The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

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After the following events, all the countries were ready for war, they expected it. Things were brewing from all 6 countries (Britain, Italy, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia). The two alliances- Triple Entente (Britain, France and Russia, formed in 1907) and the Triple Alliance (Austria-Hungary, Italy and Germany, formed in 1882)-just needed a spark to ignite the war. This spark that possibly became the most likely cause of the start of war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. He was hated by the Bosnian people, because he made it clear that when he became emperor, things would change for his countries benefit and also because of the Balkan Crisis (when Austria Hungary gained control of Bosnia Herzegovina in 1908). Of course everyone was nationalist in those days. Everyone believed that their country was the best, the richest and the most powerful. They believed that they had the biggest empire and each person patriot to one’s country. Obviously did not like being ruled by another country especially a country that’s in the triple alliance. But many small countries did fear Austria-Hungary, because of one man who was powerful and rich.
On 28th June 1914, Franz Ferdinand and his pregnant wife (Sophia)-were killed by a Serb nationalist, Gavrilo Princip, while on formal visit to Sarajevo (capital of Bosnia/Herzegovina). He and his wife were there to inspect the Austro-Hungarian troops.
A Serbian terrorist group (named the Black Hand) had heard about the news of the Archduke’s visit and had planned several attacks to end his life. All seven young men of the group were specially trained in marksmanship and bomb throwing. Each was stationed along the route that the Archduke’s car would go. The first two terrorists were unable to throw there bombs because the street was too crowded, and the car was traveling quite fast. The third terrorist threw a grenade which exploded on the car after the Archduke’s. Although the archduke and his wife were unhurt, some of his attendants were injured and had to be taken to hospital. The Archduke insisted on visiting them at the hospital. But on the way there, the driver took a wrong turn and had to reverse. Gavrilo decided to take this chance and fired two bullets through the window. The first hit the pregnant Sophia in the stomach, which she died almost instantly.

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The second hit the Archduke in the neck.
Gavrilo was arrested and not executed because he was under 20. So he was sentenced to prison for 20 years.

When Austria Hungary had heard about this news, they were furious and devastated for the loss of there greatly beloved emperor. And so they opted to take the opportunity to stamp it’s authority on Serbia. In other words, they would demand Serbia to give them the members of the Black Hand. Austria Hungary expected that Serbia would reject this and so they would be able to launch a limited war on Serbia and claim/rule another country.
However Serbia had an alliance to Russia (one of the most powerful countries at the time), this meant that, when Austria Hungary had declared war, the Russians, would defend Serbia. Hearing this, Germany viewed this as an act of war against Austria Hungary, so they declared war on Russia, on 1 August. Bound by the alliance, France found herself at war with Germany
and Austria-Hungary due to Germany’s declaration on August 3rd. Due to the Franco-Prussian War in 1870; Germany decided to march up to Paris, through invading neutral Belgium and attack, because it was the shortest possible route. Britain, allied to France found herself declaring war on Germany on August 4th. Not mainly because of the planned attack to France, but because of the 75 year old treaty to defend Belgium. Like France, Britain also found herself, by extension also at war with Austria Hungary.
With Britain’s entry to war, her colonies and dominions offered military and financial help. This included Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa.
In the short term, Italy was allied with Austria-Hungary and Germany, obliged to help defend both countries, but later argued that there actions were offensive, decided to join the other side, Triple Entente.

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