Causes of World War 1 – The July Crisis



The July Crisis


The July Crisis refers to the events that happened from 29 June to the end of July in 1914.

The crisis was triggered by the assassination of the Austrian heir Archduke Francis Ferdinand.

The murder of Archduke Francis Ferdinand brought anger in Austria-Hungary.

The blame was put on the Serbian government although Austria could not prove it.

Austria’s diplomats and military leaders were supporting a war against Serbia for discipline purposes.


They wanted to eliminate Serbia for she threatened Austria’s interests and national security.


The Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph asked the German Kaiser for support in a war with Serbia.

Germany assured Austria-Hungary support whatever her decisions were.


Germany gave Austria a blank cheque which gave Austria more confidence to attack Serbia.

Austria then gave Serbia an ultimatum that was most likely to provoke disagreements and ultimately war.


In the ultimatum, Serbia agreed to all of Austria’s demands except the demand that would have Austrians enter Serbia for investigations and trials of the Sarajevo Incident perpetrators.

Britain wanted a diplomatic conference to solve the issue but Germany and Austria were against diplomacy.

Austria was always being assured of Germany’s support in July 1914.

On the other hand, from 20 to 23 July 1914 France and her ally Russia discussed the issue of Austria and Serbia.


France assured Russia of her support of Serbia preventing an Austrian invasion.

France was to support Russia in a war with Germany and Austria.

This was France’s blank cheque to Russia just like Germany’s blank cheque to Austria-Hungary.


France was however against provoking Germany but if Austria and Germany were to be aggressive on Serbia, France was to support Russia.

Tsar Nicholas II of Russia encouraged the Kaiser of Germany to influence Austria to use diplomacy and not force.


However, Russia failed to convince Germany and Austria. Russia had also encouraged Serbia to be diplomatic in dealing with the issue but Serbia could not agree on Austrian officials entering Serbia.


On 28 July 1914 Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

Russia argued that it had no option but to mobilize if Austria attacks Serbia.

Russia was still encouraging diplomacy over war, but if Austria attacked Serbia, Russia had no other option than to protect her fellow Slavic nation Austria-Hungary.

Germany informed Russia that if Russia mobilized Germany would also mobilize.


Britain continued to encourage diplomacy between Russia, Serbia, Germany, and Austria but Germany and Austria wanted to revenge on Serbia.

At this point, Britain was neutral and encouraging diplomacy over war.


On 30 July Tsar Nicholas II of Russia mention that he was going to mobilize the next day.


Since Russia was to go to war Germany’s military leaders had no option but to use the Schlieffen Plan.


The Schlieffen Plan was a plan that was created by Germany’s leaders for a future war with Russia or France.


In the war with Russia according to the Schlieffen Plan Germany was supposed to defeat France first and then turn to Russia so that the German army would not fight at both the East and West at the same time.

The effects of the July Crisis were that Germany expected the war between Austria and Serbia to remain localized.

However, with Russia’s mobilization, Germany was forced to declare war to use the Schlieffen Plan so that she could win.

At this point, Britain was neutral and expecting to remain neutral.

It was mainly the attack of Belgium in August 1914 that made Britain declare war on Germany.


On 4 August Britain declared war on Germany on the issue of Belgium’s neutrality since Britain did not want the German occupation of Belgium and France which would threaten her security and interests.

The British had agreed on ensuring Belgian neutrality as well as protecting the French coast.

For the July crisis, Germany can be blamed for not encouraging Austria to be diplomatic in the July of 1914. As a great power, Germany was supposed to encourage peace in the region.
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