The Secret Treaties of the Triple Alliance


FOR a whole generation the Triple Alliance exerted a decisive influence upon the politics of all Europe. It was the subject of countless debates in the parliaments of the three allied states; it has been an object of unceasing concern to public opinion the world over. A series of voluminous works and many smaller treatises have been devoted to it. Up to the present day, however, we have known neither the text of the treaties underlying the Triple Alliance nor the course of the negotiations which resulted in its formation.

The leading statesmen of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy have often discussed the contents of the treaties, but always in the most general terms, limiting themselves to the statement that the Triple Alliance had purely defensive aims: the maintenance of peace on the territorial bases created by the national unification of Germany and of Italy, as well as the reconstruction of Austria-Hungary in the year 1867, followed by the occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878. ‘An insurance company,’ as Prince von Bülow characterized it in 1902, ‘not a company for profit.’ All the other statements which occasionally leaked into publicity concerning the contents and the duration of the treaties were contradictory, and were more calculated to confuse than to inform.

Bismarck, it was reported, had declared that the tenor of the Triple Alliance treaties would never be made public, even after the Alliance had ceased to have legal force. Fostered by this assertion, fantastic rumors concerning the stipulations made by the several allies found wide circulation and ready credence. Just before the outbreak of the world-war, several serious attempts were made accurately to determine the contents of the several treaties; but, taken all in all, these attempts had no result. Thus it came about that, on the disruption of the Triple Alliance by Italy in 1915, no one had an accurate knowledge of the tenor of the treaties, aside from the surviving statesmen and diplomats who had participated in framing and executing them — certainly an honorable testimony to the discretion of a class against which the reproach of indiscretion has so often, and not unjustly, been made.

Since then a period of more than four years has elapsed, and still the veil of secrecy which surrounded t he Triple Alliance treaties has not been lifted. In the summer of 1915, to be sure, the Austro-Hungarian government published four articles of one of the treaties in question, thus furnishing the first authentic contribution to the knowledge of their contents. It was learned that the three powers had reciprocally promised friendship and peace. They had also agreed to enter upon an exchange of views upon political and economic questions of a general nature, and had pledged their support to one another, within the limits of their particular interests. Reciprocal assistance, backed by full military strength, was to be rendered whenever one or two of the signatories were attacked by two or more of the great powers, without direct challenge on t heir part. In case one of them should, through the menaces of a great power not a party to the treaty, become involved in a war with such a power, the other two signatories were, under all conditions, to observe a benevolent neutrality toward their ally. Furthermore, it was left to the judgment of each of them, whether or not to participate in such a passage at arms by the side of its ally. The last of the articles published concerned AustriaHungary and Italy alone. It determined when, and under what conditions, one of these powers was to enter upon temporary or permanent occupation of territories in the Balkans or on the Ottoman coasts of the Adriatic or the Ægean Sea. The presupposition was that such occupation would take place only upon previous agreement between Austria-Hungary and Italy. Such an agreement would be on the basis of reciprocal indemnification for every territorial or other advantage over and beyond the existing status quo.

Through these disclosures the darkness that had enshrouded the purport of the Triple Alliance treaties was in part, dispelled. Perfect clearness, however, had not yet been attained. The fragmentary nature of what had been made public became manifest merely through reference to the fact that Articles 2, 5, and 6 were missing. That Article 7, the last of those published, was followed by still others was to be assumed with considerable confidence. Furthermore, no hint had been given as to which of the treaties contained the four published articles. The contradictions and obscurities to which any critical examination of the published articles was bound to lead were also justly pointed out. But once more, every attempt to penetrate the secret of the Triple Alliance treaties was doomed to failure, ‘ through the very nature of the matter, which offers, as it were, a passive resistance even to the most acute inferences,’ as one of the most zealous critics put it. All the more insistently was the desire expressed finally to have access to the complete text of the Triple Alliance treaties, and to know the course of the negotiations which culminated in the formation of the Alliance.

Through the generous action of the government of the Austrian Republic in opening the secret state archives to investigation, the text of the several treaties now becomes available in its entirety, though not the negotiations leading up to the treaties. Having access only to the documents of the state archives at Vienna, the author is unable to give a consecutive account of the course of these negotiations. This is true especially of those stipulations of the treaty which exclusively concerned Germany and Italy. The cabinet at Vienna, to be sure, was informed of these stipulations, but it had no part, in the negotiations which were carried on directly between Berlin and Rome; the Austro-Hungarian ministers learned only so much of the course of these negotiations as seemed proper to the German and Italian statesmen.


