How Two Bullets Caused 20 Million Deaths
This essay will talk about how the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne lead to world war one which resulted in the death of 20 million people. The assassination was not the only event that caused world war one. There were four other main reasons: military, alliances, imperialism and nationalism. These also contributed to the start of world war one but in my opinion alliances were the main cause as they dragged everyone into the war.
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was a planned murder organised by Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence . He was the leader of the Black Hand Gang. This gang organised the killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The Black Hand Gang consisted of Mehmed Mehmedbasic, Vaso Cubrilovic, Nedelko Cabrinovic, Danilo Ilic, Cvjetko Popovic, Trifun Grabez and Gavrilo Princip. Some of these criminals were still going to college. Nedelko Cabrinovic, Trifun Grabez and Gavrilo Princip were all suffering from tuberculosis which was incurable so they decided to sacrifice themselves for the better of the nation. They considered themselves as martyrs. Gavrilo Princip was a man who believed in freedom for Serbia and that is why he met up with the Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence who had already organised a few assassinations and formed the Black Hand Gang. Gavrilo Princip recruited more members to help him. After a meeting which they discussed the killing they all swore on an oath of secrecy. This meant that they could not reveal identity of others if they were caught. On 28th June 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand planned to tour Sarajevo to meet his people. The Black Hand Gang could not have had a better opportunity to strike. On that day was the wedding anniversary of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenburg. So he had decided to take her out with him as a present as he had never done that before. He chose to travel in an open top car with his wife even after they security told him no because he was not loved by the people. This is was perfect for the Black Hand Gang. They positioned themselves on the route of the car of Archduke Franz Ferdinand as it had been published in the papers. They were all armed except Danilo Ilic, all he had was a pocket watch. As the cars started to go by the Nedelko Cabrinovic threw a grenade at Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s car. The driver saw this and sped up so the grenade missed. Also what Nedelko Cabrinovic had forgotten was that the grenade a 10 second timer. Nedelko Cabrinovic took cyanide and jumped into the river to confirm death but the cyanide was too weak and the river was only 4 inches deep! Due to the driver speeding up the others did not get the time to react so Archduke Franz Ferdinand reached the town hall unharmed. The members of the Black Hand Gang gathered up and were worried because if Nedelko Cabrinovic how was in police custody revealed their identity they would get caught but he didn’t. After their fail attempt Gavrilo Princip was famished so he went to a restaurant on Franz Josef Street to get a sandwich. After the meeting in the town hall in which Archduke Franz Ferdinand showed his anger, he decided to meet the injured people from the grenade explosion. After getting into the car which was still open top they started their journey. Due to recent events the driver of the car got confused and took a wrong turn straight into Franz Josef Street. As it happened to be Gavrilo Princip was coming out of the café. As the driver started to reverse, the gear stick jammed; Gavrilo Princip saw his opportunity and took out his gun and shot two bullets. One hit Sophie, Dutchess of Hohenburg in the stomach and the other hit Archduke Franz Ferdinand in the neck. They both were dead in 10 minutes. Gavrilo Pincip took the cyanide but again it was too weak so he tried to shoot himself but the guards prevented him and he was captured. Even after extreme torture like Nedelko Cabrinovic he maintained his oath of secrecy. Things look good for the Black Hand Gang and World War one was nowhere in sight until Danilo Ilic was caught and interrogated. He gave in and revealed everything. All the members of the Black Hand Gang were captured and sentenced in prison if they were below 20 or sentenced to death if they were above 20. Austria was really angry and world war one was on the brink of happening. Austria gave Serbia the ultimatum of war and World War one began.
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Another cause of World War one was militarism. This is the process of building up a stronger army to prepare for war. This was between Germany and the UK to see who has the most battleships and also between Germany, Russia and the France to expand their armies for war. Like Blackadder had said “It was too much a problem not to go to war”. This was because they troops kept on building up and soon there was way too many and the countries could not cope with such big armies doing nothing as it costs a lot to maintain an army. A lot of the taxpayers’ money had been spent into funding the army especially with Germany who wanted a war to conquer Europe. As the army kept on building so did the sense of power so the World War was inevitable. Germany wanted to be the strongest country in the world so they decided to compete with the other countries in army sizes to make sure that they were the strongest but other countries thought the same so they decided to compete as well and due to this army sizes trebled in one year and so did the navy. As it became costly they needed their army to be occupied so their money would come to use. To summarise militarism is the belief in having a strong army force and navy. This belief led to an arms race in Europe, which was when the countries were making more deadly weapons than their rival nations; Germany challenged Britain’s supremacy at sea by building submarines. Britain was an island nation and thus wanted to rule the waves. Militarism leads to suspicion and thus it was one of the causes. So after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, it became and excuse and the World War one started. Militarism worked hand in hand with imperialism which was another main cause of the World War one.
