Unit 4: WWI
The spark that leads
to war...
• How did ethnic tensions in the
Balkans spark a political
• How did conflict between
Austria-Hungary and Serbia
• How do historians view the
outbreak of World War I?
Assassination in Sarajevo
In 1914, Archduke Francis
Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary
announced he would visit
Sarajevo, the capital of
• At the time, Bosnia was
under the rule of AustriaHungary. But it was also
the home of many Serbs and
other Slavs.
News of the royal visit angered
many Serbian nationalists.
They viewed Austrians as
foreign oppressors.
The date chosen for the
archduke’s visit was a
significant date in Serbian
history. On that date in
1389, Serbia had been
conquered by the Ottoman
empire. On the same date in
1912, Serbia had freed itself
from Turkish rule.
•Members of a Serbian
terrorist group (THE
BLACK HAND) assassinated
the Archduke and his
How did this conflict
• After the assassination of the
archduke, Austria sent Serbia
an ultimatum, or final set of
• Serbia agreed to most, but not
all, of the terms of Austria’s
ultimatum. As a result,
Austria declared war on Serbia.
• Germany offered full support to
Austria-Hungary. Instead of urging
restraint, the kaiser (German title
meaning “emperor”) gave Austria a
“blank check.”
Serbia sought help from Russia, the
champion of Slavic nations.
Austria refused to soften its demands,
Russia began to mobilize (to make
ready for war).
• Germany responded by declaring war
on Russia.
Russia appealed to its ally
France. France offered full
support to Russia, prompting
Germany to declare war on France.
• Italy and Great Britain remained
uncommitted at first. Italy
chose to remain neutral for the
time being.
• NEUTRALITY is a policy of
supporting neither side in a
• Great Britain had to decide
whether or not to support its
ally, France. Germany’s war
plans suddenly made the decision
• THE SCHLIEFFEN PLAN: Years earlier
General Alfred von Schlieffen had
come up with a plan of attack
against France. It was designed to
avoid a “two-front” war (France in
the west and Russia in the east).
• Schlieffen reasoned that Russia
would be slow to mobilize and so the
plan was to attack France quickly,
and fight Russia later.
• The Schlieffen plan called for
German troops to march through
Belgium. Great Britain had
signed a treaty guaranteeing
Belgian neutrality. THUS—Great
Britain declared war on
The Historians’ View
How could an assassination lead to
all-out war in just a few weeks?
Today, most historians agree that all
parties must share blame.
Each of the great powers believed
that its cause was just.
Once the machinery of war was set
in motion, it seemed impossible to
Although leaders made the
decisions, most people on both sides
were equally committed to military
WWI as a Snowball
Imagine that a little kid
threw a snowball at a
bully one day.
What do you think would
The bully would “go after” the
Now, let’s say that the
little kid had a big
brother. What do you think
the big brother would do?
Stand up for the little
Great. In this situation,
the little kid is Serbia,
the bully is AustriaHungary and the big
brother is Russia.
Now, let’s say the
initial bully had a
bigger friend who was
also a bully. What do
you think that friend
would do?
Go after the big brother (Russia).
• Right, the bigger bully is Germany.
The other
Now, let’s say that the
bigger bully (Germany) had
hurt another kid the
previous week. This kid
had his glasses broken and
is still mad at the bigger
bully. He sees the bully
get into the fight, what
would he do do?
Join up with Russia.
That person is France.
joins up with
Now, let’s say that on the
way to getting this new kid,
the big bully throws a
snowball at another little
kid in the playground who’s
in the way. But this little
kid has a big brother too.
What do you think would
They would join in.
The little kid is Belgium and his big
brother is Great Britain.
Belgium: another
“bullied kid”