We all learned in history class that the shooting of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo started WWI also known as the ‘Great War’. True? Yes and no. It certainly hastened it but the plans that would lead up to WWI had already been drawn up some ten years earlier. The Schlieffen plan, updated and modernized by Moltke (Google it) was the ‘fore-runner’, so-to-speak, with an eye on how Germany could defeat France and Russia.
The Archduke Franz Ferdinand had married Sophie, a Czech-born countess, – her bloodline not being good enough for the aristocratic houses of Europe, but they were very much in love. The treatment of Sophie before they were married caused Franz Ferdinand to be antagonistic towards the Slavic countries.
The shots that killed both of them were actually the second assassination attempt on the same day, June 28th 1914, one-hundred years ago. After the official part of the day the couple was on route to the hospital to visit the wounded from the earlier unsuccessful bomb attack. The driver made a wrong turn – someone alerted him about it and he stopped right in front of the Serb assassin Gavrilo Princip, who fired those two fatal shots from just four feet away. The assassinations changed the world.
WWI and the Russian Revolution in 1917 gave us Lenin and Stalin and, in a way, later also Adolf Hitler. The peace treaties signed at Versailles in 1918 paved the way towards WWII since the conditions were so severe that the defeated Germany could not meet its obligations.
Read my account of the ensuing years in my book “We Don’t Talk About That”.