Eastern Europe during World War I
World War I came as an undesired accident. All of the Great Powers tried to head it off, yet war erupted. Austria-Hungary wanted to squelch the threat of Serb minority nationalism by thrashing Serbia decisively in a localized war. Once Habsburg troops invaded Serbia in July 1914, however, that proved impossible because the weblike system of alliances precluded all efforts to prohibit the proliferation of military action. Russia’s alliance with Serbia demanded military mobilization against Austria-Hungary. Once that occurred, Germany was obliged to mobilize in support of Austria-Hungary, which, in turn, forced France to follow suit according to its treaty with Russia. Unfortunately, military mobilization meant that combat could not be averted. Within a little over a month of the tragedy in Sarajevo, the European world found itself embroiled in total war.