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The Outbreak of the Great War

November 17, 2012
A photograph of Franz Ferdinand’s entourage in its touring car shortly before the assassination on June 28, 1914.

Please find some web questions written by your classmate, Norbert Fital, regarding the outbreak and expansion of World War I into a global conflict.

Many people believe the event that caused World War I was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian assassin named Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914. Do you believe that this event was the main reason World War I erupted? Or do you think the same kind of war eventually would have broken out with or without the Archduke’s assassination? What conditions were in place that allowed the war expand so quickly? How did so many countries get involved the war?

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. Teddy Chattah permalink
    November 20, 2012 8:02 pm

    The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand is often said to be the start of World War I. What is often overlooked, is the fact that unrest was brewing in the region long before this incident. For starters, the region known as the Balkans was growing increasingly restless. With the growth of nationalism, many of the nations in the Balkans wanted independence from the former Ottoman Empire (now part of the Austria-Hungarian empire). Russia, humiliated by the First Balkan War began to strengthen its army. Additionally, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, a delicate web of alliances formed between different countries. When the archduke was assassinated, Austria-Hungary and Serbia’s relations went south and eventually declared war. Following their treaty, Russia rushed to Serbia’s aid only to be followed. Eventually, France, Germany, Britain and other countries stood on opposite sides based on their previous treaties and a full scale global war had erupted.

  2. Syed permalink
    November 24, 2012 12:17 am

    “Nationalism” is the main reason behind World War I, economical rivalry between European powers and struggle over colonies are also justifiable reason that caused the world war I. Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand just worked as a igniter. The war expanded so quickly because of the treaty between the European powers. There were tensions between the countries way before the assassination. Germany and Britain was in a big rivalry between their naval military. Industrialization also influenced the rivalry between competing countries. “Public Pressure” also influenced the war in huge margin. “The Bulkan War” also played a big role in shaping the Great War.

  3. Fuad Hamid permalink
    November 24, 2012 10:53 pm

    The world war would have most likely happened even if the archduke wasn’t assassinated because there were many tensions between the European countries such as France and Germany’s grudge over the Franco- Prussian war. There were many alliance within Europe such as the triple entente and triple alliance. If one country engaged in war, then their allied countries were obligated to assist them and there were so much turmoil between European countries that anything could have triggered the war. When u take into account all of the African, Asian, and ottoman territories that the Europeans owned, as well as their neighboring countries it would have reached a full scale world war anyway.

  4. aaron ahdut permalink
    November 27, 2012 6:59 pm

    The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian assassin, Gavrilo Princi in my opinion was not the main reason for the outbreak of the first world war. I think that the war would have still taken place even if he didn’t get killed. There were many uncertainty in Europe at that time. France was angry because they lost a lot of land in the war against Prussia. Germany wanted to become a powerhouse. There were also a lot of alliances being formed. This could be the main reason why most of the world went into war rather then just Austria and Serbia. I’m sure there would have still been a war in Europe. If not Austria and Serbia then it would be Germany, France, Italy or maybe even Russia. This war between the Europeans would cause countries to defend there alias, which would create a domino affect and would in term start world war one.

  5. Ebru Oktayer permalink
    December 1, 2012 2:58 pm

    The assassination of the Archduke was a catalyst to the growing tensions in the region. It led to the choosing of sides by the countries and Europe and incited a nationalistic response by their populations. It was an epic war of record casualties that led to the change of Europe and its boundaries. While the assassination did indeed jump start the war, it was by no means its cause. The tensions between the ethnic groups throughout the various empires were unavoidable and it was only a matter of time before they boiled over. The alliances that existed pre-war led to the involvement of 32 nations, an unprecedented number in a war.

  6. shahid khan permalink
    December 5, 2012 3:50 am

    I think the the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian assassin named Gavrilo Princip was the main cause for the World War I to break out but it was still possible it would have happened because of all the tensions between all the countries within Europe. What really quickly expanded the war so rapidly was nationalism, the treaties between European empires which were the Triple Entente and the Central Powers, imperialism- countries were competing to colonize more areas to expand their boundaries but only fewer areas of the world were left, and militarism- because of national protection and defense, countries feared the powerful countries will rule.
    – Shahid Khan

  7. Andrew Laperuta permalink
    December 9, 2012 10:20 pm

    There was great tension between the Austro-Hungarian empire and the neighboring kingdom of Serbia. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand had surfaced all the tensions and erupted the war. it was sort of a way to start the war. Without the assassination the war would have probably still gone on. But this allowed to war to start up faster than it would have if the assassination would not have taken place.

