There is some debate among historians as to just how sweeping the “blank check” given to Austria by Germany actually was. A report by the Austrian ambassador on his meeting with the kaiser at Potsdam on July 5, 1914, indicates what the Austrian believed to be the case:
After lunch, when I again called attention to the seri-ousness of the situation, the Kaiser authorized me to inform our gracious Majesty that we might in this case, as in all others, rely on Germany’s full support. He must … first hear what the Imperial Chancellor has to say, but he did not doubt in the least that Herr von Bethmann Hollweg would agree with him.
Especially as far as our action against Serbia was concerned… . Russia’s attitude will no doubt be hostile, but to this he had been for years prepared, and should a war between Austria-Hungary and Russia be unavoidable, we might be convinced that Germany, our old faithful ally, would stand at our side. Russia at the time was in no way prepared for war, and would think twice before it appealed to arms.
But it will certainly set other powers on to the Triple Alliance and add fuel to the fire in the Balkans. He understands perfectly well that His Apostolic Majesty in his well-known love of peace would be reluctant to march into Serbia; but if we had really recognized the necessity of warlike action against Serbia, he would regret if we did not make use of the present moment, which is all in our favor.