At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month (November), 1918, World War I came to an end with the signing of the armistice with Germany.
Some historians say World War II may not have happened if the First World War had been avoided. Yet, the War to End All Wars did happen.
It started with the action of a small, insignifcant man named Gavrilo Princip.
On 28 June 1914,Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, visited the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo. A group of six assassins from the Yugoslavist group Mlada Bosna, supplied with arms by the Serbian Black Hand, gathered on the street where the Archduke’s motorcade was to pass, with the intention of assassinating him. One threw a grenade at the car, but missed. Some nearby were injured by the blast, but Ferdinand’s convoy carried on. The other assassins failed to act as the cars drove past them.
About an hour later, when Ferdinand was returning from a visit at the Sarajevo Hospital with those wounded in the assassination attempt, the convoy took a wrong turn into a street where, by coincidence, Princip stood. With a pistol, Princip shot and killed Ferdinand and his wife Sophie.
The assassination led to a month of diplomatic manoeuvring between Austria-Hungary, Germany, Russia, France and Britain, called the July Crisis. Austria-Hungary correctly believed that Serbian officials (especially the officers of the Black Hand) were involved in the plot to murder the Archduke, and wanted to finally end Serbian interference in Bosnia. On 23 July, Austria-Hungary delivered to Serbia the July Ultimatum, a series of ten demands that were made intentionally unacceptable, in an effort to provoke a war with Serbia. Serbia decreed general mobilisation on the 25th. Serbia accepted all of the terms of the ultimatum except for article six, which demanded that Austrian delegates be allowed in Serbia for the purpose of participation in the investigation into the assassination. Following this, Austria broke off diplomatic relations with Serbia and, the next day, ordered a partial mobilisation. Finally, on 28 July 1914, a month after the assassination, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.
Because of treaties and alliances, France and Britain soon joined the war.
The United States entered World War I in April 1917. Over 4.7 million men and women served in the regular U.S. forces, national guard units, and draft units with about 2.8 million serving overseas. There were 53,402 killed in action, 63,114 deaths from disease and other causes, and about 205,000 wounded.
The War to End All Wars didn’t… and it all started with a small man with a small grievance.