Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Beginning

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg (Source)
By Karl Tröstl (Europeanna 1914-1918) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
One hundred years ago today, in the city of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated.

One could view this as the starting point to one of the bloodiest centuries in the history of humanity.

Though many of us may have learned in school that this was the event which started World War One, that is not really accurate. It did, however, provide a pretext for much of what followed.

Austria-Hungary issues an ultimatum to Serbia.

Russia decides to support their fellow Slavs in Serbia.

Austria-Hungary looks to the German Empire for support.

France is allied by treaty with Russia.

The United Kingdom, though not formally allied with France, have close military ties with the French and have declared themselves to be a guarantor of Belgian neutrality.

It is a complicated web of treaties, promises and misconceptions.

Once things have been set in motion the generals tell their political leaders, nothing may stop it. To stop mobilization is to invite disaster.

The summer of 1914 proves to be hot and very tense. While there is much diplomatic back and forth, nothing looks promising. Certain so-called "statesmen" fail badly, perhaps intentionally.

Germany feels "squeezed" by the countries around her. Her Kaiser, Wilhelm II, is something of a spoiled brat. He wants a Navy just like Britain's. He is a grandson of the great Queen Victoria.

As was the British King George V and Alexandra, the wife of  Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.

The stage has been set. Europe is a powder keg.

The fuse has been lit.

Hell awaits.


  1. That sums it up pretty darn well.

    1. Reading about what life was like before that war and then afterwards, sobering.

  2. I can't help but notice in that first pic how sharp Old NFO looks in that suit.

  3. The fates that ALL had to line up for Ferdinand to get assassinated just boggles the mind...

    1. And this came after a failed attempt earlier in the same day! I think I would have been on the first train back to Vienna at that point.

  4. You are the only blogger I have seen so far to post about this. Everyone else seems to be locked in doom and gloom propaganda.

    1. History is my thing Rob.

      While I am concerned, I have not given up hope.

  5. It is true, one person can change the world. In this case, the assassin.

  6. I've been to Sarajevo and stood in the doorway where Gavrilo Princip stood. Very eerie.

    1. Damn. The weight of history must have been strong in that spot.


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