This investigation assesses the extent to which the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the real trigger of the First World War. The impact of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand has always been a subject of discussion by different scholars on whether it was the main cause of the First World War or it was just a trigger that let out the enmity that had long been witnessed by European countries against each other. This paper therefore tries to shed the light by evaluating the events that led to the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and the reaction of Austria-Hungary and how the whole event turned the entire history. Photographic Reports and evidence from the scholarly articles are used as sources to analyze the chronology of events that follows the assassination of the Archduke.
Summary of evidence
The murder of Franz Ferdinand an archduke of Austria and an heir for the throne of Austria-Hungary by a Serbian nationalist on 28th June 1914 is perhaps the most remembered political assassination that has had momentous consequences than any other political assassination in the modern world history. The two bullets that were shot on Sarajevo on a sunny morning of 28th June of 1914 was to mark the new chapter in the history of the world. Ferdinand the heir of Habsburg Empire which was known for failing to modernize a multi-national state and use of force to defend their institutions is shot dead together with his wife in the streets of Sarajevo in what is believed to be the cause of the First World War in Europe. The assassins who murdered Ferdinand are believed to be Bosnians allied to Black Hand armed with pistols and with a sole mission to kill the archduke. The news about the murder of Franz Ferdinand angered Austria-Hungary who became devastated for the loss of their emperor and is believed to be the ingredients of which led Austria Hungary to fight against Serbia. It should be noted that despite the fact that Franz Ferdinand was an Archduke for the empire of Austria-Hungary, he had risen up through various ranks to become inspector general of Austro-Hungarian army. The assassination of Ferdinand therefore was not taken lightly by the armed forces that the archduke commanded. Austria-Hungary demanded to be handed over the members of the Black Hand with expectation that Serbia will not accept this and would then be the start of war against Serbia. On July 23rd of 1914, Austria delivered a 48 hour ultimatum to Serbia for the Serbian investigators to hand over the assassins; Serbian government delivered on this but this the Austrians was not satisfied with that. Francis Joseph I backed the declaration of war against Serbia which sparked up a series of events all around the region which could not be halted. While Serbia declared war on Austria-Hungary on July 28th 1914, Russia mobilized its army to join the war in favor of Austria-Hungary. Germany on the other hand gave France an ultimatum to remain neutral; the Germans also gave Czar Nicholas II of Russia an ultimatum to halt the mobilization of the forces. This ultimatum was however ignored, Russian government failed to stop mobilization of its forces, the German military declared war on its Russians on the 1st of august 1914 which marked the beginning of the World War I which the American Historian Kennan George has termed as the 20th centurys Seminal catastrophe. This transformed the entire Europe into a battlefield from what it was once a development hub of the world.
Serbia however was great allies to Russia who would defend them in an event of the war. Germany on the other hand were allied to Austria-Hungary and declared war on Russia and 1st of August France on the other hand entered war to fight Germany and Austria Hungary which intensified the war. The murder of Franz Ferdinand was therefore the landscape changer in the enmity that rocked Europe in the 19th century which led to allied forces fighting against the other allies. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand set out a series of events and his wife set out all these series of events all around Europe. It should be noted that Russia was in support of Serbia, which Austria-Hungary had declared war on; Germany was on the other hand on Serbias side. Within just a week, Russia, Belgium, France, Great Britain and Serbia had all lined up together against Austria-Hungary.
Evaluation of Sources
The scholarly articles reports by various scholars are an important resource since they are meant to be as easily understood as possible. The events that occurred are chronologically listed to make the work of an ordinary reader as easy as possible. Despite the fact that some of the information that has been listed in these sources might not be correct, the information on the documents that is available in the scholarly documents cannot be ignored due to the thorough research involved to obtain such information. The information provided by (King) in His book The Romance that changed the world for instance stresses too much on the Romance factor and the murder of Franz Ferdinand as the cause of the war break out with little stress on other factor such as the Balkan wars. The Serbian newspapers on the other hand and the information on other renowned newspapers in the world such as the New York Times has authored the various articles which discusses the murder of the archduke with photographic evidence of the strive in Sarajevo during the struggle during the attempt of murder and arrests made for the culprits.
