100 Years Ago Today: A Chronological Catalogue of the Tragedy of the First World War

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Dhamptastic, Jun 28, 2014.

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  1. Dhamptastic

    Dhamptastic Here To Help

    28 June 1914.


    The Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb Yugoslav Nationalist and member of the Serbian-sponsored organization Young Bosnia.

    Serbia sought to unify a South Slav (Yugoslav) state under the personal leadership of the Serbian monarchy. To that end, they organized underground terrorist organizations, such as Black Hand, to sew terror and violence in non-Serb controlled areas populated by South Slavs. Black Hand, in turn, sponsored terrorist cells, one of which, Young Bosnia, carried out the assassination.

    There is a certain irony to this, in that the Archduke was a supporters of greater autonomy within Austria-Hungary, which would give the same federal independence to other minorities as had been granted the Hungarians after 1867. The state of Austria-Hungary was actually two states in a federal empire, a Dual-Monarchy. Austria was one crown, and ruled the German-speaking lands, and also Czech and Slovak and Balkan lands. Hungary was another crown. The crowns were both worn by the same monarch, but they had separate legislatures, tax systems, customs, and armies.

    Franz-Ferdinand, a German, was married to Czech woman, and supported a Triple-Monarchy. And is reported as considering a Quad-Monarchy: giving the South Slavs a kingdom of their own within the empire, granting them defacto independence under a Habsburg crown.

    This would have granted the Serbs all of their goals except one: they wanted to run the South Slav state.

    As we found in the 1980s after the death of Tito: Serbian visions of a Serbian ruled state meant that all other Yugoslavs would be subjects and not partners. In effect, no different for the people than under a Habsburg crown.

    Except that 1.1 million Serbs and hundreds of thousands of other South Slavs would not have had to die.
  2. WhisperFire26

    WhisperFire26 Here To Help

    Holy shit, that was exactly 100 years ago to the day?! *mind blown*


    I'm reading that there are some mixed reactions about that. Some are planning to erect a statue in the assassin's honor and also stage an reenactment of the assassination, and I just read that there were stunts pulled to disrespect the fallen couple such as not allowing their children to attend the funeral service, but not I'm not finding much about what was done in the Archduke's favor.

    I guess it could be mixed in with the idea that's been drilled into my head that all assassins are always the bad guys because of the entertainment and news media (with the exception of Hitman and Assassin's Creed)
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2014
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  3. Dhamptastic

    Dhamptastic Here To Help

    I grew up knowing WWI veterans, so the idea that this was a century ago is literally mind-boggling. My great grandfather, who died in 1985, led a battalion in the 32nd Division before being wounded and spending the last few months of the war in Paris. He was already a middle aged man in 1917, and had already seen service in the Philippines and China. I remember him clearly, and what he experienced is now a century in the past. It is both boggling in how little time 100 years is, but also how huge of time the last 100 years was.
  4. WhisperFire26

    WhisperFire26 Here To Help

    Yeah, it is. Maybe its because its easier to "see" and "hear" events as they happened with the advent of photos, film, and audio recordings.

    (I'm also grouping 'amateur video' along with 'film' since camcorders and cell phone cameras are widely used by everyday people)
  5. Stealth Moose

    Stealth Moose Famous

    This is the war that seldom gets the attention it deserves. It introduced us to the concept that alliances change the scope of war and intensify its atrocities when coupled with new technology.

    Also, damn the Sabbat and their Black Hand.
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  6. Dhamptastic

    Dhamptastic Here To Help

    In a few days, I'll post a review of the alliance system with a cheapie chart I made for a class I was lecturing.
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  7. Stealth Moose

    Stealth Moose Famous

    What do you teach again?
  8. Dhamptastic

    Dhamptastic Here To Help

    Military history.
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  9. Stealth Moose

    Stealth Moose Famous

    I took that class in highschool. We even did a WWII simulation.
  10. Righteous Ham

    Righteous Ham Here To Help

    It's amazing how often "The Great War" is overlooked in favor of its follow up. Especially considering how different the world's political landscape looked from before it began to after. Arguably, WWI had more of an affect in this regard than WWII.
  11. Dhamptastic

    Dhamptastic Here To Help

    We have this idea that the Cold War began in 1945. But many scholars, who I agree with, argue that it began in 1917. If this is still going in a few years, when we get to 1918, we'll talk about when the US and Russia fought a war against each other.
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  12. Dhamptastic

    Dhamptastic Here To Help

    29 June 1914.

    Austrian officials send word to Vienna that the assassins were likely funded by Serbia. Oskar Potiorek, the Habsburg governor in Bosnia-Herzegovina, organizes anti-Serb demonstrations which rapidly spin out of control and become riots which kill at least two Serbs and destroy a number of houses and businesses owned by Bosnian Serbs. Chaos spreads into the countryside. Potiorek declares Sarajevo a city under siege, and imposes martial law, and forms a special court to try and execute the rioters responsible for the killings.
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  13. Dhamptastic

    Dhamptastic Here To Help

    2 July 1914.

    The German Kaiser (Emperor) Wilhelm II announces that he will not attend the funeral of the Austrian Archduke, but will instead stay in Berlin to attempt to prevent the political crisis in Europe from spinning out of control. At the same time, the German ambassador to Austria-Hungary, Tschirschky, advised the Austrian Emperor that Germany would support a well-considered and reasoned plan of action against Serbia.