Imperialism is when a country takes over another country economically or politically. This was another cause was that European nations ruled smaller countries, called colonies, and competed with each other to amass more colonies. Gathering colonies became known as Imperialism. Both France and Britain had many colonies in Africa and Asia. France and England had acquired colonies which created much wealth for the mother country by the turn of the century. Colonies or areas under control or influence by the major powers provided wealth in the form of resources, markets, and military advantages. Now Germany and Italy decided they wanted a colonial empire too. They were jealous of the countries that had other places where they could gather raw materials and cheap labour. The attempts by them to acquired influence abroad led to conflicts between the major powers and the new comers. The defensive treaties made were an attempt by each nation to hold on to their foreign areas. Again Germany wanted more so they decided to take over Britain’s African empire and this really annoyed the British. Also the Russians wanted land, even though they were so big already so they decided to take the Balkans. Also one of the major reasons for bad relations amongst the nations of Europe in the years before 1914 was that they were engaged in a struggle to obtain overseas colonies. Although this happened in several areas of the world, the most dramatic changes took place in Africa. Many nations took part in what became known as the “Scramble for Africa”. The next few sentences will tell you what each country gained in Africa. Britain had managed to get some of the most valuable land in Africa. France had also built up a large colonial empire, mostly in the north west of Africa. Germany did not enter the race for colonies until very late and, as a result, much of the land gained was not very valuable. Italy did gain a few colonies but also had its failures. Belgium had an African colony – the Belgian Congo.
Countries being proud of themselves and their culture was another one of the main causes of World War one. Nationalism means pride or devotion in one’s country. This was an age when all nations wanted to assert their power and independence. In Europe Slavs, aided by Serbia and Russia, wanted to be free of Austrian rule. Another of the causes of nationalism was ancestral bonds. This includes Pan Slavism. This was the movement to unify all Serbians. Another one was Pan Germanism. This was a movement to unify all German speaking countries with the Germanic ones. Germanic countries included: Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Luxembourg, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. German speaking countries included: Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Ancestral bonds also led to Russia coming to the war. Nationalism was one of the reasons why the army sizes were so large because All sides made it seem as if you were not a true proud citizen if you were not somehow supporting the war effort. Often propaganda would include quotes that called out draft dodgers or depict scenes of young soldiers in heroic battles making others want to join them. Nationalism was not too big of a cause for the war but it did contribute. The next few lines will tell you how each country was nationalistic. Germany was a new nation wanting to exert itself on the international scene. They had a strong sense of pride in the country by its inhabitants and a real want from both the people and the Kaiser for Germany to build an Empire and become a 'Great Power'. It was this national desire to grow that led Germany to eye up the land to the East of its boarders. UK, At this point in history their British Empire was past its peak. There was a growing sense in the UK that the golden age was over and that (in the end) the colonies of the empire would all follow down the path of the United States. Despite this the population of the UK was still strongly nationalistic in an Imperial way. People felt proud of the empire and their position in the world. They wanted the UK to maintain its power and dominance over the seas. France were enraged with Germany ever since they had annexed Alsace and Lorraine there had been a growing nationalist movement in France based around the desire to get these territories back. People felt that France had been delivered a great snub by the German annexation of native French territory. The French government and people felt that war with Germany over this issue was inevitable and prepared as such for much of the early 20th century.
Alliances in my opinion were the major cause of the world war. Alliances were the reason the war had started because they dragged every country into the war. This all started when alliances were formed before the war started to secure power and remain safe. There were two alliances: The Triple Entente and The Triple Alliance. The Triple Entente consisted of Russia, UK and France. The Triple Alliance consisted of Germany, Austria- Hungary and Italy (who later change sides to ensure victory). Every country thought having alliances will prevent wars and will keep everyone safe but after The Austrian government blamed the Serbian government for the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife; and declared war on Serbia. Although Russia was allied with Serbia due to Pan Slavism, Germany did not believe that Russia would mobilise and offered to support to Austria if necessary. However, Russia did mobilise and, through their alliance with France, called on the French to mobilise. Mobilization was considered as act of war. Germany declared war on Russia and then Germany declared war on France. German troops poured into Belgium as directed under the Schlieffen Plan, drawn up in 1905. The British foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey, sent an ultimatum to Germany demanding their withdrawal from the neutral Belgium as they had an alliance with Belgium. Germany did not withdraw from Belgium and on 4th August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany. With Britain's entry into the war, her colonies and dominions abroad variously offered military and financial assistance, and included Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and South Africa. Japan declared war on Germany through its alliance with Great Britain, signed in 1902. Austria-Hungary responded by declaring war on Japan. Turkey extended help to German naval bombardment of Russia. As the Turks helped Germany, Russia declared War on Turkey. Britain and France, Russia's allies, declared war on Turkey, because of the help given to the German attack on Russia.
In conclusion I would like to say that the war had more than one cause. The long term causes were the military build-up, the imperialism and the nationalism. The short term causes were the alliances and the trigger cause was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. In my opinion I think the alliances were the major cause as they dragged everyone into war just because one country went into war so if it was not for the alliances then the war would not have occurred.