On June 28, 1914, a grenade was thrown and two shots were fired which set into motion a series of events that rocked a nation, started the war to end all wars and helped shape the world we live in today.
The victims on that fateful day were Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austrio-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie. They were attending a series of military exercises in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a point of national pride. Austria-Hungary had annexed these provinces just six years prior, but it's important to note this was against the wishes of neighboring Serbia, who wanted the territories for themselves. Young Bosnian nationalists plotted to kill the royal couple during their visit. And after a failed attempt from a grenade thrown at their vehicle as it traveled in an official procession, Gavrilo Princip was able to do what the grenade couldn't. He got close enough to fire two shots from point-blank range, killing the archduke and his wife.
The Austria-Hungary government immediately blamed the Serbian government for the attack. Since a very powerful Russia supported Serbia, Austria would not be able to fight on alone. They asked Germany for support and then sent Serbia an ultimatum. Serbia proposed arbitration to resolve the dispute, but instead, Austria-Hungary declared war on July 28, 1914, exactly a month after Ferdinand’s death. By the following week, Germany, Russia, France, Belgium, Montenegro and Great Britain had all been drawn into the conflict, with the United States taking part about three years later.
After more than four years of bloodshed, the Great War ended on November 11, 1918, when Germany surrendered to the Allies. It was one of the deadliest conflicts in history; over 16 million people died with nearly 7 million being civilians. Unfortunately, the peace treaty that officially ended the conflict, The Treaty of Versailles, imposed crippling punitive terms on Germany that destabilized Europe. The German peoples' anger would grow and fester in the following years and they would rally to fight the injustice and unfair terms they felt were thrust upon them. Germany used this as fuel to re-build and laid the groundwork for World War II.
Atlanta Cutlery has many replica weapons and helmets from WWI, from what should have been "the war to end all wars". Each item accurately represents their original counterparts and are a great way to honor through collecting and remembering and important to educate through hands on learning.
Gavrilo Princip in custody after shooting