107 years ago today, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy issued an ultimatum to Serbia in response to the assassination of Franz-Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian throne, which had been committed by a Bosnian Serb on June 28, 1914. Serbia had been held responsible for the assassination, the ultimatum itself had been issued for fulfilment within 48 hours. ailure to fulfil threatened a declaration of war. The demands, approved by Germany, had been deliberately formulated so sharply by Austria that complete fulfilment was considered unlikely. Serbia fulfilled a large part of the demands within these 48 hours, but not the entirety. Thus, in the context of this escalation of tensions between the European Great Powers known as the July Crisis, the threatened declaration of war was issued on July 28th, 1914. Due to treaty obligations among the European Great Powers, further declarations of war followed in the next few days until the final state of the fronts was reached: The Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy) against the Triple Entente (France, United Kingdom, Russia), with the Triple Alliance still to expand to the Central Powers and the Entente to a large alliance of Allies including the USA who joined the war in 1917.
Thus began the First World War, which was to last until 11.11.1918 and cost 17 million people their lives. In total, almost 70 million people were under arms, participating in the trench and positional warfare of World War I and witnessing the first uses of modern weapons of mass destruction such as mustard gas. The War Guilt Question, which was ascribed solely to Germany in the Treaty of Versailles, is still one of the most controversial and emotionally debated question in German history research.