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HOW World War I Started: Crash Course World History 209

HOW World War I Started: Crash Course World History 209


Hi, I’m John Green, this is Crash Course World
History and today we’re going to talk about World War I. We actually have two videos about
World War 1. Today we’re going to talk about how World War I happened. Next week we’re
going to talk about why. World War I is a really big deal. Especially to those of us
who are really interested in like, industrialization and nation-states and modernity. So usually
we don’t talk that much about wars, but we’re going to make an exception. Mr. Green, Mr. Green, “Exception?” Cue the
Mongol-tage. Yeah, no me from the past. We don’t roll the
Mongol-tage every time we use the word exception, we roll it when we’re talking about how the
Mongols are an exception to a lot of our assumptions about civilizations. Stan, Stan- No, there are no Mongols today, we
are talking about World War I. So I’m filming this in 2014, which means that
the great war started 100 years ago and the World War I Centenary is just so hot right
now, I can’t miss out on it. So most historians agree that the event that
started World War I was the assassination of Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28,
1914, but beyond that, there’s not a lot of agreement. Others say the war really started after Franz
Ferdinand bit it. Like when Germany declared war or when Russia mobilized. So looking at
why a war or any historical event happened means looking for a cause and effect relationship
that implicitly assumes that if one particular event in a chain of events had gone differently,
the historical outcome would also be different. This is why we have alternate history novels.
Right , like what would have happened in the American Civil War if the South had won the
Battle at Gettysburg? What would have happened if the Nazis had repulsed the D-day invasion?
In both cases, probably eventually the same outcome but that’s neither here nor there. The question we’re looking at today is how.
And that’s a much more modest question because we can simply discuss a series of events but
it’s still a complicated one because when you’re talking about how, you’re
always picking from an uncountable number of things that happened. You know, a butterfly
flaps its wings and that leads to a series of events and then eventually across the world
an archduke gets killed. So even when it comes to a relatively straightforward
question like how, you’ll never get to the bottom of all of it, but today we’re going
to discuss some of the how. So one way or another, all wars start with
a breakdown in peaceful relations between the eventual belligerents and World War I
is no exception. Oh, for the love of agriculture please stop
it. Right, but World War I is a bit unusual in
that we have a concrete event and a date to start our discussion. Sometimes we get lucky,
historically, and there’s an invasion that starts a war like in the Korean conflict or the firing
on Fort Sumter in the American Civil War. But other times, it’s much more butterfly
effect-y with events that might or might not lead to a war, building upon each other until
one side mobilizes or declares war or there’s a fight over who shot first. But here we have a specific assassination of a
specific archduke, Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Now it wasn’t a great day for Franz to visit
Bosnia since it was the anniversary of the Serbs defeat at Kosovo Polje in 1389 and also
St. Vitus’s day, which was a celebration for Slavic nationalists and a Bosnian Serb named
Gavrilo Princip and his co-conspirators chose to celebrate Slavic nationalism by killing
Franz Ferdinand. Now they didn’t choose Franz Ferdinand at random. He
was the heir apparent of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Franz Ferdinand wasn’t particularly well liked,
not by his uncle who was the head of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, certainly not by Bosnian Serb nationalists,
also not really by everyone else in Europe except for the German Kaiser, but Franz Ferdinand
was in his way kind of a moderate. Oh it’s time for the open letter. Oh look
it’s a collection of my favorite assassinated moderates. It’s hard out there for a moderate. An open letter to moderates: Dear moderates, so one of the reasons that
Franz Ferdinand’s uncle didn’t like him that much is that the emperor was really hardcore,
whereas Franz Ferdinand, you know, he was kind of a moderate. He was like you know, “I’m an Austro-Hungarian
through and through but I see the Serbian arguement.” Really, Franz Ferdinand was the one leader
in the empire who might have come up with a solution to the problems of Serbian expansion
and Bosnian independence. And murdering moderates has a way of making other moderates, you know,
more extreme. In short moderates, your work may not be romantic, it may not appeal to
the youth, but it is heroic and very dangerous. Best wishes, John Green. So even though Franz Ferdinand’s uncle didn’t
particularly like him, as the emperor of Austria-Hungary, he felt a certain responsibility to, you know,
do something. Otherwise the Serbia nationalists would feel like they could expand their territory
at the expense of the empire, so despite what you often hear about World War I being pointless,
this makes sense as a point sort of. Now it’s a bit of schoolyard bully kind of
diplomacy, but it does make a certain sense, if Serbia can get bigger, then all of the
