Assassination and Declaration of War
Despite the assassination order going through numerous channels (and is thought to have been called off) it still happened. Both the Archduke and his wife were shot dead by a 19-year-old Bosnian nationalist and Black Hand member; Gavrilo Princip. Rumors of the assassination may have been spread throughout the Serbian government. Black Hand members who knew about the plan were not completely convinced provoking the powerful Austrian Empire was a good idea.
Uncertainty that Russia would side with Serbia if Austria declared war as a result of the assassination, was a popularly held position. Without Russia, Serbia would most certainly be crushed. An Austrian-led investigation shed light on the Black Hand’s otherwise well-hidden operations. The chain of events leading to the assassination, including the transport of artillery and the assassins to the location of the event was completely revealed. Austrian authorities and Serb leaders yelled at one another over the situation. This caused little more than disdain.
No Way Out
It took five short days after the assassination of the Archduke before Austria officially declared war on Serbia. To further complicate things, the declaration enacted a Secret Treaty signed back in 1892. It tied France and Russia together. The two countries were economically invested with each other. The ruin of one would lead to the ruin of the other. Meanwhile, the Triple Alliance, another secret pact, tied Italy, Germany and Austria together.
On July 28, 1914, World War I officially began. The actions of the Black Hand plunged nations into a cataclysmic war that would echo through the 20th century. The First World War would last for four years and claim an estimate of 16 million to 37 million lives, becoming known as one of the deadliest conflicts the human race ever created.
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