    In the days previous, the Austrian Foreign Minister, Count Leopold Berchtold, and Chief of the General Staff, Conrad von Hötzendorf, considered immediately mobilizing against Serbia, but ultimately decided that any action would have to await the results of a criminal inquiry. But yet, a German newspaperman and possible agent of the German government, named Naumann, began to campaign within Berchtold's staff for the Austrians to annihilate the Serbian state.
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  14. Righteous Ham

    Righteous Ham Here To Help

    It certainly didn't help matters that Wilhelm was most certainly brain damaged in some capacity.
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  15. Dhamptastic

    Dhamptastic Here To Help

    Actually, according to his contemporaries, he was quite brilliant. He was emotionally erratic, however. Manic episodes and depression; probably bipolar disorder, which ran in his family (he was a grandchild of Queen Victoria, the ultimate source of royal bipolar). And his policies followed his emotional level.

    His "damage" was his arm, which was damaged by the doctor administering his birth, making it shorter and weaker than the other.

    Which led to the image of him as a deformed monster in Entente propaganda.
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  16. Dhamptastic

    Dhamptastic Here To Help

    We're in a lull until after the 4th, when things get intense, so I'll make some flavor posts.

    Today's: Why the First World War is the most important series of events in modern history.

    In 1914, the world was ruled by Kings, Dukes, Counts, and Emperors. And had been, with empires, states and dynasties coming and going, for thousands of years. The great family names of Europe had been founded in Late Antiquity. The process which ultimately led to the formation of the German Empire in 1871 was formally put in motion in the year 800.

    The only significant change in the ancient order of things was half a world away where 1776 began a process of fledgling states breaking away from their colonial masters. And one of them was making a lot of steel and pretending to be a world power.

    There were Emperors in London, Berlin, Vienna, St. Petersburg, and Constantinople. Together with France (an unstable aristocratic republic) and Italy (an unstable monarchy), they ruled the majority of the worlds population in colonies in North America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.

    This was a world largely unchanged since the first colonial adventures. And not significantly changed in over a thousand years.

    In 1919, the world was ruled by Presidents, Premiers, and Prime Ministers. And had for literally dozens of days. The great names of Europe receded into irrelevancy. The process which ultimate led to the deaths of more than died in the previous four years was set in motion.

    Empires ceased to exist. The German Empire was hacked in two. The Russian Empire collapsed into bloody revolution and civil war, with dozens or hundreds of breakaway ethnic republics. The Austrian Empire was dismantled, with most ethnicities receiving their own states, at the expense of Hungary and expelling millions of Hungarians from their homes. The Ottoman Empire vanished overnight, being replaced with a smaller Turkish national entity and Britain and France taking control of the Middle East. The Balkan states were formed, but then unified in a single state. The breakup of Yugoslavia, and the war and massacre it entailed, was inevitable from the very formation of the state.

    Decolonization began. Leaders in Europe drew lines on maps which looked pretty, and simply did not reflect reality. In the Middle East, the battle lines were drawn and Arab-Israeli violence began. In Africa, new colonial borders anticipated the shitstorm of the latter 20th century with ancient enemies forced to live in the same states. Biafria, the Rwandan Genocide, Darfur, endless civil war in the Congo regions. This is the legacy of WWI and Wilson's 14 Points.

    The two great ideological states began their long Cold War in 1917. In 1919, US and British soldiers were engaging in fighting in the Russian arctic and Siberia, more intense and brutal than the worst of the Western Front, against Bolshevik fanatics. Soldiers would freeze to death through a bullet wound.

    WWII gets all the attention, but its greatest legacy in the modern world is that it made Western Europe insignificant.

    The world we live in today, the world of endless war and genocide and atrocity and extremism, is the same world that began after WWI.

    This post should be taken as a condemnation of Woodrow Wilson, Wilsonian Idealism, and the idea that democracy is an appropriate system of government for all situations.
  17. Righteous Ham

    Righteous Ham Here To Help

    An excellent post Dhamp, very thought provoking.
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  18. Dhamptastic

    Dhamptastic Here To Help

    5 July 1914.

    Wilhelm II of Germany consulted with his advisers and gave verbal support for Austria-Hungary to take whatever steps they though necessary. However, needing the Reichstag to approve monetary expenditures, he waited to give official approval until he could consult with his Chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg.

