|Back to the Austrian Commanders page|
|Dr. Constantin Theodor Dumba|
|Austrian Ambassador to the United States. He presented his credentials to the President in Washington on 24 May 1913. Although his first two years were free of controversy, the war immediately put him in the spotlight for scandal and diplomatic trouble.
The first scandal involving Dumba concerned sending former Austrian subjects who were now citizens of the United States to the trenches in Europe. It was part of a repatriation scheme by the War Ministry in Vienna and heartily supported by the Kaiser, whereby subjects who fled their compulsory military service and thus branded criminals could be rehabilitated if they volunteered for service in the army during the war. This may have been law in Austria, but law in America expressly forbade the active recruitment of American citizens for service in foreign wars.
Dumba was a target of the State Department for his work in helping former Austrians to return to Europe. Naturally, the Entente also engaged in recruiting not only former subjects but any Americans at all who would fight in their trenches. The prosecution of these recruiters by the authorities was far less energetic than the Austrian and German recruiters.
The second scandal of Dumba's ambassadorship was far more serious. In the so-called "Archibald Affair" (later renamed the Dumba Affair), Dumba attempted to send a top secret report to the Austrian Foreign Ministry detailing his own participation in an espionage plan to cripple American munitions production by fomenting strikes among the workers. Dumba's courier was through newspaper correspondent James Archibald, who was arrested in England and searched. Archibald was returned to the United States for a proper investigation and thereafter, Dumba became a persona non grata in Washington. President Wilson demanded Dumba's recall and replacement by another ambassador.
On 5 October 1915, Dumba sailed for Rotterdam. He was replaced by the former Austrian Ambassador to Bulgaria, Graf Adam Tarnówski von Tarnów. Dumba was ennobled upon his return to Vienna, and the British press conflagrated American opinion of the ex-Ambassador by claiming Vienna was rewarding its servants for espionage and terrorist acts. In reality, Dumba was being rewarded for working under extreme duress from his opponents.
|The Origins of the World War, September 1914|
|Dr. Dumba summarises the underlining causes of the war. "The real, the underlying causes of the world conflict I may be permitted to summarise in concise form. It should be borne clearly in mind at the outset that for more than a century Austria-Hungary and Russia have been keen rivals in the Balkan peninsula. Owing to its geographical position, the Dual Monarchy is the predominant economic factor in southeastern Europe, and in the course of her economic expansion has sought, quite naturally, to secure a market for the output of her industries in Servia, Bulgaria, and European Turkey.
"On the other hand, Russia, swayed by sentimental and territorial considerations, has sought to exercise exclusive control over the newly constituted Slav countries of the Balkans. This claim to political mastery the Russian government has based upon the racial affinity of all Slavic nations, upon the bond of kinship offered by the Greek church common to all Balkan states, and upon the fact that these states owe their existence to the many wars waged by the great Northern Power upon the Turkish Empire.
"Back of the activities of Russian diplomacy in the Balkan peninsula is her legitimate desire to secure the opening of the Straits of Constantinople, closed to her by treaties, and thus to obtain a free outlet from the Black Sea for her commerce and her crops, and the unhampered passage of her fleet to the Mediterranean. In the pursuit of these objects the statecraft of St. Petersburg has sought to control the Balkan states and to prevent any of them, especially a vigorous and prosperous Bulgaria, from occupying Constantinople, the key to the Dardenelles. In her endeavours to establish and maintain such a hegemony in Balkan affairs, Russia inevitably has menaced the vital commercial interests of Austria-Hungary.
"The antagonism between Russia and Austria-Hungary found expression in perpetual diplomatic strife, aggravated by the underground activities of Russian Consuls, reinforced by unofficial agents and priests. Austria-Hungary, in support of her interests in the disputed region, could employ no such extraneous forces as were placed within the grasp of Russia by the accident of her kinship to the Balkan states, but relied upon her commercial travelers and upon the importance of the economic interests common to the Dual Monarchy and the small states south of the Danube.
"After the Congress of Berlin in 1878, which was called to adjust the boundaries of southeastern Europe following the Russo-Turkish War, the newly created kingdom of Servia maintained, through King Milan, close relations with Austria-Hungary. Inasmuch as the Dual Monarchy had received from Europe a mandate for the occupation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the restoration of order in those two Turkish provinces, King Milan, and subsequently his son, King Alexander, relinquished every pretension to expansion westward into Bosnia and Herzegovina, and concentrated their efforts upon an educational campaign in Macedonia, especially in the districts inhabited by a Bulgarian population.
