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Tuesday 28 November 2023 Dublin: 1°C
to war

Today marks 100 years since the beginning of the First World War

Within a week all the European superpowers were locked in conflict.

World War One - Kaiser Wilhelm II - Battle of the Somme PA Archive / Press Association Images Kaiser Wilhelm II witnesses the Battle of the Somme. PA Archive / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

100 YEARS AGO, as today, global superpowers were engaged in an game of brinkmanship that found an outlet in local conflicts in Eastern Europe.

Now, the stage is in Ukraine, but it 1914 it was in the Balkans and today marks the centenary of the day that World War I effectively commenced.

On 28 July 1914, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia and, within the space of a week, the five major powers in Europe were all at war.

The declaration of war happened a month to the day after Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were assassinated by a Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo.

Austria was unhappy with the Serbian response to the killing and, after being reassured of the backing of its its ally Germany, proceeded with a military response.

Russia had promised support to Serbia and the following day Germany and Russia were at war, activating alliances between France and Britain that saw them enter the conflict.

Unlike the Second World War when there was no large-scale engagement between the dominant powers for months, the First World War saw almost immediate action with Germany invading Luxembourg and Belgium witnin five days.

Today’s centenary follows that of the the assassination last month in what will be regular commemorations of the events that shaped the the Great War.

The anniversary of the battle’s of Marne in September will be recognised as the anniversary of the first historically significant major engagement of the war. The open field battle was the last such of the war and once it had finished the trench warfare associated with the war had been established.

Read: WWI recruitment posters feature on new An Post stamps >

Read: Remembering the 1,000 Limerick soldiers who died during World War I >

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