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The Telegram

The telegram, in the universally recognized language of foreign affairs of the age, sent by the Austrian-Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, and whose text had been personally approved by the Emperor in Bad Ischl, was received in several different locations of Serbia, including at the Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nis, Southern Serbia, to which several relevant Serbian ministries had already moved preemptively.

It is almost unimaginable to see unfolding from this moment in an otherwise pleasant and warm summer day the unprecedented horrors, in cruelty and sheer numbers, of the century that was beginning in that instant: the millions of dead in the battlefields from East to West, the genocides (the first in Turkey the following year), Lenin arriving at the Finland Station, the Cheka, the Holodomor and the Gulag, Paracuellos de Jarama, Dachau and the Wannsee Conference, Auschwitz, Treblinka and Sobibor, the skeleton of the Urakami Cathedral and the Great Leap Forward, the Khmer Rouge, partitions, and civil wars, and ethnic cleansings, religious persecution beyond measure, upheavals even reaching our own days.

It was July 28, 1914, early in the afternoon. 

“The royal government of Serbia having not satisfactorily answered the notice that had been handed to it by the minister of Austria-Hungary in Belgrade on the date of July 23, 1914, the imperial and royal government finds itself compelled to safeguard its rights and interests and to resort therefore to the force of arms. Austria-Hungary considers thus itself from this moment in a state of war with Serbia. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria-Hungary, Count Berchtold.”