War
There were few who thought the war that began in 1914 would last long. In fact, many people accepted the war with enthusiasm. It was a common belief that with some clever tactics and strategies, the war would be over by Christmas, and then life would be back to normal and the enemy would have learned a lesson. Some people had a contrary opinion. One in particular was Lord Kitchener who believed the war would be a long haul and it would be more involved than could be imagined.
On the following pages is a timeline of the war. The chronology introduces some of the main events, key battles, prominent countries in the war and some of the key personalities. It is far from being a comprehensive list. Below are some possible activities and investigations that can be used in conjunction with the outline.
Similar to a play, a reader’s theater has a number of parts and can involve staging and music. Scenery is basic, if any is used. Often the stage is dark and a narrator introduces the script. A reader’s theater can be written by an individual or several people can work on it simultaneously. There are a number of themes that relate to the Great War that would lend themselves practically to a reader’s theater. For example, research several key events in each of the years. Write descriptive paragraphs on each. Combine the historical events with poetry and other writings found in this module, including using quotes. The narrative script is written to weave the entire production together. Other themes may be a play written from one country’s perspective, through the eye’s of a warrior, expressions of feelings from individuals misplaced by the war, or thoughts expressed by those who remained on the home front. There can be a number of different roles written into the piece. A single voice or two could be used to describe events, and different parts can be given to those who read poetry, excerpts from diaries, or quotes. Often the narrator’s role is the must substantial.
Staging Multiple Productions
Several reader’s theaters could be written and staged during a commemorative event that includes poetry and other writings, the culmination of studying about the Great War, or as an event that compares the First World War with current global happenings.
Don’t forget to create a playbill announcing your Reader’s Theater event. A program booklet complete with background on the presentation and the actors can also be prepared.
Creating a Comprehensive Time Line
The Great War began mid-1914 and the final peace treaty was signed in 1919. The war involved more than 100 countries, with battles were fought on land, at sea, and in the air. The chronology that follows can be used as a starting point to begin to create a huge comprehensive time line. Review the construction of other timelines. Most are produced as accordion style books and can be extremely long. Just think that if you allowed five feet per year your completed product would be thirty feet in length. If you are considering a long time line, consider the type of paper or tag board you will be using and how it will be reinforced. The most difficult part of constructing the time line is to decide the way in which it will be laid out. You might consider creating horizontal lines for personalities, political events and battles or you could divide the lines into activities that occurred on land, at sea, and in the air. Another possibility would be to divide the time line into geographic sectors: the Eastern and Western Fronts, Africa, Middle East, and Asia. Don’t forget to color code your various sections. However you decide to divide the space consider how you can incorporate pictures, maps and other illustrations into your finished product. Use the Bibliography section in this module to help you locate sources for illustrations. Your time line can also include poetry and other writings.