How a regional conflict escalated into World War I

(ORDO NEWS) — When Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia in 1914, each of its allies quickly entered the fray. This was the reason that the conflict grew into a world confrontation between the powers.

Tragic events might not have happened if at the beginning of the 19th century in Europe there was no tension between two camps opposed to each other.

On June 28, 1914, Gavrila Princip, a member of the Young Bosnia revolutionary group, assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo.

The Archduke was the heir presumptive to the throne of Austria-Hungary, which annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina a few years ago.

“Young Bosnia” tried to overthrow the Austro-Hungarian government in the region and, with the help of Serbian nationalists, acquired weapons to start a revolution. Austria-Hungary discovered this connection and attacked Serbia a month after the assassination of the Archduke.

The reason why this regional conflict escalated into World War I, in which an estimated 20 million soldiers and civilians died, is something people have been arguing about ever since.

While there is no definitive answer, part of the reason that the regional military conflict has become so massive is due to the complex web of alliances that European countries forged with and against each other in the decades before.

Brother for brother

These alliances created a balance of power in Europe that some hoped would prevent military clashes. However, for the governments of many countries, the alliances left no choice but to join the regional conflict, which could otherwise die down rather quickly.

There were two main factions in World War I: the Central Powers, which included Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire, and the Allies, which included France, Britain, Russia, Italy, Japan, and later the United States. With the exception of Italy, which changed sides, most of these alliances were rooted in pre-war agreements.

Much of the hostility behind the two camps of World War I dates back to the events of 1870, when the German states (led by Prussia) thwarted a French attempt to reassert continental dominance.

After armed clashes, Prussia and other German states united to form the German Empire and entered into an alliance with neighboring Austria-Hungary. In 1882, the newly unified state of Italy joined Germany and Austria-Hungary to form the Triple Alliance.

Over the next few decades, European empires continued to forge alliances and informal agreements, competing for power and colonial territory around the world.

Both France and Russia gradually developed good relations with France’s historical rival, Great Britain, which led to the emergence of an Entente between the three countries. This Entente was not a military alliance, but it helped create rival camps in Europe.

It was the division of Europe into two large, in fact, opposing camps that became the reason that more and more parties began to get involved in the initially small regional conflict, which ultimately led to the First World War.


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