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The outbreak of war

If it was a Serbian who shot an Austrian, why did Germany, Russia, France and Britain become embroiled in a war? The European countries became involved in the war because of the alliances they had formed with each other - they had promised to support each other in the event of war and war was upon them.

Key dates

This list of dates shows how Europe slid into war after the murder of Franz Ferdinand.

1914 - the build-up to war

July 5thThe Austrian government asks the German government if it will support Austria in a war against Russia, if Russia supports Serbia. The Germans say they will support whatever the Austrian government decides to do - the so called 'blank cheque'.
July 23rdThe Austrian government sends the Serbian government an ultimatum.
July 25thThe Serbians accept all the conditions except one - that Austrian police should be allowed into Serbia.
July 28thAustria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.
July 30thThe Russian army is mobilised.
August 1stGermany declares war on Russia.
August 3rdGermany declares war on France and, following the Schlieffen Plan, attacks Belgium.
August 4thBritain keeps the promise made in a treaty of 1839 to defend Belgium, and declares war on Germany.

Back to World War One and Two index

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