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Events Leading to World War I (2 minutes)

The League of the Three Emperors between Austria-Hungary, Russia and Germany failed due to disagreements over the Balkans. Germany and Austria-Hungary formed the Dual Alliance in 1879 to counter Russia’s influence in the Balkans. In 1882, this alliance was expanded to include Italy and was called the Triple Alliance. As the complex web of political and military alliances continued the Triple Entente emerged consisting of the United Kingdom, France and Russia. In 1908-1909 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia Herzegovina, which it had occupied since 1878, this angered Serbia, the Pan-Slavic movement and Russia. This led to the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) fought by Balkan states over the remnants of the Ottoman Empire. Austria-Hungary threatened to take territorial gains made by Serbia but neither Germany nor Italy supported this action and Austria-Hungary backed down. When Austria-Hungary supported Bulgaria’s claim against Serbia they angered Romania who joined Italy and Serbia in calling for the independence of territories in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

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In June 1914 Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the heir to the Habsburg throne, was assassinated in Sarajevo in Bosnia Herzegovina by a nationalist. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia after offering Serbia a ridicules ultimatum that was not accepted. This prompted Russia to order partial mobilization of its army. Germany then mobilized its army, followed by France. Map Of Austria And Czech Republic Map Of Austria And Germany Germany declared war on

Russia; the United Kingdom declared war on Germany.

The war began pitting the Allied (Entente) Powers against the Central Powers (Triple Alliance) with Italy switching sides and many other nations joining the conflict.

World War I: 1914-1918 (1 minute)

The Austro-Hungarian army was ill prepared for the war and abandoned plans to conquer Serbia instead protecting the German invasion of France against Russian intervention. Austria-Hungary became subservient to the Germany initiative in the war. In May 1915 when Italy entered the war on the side of the allies Austria-Hungary faced added difficulties. Emperor Franz Josef I died on November 21, 1916 leaving his ill prepared 29 year old grandnephew Charles I (1916-1918) in charge. Austria-Hungary made attempts to get out of the war but they were unable to extract themselves from the Dual Alliance with Germany. Matters turned worse when Russia fell to the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 and when the United States entered the war. Before the war ended the Czechs, Poles and South Slavs were demanding their independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Austria responded by renouncing its Empire before the end of the war.

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