The assassination of the Archduke by Austrian assassins was the most responsible for the war breakout. There were many reasons that made Franz Ferdinand the most perfect target for the Serbian sponsored assassins. First the plans of reforming the empire were a significant threat to them; this made him symbolically a perfect target for assassination. Franz Ferdinand was the anti-war figure in Central Europe he was aware of the weaknesses that existed in Hapsburg, if Franz Ferdinand would have been alive, the war would have been avoided and Europe would have been a safer place in the century according to Simon Winder who states that the murder of Franz Ferdinand was the original sin that triggered a lot of events which led to world war I. The blame game about the involvement of Serbia in the assassination of Franz Ferdinand was a significant threat to the stability of the region. But a clear look will also support the fact that the there was deep hatred in Europe and this only served as a trigger. As a sovereign nation, Serbia could not sit back and fold its arms while Austria-Hungary waged war against her. The flexing of the muscle on the other hand by Austria-Hungary on the assassination was on the other hand a remarkable event which must be blamed as a scapegoat for the feud which appears to have been hidden about the enmity that had existed in Europe. The 48 hour ultimatum by Austria-Hungary to be handed over with was apparently one of the catalysts that the country expected to be a reason to start war against Serbia. Austria-Hungary expected that the ultimatum will be ignored by Serbia giving them justification for them to attack. 1914 also saw positioning of various countries into different alliances which send cold shivers of enmity throughout the entire Europe (Marshall), Germans also had perception that Russia a threat to its power in the region. To make it worst, Germany formed an alliance that vowed to support each other in an event that any of the members is attacked. The alliance consisted of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy and named as Triple Alliance, the countries declared that incase either France attacked any of their members would be attacked by either France or Russia; the member countries would declare war on them in support of their member. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand was just a trigger of that set up the war and exposed the extent to which the enmity had gone in Europe. Franz Josef was ensured of the support from his allies in an event that the war broke out between his empire and Serbia. This gave him courage to issue the ultimatum which was just a trap for Serbia. The alliance between Russia, Serbia and France on the other hand was not ready to relent but rather resorted to face the alliance head on. The war became a global conflict with thirty two countries involved, twenty eight of these countries were in different alliances which consisted of Triple Alliance and the one consisting of France, Russia and Serbia who was later joined by Great Britain, United States of America among other countries which was named as Triple entente since it consisted of France, Russia and Serbia. After a time of mobilization and preparation for the war, the war finally broke out in Balkan with the efforts of containing the war becoming futile. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia while Germany on the other hand declared war on Russia. Germany also declared war on France on 3rd of August and further invaded Belgium. Germany invaded France on 4th of August 1914 while the British entered the war in support of Russia and France citing the violation of neutrality agreement by Germany. Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia on 6th August while France and Great Britain declared war on Austria-Hungary days later. This was no longer a Serbian and Austria-Hungary affair but had spread out to the entire Europe.
The situation in Europe before 1914 was tense with several factors leading to the brewing of war in the region. German military officials in the middle and high ranks for instance were over ambitious and aggressive; this destabilized the region and tilted the international politics since their aggressiveness was a threat to the sovereignty of other countries in the region. British historian Samuel Williamson states that despite the fact that Germans are mostly to blame for the war Austria-Hungary are equally to blame for its urge to expand its territory in Balkans region of Europe. The fear of Austrians on Serb empire as noted by Albert Bushnell Hart is one of the main cause that led to the World War I (Deary). It is also argued that Balkan wars which led to Serbia increasing the size of its territory was also one of the concerns that had been haunting Austria-Hungary who was doing anything to regulate the unchecked growth of Serbia. The murder of Ferdinand however provided the perfect opportunity to the Austria-Hungarians who blamed the death of their emperor to be as the main cause of the war which led to enmity between the two states. Between 1912 and 1913, Serbia got involved in Balkan wars with involvement of Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and Montenegro who were fighting against the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. This war ended with the Turks being defeated in the first of the Balkan wars. The war further heated when Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria failed to agree on the division of the spoils that had been captured in the war which led to Bulgarians attacking Serbians and the Greeks, the war became even severe when Romanians and Turks attacked the Bulgarians. When the war came to an end, Serbians had increased its territory a fact that Austria-Hungary saw as a threat and were therefore waiting for the right opportunity to strike which manifested itself with the murder of Franz Ferdinand.
In conclusion, it is quite clear that Europe even before the assassination of Franz Ferdinand was a hot bed of crisis which was just in waiting. The formation of alliances and political alignments is a clear indicator that the continent was far apart. Aggressiveness of some of the then powerful leaders in Europe and the urge of each European power to extend their territory is one of the factors which further increased the tension in the region which led to military buildup and trials of va...
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