On this day in 1914, some 33 days after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie, “The Great War” finally erupts. Many people of Europe greeted the outbreak of war with jubilation as most patriotically assumed that their country would be victorious within months.
The Anti-Serb protests and riots that had followed the murders throughout Austria-Hungary in the wake of the assassination had their desired effect, as ripples of chaos coursed over a tenuous web of accords, national ambitions, relative economic deprivation and royal blood feuds. This in turn set the Triple Alliance of Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Italy against Serbia’s allies in the Triple Entente of Russia, France, and Britain. Multiple other nations, including Belgium, the Ottoman Empire and ultimately, the United States, were inexorably drawn into the monster fray.
The First World War left a legacy of over 40 million total military and civilian casualties; 20 million deaths and 21 million wounded. This total number of deaths included 9.7 million military personnel and not less than 10 million civilians, with Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France, and Great Britain each losing nearly a million lives or more.
The four years of slaughter ensuing after the first shots from the Guns of August saw introduction of the machine-gun, long-range artillery, aircraft, poison gas, armored tank, and other grisly tools to the business of killing. And the bitter peace that followed provided the incubator for a far deadlier and purely evil conflagration 20 years later.