…a shot was fired, followed by another. It was the 4th of August 1914. Those shots killed two people, one of them a crowned head: Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, the other his wife. It set off a lot of uncountable other shots – millions killed in a war that was supposed to end all wars and we call it “The Great War”. Not so much because it was ‘great’ but for the fact that it involved the whole world and is referred to as WWI. Expected to last a few weeks or maybe a few months, it lasted four years and the outcome was one that nobody could have expected:
- the end of the Empire of the Habsburgs,
- the abdication of the German Emperor,
- the end of the Czar-ruled Russia,
- the rise of socialism, communism and, last, but not least,
- the rise of Adolf Hitler and his aim for a “Thousand-Year-Reich”.
Those shots changed the world.
History writers still argue about the real reason of WWI – but every single one is just speculating. We will never know. Those first shots were the “starter’s” shot for the war but the true reasons had been smouldering for years. Many books have been written on WWI and writers today are still trying to dig deeper. One of the most frequent questions in discussions is always the fact that the Archduke was not protected and then “was the plot planned, was he supposed to be killed? Who was behind it all, what was the real reason?”
We will never know. Maybe the WWI General Ludendorff was right when he stated: “Peace is just an interlude between wars.” Did the years between WWI and WWII prove this theory? In our part of the world, we have enjoyed a long period of peace but if we look at the horrors of war in the Middle East and the on-going strife in Ukraine, – I for one shake in my boots. Having lived and survived WWII, I would not like to see yet another with a number III attached to it.