First World War Centenary
Global Commemoration 2014---2018
How the World went to War (1914-1919)
In the summer of 1914, Europe went to war. It began a conflict that would engulf almost the entire world. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand pushed existing animosities and alliances into the most catastrophic war the world had ever seen.
How did this happen? In recent times Europe had stepped back from the precipice; in 1914 there would be no peace or compromise. As grave events spiralled out of control Europe could could not withdraw from the conflict ahead.
28 June Archduke assassinated
Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was shot dead while on a state visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo.
His killer was the 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip, backed by Serbian terrorist organisation, ‘the Black Hand’, and joined by a group of other would-be assassins. One of them threw a bomb at the Archduke's motorcade in a first, unsuccessful, attempt on his life. But, when a fateful mistake meant Franz Ferdinand’s driver took the car directly to the street corner where Princip was standing, his two shots killed the Archduke and his wife, Sophie Chotek.
Britain makes a bid for peace
The British foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey proposed a peace conference to try to stop Europe descending into war.
His plan was that Italy, Germany, France and the UK, the four countries not directly involved in the Balkan crisis, should act as mediators between Austria-Hungary, Serbia and their ally Russia. This offer was met with hostility from the German Kaiser who didn't want to be seen to give in to Britain’s “condescending orders”.
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