This document is a proclamation from Emperor Franz Joseph I to the people of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In April 1915, Italy withdrew from the Triple Alliance of Austria-Hungary, Germany and Italy. In addition, Italy claimed dominion over the Italian-speaking areas of Austria-Hungary, but its demands were not fulfilled. And so Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary.
In ‘To my people! - The King of Italy has declared war on me’ Emperor Franz Joseph I expresses his disappointment at Italy’s ‘treachery’ after a ‘coalition of more than thirty years’. Italy had left Austria-Hungary ‘in the hour of need’, although Austria-Hungary had always fulfilled its ‘treaty obligations’ and supported Italy. Emperor Franz Joseph I revives the memories of battles such as Novarra, Mortara, Custozza and Lissa, and mentions popular commanders such as Radetzky, Archduke Albrecht and Tegethoff to encourage and motivate his troops. He claims that the ‘borders of the monarchy [will be] successfully defended’ and expresses his confidence in his troops, whose leaders and people deserve his ‘most heartfelt fatherly thanks’.