You surely not missed it yesterday, we all talked about the hundredth anniversary of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. It was the needle that burst the abscess of European rivalry built up during the last 50 years. 50 years of humiliation for France (that have lost two territories to Prussian Empire), of colonial expansion of Europe overseas (United Kingdom was rightfully boasting that the Sun was never setting in its Empire), of technological prowess in Europe (invention of airplanes, telephone and electricity; Germany was the flagship in chemistry) but also a time where old Empires were grasping their last breath (Ottoman Empire was referred as the “old sick man”; The Russia’s Romanov was standing on one “hemophilic” leg; China Empire was under unrest…).
Rivalry was its best. Nationalism was its height. The atmosphere was saturated with gasoline, just waiting for a spark to blow the “Europe family” away. Two camps: The Triplice (Prussia, Austria-Hungary-Italy) and The Triple Entente (France, UK, Russia), one single spark needed.
And this single spark was Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist that in retaliation to the annexation of the Balkans into the Austro-Hungarian Empire, setup the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.
The rest is history. Franz Ferdinanz in a gesture of ambition decided to parade in Sarajevo in an open car, an obvious amateurism in terms of security, and a myth that Princip got the golden opportunity by missing a sandwich, and two shots. Both the Archiduke and Dutchess shot dead.
Then the gears of war went on. Austria-Hungary threatens Serbia, Russia warns Austria-Hungary of any retaliation to Serbia, Prussia declares war to Russia, France and UK declares to Prussia….