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28thJune 1914, Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by Garivo Princip, a member of the Serbian Black Hand terrorist organization, which connected the assignation to Serbia. Austria wanted to use the assassination as an excuse to annex Serbia, but they told Germany that they would be supportive of Serbia; they could not risk going at it alone. The Blank Cheque15thJuly, Germany offered a blank cheque, which promised total German support for Austrian action against Serbia.Austria’ UltimatumThis was followed by an enormous delay by Austria; it meant that the Austrian gov’t missed the opportunity to present the counter-attack on Serbia in reacting to the assassination. Instead they decided
to draw up an ultimatum so severe that the Serbia gov’t would have to reject its terms giving Austria a more oblivious excuse to attack them, instead to an immediate attack for revenge.The three weeks it took to write the ultimatum made it obvious to everyone that by the time Austria presented the ultimatum on July 23rd, the response had been planned, and was about more than just the assassination. Another reason for the delay was that French reps had arrived in Russia on the 20thof July, Ah purposely delayed the ultimatum while Russia had the chance to directly discuss the situation with its own French ally, they instead waited until the French delegation left Russia, but they had already confirmed to Russia that they would support and Russia action within the Balkans.Austria gave Serbia 48 hours to respond. 25thof July Serbia accepted nearly all the terms of the ultimatum, and the Kaiser said that Serbia response removed he cause for war. The Declarations of WarAustria had already made up its mind though, and on the 28thJuly the Austria army declared war on Serbiaand mobilized. Russia decided to take firm action, and on the 30thJuly the Russia army was mobilised against Austria.31stJuly, Germany presented an ultimatum to Russia, demanding the mobilization be called off, this did not happen.1stAugust 1914, Germany declared war on Russia, while warning France to stay away; Germany knew thatif France refused to remain neutral, the Schlieffen plan dictated that France had to be invaded. Consequently, when France mobilised its troops, Germany declared war on the 3rdof August. Britain dictated that it intended to stand by the 1830 treaty of London, defending Belgian neutrality. Germany then declared war on Britain on the 4thof August.HistoriographyAt what point to war became inevitable? The individual approaches may seem appropriate and rational in isolation, but they suggest a complete unawareness on behalf of the politicians to foresee the consequences against the broader historical backdrop. Do not apply presentism.