100 years ago today a group of Serbian conspirators managed to kill Franz Ferdinand, the archduke of Austria-Hungary and the heir to the throne, and his wife. They were the first of many, many deaths that would come in the next four years, as this was the start of World War One.
I’ve said before that World War One is the single most important event of the 20th century, and I still believe that. It not only laid the groundwork for World War Two (and, indeed, one can argue it was all the same war, with a protracted cease-fire in the middle), but it also enabled the Communist revolution in Russia, thus laying the groundwork for similar uprisings in various other countries, as well as the groundwork for the Cold War, as well as setting the stage for all the current problems in the Middle-East, the problems in the Balkans in the 1990s, etc, etc. It’s also why 1912 was the most important US Presidential election.
It all started because of Serbian nationalism. The Serbs had had the fires of nationalism stoked for a couple of decades, and actually believed they could fight and win in a war against Austria-Hungary. For comparison’s sake, this would be like Denmark deciding they could win a war against Germany. It was a terrible mistake, and it led to the assassination, which then led to World War One.
For more information on the war and America’s eventual role in it, check out these two videos.
And for a bit of a cry…