Let it be emphasized, first of all, that the Triple Alliance is not in any way to be regarded as supplanting the AustroHungarian-German treaty of October 7, 1879. On the contrary, it did not impair the validity of that treaty in any way. Independently of the treaty which the Central Powers concluded with Italy in 1882 (a treaty four times renewed), the Austro-Hungarian-German treaty, from October, 1879, to the outbreak of the world-war, constituted the basis of action of the Central Powers in all questions of foreign policy — quite especially as concerns their relation to Russia. For in none of the Triple Alliance treaties is Russia mentioned as that power upon whose single, unprovoked attack upon one of the allies the casus foederis was to be considered established for the other two. The duty of giving aid in this case devolved exclusively upon Germany and Austria-Hungary, to the extent provided for in the treaty of October, 1879.

Furthermore, it may be pointed out in this connection, that the repeated assertion that the two powers had, as early as 1879, agreed upon the automatic continuance of the treaty, is based on error. The German-AustroHungarian treaty of October, 1879, was concluded for five years, and was renewed in 1883 for a definitely limited period. Not until the year 1902 was the special agreement made, whereby it was henceforth to be automatically extended at the end of each three-year term, unless one of the signatory powers availed itself of its privilege to give two years’ notice of its intention to abrogate the treaty. Henceforth the treaty between Germany and AustriaHungary also contained a formal statement of that prospective unlimited duration which Bismarck had wished to give to it when it was first concluded.

The first Triple Alliance treaty, with a five-year term, was signed on May 20, 1882. It contained Articles 1, 3, and 4, published by the Austro-Hungarian government in 1915, the contents of which have already been given. Of the remaining articles of the treaty, the most important is the one binding Austria-Hungary and Germany to aid Italy with their entire military strength, in case she should be attacked without provocation by France. Italy alone assumed a similar obligation toward Germany; Austria-Hungary did not. The latter was to aid the German Empire against France only in case another great, power aligned itself with France. Just as little was Italy bound to give armed assistance to AustriaHungary, in case the latter should be attacked without provocation by Russia alone. By the terms of the treaty, Italy was in this case bound merely to observe a benevolent neutrality toward Austria-Hungary. But also with regard to Germany, as has already been mentioned, the Triple Alliance treaty contained no stipulation which would have compelled her participation in a war provoked by an attack of Russia upon Austria-Hungary. Germany was pledged to such participation only through the treaty of October 7, 1879, of which the Italian government had no knowledge in 1882.

A guaranty of the possessions of the three allies, especially of Rome to Italy, which was repeatedly mentioned as an established fact in the literature on the subject, was expressed neither in the first nor in any of the subsequent Triple Alliance treaties. To be sure, there was no lack of attempts in this direction by the Italian statesmen during the negotiations which preceded the conclusion of the first of those treaties. But their efforts were frustrated by the firm refusal of the Vienna cabinet to heed Italy’s wishes. Nor was Italy more successful in having inserted in the treaty stipulations concerning the promotion of Italy’s colonial plans or the combination of Austria’s future territorial acquisitions in the Balkans with Italian claims on the Trentino.

One of the new and important results of the present investigation is, doubtless, the proof that Italy even at that time desired to procure Great Britain’s entrance into the Triple Alliance. Her aim was thus to protect, herself by sea also against further French plans of conquest in the territories bordering on the Mediterranean. These efforts were checkmated at the time by the opposition of Bismarck; however, Italy so far succeeded in carrying her point, that a protocol was attached to the treaty expressly emphasizing the fact that the Triple Alliance pursued no aims hostile to Great Britain.

This stipulation was quite in accordance with the strictly defensive character of the treaty of 1882, which Italy’s statesmen at that time tried to emphasize as strongly as possible. While the Central Powers, however, clung steadfastly to this idea down to t he dissolution of the alliance, Italy, as may be seen from the following statements, had already abandoned it in the negotiations which preceded the second Triple Alliance treaty. This was done in order to satisfy her desire for an expansion of her sphere of influence in the Balkans and in the territories bordering on the Mediterranean.

It is to be ascribed solely to Italy’s incessant urging, that the second Triple Alliance treaty, concluded on February 20, 1887, for another term of five years, no longer exhibits the purely defensive nature so characteristic of the first treaty. Austria-Hungary and Germany were now pledged to participate in wars which could no longer be regarded as a defense against unprovoked attacks of a hostile great power. Italy, it is true, did not succeed in carrying her demands to their full extent. The Vienna cabinet refused most emphatically to enter upon engagements which might embroil Austria-Hungary in a war with France for the sake of Italy’s Mediterranean programme. Prince Bismarck, for his part, was most desirous of keeping Germany, as far as possible, aloof from all active participation in Balkan wars — if only on account of Russia. After protracted and heated negotiations, which several times threatened to miscarry, a compromise was finally resorted to in order to avoid a break. This compromise, presumably adopted on Bismarck’s initiative, provided for a division of the obligations to be assumed by Germany and Austria. To this end three treaties were concluded in 1887.