    At the same time, the Austrian ambassador to Germany was unofficially told that his country would receive whatever support was necessary, a blank check, and that they should prosecute war against Serbia as soon as possible.

    Knowing this would likely lead to war with Russia--who had an alliance with Serbia--and then France--who had an alliance with Russia (more on alliances on the 7th), Wilhelm asked his generals if they were ready for war, and they told him they were.

    In London, Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary, contacted the German Ambassador to Britain and voiced his concerns about the crisis in the Balkans and suggested that Britain and Germany could work together to prevent general war.
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  19. Dhamptastic

    Dhamptastic Here To Help

    Telegram from the Imperial Chancellor, von Bethmann-Hollweg, to the German Ambassador at Vienna. Tschirschky, July 6, 1914
    Berlin, July 6, 1914

    Confidential. For Your Excellency's personal information and guidance

    The Austro-Hungarian Ambassador yesterday delivered to the Emperor a confidential personal letter from the Emperor Francis Joseph, which depicts the present situation from the Austro-Hungarian point of view, and describes the measures which Vienna has in view. A copy is now being forwarded to Your Excellency.

    I replied to Count Szögyény today on behalf of His Majesty that His Majesty sends his thanks to the Emperor Francis Joseph for his letter and would soon answer it personally. In the meantime His Majesty desires to say that he is not blind to the danger which threatens Austria-Hungary and thus the Triple Alliance as a result of the Russian and Serbian Pan-Slavic agitation. Even though His Majesty is known to feel no unqualified confidence in Bulgaria and her ruler, and naturally inclines more to ward our old ally Rumania and her Hohenzollern prince, yet he quite understands that the Emperor Francis Joseph, in view of the attitude of Rumania and of the danger of a new Balkan alliance aimed directly at the Danube Monarchy, is anxious to bring about an understanding between Bulgaria and the Triple alliance [...]. His Majesty will, further more, make an effort at Bucharest, according to the wishes of the Emperor Francis Joseph, to influence King Carol to the fulfilment of the duties of his alliance, to the renunciation of Serbia, and to the suppression of the Rumanian agitations directed against Austria-Hungary.

    Finally, as far as concerns Serbia, His Majesty, of course, cannot interfere in the dispute now going on between Austria-Hungary and that country, as it is a matter not within his competence. The Emperor Francis Joseph may, however, rest assured that His Majesty will faithfully stand by Austria-Hungary, as is required by the obligations of his alliance and of his ancient friendship.

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  20. Dhamptastic

    Dhamptastic Here To Help

    7 July 1914.

    The Austro-Hungarian Council of Joint Ministers, an assembly of the cabinets and key policy makers of both Austria and Hungary, met to confer on what should be done with regards to Serbia.

    Nearly the entire Council advocated for war versus Serbia. There was considerable debate on whether or not they should immediately launch a surprise attack, or issue an ultimatum which could not be accepted.

    Ultimately, the consensus became to craft an ultimatum which was so ridiculous, so demanding, so damaging, that Serbia would commit national suicide by accepting it. It was believed that this was the more reasonable, more legal way. One which other countries of Europe could understand.

    Only one member of the Council, Count István Tisza, the Prime Minister of Hungary, dissented from war with Serbia. He argued that Russia would necessarily come to Serbia's aid, and thus activate the intricate string of alliances in Europe and bring about global conflict. Tisza specifically used the term "world war", which had only been first coined in 1898.


    Interestingly, the first known use of the term "world war" was in a NY Times article discussing the seizure of the Philippines. Many anti-war and anti-imperialism advocates in the US took George Washington's warning about entangling alliances as a command to not become an imperial power: entrance onto the world stage would put the US into binding alliances with other great powers. The article chastised those with this position, arguing that if the US were to turn the Philippines back over to Spain, which could not hold it even if they wanted, all the world would try and get their share and it would cause a "world war" over the scraps.

    I think it is kind of ironic that a newspaperman in 1898 spoke of the avoidance of entangling alliances causing a world war.

    The discussion of entangling alliances was very much in the news in the late 19th century. Since the unifications of Italy and Germany threw the balance of power established by the Congress of Vienna askew, Europe had been drawing ever-shifting lines in the sand. Trying to position themselves on the side which would win a hypothetical war.

    Rather than give a chronological listing of alliances, lets look at a graphic of those alliances which were pertinent in 1914.


    Lets start with the red.

