Forgotten Figures: Nikolai Hartwig


Born: 1857
Nationality: Russian
Occupation: Russian ambassador to Persia and Serbia
Active period: 1906-1914 [Pre-First World War]
Points of interest:

  • Pan-Slavist Supporter: Hartwig is well known for being a supporter of the pan-Slavism movement. This movement aimed to unite all those people of “Slavic” origin [in general this includes many people; Russians, Serbians and Hungarians to name a few, essentially just search for Balkan countries and they will be included]
  • Creator of Dangerous Alliances: Heavily involved in the creation of the Balkan League in 1912. The Balkan league being an temporary alliance between Serbia, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Greece which was created in order to wage war on the Ottoman Empire. This league caused many problems for the atmosphere of Europe prior to the First World War and caused much tension and anxiety.
  • Dominant Influence in Serbian Government: Hartwig had immense influence in the Serbian government in the lead up to the first world war. After the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand [heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne] Austria-Hungary issued the Serbian government with an ultimatum which threatened to start war if their demands were not met. Some suspect that it was Hartwig’s hardline influence in the Serbian government that caused Serbia to hold an aggressive stance in response to the Austrian ultimatum.
  • The mysterious death: Hartwig died of a heart attack on the 10th July 1914 [just a few days after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand]. The timing of his death was so suspicious that it was automatically assumed that his death was a deliberate murder by Austrian operatives. These suspicions however have never been confirmed nor denied.

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