The first treaty, signed by the representatives of all three powers, merely repeated the contents of the treaty of 1882. The second, a separate treaty between Austria-Hungary and Italy, concerns the Balkan questions. Its stipulations agree exactly with those which subsequently appeared as Article 7 in the treaty of 1891 and the subsequent renewals. These stipulations, as has already been said, were published in 1915 by the Austro-Hungarian government. The third, a separate treaty between Germany and Italy, contains, among other provisions, a stipulation which has hitherto remained entirely unknown. This stipulation obligated Germany to aid Italy with all her military strength, even if Italy, without being attacked by France, should consider herself forced, by the conduct of the latter power in Tripoli or in Morocco, to attack either the African or the European possessions of France. (Article 3.) Just as significant, and as completely unknown until now, are the Contents of Article 4 of the GermanItalian separate treaty. In this article Germany expressed her readiness to promote the extension of Italian territory at the expense of the enemy, in case of the successful termination of such a war waged in common against France. It may easily be seen how little such stipulations agree with the constantly renewed assurances of the Italian statesmen that the Triple Alliance had no aggressive aims with respect to France. Subsequently Italy concluded separate treaties with France concerning Tripoli, but nevertheless renewed the Triple Alliance with its stipulations against France.

Italy, in 1887, did not insist upon the renewal of the protocol of 1882, which had expressed the friendly attitude of the powers of the Triple Alliance toward Great Britain. This was due to the fact that Italy had shortly before, with the assistance of Germany, made certain agreements with Great Britain, — soon after concurred in by AustriaHungary, — which excluded t he idea of hostile intentions on the part of the Allies against her.


Four years later, in 1891, the third Triple Alliance treaty was concluded. By dint of incessant urging, Italy succeeded this time in bringing about the union of the three treaties into one. On the other hand, the efforts of the Italian statesmen to obtain a material extension of the obligation of the Central Powers were frustrated. AustriaHungary declined all further intervention in behalf of Italy’s Mediterranean interests; Germany took the same ground with respect to Italian plans in the Balkans. Italy was again successful, however, in that Germany’swillingness to intervene in behalf of Italian interests in Northern Africa — Tunis was now brought into the foreground, as well as Tripoli — was more definitely formulated, and the intention was expressed to come to an agreement with Great Britain with reference to these questions.

As far back as December, 1887, Great Britain had been in harmony with Austria-Hungary and Italy concerning the maintenance of the Turkish possessions in the Orient. Now a protocol attached to the treaty gave consideration to Italy’s desire to induce Great Britain to approve and support certain stipulations in the Triple Alliance treaty in a form as binding as possible — a desire energetically seconded by Germany. These stipulations concerned the North African territories bordering on the Western Mediterranean. This marks Britain’s closest approach to the Triple Alliance, as well as the culmination of the importance of the Triple Alliance in safeguarding the interests of the allies as well as the peace of Europe.

The crucial test of the Triple Alliance began with the moment in which the first, serious differences between Germany and Great Britain made their appearance. As far back as 1896, Italy, as investigation shows, had notified the Central Powers that she could not participate in a war in which Great Britain and France should figure as the joint adversaries of the states included in the Triple Alliance. The fact that Germany, and likewise AustriaHungary under the influence of Germany, refused to take cognizance of this declaration, which was incompatible with the contents of the treaty, did not alter the fact that Italy, from that time on, moved away from her allies and entered upon a course which gradually led her into the camp of their enemies.

The Triple Alliance treaty was, to be sure, twice renewed in unchanged form, in 1902 and 1912; also, the protocol of 1891, although the latter, in so far as it had reference to Great Britain, became less and less in harmony with the actual facts, through the widening divergences between that power and Germany. Furthermore, Italy succeeded in inducing Austria-Hungary to attach a declaration to the treaty of 1902, in which Austria-Hungary expressed her willingness to give her ally a free hand in Tripoli. Moreover, in a second protocol to the treaty of 1912, AustriaHungary recognized the sovereignty of Italy over Tripoli, and confirmed the agreements made with Italy in 1901 and 1909, concerning Balkan questions, and particularly concerning Albania. All other demands of the ally who had now become untrustworthy were rejected by the Central Powers.

The assertion, often made, that the Triple Alliance treaties also contained definite military stipulations, is incorrect. Article 5 of the Treaty of 1882, which had hitherto remained unknown, merely stated that the allies, at the moment when danger of war threatened, should agree in due season upon the military measures necessary for joint operations. And it rested here; no other dispositions arc to be found in any of the later Triple Alliance treaties.

