Austria-Hungary was the power whose territorial ambitions played a large part in the coming of war in 1914. Although head of an increasingly fossilized and outdated regime, the Habsburg emperor Franz Josef was an expansionist. In 1914, his latest addition to the Austro-Hungarian Empire was Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bosnian Serbs resented Austrian rule and sought the protection of independent Serbia. It was one of these Bosnian Serb groups, the Black Hand, that assassinated the Crown Prince, Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Austria, egged on by her German allies, quickly sent Serbia an ultimatum and declared war on the 28th July 1914. A few days later, on August 1st, Germany declared war on Russia - seen as the champion of the Slav cause by Serbs, Russians and Germans alike. Austria declared War on Russia a few days later, followed by a declaration of war on Belgium on 7th August. By the end of the year, her association with Germany would see her at war with France, Britain and Japan, while her attack on Serbia also drew in Montenegro. The Austro-Hungarian Empire encompassed many peoples, and so did its army. Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Croats, Slovenes, Bosnians, Italians, Ruthenic and Jews fought in the army alongside the Austrians and Hungarians, and under Austrian and Hungarian officers.
After initial setbacks in Galicia (against the Russians) and Serbia, the Austrian army had more success in 1915, and by the middle of 1916 had conquered Serbia and Montenegro, pushed the Russians back from Poland and by the end of the year Romania had fallen to a combined German-Austrian-Bulgarian assault. Similarly, the Italian attacks on the South Tirol and the Isonzo river had been repeatedly repulsed.
The Czech Legion, captured by the Russians, was freed after the Russian surrender at the treaty of Brest-Litovsk. All 60,000 of them made their way from Siberia to the Russian Far East, where they declared themselves for the Allies and began to make their way back to Europe to...
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