  8. Omar Algamoos permalink
    December 10, 2012 3:51 am

    I believe the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was defiantly the cause of World War 1. Tensions between Serbia and Austria-Hungary were escalating and a stunt like this was defiantly set up. I am still confused on whether it was setup by Austria-Hungary in an attempt to bring Serbia back into its empire or by the Serbian government so they can extend their lands to Austria-Hungary for better trade, knowing Germany would eventually help. I know that Serbians were a very proud bunch of people who were full of nationalism and fight, which makes me believe that the government didn’t set it up, instead it was set up by a bunch of wanna-be -self-proclaimed Mafia freedom fighters.

  9. Seon Samuel permalink
    December 17, 2012 3:37 am

    In any conflict now matter how great or small, there must always be that simple spark that gets the great fire going. I dont believe the assassination of the Archduke was necessarily the main reason why World War I erupted but rather that it simply got it going. There were many underlying factors that play a major role in the eruption of World War I. So in turn I believe the same type of war would have happen if it were to be initiated another way. The many conflicts of decisions and also relations between states, and ideologies that were adapted by some of the states allowed for this rapid expansion. Most countries saw it as an opportunity to attack a state that they had some sort of grievance against without initiating a separate war of their own.

  10. Khansa Mansoor permalink
    December 17, 2012 4:22 pm

    Personally, I think that the assassination of the Archduke was not what caused WWI. There was already a lot of tension in Europe and the assassination of the archduke just set everything off. It was only a way to actually start the war but it was not what had caused it. Countries were trying to expand (imperialism) and there was also a lot of nationalism (pride for ones country). SInce there were so many treaties formed between countries, that when the war erupted, there were only two sides to be on- the Central Powers or Allies. I believe that even if the archduke was not assassinated, something might have happened later on (since there were already tensions within the countries) to set everything off and for a war to erupt.

  11. Richard Cabral permalink
    December 18, 2012 4:40 am

    Even without the Archdukes assassination WWI would have still occurred in some sense. With all the alliances that European nations had any other conflict could have started it. There is also the thought that death wouldn’t have even needed to cause it, some sort of interest that could be threatened could have escalated into war, and with the alliances it would cause war. As Teddy said the web of Alliances is what lead up to the possibility of a war on this scale.

  12. Joseph DeAngelo permalink
    December 18, 2012 11:30 am

    I think that the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was the cause for World War I, yet there are indisputable factors that come into play as forerunners for the Great War. One obvious one is nationalism: with a great deal of imperialism there was hotly debates on whose land is whose as well as internal conflicts between nations as well, primarily near the Balkans. With so many national alliances, once Austria-Hungary and Serbia declared war , it seemed like all the other countries in the world were just waiting to get into the global problem. The domino-effect came into play and months after the assassination virtually the entire world was at war. However, there was a imminent sense of global war in the air during the early 1900s so regardless of the assassination taking place, a war would have happened. The assassination did spark the war and led to numerous other deaths and casualties.

  13. rahman muzaffar permalink
    December 19, 2012 1:22 am

    I don’t think that the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was the main reason for the war to start, and even if he was not killed, a war would have eventually started. Before the event, many problems were already rising in Europe because of Nationalism. It was just that Ferdinand’s assisination that just sparked the war. The reason for other countries to join in the war was becasue Russians were supporting Serbia and Germany decided to help Austria. France and Russia had an alliance so they were pulled into the war, which led to events in other countries and became a World War.

  14. ezra Pichotto permalink
    December 19, 2012 7:34 pm

    I like the ideas that sion brings up. As it was that entire region was called the “powder keg of Europe ” in my opinion war was bound to start. The assination of the Archduke was simply an excuse to start fighting. There were many other factors such as the decline of the ottoman empire. During the time befor the war the ottoman empire was on its last leg. Other factors such as nationalism also contributed to the war many empires were simply to large and diverse. There was a lot of ethnic tension between various races. Another reason was imperialism, countries were waiting to takeover other colonies. There were many different alliances and treaties which caused the war to get out of hand. Furthermore advances in weaponry such as the invention and perfection of the machine gun and the first use of chemical weapons in war.

  15. Xing Hui Lu (Richard) permalink
    December 20, 2012 12:24 am

    Without the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, I believe there would have been a war but not as bloody because the two countries already had negative tensions toward each other. I would have been something more like the cold war. World War I was essentially childish fight because of countries backing up countries because of agreements made prior to the situations. It was something like a domino effect where one country fell for war then another would.

  16. Stephanie Tsoi permalink
    December 20, 2012 1:52 am

    With or without the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand the war would have still went on. This was a planned assassination and the serbs knew that by doing this it would start a world war with the Austro-Hungarian empire. The reason for the hatred among the Austro-Hungarians was because of the annexation of 1908. The serbs wanted to start a war to begin with, and this would be the perfect time to start it. This was not the only reason why the Great War was going to erupt, sooner or later it would have eventually happen. Some of the reasons that led to this was was intense nationalism, ethnic resentments, the pursuit of the economic interests and a general struggle over the balance of power in Europe.

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