However, as may be seen from the following statements, a number of special military agreements were made in the course of t ime. On February 1, 1888,amilitary agreement was concluded between Italy and Germany, which contemplated the employment of Italian troops against France to the west of the Rhine. A similar agreement between Austria-Hungary and Italy, with reference to the employment of Italian troops in the East, — against: Russia, — was projected, but never came into effect. The Austro-Hungarian government, in accordance with the treaty, merely bound itself to provide for the transportation and feeding of the Italian troops destined for Germany. On the other hand, agreements were made between all three states with reference to the employment of their navies in time of war. The first naval agreement, concluded on December 5, 1900, contemplated independent operations. It was superseded in the year 1913 by another agreement, in which united action of the combined naval forces was provided for. The chief aim of this was the securing of naval supremacy in the Mediterranean and the prevention of the transportation of French colonial troops from Africa to the European theatre of war.1

Italy derived the greatest advantage from the Triple Alliance; protection against French attacks, support of her colonial plans in Africa, recognition of the principle of her territorial aspirations in the Balkans. Furthermore (and these were no less important), she secured commercial and political advantages, the ordering of her shattered finances, the strengthening of her army and navy, and, last but not least, a constantly growing importance as a great power. These advantages she owed first of all to the favor of circumstances. As a young, weak state, but recently unified, and threatened by a stronger neighbor, Italy, in the year 1882, had been received into an alliance with two of the greatest military monarchies of Europe. She could not but regard as a great success the fact that the support of the most powerful army in the world was assured to her, while at the same time the danger of being attacked by the superior forces of Austria-Hungary, her former enemy, had been removed. In return for all this, she had no considerable sacrifices to make, for at that time the suppliant did not have to pay the price. Duties and privileges were allotted to the allies in approximately equal proportion. Gradually, however, this relation was shifted more and more in favor of Italy. Every step that brought France and Russia nearer to each other increased the value to the Central Powers of the alliance with Italy, threatened as they were, both on the cast and on the west. Italy was therefore able considerably to increase her demands, even as early as 1887. The definitive union of France and Russia in 1891 marked a further strengthening of the position of Italy in the Triple Alliance. And the more evident it then became that Great Britain was gradually shifting her attitude toward the Triple Alliance, — an attitude that had been friendly up to the middle of the nineties, — the more vitally necessary did it become for the Central Powers to prevent Italy’s defection to the camp of the adversaries.

The Italian statesmen knew how to exploit cleverly this favorable state of affairs. They were unscrupulous in the choice of their means. Alternately making use of prayers, promises, flatteries, threats, and lamentations, but keeping their goal constantly in view, they succeeded in obtaining one advantage after another from their union with Germany and Austria-Hungary, while at the same time they were able to make their relations with the adversaries of their allies more and more friendly. They constantly made new demands upon the Central Powers, and however much they obtained, they still asserted that they had the disadvantage in the bargain. From their allies they demanded the strictest observance of the obligations assumed; for their own part, they constantly allowed themselves flirtat ions of the most questionable character with all possible enemies of the Central Powers.


The greatest benefit derived by Germany from the union with Italy lay in the repressive influence exercised by the Triple Alliance upon France’s plans for revenge. It was this fact, too, which Bismarck had above all in view, when he advocated an alliance with the weak Italy. The assistance of Germany by Italy, contemplated in the treaty of 1882 in the event of a war between Germany and France, was acceptable to him: it was, however, a matter of only secondary importance. To him it sufficed that France should lose hope of winning Italy as an ally in a conflict with the victor of 1870, and that Austria-Hungary, in warding off a Russian onslaught, need not fear an attack from the south. The idea that Italy could ever be induced to participate in a war against Great Britain was not entertained by Bismarck. He knew that the very geographical position of the country offered insuperable obstacles to such a plan. However, as long as he guided the foreign policy of Germany, no cogent reason existed for reckoning with this possibility. To be sure, he did not advocate the formal entrance of Great Britain into the Triple Alliance, chiefly on account of Russia, with whom he sought to maintain friendly relations to the very end of his official activity. But he did everything possible to win Great Britain over to the political situation created by the powers of the Triple Alliance, and he strove with all his influence to promote every attempt destined to bind her by treaty to the special interests of Italy in the territories bordering on the Mediterranean. How correctly he had judged the conditions became apparent as early as 1896, when the danger of a conflict between Great Britain and Germany loomed up for the first time. The declaration which Italy then made in Berlin permitted no doubt about the fact that she would not fight against Great Britain.

