The Beginning of the End

More than fifteen million deaths, four long years of suffering and devastation, The First World War followed the murder of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1914. How could the murder of just one man destroying millions of lives all around the world, how could it cause one of the greatest wars ever known to man? The answer is, he was not just a man, he was an heir to the throne of Austro-Hungarian Empire, one of the Great Powers in Europe at the time and his murder did not cause the war, just triggered it. The real cause was the tension that had been building up for a long time between Great Powers of Europe.

After the murderer was identified as Bosnian-Serb nationalist, Austro-Hungarian Empire was hungry for war. Presence of serious allegation that Kingdom of Serbia was involved, resulted in a declaration of an ultimatum on Serbian Kingdom, which no state with slightest regards for its dignity could accept. Serbian Regent the Crown Prince Alexander asked the Russian Empire, the biggest Slavic State and so the protector of all Slavs, for support, but his request was refused. The Russian Emperor Nicholas II advised Kingdom of Serbia to accept the ultimatum, as the Russian Empire was in weakened state after the humiliating defeat in Russo-Japanese War. Denied support, in a desperate attempt to a compromise the Kingdom of Serbia accepted the ultimatum on one demand, it refused to allow the presence of Austrian police on Serbian streets.

In the meantime Austro-Hungarian Empire and German Empire were preparing for war. Conscious of it’s weaknesses, the Russian government was trying every possibility to prevent an outbreak of war. But with German Empire’s support Austro-Hungarian Empire was fearlessly rejecting every attempt to stabilize the Serbian issue.The British Empire along with the Republic of France and The Russian Empire understood the danger of German hunger for expansion, which eventually forced Britain to abandoned its tradition of neutrality in Europe.

The Great War began with Austro-Hungarian invasion of Kingdom of Serbia, followed by German invasion of The Kingdom of Belgium, The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and The Republic of France. The Kingdom of Belgium was at the time declared untouchable by the Treaty of London(1839), so German violation of that treaty forced British Empire, and all it’s colonies to participate in the war. Also the informal treaty with The Russian Empire and The Republic of France couldn’t allow The British Empire to remain neutral.

In 1917 after three very expensive years of war against German Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian economy was very close to a disastrous collapse. A severe shortage of food in urban areas caused an uprising that later resulted in the February Revolution that forced the Russian Emperor Nicholas II to abdicate from Russian throne, transforming Russian Empire into a constitutional monarchy. Later in 1917 the Bolsheviks, under leadership of Lenin gained power and tried to end the war with German Empire that demanded large concessions. Finally in 1918 a Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was signed, but the defeat of German Empire, made the treaty powerless.

In the summer of 1918 Bolsheviks murdered now former Emperor Nicholas II, his wife and all their children, which later resulted in canonization of them by Orthodox Church.

sources:
1)  The beginning of World War I
http://www.firstworldwar.com/origins/causes.htm

2)  Birth of World War I
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwone/total_war_01.shtml

3)  Power States of Europe
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/wwone/total_war_01.shtml#three

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