Sparking an international event
Thursday 05/06/1999 06:39
Some projects take time.
Like our 15 year old, so far, legal project.
Thursday December 27, 2007 20:22
Could this inherently unstable mix have continued indefinitely? Probably not.
What is clear is that Austro-Hungarian hegemony was on display on 28 June 1914, when the heir to the throne, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife Sophie visited the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, which neighboured free Serbia. The day was poorly chosen: it was the anniversary of Serbias medieval independence. Waiting for him were seven young Bosnian nationalists recruited by the Black Hand. While it is unlikely that this group was simply a pawn in the hands of Serbian intelligence they were not innocent bystanders.
The first would-be assassin did nothing. The second conspirator tossed a bomb at the Archduke's car. The chauffeur saw it coming and sped away. The bomb exploded in the road, wrecking the following car and wounding three aides and several spectators. The nineteen-year-old bomb thrower swallowed a cyanide pill and jumped into the nearby river to drown. Neither attempt at suicide worked, although he nearly died at the hands of the crowd that hauled him out of the river.
Franz Ferdinand insisted on maintaining the day's agenda. He spoke at the town hail. This took him near other assassins, who made no move. After his speech, he decided to alter his itinerary and visit the hospital where the injured from the earlier bomb attempt had been taken. His driver then took a wrong turn that brought them face to face with the seventh and final assassin, a young man named Gavrilo Princip. Jumping on the running board of the Archduke's car, he fired two shots at point-blank range.
From the street, Franz Ferdinand and his wife seemed to sit quietly through all the confusion and chaos that followed. Inside the car, the Archduke opened his mouth to speak. Blood spilled over his tunic. He turned to his wife, begged her not to die, and collapsed. He had been shot in the neck; she in the lower abdomen. Within minutes, both were dead. Their bloodstained clothes can be seen today in the Austrian Historical Museum in Vienna.
The assassins were arrested. The dead couple were buried
hastily, some thought shabbily. Many hoped that the resulting tensions would
fade away. But this was not what the Austrian government wanted. On 5 July the
Emperor Franz Josef wrote to the Kaiser seeking his support:
The Kaiser gave the Austrian ambassador Count Szogyeny, his assessment. The risks of war were low. 'Russia is in no way prepared for war,' he told the ambassador. Austria could be assured of Germany's full backing. He next wondered aloud to his staff whether he should postpone his annual cruise to the Norwegian fjords. The German Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg, urged him to go ahead with his plans.
Wherever the Kaiser was, the damage had been done. Both he and his military advisers viewed with little fear an outbreak of fighting in the Balkans. Such a limited engagement could clear the air - both domestic and international - and serve as a positive stabilizing element in central European politics. One precedent was the short, decisive Austro-Prussian War of 1866, which prepared the way for the birth, five years later, of the German Empire. But in 1914 such an estimate of their capacity to control violence in the international system was wildly inaccurate.
With German support, confirmed on 6 July, Austria proceeded two weeks later, on the 23rd, to deliver an ultimatum to Serbia accusing it of responsibility and demanding Austro-Hungarian participation in a commission of inquiry into the assassination. Serbia was given forty-eight hours to reply. Despite the fact that Serbia swallowed its national pride and accepted most of these conditions, the Austrians deemed the demands to have been refused. Austria declared war on Serbia, and Austrian artillery bombarded the capital, Belgrade. 'This means a European war,' the shocked Russian Foreign Minister announced to the Austrian ambassador. 'You are setting Europe alight.' He was right.
Now the alliance system swung into action to heighten the crisis. Most allies responded: Germany to Austria's aid, Russia to Serbia's, France to Russia's and, after the German invasion of Belgium on 1 August (to swing south and attack France), Britain to Belgium's. All followed treaty obligations. As soon as armies mobilized, war was unavoidable. When both Russia and Germany mobilized (Germany slightly later, so as to appear the injured party), nothing could stop the outbreak of general hostilities. The Great War had begun.
THE GREAT WAR
On June 28, 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the
Hapsburg throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo by Serb nationalist Gavrilo
Princip. Austria used the assassination as an excuse to declare war on Serbia.
Within weeks, the major powers of Europe were mobilizing their forces. World
War I had begun.
A tiny clipping from a newspaper mailed without comment from a secret band of terrorists in Zagreb, a capital of Croatia, to their comrades in Belgrade, was the torch which set the world afire with war in 1914. That bit of paper wrecked old proud empires. It gave birth to new, free nations.
On July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and the next day began to bombard Belgrade. Russia rushed to assist the Serbs causing Germany to declare war on Russia, thereby joining Austria-Hungary. Because of France's alliance with Russia, Germany declared war on that country as well. The next day Great Britain was forced to enter the fray. Countries continued to join in, with the United States entering the war in 1917. Eventually, it was the countries of Austria-Hungary, Germany, Bulgaria, and what remained of the Ottoman Empire all fighting against Serbia, Russia, Frank Great Britain, Italy, Rumania, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Montenegro, Liberia, San Marino, Siam, China, Japan, the United States, Cuba, Panama, Guatemala, Brazil, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Haiti. World War I was the second most bloody and costly war in modern history. At least 10 million people were killed.
Though the war probably would have start without this assassination, history certainly wowould be very different today if the Archduke Franz Ferdinand had chosen any other day except June 28 to visit Sarajevo.
Weird History 101, by John Richard Stephens