• Serbia of 1914 has been described as an aggressive, backward, and domestically violent nation.
  • Part of the Austrian-Hungarian empire.  This empire included five religions and more than a dozen languages.
  • Serbia was one of the chief sources of trouble for Austria-Hungary.
  • Balkan region of Southeastern Europe controlled by A.H.
  • Many of these nations looking for independence.
  • Serbia had won its independence from the Ottoman empire through centuries of rebellion.  They were prepared to fight for their freedom.
  • Won land and power during the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913.
  • Strong nationalist sentiment in Serbia.
  • Serbia also working to help Bosnia separate from Austria-Hungary, argued that Bosnia is historically Serbian.
  • Austria believes Serbia to be untrustworthy.

Black Hand

  • Narodna Odbrana official name of the organization.
  • Built on idea of unified Serbdom.  Pan-slavic nationalism.
  • Connected to the official Serbian government.
  • Group recruited and trained partisans for possible war between Serbia and Austria.
  • Group of six assassins working for the Black Hand developed the plot to kill Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria

Archduke Franz Ferdinand

  • Royal family from Austria, member of the Hapsburg line.
  • Not the most popular royal among the elites.  Few people attended his wedding.
  • Nephew of Emperor Franz Josef.
  • Arrived in Bosnia on June 25, 1914 to oversee military manoeuvres.
  • Travel with his wife Sophia to the capital city of Sarajevo to carry out official business.
  • Unfortunately for Franz Ferdinand, June 28 is the anniversary of the defeat of Serbia by the Turks in 1389.  This particular date is one that the Serbian people associate with a long history of suffering at the hands of foreign oppressors.
  • He was warned that his visit might be unwelcome, Ferdinand ignored these warnings.
  • Ferdinand runs into 6 assassins.
  • 5 Serbians, 1 Bosnian.
  • As the Archduke is riding to the governor’s house, one of the terrorists threw a bomb at his car but it bounced off and exploded under one of the following cars.
  • At this point Franz has now survived one attempt, he has been warned, but he keeps going.
  • 45 minutes later, the Archduke is travelling to visit the injured people in the hospital the chauffeur takes a wrong turn.  Ferdinand’s car ends up right beside one of the potential assassins.
  • As he is backing up, a young man named Gavrilo Princip draws his gun and fires at the Archduke and his wife.  Sophia dies instantly, Ferdinand, ten minutes later.
Napoleon Bonaparte: Biography & Revolution

Reaction to Assassination

  • The assassins were all captured and after a few days of questioning, they admit they were being supplied with weapons by the Serbian military and had been helped crossing the boarder into Bosnia by the Serbian border guards.
  • Austria tries to blame Serbia and persuade Germany to support Austria in seeking an alliance with Bulgaria and Turkey
  • Bulgaria and Turkey were Serbia’s enemies in the second Balkan War of 1913.
  • Austria sends a letter to the Germans saying that Serbia was a threat and need to be eliminated as a power factor in the Balkans.
  • Austria then warns Belgrade that they want future guarantees about their behaviour or else Austria will follow with military consequences.
  • Within six days of the assassination Austria had made a figurative line in the sand, they had done all of this without any verification from Germany that they would offer support.
  • If Austria had decided to act against Serbia alone, they might have avoided drawing in the other alliances, but since they reached out to Germany, the problem becomes larger.
  • Russia, considers itself an ally of the Serbs begins to mobilize its army to help and France, as Russia’s ally begins to mobilize its forces.  Germany is threatened because of France and Russia and when they refuse a German order to stop mobilizing, Germany declares war on Russia on Aug 1, 1914 and on France the next day.
  • Germany declares war on Russia in support of Austria-Hungary
  • France declares war on Germany.
  • Germany declares war on France.
  • Italy of the Triple Alliance, partners with Germany and Austria-Hungary had actually upheld the conditions of their agreement and declared their neutrality.
  • Nations begin mobilizing their forces and at the same time sending warnings to each other to cease mobilization.

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