Conrad von Hetzendorf, the General who demanded war on Serbia 25 times within an year

Posted on February 4, 2014 by


At time when (on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War) there are almost daily attempts to reinterpretation and revision of the role of  Serbia in key reasons for the outbreak of the Great War, all in order to push aside well established facts of who and why the war started, history reminds us of Chief of staff of the Austro-Hungarian army, who was obsessed with the idea that the Austro-Hungarian empire  can be preserved only if it attack and conquers Serbia .

Relations between Serbia and AustroHungary were tense from the moment when the Congress of Berlin granted the black – Yellow empire the right to perform the occupation of Serbian land of Bosnia and Herzegovina ( 1878). , but only since the beginning of the 20th century we can speak of a very bad relations between the two countries , which were on the brink of war , and often ‘spiced up’ with threats and war mobilizations.


Conrad von Hetzendorf: “Austria should make war on Serbia!”  The general who formally requested 2s times permission to attack Serbia within one year (1913.)

The situation rapidly deteriorated after the Monarchy annexed Bosnia-Herzegovina ( 1908-1909 ). , but also after the unhiden attitude the  Monarchy had: when it comes to Balkans and Serbs it won’t finish with Bosnia.  The first military recruitmet for war on Serbia Austria-Hungary  preformed in spring 1909, and another one in the winter 1912, April 1913. and again in the fall.
Credits  for this demonstration of force  go  to Chief of Staff of Austro-Hungarian army Conrad von Hetzendorf (General Count Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf ( 1852-1925 ) . Since January 1913 untill  June 1914 (ie before the Sarajevo assassination ) he formally requested 2s times permission to attack Serbia and  thus confirm the monarchy as a super power, in order to prevent disintegration of Monarchy .

Fon Hetzendorf was a favorite officer of Archduke Franz Ferdinand; he personally promoted him to Chief of staff . Conrad regularly proposed so- called ‘ preventative ‘ or surprise wars directed against the supposed enemies of the Austro – Hungarian monarchy , rarely  Italy and  permanently Serbia.  To get the idea of  what kind of man the Chief of Staff  General Count Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf  was, is  best evidenced and described  by Rebecca West in her book ‘Black  Lamb and Grey Falcon’ 

” Conrad was a man without reason and grace , who saw himself as a great soldier and statesman , so he considered he’s capable of making plans for the country’s foreign policy . Konrad was obsessed with the idea that it must preserve Austria-Hungary by taking offensive action against Serbia “ , Rebecca West wrote .

Black lamb

Some other history books suggest that Chief of Staff of the Austrian army Conrad von Hötzendorf had a strange emotional relationship he was hoping to get regularized by returning to Austria as a war hero. But the new book “Sleepwalkers,” by Christopher Clark, a very elaborated account of prewar history, tells the whole story:

 ,,It started with a dinner party in 1907. Conrad was seated next to someone’s wife. He was at that time about 55 years old. His wife had died in 1905, resulting in severe depression.  Apparently he enjoyed the conversation, because a week later he presented himself at the lady’s  home and announced that he intended to marry her. She replied that she had seven commitments — e.g., a husband and six children.  He said if she didn’t give him hope, if she refused him utterly, he would resign his job and retire from public life and never be seen again.

They compromised. She would continue as she was but consider a change if things changed in the future. In fact, they did start an affair some time later. He wanted her to divorce, however, and thought that returning as a war hero might regularize this situation, in some way, so a divorce would be socially acceptable. “

But there’s more about it  –   the 3000 letters he wrote to the woman!  AFTER his death in 1915 at age 73, and completely unbeknown to his lover, some 3000 letters addressed to her were found in his appartment.  Some were 60 pages long; sometimes he wrote several times a day.    The author of “Sleepwalkers” says they were  ”repetitive, obsessive claims of adoration forever, over and over, with emphasis on his depression and despair and dependency on her for any relief from all this.”  Repetitive and obsessive also were Conrad’s continual calls for war against Serbia. Conrad called for preventive war against Serbia 25 times  in 1913 alone. The Emperor Josef fired him for this strange obssesion during 1911, because he constantly badgered the foreign minister Aehrenthal about making war on Serbia. He was very proud of never deviating and always started his letters with the claim that he never changed his mind — Austria should make war on Serbia!

Amazingly, the Emperor rehired him after 18 months!! Austria must have had a severe shortage of trained people: the foreign minister Count Berchtold served only reluctantly.

In first memorandum addressed to the Emperor Franz Jozef in 1907.  ( seven years before the WW I)  Fon Hetzendorf wrote , that  ‘ ‘We have to take advantage of the first opportunity to attack before this most vulnerable opponent ( Serbia ) get enough arms which could result in disintegration of the Monarchy.” 

New york times Ferdinand

Only this sentence is sufficient counter-argument to those  willing to (ab)use the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War  in order to distort history. Because he called for destruction of Serbia, rising Slavic state, almost a full decade before the Sarajevo assassination. He was obsessed with  Serbia.

After the first memorandum ( 1907). within the next seven years,  Austro-Hungarian Chief of General Staff’s  obsession with Serbia has grown into a mania . He wrote again and again and urged the emperor to attack Serbia . In the Memorandum dated 28. October in 1912. Fon Hetzendorf proposes that Serbia “must lose its independence and has to be forced to hand over her fate to the Habsburgs. That’s the core of the Austrian solution for the Balkans.”

According to Fon Hetzendorf Serbia should have been fragmented into: Raška area (or Sandžak as Ottomans called it)  and western Serbia that should belong to AustriaNis and Pirot area to Bulgaria;  and  eastern parts of Serbia –  between the Morava and Timok rivers –  to Romania .

What’s amazing  is the number of documents Fon Hetzendorf  sent to the King , crown prince and the Austro-Hungarian government , which – without exception –  were calling for an attack and destruction of Serbia .

Such behavior of the first man in the Austro-Hungarian Army was in line with long-standing policy of the Austrian Military party , informal and interest – based society which consisted of  the Austro-Hungarian General Staff of the Army , the Christian Social Party, the radical wing of the Roman Catholic Church and the clique around Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

All this indicates that Fon Hetzendorf was much more of the  Chief of Staff : he was a warmonger and one of the most responsible people for the Europe and the world sliding into the Great War.