The Literary Digest History of the World War/Chapter 1

The Outbreak and the Causes

Part I. Austria and Serbia

  1. The Tragedy at Serajevo and Austria's Ultimatum to Serbia
  2. Austro-Serbo-Montenegrin Fighting

Part II. Causes of the Greater Conflict, Near and Remote ...

Part III. Declarations of War Among the Powers ...

The Outbreak and the Causes

Part I. Austria and SerbiaEdit

I. The Tragedy at Serajevo and Austria's Ultimatum to SerbiaEdit

June 28, 1914–July 31, 1914


Immediately back of the incidental cause of the World War—that cause being the assassination of the Austrian Crown Prince, the Archduke Francis Ferdinand, and his wife at Serajevo, on June 28, 1914—lay the act of Austria in annexing in 1908, as an additional province of her empire, the Slavonic States, Bosnia and Herzegovina, an act contrary to the Berlin Treaty of 1878, which concluded the Russo-Turkish war. Protests were made by some of the Powers at the time of the annexation, but these were disregarded, or withdrawn. Serbia, the state most concerned, under pressure that made her powerless to protest further, directed her minister at Vienna, in March, 1909, to declare that “following the councils of the Powers,” she bound herself to “cease the attitude of protest and resistance which she had assumed,” and to “change the direction of her present policies toward Austria-Hungary, and, in future to live with the latter in friendly and neighborly relations.” Serbia's humiliation, as here exprest, was called “the price of European peace” at that time—but it meant peace for a time only. After the second Balkan War of 1913, by which Serbia nearly doubled her territory, Austria-Hungary saw a necessity for watching Serbia keenly. Serbia, naturally elated by her military successes, had been careful to avoid “knocking the chip off the shoulder” of her powerful neighbor. If traps were being laid for her Serbia was careful not to fall into them. Austria's occasion for striking at her finally came when the Archduke and his wife were assassinated in June, 1914.

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