Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/89

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

New Light on the Sarajevo Murders.

By Dr. B. Novotný. (Concluded)

In the fall of 1913 extensive manœuvres took place in Southern Bohemia. Conrad of Hoetzendorf was chief of staff, General Auffenberg was commander of the southern army and archduke Francis Ferdinand commanded the northern army. As usual the war play was settled in advance and it was arranged that the archduke’s army was to win. Both generals who enjoyed the favor of the archduchess looked with contempt on the heir to the throne as a man without ability or intelligence in matters political and military. In order to please their patroness they made up their minds to watch for an opportunity at the manœuvres to make the heir ridiculous. The opportunity came. The archduke wished to show to his wife and children what the clash of armies on a great scale looked like. He went to the scene of mimic battle with his entire family in an automobile, and to show them something dramatic and exciting he ordered his cavalry to attack Auffenberg’s entire army. That was Auffenberg’s chance. While the archduke was explaining the brilliant scene to his family, Auffenberg broke the cavalry, surrounded the larger part of the northern army and ended the manœuvres by capturing the archduke himself with his family and automobile.

Ferdinand, deeply humiliated, hid himself in Konopiste, while Auffenberg was received by Marie Valerie as a hero. The big army officers could talk of nothing else and waited expectantly what the archduke would do. But nothing happened, except that the prestige of Francis Ferdinand sank still lower and the courtiers had new material for their jokes. Auffenberg and Hoetzendorf waited for their reward.

After Sarajevo the Vienna press demanded an investigation which would fix the responsibility upon the persons who advised the imperial heir to visit the South Slav provinces at a time, when the antidynastic sentiment in Bosnia and Herzegovina was at its highest, when Governor Potiorek must have known that his capital seethed with conspiracies. No action was taken by the government upon this demand. Only once it seemed that the mystery would be cleared up, but the man who knew what took place behind the scenes was suppressed in time. It was this way:

Marie Valerie did not forget Auffenberg’s glorious exploit at the expense of Francis Ferdinand. When war broke out, the discredited war minister was made commander of Austria’s largest army, the one that was to capture Lublin. The military clique of Vienna who had hurried the dual empire into the war were very confident as to the great rôle to be played by Austria’s brave army. They assured the Kaiser that Austria was perfectly competent to take care of Russia, while he turned his attention to the West. Even in case the soldiers of Francis Joseph failed to smash the Russian armies, they could hold them back on Russian territory, until the victorious German armies could be shifted to the East and overthrow the Russian colossus. Auffenberg expected to gain triumphs, and he threw his armies without hesitation into the Lublin morassses. A few weeks later he saw his command defeated, routed, captured.

When he returned to Vienna, he was faced with the charge of absolute incompetence, and although Marie Valerie was still his friend she could not uphold him in view of his discreditable record in the field. Auffenberg was sent to his villa in Styria as a superannuated general. In the meantime the campaign against Serbia was equally unlucky. General Frank was defeated, Bohemian regiments mutinied and surrendered. At that stage of the Serbian campaign Marie Valerie took a hand in the game. General Potiorek was called to the old emperor at the suggestion of the emperor’s daughter, and promised his sovereign than if placed in charge of the southern army he would present to him the capital of Serbia not later than December 2, 1914, the anniversary of the emperor’s accession to the throne.

Potiorek kept his word. On December 2 he actually was in Belgrade with an Austrian army. But a few days later his army was in flight, his artillery and munitions captured, and the Serbian campaign ended more disgracefully than even the Austrian invasion of Russia.

It was a catastrophe. Heinold, the minister of the interior, and Krobatin, minister of war, admitted that much frankly in the state council. Once more a favorite of the archduchess, one who had exhibited so