"This regime of harmony was interrupted violently in 1903, by the assassination of King Alexander and the election of King Peter Karageorgevitch, the scion of a banished house, to the Servian throne. No sooner had the Karageorgevitch been restored than it became apparent to all the world that a new order had been established in Servia. An aggressive pro-Russian reigned at Belgrade. The beginning of the new rule was also the beginning of that rapid process of subordination to Russian dictation whereby Servia became a mere outpost of Russia, chosen to provoke and harass the neighbouring Dual Monarchy for the purposes of Russian diplomacy.
"The Servian nationalist agitation on the Austrian side of the border was carried on upon a large scale, by such organisations as the Narodna Obrana, to which some of the highest officers of the State, civil, and military openly belonged. The Narodna Obrana carried on its operations in Belgrade, under the full view of the authorities, promoting political discord beyond the Austrian frontiers under the pretense of educational work ostensibly aimed at the cultural uplift of the Austrian Slavs.
"Then came the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a defensive measure undertaken by the Austro-Hungarian Government in 1908, to meet the demand of the Young Turks, then in power at Constantinople, for the restoration to an Ottoman administration of the provinces which the Congress of Berlin had intrusted to Austria thirty years earlier as the only practicable means of restoring order in them.
"Russia, despite repeated secret understandings by which the foreign office at St. Petersburg had recognised the Austrian position in Bosnia and Herzegovina, now took a passionate umbrage at the act which merely regularised the status of territories which were already within the boundaries of the Dual Monarchy.
"The attitude of Russia was reflected in a redoubling of the anti-Austrian agitation in Servia. At this point the Servian propaganda in Bosnia and Herzegovina dropped the educational mask and became openly political and provocative.
"So menacing a tone did the Servian people adopt toward Austria-Hungary that the Dual Monarchy found a partial mobilisation, at high cost, imperatively necessary in view of the turmoil on the Servian side of the boundary. At this juncture, of events there was a grave peril of an actual outbreak of hostilities, which calamity was happily averted for the time being by the vigorous stand taken by Germany in championship of the vital interests of her ally.
"Confronted by a united Germanic support of the accomplished fact, Russia yielded her recognition of the annexation and Servia pledged herself to discontinue her provocative tactics against order in Austria-Hungary. Both Russia and Servia were destined to repudiate their solemn undertakings at the first opportunity that offered.
"The next blow aimed at the Dual Monarchy by Russia in her persistent attempts to exclude Austrian commercial influence from the Balkans came five years after the international crisis of 1909. It took the form of a Balkan League, contrived in St. Petersburg, and comprising Servia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Montenegro.
"This confederation was designed, ostensibly, to expel the Turk from Europe. The dominance of Russia over the workings of the new grouping of Balkan powers was assured by a secret clause in the treaty, whereby the minor signatories bound themselves not to undertake a war against Turkey without Russia's consent, and which also conferred upon Russia the right of final decision in the distribution of territory that might be conquered by the Allies.
"Moreover, the Government at St. Petersburg obtained from the Allies a pledge that they should make common cause to the limits of their resources in case of an attack by another power. This clause in the agreement was aimed at Austria-Hungary. It contained the complete explanation of the zealous efforts which Russia had made to bring the discordant Balkan elements together. That this alliance should hurl itself against Turkey in 1912, before the time was ripe for Russia's contemplated action against Austria-Hungary, and that it should destroy itself by its own violence in the second Balkan war, were events which had not been contemplated by Russian diplomacy.
"However, Russia found a way to profit even from the unexpected course which events had taken. By encouraging Servian pretenstions at the end of the first Balkan war, the Russians succeeded in strengthening Servia, their outpost against Austria-Hungary, at the expense of Bulgaria.
"Austria-Hungary had once more come perilously near a clash with Servia in the first Balkan war, when the neighbouring Slav kingdom, disregarding the warning of the powers, advanced to the Adriatic. Austria-Hungary met the situation by bringing about the creation of an independent Albania as a barrier to the establishment of a hostile maritime neighbour on the Adriatic.
"At the Congress of Bucharest, however, Servia, with Russian backing, advanced territorial claims which threatened the equilibrium of the Balkans. So menacing to its legitimate interests did the Government at Vienna regard this new Russo-Servian aggression that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made inquiries at Rome and in Berlin in an attempt to obtain assurances of co-operation in the event that the current developments should force upon the Dual Monarchy the task of restoring the balance of power so necessary to the complete tranquilization of Southeastern Europe.
