The First World War: From the Outbreak to the Entry of America

  • A. J. Ryder


The outbreak of the long foreseen and almost fatalistically accepted European war followed from Germany’s decision to give her ally Austria unlimited support in the crisis caused by the assassination at Sarajevo of the heir apparent to the Habsburg throne, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The crime was carried out by South Slav nationalists and organised by a secret society known as the Black Hand. Pasich, the Serbian Prime Minister, knew of the plot and even sent a vague warning to the Austrian government. Sarajevo was the capital of Bosnia, one of the two provinces (the other being Herzegovina) annexed by Austria in 19o8. On that occasion the direct challenge to South Slav sentiment led to a confrontation between Germany, as Austria’s ally, and Russia, as Serbia’s protector. And although Russia gave way, such a humiliation was not to be borne a second time, as Bülow, the uneasy victor, realised. Serbia’s victory in the two Balkan wars gave her new prestige and considerable accretions of territory. Austria felt threatened, and in October 1913, with German approval, sent an ultimatum to Belgrade requiring the Serbs to evacuate Albania, which they had occupied. Russia advised her protégé to be patient, but reassured her that the future belonged to Serbia: ‘the time would come to lance the Austro-Hungarian abscess’.1


Party Leader German Government General Staff Peace Negotiation German Army 
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  1. 8.
    Albertini, III, p. 53. See L. C. F. Turner, ‘The Russian Mobilisation in 1914’, J.C.H., vol. 3 (i), (1968) p. 65.Google Scholar
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    J. C. G. Röhl, ‘Admiral von Müller and the Approach of War, 1911-1914’, H.J. Vol. XII (1969) p. 651; A. Hillgruber, Deutschlands Rolle in der Vorgeschichte der beiden Weltkriege p. 52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Copyright information

© A. J. Ryder 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. Ryder
    • 1
  1. 1.St David’s University CollegeLampeterUK

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