The Depths of Folly

After the assassination of the heir to the throne in Sarajevo by Serbian extremists, the Austrian hawks had the excuse for war that they had been clamoring for. As in the case of the 9/11 attack almost a century later, the Austrians had abetted the attackers by their reckless disregard of clear warnings. The depth of the Austrian folly can be grasped in the reaction of the chief of the general staff and principal Austrian warmonger.

Conrad, who as chief of the general staff had been clamoring for war ever since the Bosnian crisis in 1908, heard the news as he changed trains in Zagreb. He wrote immediately to his beloved Gina. Serbia was clearly behind the assassinations and Austria-Hungary should have dealt with it long since. The future of the Dual Monarchy now looked grim, he went on: Russia would probably support Serbia and Rumania would have to be counted as an enemy as well. Nevertheless, he told Gina, war there must be: “It will be a hopeless struggle, but it must be pursued, because so old a Monarchy and so glorious an army cannot go down ingloriously.”

Macmillan, Margaret (2013-10-29). The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914 (Kindle Locations 10389-10395). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

These words would suggest that he had some appreciation of the folly he was bent on committing his nation, and, as it happened, the world to.


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