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© HGM - Heeresgeschichtliches Museum

Position of an Austro-Hungarian infantry-regiment from Bosnia-Herzegovina somewhere at the eastern front during World War I
1st World War
Austrian Military Museum / Institute of Military History, Vienna, Austria

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The road to World War I

In June 1903, the young pro-Austrian King of Serbia Alexander Obrenović is brutally murdered in an officers’ conspiracy. With replacement of the pro-Austrian Serbian Dynasty by the pro-Russian Dynasty under Peter I the balance of power between Austria and Russia in the Balkans changes. In July 1908, the “Young Turk” nationalist revolution transforms the Ottoman Empire into a constitutional monarchy. The revolution rapidly disintegrates the European territories of the Ottoman Empire. The Austrian annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina on 6 October 1908 causes a major crisis in Europe, adding to hostilities between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. To the Austrian-Serbian rivalry was added the Austro-Russian rivalry for influence in the Balkan Peninsula. On 28 June 1914 the successor to the throne, Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria was shot in Sarajevo by a Bosnian youth of Serb origin. His assassination triggers the outbreak of World War I. Austria declares war on Serbia on 28 July 1914.