Getting to the Guns of August: July 28, 1914, Austria declared war on Serbia


Troops in World War I - National Archives

Troops in World War I - National Archives

According to the Associated Press, today is the anniversary of the declaration of war that really got World War I started:  Austria declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914.

Serbian nationalists assassinated Austrian Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofie in Sarajevo, the traditional Serbian capital then held by Austria, the previous June.  After a summer of demands on Serbia by Austria, which Serbia could not or would not meet, Austria declared war.

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5 Responses to Getting to the Guns of August: July 28, 1914, Austria declared war on Serbia

  1. Ellie says:

    Ed, I’m not sure how long ago this was. It was part of a huge exhibit of Sargent’s works at the BMFA. I’m thinking maybe 15 years ago? As an aside, I wish I were there. There’s a Chihuly exhibit going on right now.

    Sargent was commissioned to do a painting to be part of an exhibit at the then planned Hall of Remembrance. This commission came through an invitation from the British War Memorials Committee and from Lloyd George in 1918. The painting was to show the cooperation of American and British troops.

    He travelled to the front and at first had a difficult time finding a subject that didn’t seem artificial and posed. He then witnessed the condition of victims of mustard gas attacks. Sargent supposed that the survivors of the gas attacks would encompass both British and American soldiers. He painted the soldiers in groups as he himself saw them brought in.

    I know it took him several months to paint. It is oddly yellow, with an almost surreal look. It is certainly not the typical Sargent painting, but it is worth seeing in person should you ever have the opportunity.
    Oh, and E. M. Forster didn’t like it. He said it looked too “heroic,” I have no idea what he meant. There is no heroism there, just suffering and IMO, an example of human compassion and cooperation in a time of great need.

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  2. Ed Darrell says:

    Ellie, the original Sargent painting is 20 feet by 7-1/2 feet – it was on tour in America, and I missed it?

    I think the painting is a stunner. It ought to be in the Texas TEKS, but it’s not.

    What else can you tell us about it?

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  3. Woody says:

    And Russia begins mobilization to honor its treaty with Serbia. And Germany begins mobilizing to honor its treaty with Austria and to protect itself aganist France, because of the treaty between France and Russia. And England begins mobilizing because of its understanding with France, where France protects English interests in the Mediterranean and England looks out for France in north. Bang! The US steps in to be sure Germany-Austria are thoroughly humiliated, then skips town. Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Imperial Japan. Happy Anniversary Saravejo!

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  4. Ellie says:

    I know they aren’t really related, but the first thing I thought of when I saw the photo was John Singer Sargent’s painting Gassed. I saw it some years ago when it was on loan to the BMFA. This was a reminder of that massive and very powerful painting.

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  5. Pangolin says:

    How that led to trench warfare in the fields of France is not something that is easily or logically explained. The only thing that comes to mind is that aspirations to empires by ruling elites had rendered them all totally delusional.

    It’s this kind of behavior that is really worrisome when you see a large political faction denying basic scientific facts like evolution and climate change.

    How deeply delusional are they? Do they not believe in nuclear radiation? Are they a little woozy on the biology of germs and viral diseases? (ok, they tend to batshit insane on biology but the point is still valid)

    What bit of reality are they ignoring that is going to cost us a few million lives.

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