In late June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Franz Josef (Franz Ferdinand’s uncle) believed the assassinations were a part of a Serbian Conspiracy to incite rebellion in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Franz Josef was hesitant. He was afraid an attack on Serbia would force Russia to respond militarily. Germany reassured him that Russia was “in no way prepared for war” (Murphy 8), but that “should war between Austria-Hungary and Russia prove unavoidable”(8). Several days went on, but Franz Josef still did not act. This was a result of a secret report he’d received the day before. There was no evidence that the Serbian government had been involved in the assassinations. Franz Josef didn’t tell anyone about the report, so the pressure from his advisors and citizens to attack continued. Kaiser Wilhelm even egged him on with a private message that read, “The earlier Austria attacks the better. It would have been better to attack yesterday than today; and better to attack today than tomorrow” (9).
Pushed by public opinion, his advisors, Kaiser Wilhelm, and his fear of Serbian expansion, Franz Jo...
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...n the ages of 15 and 49 into battle. The war also marked the fall of four imperial dynasties–Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and Turkey. At the peace conference in Paris in 1919, Allied leaders would state their desire to build a post-war world that would safeguard itself against future conflicts of such devastating scale. The Versailles Treaty, signed on June 28, 1919, would not achieve this objective. Saddled with war guilt and heavy reparations and denied entrance into the League of Nations, Germany felt tricked into signing the treaty, having believed any peace would be a “peace without victory” as put forward by Wilson in his famous Fourteen Points speech of January 1918. As the years passed, hatred of the Versailles treaty and its authors settled into a smoldering resentment in Germany that would, two decades later, be counted among the causes of World War II.
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