other places will think that they can have have nations too. Soon enough, you don’t have
an empire. Now there’s still some debate about whether
Princip and his fellow assassins acted alone or as part of a larger conspiracy organized
by the Serbian government. But the Austrians certainly thought there was broader involvement which
is why the whole thing ended up becoming a war. So Princip was a member of the scary sounding
Black Hand, a group dedicated to creating a greater Serbia that would include Bosnia
and there’s some evidence that the Serbian chief of military intelligence was in on the
assassination plot or at least knew about it. In fact, it’s likely that the bombs and
pistols the assassins used were supplied by a Serbian army officer, but this is still
pretty controversial so much so that people are currently fighting about it in comments. So almost a month after the assassination,
on July 23, Austria issued an ultimatum to Serbia. And Austria intentionally made the
demands so harsh that the Serbs would inevitably have to reject them and ergo war, but that
doesn’t explain the month long delay. What happened in that month? Well Austria’s
foreign minister, Berchtold, was afraid that if they attacked Serbia, Russia would then
attack Austria-Hungary, so the Austrians spent that month talking to their ally, Germany
to make sure the Germans would have Austria’s back. The Austro-Hungarians got assurance
on July 5 or July 6 in the form of what has been called the “blank check”, a promise from Germany
that they would help Austria if Russia mobilized. And it was clear that the Germans expected
the Austrians to move quickly in response to the assassination, not like wait
for another twenty days. So usually I don’t care about dates, but at this point the timing becomes
pretty important. Let’s go to the Thought Bubble. So when the Serbs received the Austrians ultimatum,
Russia declared itself to be in a period preparatory to war, which sounds a lot like mobilization
but technically it wasn’t, which Russia’s foreign minister emphasized to the Germans. The Tsar proved the measure on July 25, and
it went into effect on July 26. The Serbs rejected Austria’s ultimatum on
July 25, but they made their rejection sound like a capitulation so the Germans thought
that war had been averted. And they were kind of surprised then on July 28 when Austria
suddenly declared war on Serbia even though the Austrian army wasn’t actually ready to
start fighting. Then on July 30, Russia exited its period
preparatory to war and actually officially mobilized. Germany warned the Russians to
stand down but two days later on August 1, France mobilized it’s armed forces in support
of Russia and that same day, Germany mobilized and declared war on Russia. So if you’re keeping score at home – and good
historians always do – Austria and Germany were the first to declare war on July 28 and
August 1 respectively, but Russia with its pre-mobilization mobilization was actually
ready to begin fighting before Serbia rejected Austria’s ultimatum. Anyway, then Germany declared war on France
on August 3, marched through Belgium to invade, hoping to quickly knock out the French and
focus on Russia. Sorry France but you know Russia’s a big deal and you, you know. German troops crossed Belgium’s border on
August 4 and the British issued an ultimatum to the Germans telling them to get out of
Belgium or else. Germany chose “or else” and Britain declared war. So by August 4, 1914,
all the major powers involved in World War I were officially at war with each other. Thanks Thought Bubble. Now I know there were a lot of other powers
that would get involved later including the United States, and Japan, and the Ottoman
Empire — even Italy. But for the nations who did most of the actual
fighting, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Serbia, France, Great Britain, the war happened
both very quickly and very slowly. Now looking back, it all happened almost at
once but if you’re in the middle of it, a month is a long time and at any point someone,
like say the archduke, Franz Ferdinand could have come in and said, “Wait a second.” Well I guess not anyone because he was dead. But that’s how an act of terrorism in a Bosnian
city turned into the first major European war of the 20th century. A war that still
resonates today. Now the Austrians and the Serbs probably both imagined that the war
could stay localized to the Balkans especially since there had been previous conflicts in the
region that hadn’t blown up into a world war. You know, like in 1908 and 1912 and 1913.
We’ll get into what made 1914 different next week. The “why’s” of course will always be very
complicated, but for now please remember that we are always in the middle of a “how.” Those
living in June and July of 1914 could never have imagined how significant that month would
be for human history and when thinking about them, it’s worth remembering that we also
can’t imagine what our decisions today will mean in 100 years. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next week. Crash Course is filmed here in the Chad & Stacey
Emigholz Studio in Indianapolis and it’s made possible by all of our Subbable subscribers. Also
by all of these nice people who actually make it. But Subbable is a voluntary subscription service
that allows you to support Crash Course directly so that we can keep it free for everyone forever.
Thank you to all of our Subbable subscribers and to everyone who watches the show. As we say in my hometown, don’t forget to
be awesome.


