Which was the more important reason for the outbreak of the First World War in 1914: •
The assassination of Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo, or
The Schlieffen Plan?
You must refer to both sources when explaining your answer. (10 marks)
Assassination of Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo - 1914
Direct cause (short term) - spark
Shot by Gavrilo Princip (a member of the Black Hand – A Serbian nationalist group) on 28th June 1914. •
Thought to be because Bosnia had been taken over by Austria-Hungary and many Serbs were in Bosnia. •
Archduke Franz Ferdinand and wife Sophie were visiting Bosnia. Franz Ferdinand was heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and after the assassination; Austria-Hungary believed that it was Serbia’s way of wanting war with them. •
The assassination led to Austria-Hungary giving Serbia a 10 point Ultimatum that they were to agree to or Austria-Hungary threatened to declare war on Serbia. •
Serbia agreed to all but one (justice system), so Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. •
Serbia had Russia as an ally, so Russia declared war on Austria-Hungary. •
Austria-Hungary asked for Germany’s help and Germany assured Austria-Hungary (so-called “Blank Cheque”) and that links to the Schlieffen plan as it was then put into action.
The Schlieffen Plan - 1905
Middle/long term cause
“Lunch in Paris, dinner in St Petersburg” shows the confidence that the Kaiser had in this plan. •
The existence of the plan proved Germany’s intentions
Failure of plan brought other countries to readiness (a war footing) •
When the Franco-Russian alliance formed in 1893, Germany had a problem of what to do in the event of war on two fronts (Russia and France). In 1905 von Schlieffen came up with a plan as a solution to the problem. The Schlieffen plan involved going through neutral Holland and Belgium, as the French would be expecting an attack Alsace- Lorraine (the border they shared with Germany, and would have most of their army situated). It was predicted...
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