One hundred years ago this past June, a Serbian anarchist named Gavrilo Princip fired his revolver into an open car on Franz Josef Street in Sarajevo, killing the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife, Duchess Sophie. The next month brought forth a debacle of international diplomacy, culiminating in the Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia, with the German invasion of Belgium soon to follow. 9 million soldiers and 7 million civilians would die before armistice four years later, largely due to horrific consequences of armies attempting to conduct 19th century warfare against 20th century weapons.
I have been listening, reading, and viewing a lot of material this summer related to the war. I don’t contend to be even marginally knowledgeable about this conflict, but I have been fascinated by the metaphorical crossroads that World War One represents – a transition from agrarian to mechanized societies, a transition from the “nobility of war” with its codes of conduct to mass slaughter, a transition from armies of professional cavalry to mass conscription of civilian armies, and a transition from war fought in meadows to war that consumed an entire continent. It is perhaps the event that most singularly crystallizes the advance into the modern age. To that end, Gavrilo Princip may be the man more responsible for modernity than any other.
These are links to some of the material that I found most helpful in developing a deeper understanding of the events of 1914-1918.