|War of 1914|
Serbian infantry, waiting for battle with Austro-Hungarians
|Commanders and leaders|
| Nicholas II|| Franz Joseph I|
The War of 1914 (also called the First Slavic War and the Summer's War) was a war centered in Eastern Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 September the same year. It involved the Russian Empire and her Slavic allies against the Empire of Austria-Hungary. The war had not involved the two major alliances at the time (the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance), but the war caused the de jure dissolution of the Triple Alliance.
On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian-Serb student, assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, Bosnia. Wanting to finally end Serbian interference in Bosnia, Austria-Hungary delivered the July Ultimatum to Serbia, a series of ten demands intentionally made unacceptable, intending to provoke a war with Serbia.
Austro-Hungarian officials expected Germany and Italy of the Triple Alliance to go to war alongside them if Serbia didn't comply with the ultimatum. However, the Germans were less than willing to go to war; war against Serbia would most certainly mean war against Russia, and war against Russia would mean war against France and the Triple Entente. France had heavily reinforced and fortified both of their borders with Germany, Alsace-Lorraine to the south and Wallonia to the north. A war with France would be futile.
German officials heavily advised Austria-Hungary not to go to war with the Serbians, warning they would remain neutral if war were declared. Serbia was relatively willing to keep the peace, and ended up agreeing to eight of the ten demands. Emperor Wilhelm II was pleased, and urged the Austro-Hungarian emperor to avoid conflict. However, unbeknownst to Wilhelm, Austria-Hungary already signed a declaration of war before the Serbian response was given. The declaration was ratified, and war was officially declared, on 28 July 1914, despite Germany's warning. Emperor Wilhelm II stayed true to his word; Germany would remain neutral in the conflict. Italy also chose to remain neutral as the war was considered offensive, and their alliance was defensive in nature.
Course of the war
On the 28th, mobilization against Serbia began. The Austrian military wanted to attack Serbia as quickly as possible to cripple them early in the war, trying to ensure their win to cause them to sue for peace. Several attempts were made to get Austrian troops across the Serbian border, however many were forced back or had retreated.
The largest problem for the Austrians was the Danube. Crossing the Danube at the right location would mean reaching Belgrade directly, after which the troops would only be left with the city's defense forces. However, the Austrians did not have the means to get enough troops across the river, nor did they have the help from any other nation to keep Serbian forces busy elsewhere.
The primary source of Austrian forces sent to Serbia came from Bosnia. However, Bosnian nationalists had been aided by the Serbians, who were fiercely pushing the Austrians back. In-fighting between Austrian forces and insurgents were common, and caused the weakening of the attacks on the Serbian border. Austrian attacks did not far enough to cause an early Serbian defeat, and the Austrians were getting desperate.
In early August, the Austrian government sent envoys to Bulgaria, offering them an alliance and a partition of Serbia. However, with the crushing defeats by the Serbians alone (without Russian assistance) making headlines, and the risk of another crushing conflict in the Balkans, Bulgaria denied the offer.
After Austria declared war on Serbia, Russian troops needed time to mobilize their troops. Russia's main priority was defending Serbia, and several thousand reinforcements were sent to Serbia to keep the Austrians away from the capital. Troops also, however, mobilized at the Austro-Russian border at Galicia. On 12 August, Russians advanced into Galicia and began attacking. Austrians quickly organized, and in less than two days, began defending the land.
The brutal campaigns in Galicia and in the south drained Austria of many of their resources. The Germans would continue trade with the Austrians--admittedly the only nation in Europe to do so--but would not supply them ammunition.
Not only were resources depleting, but nationalist campaigns started growing in the Austro-Hungarian Empire with the increasing number of military losses and war morale. Soon, Czech and Slovak nationalists began protesting in Vienna, leaving the government in chaos.
By September, Russian and Serbian fleets had defeated the Austrians on both fronts. They began marching towards Vienna to seize the city. With the country against him, his enemies rushing after his capital, and his health diminishing, the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I and his heir presumptive Charles fled the Empire to Germany. On the 11th of September, the Austrian government surrendered, ending the war.
The war had officially ended with the Treaty of Vienna, which stated that Russia would gain Galicia and Serbia would gain Bosnia, however Bosnia would only remain under Serbian control and would not be annexed.
The rise of nationalism in the country caused panic in the government. After the abdication of the Emperor, and after weeks of discussion, they decided to satisfy the different ethnic groups in the empire by organizing the states by the ethnic population, similar to the United States of Greater Austria plan proposed years earlier. The borders were redrawn, the nation ratified a new Constitution outlining the deposition of the monarchy, and the nation soon became the United States of Austria. Elections for the presidency occurred the following year.
After the war, the Austrian government felt betrayed by the German and Italian for not aiding them in the war, despite the alliance they shared. The alliance soon dissolved, and the three nations parted ways. Austria and Germany had a tense relationship, and the two governments tried to avoid war with other nations at all costs. The remainder of the 20th century in the great nations of Europe saw attempts at peace and a reestablishment of relations with other powers.