Reader Comments

  1. all this could've been avoided if we just did what mobile fighter G-gundam did, 1 on 1 mecha robot fights…

  2. Im sorry but seeing the tzar in a mech suit looking like cherno alpha is just cool

    Too bad im already subbed

  3. it was the elitites bankers and usa railroad company and others as they realised war is good remington arms sold ars to ost armies in europe and uk sold lots too so thats who started the ww1

  4. Mr Green,

    Your crash course is an insult to 1,300,000 Indian soldiers sent to fight on behalf of the UK. I won't even talk about their contributions and sacrifices in the World War II. Ungrateful people like you are a disgrace to the human civilization.

    I truly hope that India never sends their soldiers to fight alongside the racist morons in the Europe, in my country aka the US, Africa and importantly in Asia. I'm ashamed of your work, you don't deserve to be a teacher!👎

  5. Talks too much beyond point to make it look attractive. Please do look after it in the future ventures. This is what all the dislikes are about I presume! Factually you are good.

  6. Nicely done, articulate and succinct. Really cuts through the complexity and got right to the core issues.

  7. Serbian terrorist assassinates austro- hungarian archduke….BLAME GERMANY! I think we owe the krauts one hell of an apology…..

  8. You learn from Crash Course World History not about what the video is about, but about… wait for it…
    The Mongols.

    Except for the video about… wait for it…
    the Mongols

  9. I'm glad your machine kills facists. Bunch of left-wing maniacs. They beat people whom they disagree with. Like the Brown Shirts. Someone wearing a M.A.G.A. hat will be set upon by facists. Next, the liberal left will try to control speech and and the books we read. The National Socialists (NAZIS) did exactly that. Socialism as about as far left as you can get without being a Communist.

  10. Did you use to teach at Lincrest Elementary School? You look a lot like my 3rd grade teacher and you have the same last name as him

  11. I wonder how different history would have been if Germany didn't go through Belgium. They would have faced the Western Wall which is much harder to get through than Belgium, but Britain wouldn't have gotten involved if they attacked France directly rather than through Belgium. Perhaps Germany could not win but there would have at least been a more favorable armistice agreement which means no Nazis

  12. Zionist Jews assasinated Archduke Ferdinand an Austrian the Jews started and won both wars and they got Israel, reparations, and a worldwide finacial monopoly over most of the worlds goods.

  13. Dude…you are all over the place with what your saying.just get on with the facts and stop with all the empty garbage between.

  14. I hope he didnt talk to fast. Its so difficult for someone who just started to get interested in history to listen to him at such pace.

  15. 1:27 When he says "the same outcome" I can't tell if he means everything would have turned out the same as it did or if he means Nazis and Confederates are essentially the same thing and would have resulted in similarly horrible outcomes.

  16. It’s been more than 4 years since this video came out. Where were you when this video came out? What were you doing in the 4 years after? It feels like it’s been a really long time since then, huh?

