Austro-Hungary declares war on Serbia, igniting WWI (July 28, 1914) - History Key

Austro-Hungary declares war on Serbia, igniting WWI (July 28, 1914)

The First World War, known also as the Great War, was one of the greatest military conflicts of humanity, overwhelmed only by the Second World War. The conflict was triggered by the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and on July 28, 1914 the Austro-Hungarian Empire attacked Serbia. At that time it was a great tension between almost all European states. That is why most of the European countries engaged in WWI, their colonies and also US and Japan. Hundreds of millions of people were directly affected, many of whom were civilians.

Four years of progress?

It was the first war fought on land, air, water and underwater. The civilians and their homes became targets, some of their homes being completely destroyed. The war was a total one where rules were often “forgotten”.

Serbian Army Blériot XI "Oluj", 1915
Serbian Army Blériot XI “Oluj”, 1915 © Image Source: Wikipedia

The military innovations and their widespread use have greatly contributed to the loss of millions of lives. If at the beginning of the war, the infantry men riding the bicycles and observations balloons were a common picture of all armies, in 1918 the airplanes, tanks and submarines were “making the law in war”.

Canadian troops advancing with a British Mark II tank at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, 1917
Canadian troops advancing with a British Mark II tank at the Battle of Vimy Ridge, 1917 © Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Image Source: Wikipedia

Starting a war, even if you are not prepared

On July 24, the Serbian army received a mobilization order and Austro-Hungary withdrew its embassy staff, broke the diplomatic ties with Serbia. On July 25, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria signed the imperial army mobilization order, the attack being scheduled for July 28.

Therefore, on July 28, 1914 at 11:00 AM, Austro-Hungary handed the statement of war to Serbia. With the rush to carry a war, Austro-Hungary bombed the capital of Serbia, despite that the empire was not fully prepared for such a battle.

Two days later, Russia ordered also a general mobilization of their troops. Because of this, Germany was ready to give up the idea and they rather preferred to negotiate an arrangement that would be advantageous to all parties. But the situation made both sides to prepare for a confrontation, so that the German Empire declared war on Russia in the first day of August.

German soldiers in a railway goods wagon on the way to the front in 1914. Early in the war, all sides expected the conflict to be a short one
German soldiers in a railway goods wagon on the way to the front in 1914. Early in the war, all sides expected the conflict to be a short one © www.greatwar.nl/ Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Image Source: Wikipedia

With Russia entering the war, Austro-Hungary saw itself automatically engaged on two fronts and was forced to deploy a part of their troops to Galicia. Therefore, the Serbian front automatically became a secondary front.

Rival military coalitions in 1914; Triple Entente in green; Triple Alliance in brown. Only the Triple Alliance was a formal "alliance"; the others listed were informal patterns of support
Rival military coalitions in 1914; Triple Entente in green; Triple Alliance in brown. Only the Triple Alliance was a formal “alliance”; the others listed were informal patterns of support © CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 /Image Source: Wikipedia

In a very short time after the first attack of WWI, almost every country from Europe was engaged in the war.

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