The Great War: 1914–1918

  • William Woodruff


On 28 June 1914 a nineteen-year-old Serbian terrorist, Gavrilo Princip, assassinated the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria at Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, then under Austro-Hungarian rule. Convinced that Princip had the secret backing of the neighboring kingdom of Serbia, a month later, on 28 July, regardless of Serbia’s willingness to make concessions, Austria declared war. Sarajevo had provided Austria with the excuse it sought to crush Serbia once and for all. The next day Russia mobilized in support of the Serbs. As mother of the Slays, she had no choice; especially as she had given in to the Austrians over an earlier Balkan crisis in 1908–1909.109 On 1 August Germany declared war on Russia. Faced by war on two fronts, Germany dared not delay. On 3 August Germany declared war on France. On 4 August Britain declared war on Germany; its dominions were quick to rally to its support. In a highly industrialized, mechanized Europe, the whole time sequence of war had changed. Before 1870 the methods of projecting armies into battle were secondary; after 1870 they became primary.


Modern World Concise History World Affair World Power General Staff 
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© Helga Woodruff 1991

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  • William Woodruff

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