  17. 5:00 If he was he got to be the least intelligent chief of intelligence… ever, yes eventually Serbia did get it's Yugoslavia but at that point 1/3rd of it's pre war population lay dead in the dust. And it's not like it takes a genius to read the skein here, you kill Franz Ferdinand and the Habsburgs will come for you yeah you've got Russia on your side and yeah they can probably defeat the Austrians (if the Germans don't get involved) but even if they do it's unlikely they will do so before the Austrian army invades and causes terrible damage to Serbia. What did he think that killing the moderate would make every slav in the Habsburg empire rise up? Yeah the flaw with that logic is that the one people who did sort of like the moderate is the people the moderate was moderate towards the slavs, so yes while their great hope for better representation in the future was gone, you're also the guy who just caused that and they're not really all that impressed. Especially not the croats who identified more with the Austrians and fellow catholics than with the Orthodox serbs. Also the problem with having Russia on your side is that while some of these people may have signed up for a yugoslavia a lot fewer of them were willing to sign up for a panslavic state under Russian rule.

  18. World War One is curiously paradoxical, in that we know exactly what caused it, but also believe it was inevitable, that if some time-traveler saved the Archduke he would at best delay the war.
    SOMETHING was going to start World War One, and the assassination of the Archduke just happened to be the right kind of thing.

  19. Humans are mentally and, more importantly, morally deficient — and that's how all wars start.

  20. In my opinion (of course it's kinda personal 😀 ) John stated that "an act of terrorism in a Bosnian City turned into first major European war…"
    1) Bosnia was occupied by AH empire. So techincally it's not their territory
    2) Princip was Bosnian.
    How can you be called a terrorist if you assassinate your ocupator on your own land?

  21. This is wrong. I suggest reading Lord Milners Second War, by John P. Cafferky. Read it then come back to this video and state who caused WW1. Hint it's definitely not the Germans.

  22. Theodore Herzl an Austrian Jewish journalist urged the sultan of the Ottoman Empire to either hand over Palestine or Argentina for the Jewish to settle in (Look up Der judenstaat)

    Is there any evidence that this rejected by the sultan and subsequently the Jews requested the British empire to give them Palestine? Could this have been the cause of WW1 or am I just another indoctrinated anti Semitic Muslim lol

  23. I want to fight bout it in comments… No I keep thinkin why holocaust? Is there a reason an epidemiology???

  24. Read the Pulitzer Prize winning book:  "The Guns of August."  That will help you understand how and why the countries were pushed into war.

  25. Oh my God. This is the best surprise ever. Man I just came to look up the short simplified story of ww1 for a test prep and I see..for the love of God. .I see JOHN GREEN. Like tfios John green. Nerdfighter John green.😍😍

  26. Could this silly irritating man, with his really irritating voice, talk any faster? How on earth are we supposed to absorb this information with his annoying machine gun delivery. Had to switch off couldn't stand anymore of him.

  27. The fact that Franz Ferdinand was a moderate was precisely why he was chosen. Though part of the Austrian royalty, he had some Serbian-Bosnian sympathies. This meant that Bosnia was less likely to declare independence if they thought they could get recognition with the Archduke (which they probably would have) and Serbian hardliners like the Black Hand couldn't have that.

  28. Öne of those hot-shots who think they can ironize about anything. A poor product of late capitalistic pyschy (yea, you can ironize starting from here, too)…

  29. A lot of things being omitted about what lead to WW1. Call me a conspiracy theorist but there are a lot more cultural variables that never get considered. The butterfly effect is kind of a excuse to omit what lead up to the deaths of individuals that lead to war

  30. I'll simplify everything: the assassination was just the excuse the Austrians needed to start hostility. They wanted Serbia destroyed for a LONG TIME. But even that was just secondary. The actual cause of the war was that the Entente powers had a lot of foreign colonies and Germany and Austria-Hungary were all kinds of jelly about this. They were also sore that Russias sided with them (England and France) despite it itself not actually being part of the whole "Colonial Power Club".

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