World War 1
War and Military History
History of Europe

How did World War 1 begin?


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2015-05-18 02:55:07
2015-05-18 02:55:07

* (there is an equally comprehensive list of causes at the related question) Answer World War 1 began after the Archduke (Franz Ferdinand) of the decaying Austro-Hungarian empire was assassinated in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 by a group of Serbian nationalists.(one man, Gavrilo Princip shot the Archduke and his wife) This event began the struggle between Serbia and the Austro-Hungarian government.

On July 26, 1914, the Austro-Hungarian officials issued an ultimatum to the Serbian government containing five major concessions. Once the time limit on the ultimatum had expired, Austro-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

Germany supported Austro-Hungary in the war effort while Russia supported Serbia. Germany therefore declared war on Russia on August 1, 1914 and on their ally, France, on August 3, 1914. On August 4, 1914, German troops were sent into Belgium, defying the neutrality that Belgium was promised. Great Britain declared war against Germany that same day.

Answer During the beginning of the 20th century, the strongest country in Europe was Britain. Her empire was the largest, industries the richest and navy the biggest. The envious Germany soon built up her empire and challenged Britain's position. At that time, Germany also conquered two French provinces. This made France a rival of Germany too.

The murder of the Archduke triggered the start of the war. The Archduke was the heir to the Austria-Hungarian throne. He and his wife visited Bosnia on 28 June 1914. In Bosnia, some Serbians shot the couple to death. The Serbians plotted against the Archduke because they hated Austria-Hungary for taking Bosnia away from Serbia.

Besides these two rivalries, other European countries were also unhappy with one another. Soon they took sides and two opposing groups emerged. The atmosphere was tense.

Triple Entente (Allies) : Britain / France / Russia / (later the US)

Central Powers: Germany / Austria-Hungary / Italy (did not fight, joined Allies)

Austria-Hungary then accused the Serbian government of murder. Soon Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, with German support. Russia, which was friendly with Serbia, came to her help. Soon other European nations began to take sides. World War I thus started with two opposing factions, the Central Powers and the Allies. The war spread across Europe and engaged other nations such as the US. At first it was called the "Great War", and later "The First World War".

Answer Franz Ferdinand and his wife were killed in Sarajevo, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian province of Bosnia and Herzegovina, by a Serbian man called Gavrilo Princip a member of the Black Hand, a group who wanted to kill Francis Ferdinand who survived other assassination attempts.

Austria attacked Serbia and then called Germany to help them.

Germany invaded Serbia.

Russia and Serbia were allies, so Russia protected Serbia.

Germany invaded Belgium in order to gain access to France, funds, weapons, soldiers, oil and metals to construct vehicles

England and Belgium were allies, so England went to France to attack the German in Belgium. Britain called the countries in the British Empire to help them.

Other causes leading up to the conflict

  1. Arms race: countries were expanding their armies and navies, and other countries saw this as a threat. (Most countries did this)
  2. Countries wanted to expand their Empire (Germany did this)
  3. Protecting Allies (Germany, Russia, Britain did this)

(See related questions)


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