At this point, the union with Italy lost a considerable portion of its value. This union had been entered into by Bismarck in order to checkmate French plans of revenge — perhaps for a war against the united forces of France and Russia. For such a war this union would have sufficed. With this limitation Germany could expect that Italy, in the case in question, would fulfill the obligations assumed, even subsequent to 1897, and especially toward the end of the century, when Germany’s relations toward Great Britain assumed a more friendly character. But this hope also vanished, with the increasing success of Great Britain’s policy of hemming in the Central Powers. Years before the outbreak of the world-war, the leading German statesmen began to doubt whether Italy would immediately and fully meet her obligations, when put to the test. They always continued to hope, however, that Italy, in a war of the Central Powers with France and Russia, — Great Britain’s immediate participation on the side of the latter was not considered, — would at first observe a benevolent neutrality toward her allies, and after the first of the expected decisive victories of the German and Austro-Hungarian armies, would make common cause with them. Their assumption was in so far correct, that Italy did in fact declare herself neutral when the world-war broke out. As for the rest, their assumptions were not correct. Great Britain, fully prepared for war,2 immediately took up her position by the side of the enemies of Germany, and the hoped-for decisive victories of the Central Powers did not materialize. Italy, nevertheless, maintained neutrality — although it could scarcely be called benevolent — toward her allies for nine months longer. This gave them advantages which are not to be underestimated. It is questionable whether the German armies would have been able to attain their great initial successes, if Italian troops had immediately appeared in the French ranks. As for the campaign in the east, it might actually have been fatal, if Austria-Hungary at the beginning of the war had been compelled to withdraw a considerable portion of her troops from the eastern theatre of war for the protection of the Austrian frontier against Italy.

Of all the powers of the Triple Alliance, Austria-Hungary doubtless got the worst bargain. For the numerous sacrifices that she made, she obtained nothing but a certain degree of assurance that her ally would not attack her in the rear, in case she should become involved in a war with Russia. Her attempts to establish permanent friendly relations with Italy failed on account of the immoderate demands which this ally made. Austria-Hungary was ready to promote Italy’s interests in the Mediterranean, but demanded in return free play for her own plans in the Balkans, and the definitive renunciation by Italy of acquisitions in the region of the ‘unredeemed provinces.’ Italy, however, showed not the slightest inclination to limit herself. The Irredenta not only continued to exist, but even increased in vigor and extent, often secretly stimulated by the Italian government. The never-abandoned aspirations toward the mastery of the Adriatic took a new lease of life in Italy after the middle of the nineties, and furnished the battle-cry for all the Austrophobe circles of Italy. In vain did Austria-Hungary recede step by step under the continued strong pressure of Germany. She granted the Italians a more and more important role in the Balkans, where she renounced rights that had been conferred on her by the Congress of Berlin; she tolerated the extension of the Italian sphere of influence in Albania, and by all this endangered her own interests in the near East — the only interests through whose advancement she could hope to expand her power and increase the economic resources of her subjects.

Consideration for Italy also acted as a drag on the efforts that were occasionally made by Vienna to arrive at an agreement with Russia concerning their mutual int erests in the Balkans; it forced the Austro-Hungarian statesmen to take many a step that was resented at Constantinople; it influenced the Vienna cabinet to forego representation of the wishes of the Vatican at the Quirinal. All in vain. Italy, though the ally of Austria-Hungary, continued to be her outspoken adversary in all questions in which their interests clashed. Italy increased her demands from year to year, and every success stimulated her to new demands. In Austria as well as in Hungary there was no lack of influential men, with Conrad, Chief of the General Staff, as their spokesman, who did not approve of the compliant ways of the Vienna government, but advocated a break with Italy, a settling of scores with the faithless ally. But the responsible pilots of the Austro-Hungarian ship of state felt that they must continue in the course that had been laid out. They regarded their yielding attitude, which tended to avoid every serious conflict, as the only means of preventing the open defection of Italy to the camp of the enemy — a defection the consequences of which would have been incalculable.

It is not within the province of this paper to inquire how far their conclusions were justified. The test of the accuracy of the views of the advocates of an attack on Italy could not be made. No one therefore will be able to decide with certainty whether the Western powers would have calmly looked on while Austria-Hungary settled her score with Italy. There is just as little possibility of giving a definite answer to the question concerning the position which would have been taken by the various nationalities embraced in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in the case of a war with Italy, considering the fact that they were at variance with one another. It is undeniable, however, that even before the outbreak of the world-war, the Vienna cabinet had lost much of the prestige which it possessed, both in Europe and in the world at large, in the days when Metternich directed the foreign policy of Austria-Hungary, or even in the time of Andrássy.

[In view of the importance of the general subject of Herr Pribram’s paper, we append a number of textual extracts from the Naval Agreement of June 23, 1913 (‘ Valid for 1914,’ says the document), which superseded that of December 5, 1900, and whose chief aim according to Herr Pribram (see page 256), was ‘ the securing of naval supremacy in the Mediterranean and the prevention of the transportation of French colonial troops from Africa to the European theatre of war.’ — THE EDITORS.]