    After 1871, Otto von Bismarck sought to diplomatically isolate France so that it could not find allies to help it regain its lost territory (the German-majority Alsace and German-minority Lorraine). This originally took the form of the League of the Three Emperors--between Germany, Austria and Russia.

    Tensions over Russian and Austrian ambitions over the Balkans, as the Ottoman Empire was believed to be on its last legs, led to Russia leaving the alliance in 1878.

    This resulted in the Dual Alliance between Germany and Austria.

    Italy joined in 1882, out of anger at the French taking Tunisia, which they coveted for themselves and viewed as naturally part of Italy (as former Carthaginian territory became as Roman as Rome itself).

    In 1887, Germany had temporarily rekindled an understanding with Russia, the green entry. They "secretly"--an open secret--promised to remain neutral in certain circumstances, namely if one or the other were involved in a war with a third party (*cough*the Ottoman Empire*cough*) and that Germany would do nothing to impede Russian ambitions in the Bosporus and the Dardanelles. But that the neutrality agreement would not be valid if Germany attacked France, or Russia attacked Austria. The treaty expired in 1890, and Germany refused to renew it.

    Germany refused because 1890 saw a brief detente in Anglo-German relations and Wilhelm II believed that to renew the treaty would upset the British.

    Germany's refusal pushed the Russians to find allies elsewhere.

    And they found it in diplomatically isolated France.

    And now we shift to the blue.

    In 1892, France and Russia signed what is known as the "Franco-Russian Alliance".

    There were two main reasons for the Russians to seek a French alliance.

    First and foremost was the need to protect themselves from the Germans and Austrians--who had recently made friends with the Ottomans.

    Ever since the reign of Peter the Great and the entrance of Russia into European diplomacy, Russia had sought a warm water port. Being a northern nation, their natural ports tend to be clogged by ice all winter. Their access to the Baltic routinely froze so firmly that you could walk from Estonia to Finland. Their Arctic Sea ports were only open a few months a year. They did possess Vladivostok in the far east, but lacked the means to transport goods across Asiatic Russia. Their inevitable goal was to possess a Mediterranean port. Their Black Sea ports were useless, because the Ottomans could easily close the Bosporus. They had a massive chain which they could pull across the narrow strait, and strong fortifications protecting it. If the Russians could break the chain, they would still have to travel through the Bosporus, and then the Dardanelles, in order to reach open water: a feat which would be impossible.

    Their secret alliance with Germany gave them the ability to dismember the Ottomans without the Germans intervening. But then that assurance disappeared.

    So, they looked to France to give Germany a two-front war if they were to declare war on Russia.

    The second reason was that Russia wanted French technology and experts to help westernize and modernize Russian industry.

    Britain had been largely isolated in European diplomacy by choice. They had a vast empire to administer and expand and their only real rival was France, who was also diplomatically isolated.

    But the elevation of Germany and Italy to colonial power status gave them new competition. Additionally, Germany actively sought to challenge British dominance of the seas.

    France became the lesser evil, and so in 1904, they joined with France in the Entente Cordiale.

    France and Britain recognized each others colonial claims.

    However, this was not necessarily a military alliance. It was more or less an anti-competition agreement.

    At the same time, since Britain ended its rivalry with France...they turned to Russia.

    For the last century or more, Britain and Russia had been playing power games in Central Asia. Again, Russia sought a warm water port and the Indian Ocean doesn't freeze, ever.

    In 1907, they signed the Anglo-Russian Entente, in which both recognized each others borders.

    Neither of these pledged Britain to military action.

    What did was one of the orange entries.

    These are two key points which made everything happen.

    First, Russia, in general, had declared itself the "Protector of the Slavs". This broadly meant they they would support Slavic independence movements in the former Ottoman Empire. It was part of their aim toward a warm water port: the more you dismember the Ottomans, the easier it will be. Specifically, it meant that they considered these new Slavic states as client kingdoms in their ethnic empire. Russians have a certain ethnic chauvinism, the Great Russians, and the lesser Slavs. Which is kind of funny since Russians were viewed as the cannibalistic, outsider, fugitive, foreign slavs. And the West and Central Slavs were the civilized, advanced, christian, European Slavs. Serbia, being a nation of "lesser slavs" was viewed as a child of the Russian Empire. By Austria wanting to attack it, they attacked the Russian "family".

    Second, in 1830, Belgium declared itself independent from The Netherlands. After a brief war, the great powers of Europe declared it independent. The Netherlands did not accept this until 1839, when they signed the Treaty of London. This document ensured Belgian neutrality. It was one of the only treaties which tied Britain to Europe in a military capacity. Since it was nearly 100 years old, few considered that Britain would honor it. Except that Britain was greatly threatened by Germany and its naval ambitions.

    Entangling alliances.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2014
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