July 1914 saw Europe sway between war and peace. In the following there are some voices from across Europe showing attitudes and opinions on the political events.
After the events of Sarajevo the month of July 1914 went by either with people being indifferent as André Maurois wrote:
In the train at the Saint-Lazare station, I read in the Latest News the murder of the Archduke, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife at Sarajevo. She (my wife) pouted with indifference. ‘Look at Poucette,’ she said to me, ‘the little darling likes being on a train.’
The other reaction was the realization that the old order was about to collapse as it was built on
as Hermann Hesse has noted. He also noted a preparedness for the conflict that was to come but added that he lacked
the great compensation so many of them felt: enthusiasm.
The German Empire backed Austria unconditionally, who accused the Serbian government of complicity in the assassination of Sarajevo. As a consequence Vienna declared war on Serbia knowing that Germany would provide back-up.
“Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1994-022-19A, Mobilmachung, Truppentransport mit der Bahn” by Oscar Tellgmann –
This image was provided to Wikimedia Commons by the German Federal Archive (Deutsches Bundesarchiv) as part of a cooperation project. The German Federal Archive guarantees an authentic representation only using the originals (negative and/or positive), resp. the digitalization of the originals as provided by the Digital Image Archive.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
This led to a general mobilization of Russian troops ordered by the Tsar Nikolaus II on July 30. The result was catastrophic: on August 1 1914 Germany declared war on Russia. The British historian James Joll writes: many of those responsible were anxious to be left behind in the general mood of mobilization; that they were victims of larger powers. The careful construct of treaties and alliances – carefully constructed in the century since the Congress of Vienna in 1815 – imploded like a house of cards as though a slight breeze blew through.
It triggered a whole series of reactions and further declarations of war. The catastrophe to end the ‘long 19th. century’ and to introduce the ‘short 20th. century’ (Hobsbawm) was unstoppable.