WITH the most gracious approbation of the Sovereigns of the Triple Alliance, the following Naval Agreement has been concluded between the Naval Section of the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Ministry of War, the Admiralty Staff of the Imperial German Navy, and the Royal Italian Ministry of Marine (Admiralty Staff), in the contingency of a war involving the members of the Triple Alliance in common.

The agreement concluded in Berlin on December 5, 1900, hereby ceases to be in force.


(a) In the Mediterranean

The naval forces of the Triple Alliance which may be in the Mediterranean shall unite for the purpose of gaining naval control of the Mediterranean by defeating the enemy fleets. (The section goes on to provide for the preparation of the plan of operations, andfor making changes therein.)

(b) Outside the Mediterranean

Naval units which may be lying in the same foreign port, or within reach of one another, shall attempt to join forces, provided they have received no orders to the contrary, with a view to coöperating in the interests of the Triple Alliance.

In case it may be assumed from the general political situation that war will probably break out between the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente, the commanders of such vessels of the Triple Alliance Powers as may find themselves in foreign waters in the same region shall be informed by their superior authorities, acting in accordance with a mutual understanding between the Admiralty Staffs and the Naval Section of the Imperial and Royal Ministry of War, of the existence of a naval agreement. In this case It shall be the duty of the respective commanders of vessels to come to a reciprocal understanding regarding the measures to be taken on the outbreak of hostilities, keeping before them the special instructions which they shall have received from their superior authorities.


(a) The Supreme Command of the Naval Forces of the Triple Alliance in the Mediterranean may be entrusted to an Austro-Hungarian or to an Italian flag-officer, whose nomination shall have been decided on in time of peace by reciprocal agreement of the States of the Triple Alliance. (Follow provisions for the devolution of the command, in case of incapacity for any cause, of the Commander-in-Chief. See the ‘ Supplementary Agreement’ below.)


Under the headings, ‘ (a) Preparation of Operations and Exchange of Intelligence,’ and ‘(b) Reciprocal Assignment of Naval Officers to Supreme Headquarters,’ provision is made for the speedy exchangeand transmission of ‘news concerning the naval forces of the probable enemy, as well as information bearing on the development of their own fleets’; also for the designation of the officers to whom ‘the swift and trustworthy collection of intelligence and transmission of information from Headquarters to Headquarters in matters concerning the Navy’ shall be entrusted.

For this Service the Naval Attaches are indicated, as they appear to be specially suited thereto through their personal relations with the navies of their Allies.

The Naval Attachés shall be informed of the existence of a secret Naval Agreement, and, should the occasion arise,they may be acquainted with those provisions of the agreement which, by reason of new circumstances, may undergo an alteration by reciprocal agreement between the Admiralty Staffs and the Naval Section of the Imperial and Royal Ministry of War.

(c)Assignment of Naval Officers to the Staff of the Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean

In time of peace there shall be assigned to the staff of the Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean: a Chief of Staff with the rank of Captain of a Ship of the Line by Austria-Hungary and Italy respectively, and an officer of the Admiralty Staff, with the necessary staff, by Austria-Hungary, Germany and Italy, respectively.

(Sections 4, 5, and 6 deal respectively with ‘Means of Communication,’ ‘Reciprocal Contribution of Merchant Vessels for Purposes of War,’ and the ‘Reciprocal Use of Harbors.’)

VIENNA, June 23, 1913.

Signed in draft: KÖHLER, m. p.

CICOLI, m. p.

CONZ, m. p.

A true copy: A. SUCHOMEL.


(Section I, Paragraph 2 of the Naval Agreement)

1. Supreme Command. In accordance with Section 2 (a) of the Naval Agreement, the Supreme Command of the Naval forces of the Triple Alliance in the Mediterranean shall be conferred on the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Admiral, Anton Haus.

2. Composition of the Staff of the Commanderin-Chief. The Staff of the Commander-in-Chief shall be composed, in accordance with Section 3 (c) of the Naval Agreement, as follows: —

One Austro-Hungarian Chief of Staff, with rank of Captain of a Ship of the Line, and one Officer of the Admiralty Staffs of the AustroHungarian, the German, and the Italian Navies.

The two Chiefs of Staff and the German Officer of the Admiralty Staff shall be directly subordinate to the Commander-in-Chief.

Signal, wireless, and office personnel shall be assigned as assistants when requisite.

It is desirable that the Commander-in-Chief shall establish personal relations with the officers of his Staff in time of peace.

3. War-Time Distribution of the Allied Forces. The following shall be accepted as the principles for distribution in time of war: —

(a) The various subordinate units shall be constituted from ships of the same nationality.

(b) A squadron shall, as far as possible, contain not more than eight battleships.

