By Marvin Benjamin Fried (auth.)
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Extra info for Austro-Hungarian War Aims in the Balkans during World War I
However, when the powerful Russian Empire joined the war, the Chief of the High Command Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf aptly informed Foreign Minister Berchtold, who pressed for a prestige victory against Serbia, that the continued existence of the Monarchy would be ‘decided at Lemberg’9 in Galicia, rather than on what Conrad still considered a secondary front in the Balkans. k. 10 While the battles raged across Europe, the Austro-Hungarians never lost sight of their principal goals in the Balkans, where Italy had gone from being an unreliable ally to an outright adversary.
Pointing to the ‘continuity between war aims and the goals of pre-war diplomacy,’55 Leslie hints that Austria-Hungary’s aspirations in wartime were as large as, if not larger, than its peacetime objectives. ’56 In his account of Vienna’s war aims in the Balkans, Helmut Rumpler has briefly looked at the crucial period of the conquest of Serbia and Montenegro, September 1915–April 1916, and the ensuing border problems with Bulgaria. Arguing that the Foreign Ministry had no concrete plans for the Balkans until this critical juncture, Rumpler in this concise article describes some of the highlights of Austro-Hungarian attempts at securing the areas of vital interest, and their development over this time.
Military failure against Serbia made it difficult both to defeat Montenegro and maintain influence in Albania. As we shall see, Foreign Minister Berchtold and General Conrad agreed that, although dominance of the Western Balkans1 was a vital war aim, circumstances forced the AOK to focus on the Russian and Serbian fronts, both of which were menacing. 2 Although Berchtold espoused the war aims in the Balkans as his priority, he was unable to secure them militarily and had no choice but to use diplomacy to restrain Italy.