"This inquiry, which was presented to the attention of the world recently by Signor Giolotti, former Premier of Italy, as an indication of aggressive designs against Servia by Austria-Hungary, was in fact a purely precautionary measure. It was undertaken in an effort to induce a revision of the Treaty of Bucharest--an instrument regarded at Vienna as an oppressive device which, by perpetuating the resentment of the Bulgarian people, the strongest unit in the Balkan peninsula, introduced the constant dangere of a future conflict.
"Austria-Hungary realized so thoroughly the significance of the latest move by Russia on the international chessboard that it was only by the pacific influences exerted from the highest quarters in the empire that a clash was averted at this juncture. The Treaty of Bucharest, accordingly, was permitted to stand in original form, thanks to the desire of Austria-Hungary to avert a violation of the peace of Europe even at the cost of a palpable menace to her own security.
"From this moment Servia, assured of the protection of Russia, which had been put to the test during the two wars, abandoned every reserve, and openly plunged into a campaign of defiant provocation against the neighbouring Austro-Hungarian Empire.
"The agitation within the boundaries of the Slav Kingdom for the erection of a greater Servia upon the ruins of a disintegrated Austria assumed a violence which gave pause to even the most optimistic minds at Vienna.
"At the same time, there were other disquieting manifestations of the activities of the Russian propaganda; activities beyond the sphere of the Servian agitation--in Eastern Galicia, among the Poles and the Ruthenians, in addition to the normal missionary work which Russia had been carrying on among all the Slavic peoples in the Dual Monarchy.
"And the sinister climax to all this subterranean contriving came with the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a "patriotic" Serb youth at Serajevo, the capital Bosnia, on June 28. That crowning act in the series of provocations confronted Austria-Hungary with the choice of accepting without protest the beginnings of distintegration, or drawing the sword in defense of its imperiled sovereignty. War was the only choice possible.
"It is not a war waged by a Government for its own aggrandizement. It is a struggle for life, undertaken by a people whose temper has been long and sorely tried by the malicious machinations of neighbours to whom the continuance of peace was only an opportunity for interminable conspiracies against the tranquility and the dignity of the Dual Empire."
|The Archibald Affair, September 1915
The Ambassador explains the Archibald scandal in an official statement following the 9 September 1915 revelation.
"There was nothing in the dispatches which Archibald carried that cannot be satisfactorily explained. The proposals regarding embarrassing steel works were nothing more than a very open and perfectly proper method to be taken to bring before men of our races employed in the big steel works the fact that they were engaged in enterprises unfriendly to their fatherland, and that the Imperial Government would hold the workers in munition plants where contracts are being fulfilled for the Allies as being guilty of a serious crime against their country, something that would be punishable by penal servitude should they return to their own country.
"There are thousands of workingmen in the big steel industries, natives of Bohemia, Moravia, Carniola, Galicia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, and other peoples of the races from Austria-Hungary, who are uneducated and who do not understand that they are engaged in a work against their own country. In order to bring this before them, I have subsidized many newspapers published in the languages and dialects of the divisions mentioned, attempting in this way to bring the felonious occupation to their attention. But this has been difficult. In some of the great steel plants of Pennsylvania these uneducated men of my country are nothing more or less than slaves. They are even being worked twelve hours a day, and herded in stockades. It is difficult to get at these workers except en masse, and a peaceful walkout of these workingmen would be of the greatest advantage to my Government, as well as an indemnity to themselves.
"It is my duty as the representative of Austria-Hungary to make known these facts to the Imperial Government, and in so doing I am performing a service for which I was sent to this country. The dispatches or letters carried by Archibald contained nothing more than a proposal that we attempt to call out the workmen of our own country from these steel and munition works and provide for them other employment. To do so, money would be necessary and a labor employment bureau would have to be organised. This is one of the things I shall bring before the Secretary of Labor in Washington this week. This seems to me a legitimate and entirely satisfactory means of preventing the making and shipping of war materials to our enemies.
"My letter which Mr. Archibald carried does not contradict anything that Count von Bernstorff has said, for his people and the great bulk of those who make up our Austro-Hungarian races are entirely dfferent types. The greater part of German workmen of all ranks are educated. Tey read and discuss matters and can easily be reached. Not so with the many races and the great ignorant mass of our peoples. Promises of better wages and easier employment must be made and their position in aiding the enemy must be brought home to them. Where there are a hundred German-born men working in the factories there are thousands of Austrians. Remedies for reaching these races must differ, and there is no conspiracy in an open attempt to call out the Austrian citizens at Bethlehem or elsewhere. Such a proposal as this was the letter of which it is said a photographic copy was made and its contents cabled to the State Department at Washington."