4. Union of the Allied Naval Forces. The Austro-Hungarian and the Italian fleets shall assemble as soon as possible in the neighborhood of Messina and complete their supplies. The Italian fleet shall then proceed to its anchoring-place between Milazzo and Messina, the Austro-Hungarian fleet to the harbor of Augusta. If need be, Italy shall retain a division for special duty in the north of the Tyrrhenian Sea, and dispatch a portion of the torpedo-flotilla . . . together with mine-layers, to Cagliari and Trapani. The Commander-in-Chief shall Ire notified of this in due season.

The German vessels shall endeavor to unite at Gaëta (or in the event of unfavorable conditions at sea, at Naples) in order to lay in full supplies. Should special circumstances render it impossible to reach Gaëta (Naples), the German naval forces shall also join the Commander-in-Chief in the neighborhood of Messina.

On the occasion of their first reunion all ships and torpedo-boats must with particular care observe the provisions laid down in the Triple Code for secret signals of recognition.

Torpedo-boats proceeding alone and groups of torpedo boats must as a fundamental principle avoid approaching vessels and anchoring-places of the Allied Fleets after nightfall, as every torpedo-boat not recognized with complete certainty as friendly will be fired upon.

5. Scheme of Operations. The chief objective of the Commander-in-Chief shall be the securing of naval control in the Mediterranean through the swiftest possible defeat of the enemy fleets.

Should a portion of the French fleet lie at Bizerta, the Commander-in-Chief shall attempt to deal separately with the scattered portions of this fleet. For the purpose of holding the portion of the enemy fleet at Bizerta, operations with mine-layers and torpedo-boats from Trapani and Cagliari are in contemplation; for action against a French fleet, possibly proceeding eastward from Toulon, the light unitsof the local coast-defense of the Western Ligurian coast are in contemplation.

The main action is to be carried out so swiftly that the decision shall be reached before the Russian forces in the Black Sea can interfere.

It shall remain with the Commander-in-Chief to decide whether, in addition to the main operations against the enemy fleets, simultaneous secondary actions shall be directed against possible French troop-transports from North Africa or against sections of the enemy coasts.

6.Provisioning of the Fleet and Bases. Italy makes herself responsible for the preparations specified herein for the bases enumerated in this section, at her own expense, in time of peace.

(a) Bases for Assembling. With reference to Section 4 of the Supplementary Agreement, the following places shall be prepared as bases for assembling: —

(1) The harbor of Augusta for the AustroHungarian;

(2) Gaëta (Naples) for the German; and

(3) Messina for the Italian Naval Forces. The stock of supplies to be accumulated at

Augusta and Gaëta (Naples) shall, while providing for a necessary reserve, be apportioned in such manner that the vessels on the occasion of their first reunion may be certain of completing their stores.

After this last fitting-out, and after the final departure of the Austro-Hungarian Naval forces from Augusta, all stores remaining in the harbor shall be removed or destroyed, in order to forestall any capture by the enemy.

Should the fitting-out of the German vessels at Gaëta (Naples) be no longer possible, they shall complete their fitting-out at Messina.

(6) Bases for Further Operations. With reference to Section 5 of the Supplementary Agreement, the following places shall be selected and prepared as the main bases for further operations: —

(1) Maddalena for the Austro-Hungarian and German;

(2) Spezia for the Italian Naval Forces;

(3) Trapani, Cagliari, and the western coast of Liguria for lighter units.

Maddalena shall be supplied with rations for

one month for the Austro-Hungarian fleet; a corresponding stock of fuel and machinery supplies shall be kept there permanently.

(7) Defense of the Adriatic. For the defense of the Adriatic . . . the naval forces enumerated in Annex 1, heading (6), to the Supplementary Agreement . . . shall assemble as rapidly as possible, as follows: —

The Austro-Hungarian and German vessels in the Gulf of Cattaro; the Italian vessels at Brindisi.

The operations in the Adriatic shall be conducted by the highest ranking officer of the Allied Naval forces, according to instructions from the Commander-in-Chief, who shall be empowered to reinforce, or to withdraw vessels from, the Naval forces in that region, according to the military situation.

8. Attacks on French Troop Transports from North Africa. Since the first French troop transports from North Africa may be expected to proceed northward from the main embarkation centres of Bona-Philippeville, Algiers, Oran-Mostaganem and Casablanca-Mogador within the first three days of the mobilization, Italy shall immediately establish a patrol off the North African coast with fast auxiliary cruisers. For the further obstruction of the sending forward of troops the operation of light warships from Cagliari (cf. Section 4, Paragraph 1 of the Supplementary Agreement) and, secondarily, from Maddalena, are in contemplation.

The joint carrying out of this under biking shall be directed from Cagliari by a commander to be appointed by Italy, who shall be directly subordinate in this service to the Commanderin-Chief. The Commander-in-Chief shall in case of necessity dispatch fast cruisers for obstructing the transportation of troops. (Cf. Section 5, last paragraph, of the Supplementary Agreement.)

