Today in history memory: Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, July 28, 1914


101 years ago today. Let us remember, and never forget.

Wikipedia photo and caption: Austro-Hungarian troops executing captured Serbians, 1917. Serbia lost about 850,000 people during the war, a quarter of its pre-war population.

Wikipedia photo and caption: Austro-Hungarian troops executing captured Serbians, 1917. Serbia lost about 850,000 people during the war, a quarter of its pre-war population.

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 South slav nationalists assassinated Austrian Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofie in Sarajevo, the traditional a 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.

As more nations declared war on each other through August and the rest of 1914, most people expected it to be a “short” war.

Peace is difficult. It must be worked on every day. But war is disaster.

More:

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

5 Responses to Today in history memory: Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, July 28, 1914

  1. Ed Darrell says:

    Looking at World War I from the view of oil only, one can make a case that it was a war about oil. It’s important to consider the resources involved, and WHY European nations were trying to carve up the rest of the world into camps supporting one or another European nation, I think.

    But that view misses a lot of what happened on the ground in Europe, and everywhere else.

    Archduke Ferdinand was not assassinated to get his oil holdings. Serbia was not occupied solely to get its oil holdings. Navies around the world were not yet shifted wholly to oil from coal (there are great stories about Winston Churchill and Theodore Roosevelt pushing that shift in their respective navies when they were younger men in charge of such stuff, and that adds a lot to the “war-as-a-tool-of-oil policy” narrative, perhaps).

    Especially, I think that view doesn’t explain why the powers competing over oil, in Europe, went to war with each other when they nominally had access to enough oil in other places (with the possible exceptions of France and England). And especially it does not explain why peoples in lands with oil united with their nominal oppressors to defend those holdings from others.

    World War I was death spasm from the late-19th century period of imperialism. Whale oil was rapidly being replaced by petroleum products. Internal combustion engines had not pushed animal power out of the picture (think of “War Horse,” and the reality of the massive number of horses used in the war in Europe).

    And at the end of the war, European nations with the power to do so divided up oil-rich lands to the best of their ability, giving the better resources to the victors and depriving them from the people who we might argue had better title to the oil from their having occupied those lands.

    I think one can make a better case that World War II was the first great oil war, with Japan’s attack on the U.S. triggered by the U.S. having cut off oil flow to the Japanese war machine. Oddly, perhaps, in 1941 the U.S. was the world’s largest producer and exporter of petroleum.

    In the end, this stuff is almost inside baseball, I think. But inside baseball is important to understanding the game, and I wish more people could present history as entertainingly as Robert Newman. His accuracy isn’t nearly so bad as the inaccuracies demanded by the Texas GOP and State Board of Education. And he dresses much more entertainingly.

    There is much to be said for history being presented in a way that makes people smile, even history that leans too far to the left (Newman), or right (can’t think of anyone on the right who has a sense of humor that goes beyond racist inflammation).

    Other readers may want to start out with this review of Newman’s show from the Guardian. Newman’s own website notes he’s moved on to other areas, including a forthcoming book and radio series on evolution, The Entirely Accurate Encyclopedia of Evolution (want to bet there’s a lot of discussion of sex?).

    You might also want to take at look at that same history from a more righty-capitalist view. See Daniel Yergin’s The Prize, and especially his Commanding Heights and the accompanying PBS film/website complex — from 2001, and particularly informative now in the things it did not anticipate.

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Paul.

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  2. Paul says:

    I came across this explanation of WW1 …. Robert Newman – History of Oil https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=14&v=GIpm_8v80hw

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  3. Ed Darrell says:

    Thanks, Dean Meservy. Edits okay?

    Like

  4. Dean Meservy says:

    Sarajevo was never the traditional capital of Serbia. You may be thinking of Stefan Dušan’s medieval Serbian capital of Skopje, now the capital of Macedonia. Sarajevo never belonged to Serbia. Bosnia was its own Kingdom until absorbed by the Ottomans.

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  5. Dean Meservy says:

    One correction, if I may: Gavrilo Princip was a Serb, but he was not a Serbian nationalist. Rather, he was what you might call (and until the 1990s Balkan Wars, we did call) a Yugoslav nationalist. He and his cohorts wanted to unite the Serbo-Croatian speaking peoples, then scattered among several countries, into their own land. While Serbian intelligence, for its own purposes, aided the assassins, the latter were not loyal to Serbia. Indeed, their goal was at odds with Serbian nationalism, since it aimed to (and ultimately did) create a rival national loyalty.

    Thanks for your great website.

    Like

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