Outbreak of the War
How the War Began
World War 1 started with nothing more than allies
making good on their word. On June 28th 1914 three members of
the Serbian Nationalists terrorist group know as "Black Hand"
set out through the streets of Sarajevo with the intent to assassinate
the Austria-Hungary Emperor. The Emperor was invited with his
wife Sophie to watch his troops on maneuvers in June. It was well
known to be a dangerous trip. Sarajevo was largely populated with
people who wanted a Union with Serbia. Three members of Black
Hand were sent to assassinate Franz Ferdinand. Each man was armed
with a revolver, two bombs, and a small vial of cyanide. They
were instructed to commit suicide after the assassination was
complete. The three assassins Gavrilo Princip, Nedjelko Cabrinovic,
and Trifko Grabez, were all suffering from tuberculosis and knew
they wouldn't live long and were glad to give their life for the
cause they believed in.
Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Duchess Sophie Chotek
At the same time Nikola Pasic, The Prime Minister of Serbia,
was being informed of this plot by Major Voja Tankosic. Tankosic
was a high-ranking official in the Black Hand organization. Although
Pasic supported Black Hands overall ideas did not want the assassination
to take place for fear or causing a war with Austria-Hungary.
Pasic gave orders for the three men to be arrested when they tried
to leave the country. However his orders were not carried out
and the men arrived in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where they met with
fellow conspirators, Muhamed Mehmedbasic, Danilo Ilic, Vaso Cubrilovic,
Cvijetko Popovic, Misko Jovanovic, and Veljko Cubrilovic. Franz
Ferdinand Arrived in Sarajevo shortly before 10 o'clock. The Royal
Procession consisted of three cars. In the first car were Fehim
Curcic, the Mayor of Sarajevo, and Dr. Gerde, the city's Commissioner
of Police. The second car contained Franz Ferdinand and his wife
Sophie von Chotkovato, Oskar Potiorek, and Count von Harrach.
The cars top was rolled back in order to see the occupants better.
In charge of security was the local police force. One hundred
twenty Sarajevo policemen lined the route along with seven members
of Black Hand, the first of these was Muhamed Mehmedbasic, standing
by the Austria-Hungarian Bank; Muhamed watched the royal procession
pass by. He later claimed there was a policeman standing behind
and he feared he would be immediately stopped in his attempt.
The next man was Nedjelko Cabrinovic. He was better prepared and
at approximately 10:15 he stepped out and hurled his bomb at the
Archdukes car. The Archdukes River quickly accelerated when he
saw an object flying at the car. The bomb exploded under the wheel
of the next car in the procession. Eric von Merizzi and Count
Boos-Waldeck were both seriously wounded along with about a dozen
spectators who were hit by bomb splinters.
General Oskar Potiorek
Emperor Franz Joseph
After tossing his bomb Nedjelko swallowed his cyanide and jumped
into the River Miljacka. He was followed by four men including
two detectives and was arrested and taken to the local police
station. The poison had not been enough to kill him. Franz Urban,
the Archdukes driver, drove extremely fast and the other five
Black Hand members decided it was useless to try and kill the
Archduke while the car was going that fast. After the official
reception at city hall The Archduke asked about those injured
in the blast. When he was informed that they were in the hospital
badly injured he insisted on going to see them. Some of his staff
thought that it might be dangerous for the archduke to go out
again. But eventually it was decided that the Archduke would go
to the hospital and the Archduchess would stay behind. But when
she heard this she refused to stay behind saying "As long as the
Archduke shows himself in public today I will not leave him."
In the defense of safety it was decided that the royal car would
travel straight along Appel Quay to the hospital. However no one
told the driver, Franz Urban. On the way Urban turned right to
get on Franz Joseph Street. General Potiorek, whose idea it was
to travel down Appel Quay, immediately realized the error and
shouted, "What is this? This is the wrong way! We're supposed
to take the Appel Quay!" One of the Conspirators was standing
on the corner. The conspirator, Gavrilo Princip, was suddenly
less then 10 feet from his target. Mean while Ferdinand's driver
had slammed on the brakes to back up when Gavrilo stepped out
and at a range of about 5 feet fired several shots at the vehicle.
Franz Ferdinand was hit in the neck and his wife in the abdomen.
Franz Urban drove the couple to the governor's residence. Both
died soon after. After shooting the couple Gavrilo turned his
pistol on himself. Ante Velic, who was standing nearby, saw and
grabbed Princip's arm. Another man also grabbed Princip and within
moments the police arrived and arrested him.
Both arrested conspirators were arrested and eventually gave
away the names of their fellow conspirators. However all had managed
to escape to Serbia. Other Black Hand members were arrested and
interrogated and gave the names of the three men they claimed
organized the plot. The Austria-Hungarian government demanded
that these men be arrested and sent for trial in Vienna. On the
25th of July 1914, Nikola Pasic, the Prime Minister of Serbia,
said he would be violating "Serbia's Constitution and criminal
in law" and could not hand over these men. Then on the 28th of
July 1914 Austro-Hungarian declared war on Serbia. On the 6th
of July Germany declared it full support for Austria-Hungary if
it moves against Serbia. Later that month the Serbian government
appealed to Russia for help against a war with Austria-Hungary.
Two days later Russia promised help for Serbia.
Three days after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Russia
mobilized it's armed forces in support of Serbia, including sending
troops to its borders with Germany and Austria-Hungary. On the
1st of August Germany declared war on Russia. Then on the 3rd
of August Germany declared war on France. Britain then sent a
warning to Berlin saying if Germany invades Belgium, Britain will
go to war. The next day the German Army marched into Belgium,
and Britain declared war on Germany. Then, on the 5th of August
Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia. In five days France declared
war on Austria-Hungary. And then Britain declared war on Austria-Hungary.
As you can see, within three weeks practically all of Europe is
in war. Events quickly accelerated, as they did for the rest of
Home Page | Technologies
| Outbreak | Air War
| Sea War | Trench
War | Decisive Battles |
Heros and War Leaders | End