1914: The Assassination of Franz Ferdinand
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The assassination of Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, by a Bosnian-Serb terrorist in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914, precipitated the July crisis that brought war to Europe.
Yet none of the great powers, in the days following the murder, believed it would lead to war. Extraordinarily, the Austro-Hungarian regime’s first reaction to the outrage was relief: the incumbent emperor Franz Joseph loathed the archduke, his nephew, and opposed the accession. In fact, as Paul Ham writes, in this extract from his book 1914: The Year the World Ended, Vienna used the murder to manufacture a case for war on Serbia – with the full support of Germany’s famous ‘blank cheque’ and reckless disregard for the consequences for Europe.