9. Cutting off Enemy Commerce in the Mediterranean. For cutting off enemy commerce in the Mediterranean, auxiliary cruisers shall first be employed.

Apart from the measures which will probably he taken in the second phase of the war for the obstruction of enemy commerce, it would appear advantageous to establish a patrol of the Suez Canal and the Dardanelles immediately on the outbreak of hostilities.

The necessary preparations for commercedestroying shall be made in time of peare by the Commander-in-Chief.

As bases for operations of this nature, Taranto, the neighborhood of Messina, and the Libyan Coast (Tripoli, Tobruk) shall be available in the eastern Mediterranean; in the western Mediterranean all the bases enumerated in Section 6 of the Supplementary Agreement.

10. Utilization of Merchant Vessels of the Allied States for Special War Purposes. The merchant vessels available for purposes of war shall be divided into —

(1) Auxiliary cruisers (auxiliary worships);

(2) Vessels for transporting supplies and troops;

(3) Hospital ships.

The above-mentioned shall exchange indications regarding the merchant vessels which may come in question, and shall reach more precise agreements by direct negotiation with regard to the right of utilizing and disposing of them. These indications and agreements shall be appended to the Supplementary Agreement as Annex III. The Commander-in-Chief shall be responsible for keeping it constantly up to date.

Such auxiliary warships as are under military command shall be under the orders of the senior commander of warships of their nationality in the Mediterranean.

For the supply ships belonging to the AustroHungarian fleet, Messina and Maddalena shall be regarded as the proper bases.

Spezia, Naples, or Taranto, according to the location of the seat of war, shall serve as the main bases for the hospital ships of the Allied Nations.

The German shipowners shall be instructed to bring such of their vessels as may be in the Mediterranean at the outbreak of war to Italian ports — mail-boats to Spezia whenever possible, the remaining merchant vessels to Taranto or other Italian harbors exclusive of Genoa.

VIENNA, June 23, 1913.

Signed in draft: KÖHLER, m. p.

CICOLI, m. p.

CONZ, m. p.

A true copy: A. SOCHOMEL.






1st Squadron

1st Division: Dante Alighieri, Giulio Cesare, Leonardo da Vinci. Scout Cruiser: Quarto.

2nd Division: Vittoria Emanuele, Regina Elena, Roma, Napoli. Scout Cruiser: Nino Bixio.

2nd Squadron

1st Division: San Giorgio, San Marco, Pisa, Amalfi. Scout Cruiser: Marsala.

2nd Division: Garibaldi, Varese, Ferruccio. Scout Cruiser: Agordat.

Division for Special Purposes: Benedetto Brin, Regina Margherita, Emanuele Viliberto, Animeriglio di St. Bon. Scout Cruiser: Coatit.

Torpedo Flotillas

16 Torpedo-boat Destroyers (6 of 1000 tons, 10 of 700 tons), Indomito-Ardente type.

10 Torpedo-boat Destroyers of 450 tons, Bersagliere type.

24 Torpedo-boats of 250 tons, Saffo-Cigno type.

30 Torpedo-boats of 33 sea miles.


1st Squadron

1st Division: Viribus Unitis, Tegetthoff, Prinz Eugen.

2nd Division: Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand, Radetzky, Zrinyi.

1st Cruiser Division: St. Georg, Kaiser Karl VI.

2nd Squadron

3d Division: Erzherzog Karl, Erzherzog Friedrich, Erzherzog Ferdinand Max.

4th Division: Habsburg, Arpád, Babenberg.

2nd Cruiser Division: Spaun, Helgoland, Saida, Novara.

Torpedo Flotillas

6 Torpedo-boat destroyers of 800 tons, Tátra type.

12 Torpedo-boat destroyers of 400 tons, Hussar type.

12 Torpedo-boats of 200 tons, Kaiman type.


Cruiser Division (directly subordinate to the Commander-in-Chief): Goeben, Strassburg, Breslau, Dresden.



Bettor Pisani, Carlo Alberto, Marco Polo, Dandolo. Scout Cruisers: Piemonte, Libia.

6 Torpedo-Boat Destroyers and several Torpedo divisions.


Monarch, Wien, Budapest.

Maria Theresa, Kaiser Franz Joseph I.

Zenta, Aspern, Szigetvás.

12 Torpedo-Boats of 200 tons, Kaiman type, and several Torpedo divisions of older units.


School-ships and older cruisers which may be stationed in the Mediterranean.

KÖHLER, m. p.

CICOLI, m. p.

CONZ, m. p.

A true copy: A. SUCHOMEL.

  1. See the text of this agreement of 1913, at the end of the article. — THE EDITORS.
  2. The author is an Austrian. — THE EDITORS.