On 28 June 1914 was assassinated in Sarajevo, by a Bosnian student irredentist, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Habsburg. It looked like an episode inside the permanent tension in the Balkans, but nobody played a moderating influence. On July 23, Austria, received the support of Germany, when gave an ultimatum to Serbia, responsible for subversive anti-Austrian actions. At this point, things gone worst. In quick succession there was the Austrian declaration of war to Serbia (July 28), the general mobilization of Russia and the Austrian counter-mobilization (30 and 31 July). The German declaration of war to Russia (1st August), the simultaneous French mobilization, the German declaration of war to France, which was followed by the German invasion of the neutral Belgium (3 August), brought the entry of Britain into the war in support of the Belgians (August 5). The concatenation of events, coming from an individual terrorist act, move lightning with a relentless sequence. The war, while making the European theater its main scenario, it would soon become global. At the end of August Japan declared war on Germany in order to have the freedom for its movement in the Pacific. In November, Turkey, hoping to revive its fortunes against Russia and in the Balkans, intervened with the Central Powers. In May 1915 Italy took the field against Austria. Then moved to the side of the Austro-Germans, Bulgaria, who had not forgotten the recent clashes with Serbs, Greeks and Romanians. The same Romania and Greece will enter on the Entente. Decisive, especially in relation to the events of the Russian Revolution, which had unguarded eastern front, it will prove, in April 1917, the intervention of the United States alongside the Entente. It was a terrible war. In Verdun and the Somme took place, considering the limited space of the operations, the largest slaughter of all times in military history. The failure of the German movement war, which goal was to break down quickly France and then Russia, led to a war of attrition. Protagonists were the trench, the assault, the artillery. The conquest as the loss, took a very high price in human terms, just for a few meters of land. However, it was also the war in which were involved all the resources of the belligerent nations. We can just refer at the militarization of society, the growth of bureaucracy, the mass conscription, the total mobilization, the state intervention that planned the production in view of the necessity of war, the massive propaganda, the social control, the political censorship and the use of all the most modern and sophisticated techniques (chemical weapons, radio broadcasting, aviation, tank, the submarine). In 1914 it was ended the myth of laissez-faire society that regulates itself with the market forces alone, and began the age of the organization, the age at which the mass society, thanks to the model provided by the war effort, was regimented. The first victory for all the governments was the absence of political opposition parties: in fact the parties adhering the Second International socialist patriotically joined the policies of their respective countries. Remained active in the defense of peace only small minorities. Austria, in the end, was especially overwhelmed by its very nature and by the rebellion of its different nationalities. Germany fell back, but accepted a humiliating peace without having suffered a real military defeat. The United States, with the fourteen points of Wilson, accentuated the character of democratic war against the authoritarianism of the Central Powers, character necessary after the Bolshevik 1917 and the danger of revolutionary defeatism. Nothing was actually really resolved. We will notice that 1914 had not only opened the First World War, but also a sort of "Thirty Years War" of the twentieth century.
From the Italian point of view, finally, the defensive nature of the Triple Alliance not allowed Italy to enter the war on the side of the Central Powers. If at first seemed to prevail the neutralist option, thanks to the attitude of the Socialists, Catholics and liberal group arrayed around Giolitti, who hoped to obtain benefits from the war without getting directly involved: in few months, the situation was reversed. The Treaty of London, signed in secret with the Entente powers, placed the Italian country with a fait accompli and a broad nationalist agitation undertook to solicit public opinion. The war against Austria, which also had as its aim the conclusion of the motion of the "Risorgimento" (Italian unification) and the acquisition of the unredeemed lands, however, was not immune from the aggressive nature of imperialism and of the whole world conflict. It was, as we said before, a war of attrition, according to the scheme of all sides, until 24 October 1917, when the Austrian army broke through the Italian lines at Caporetto. After a dramatic retreat the Italian army was able, however, to settle on the Piave. The crumbling of the Habsburg Empire favored, next year, the Italian victory.
1 to 13 December 1914
This bloody battle was fought in December 1914 near the town of Limanowa, not far from Krakow, between the soldiers of the 3rd Army and those of the Russian 4th Army Austro-Hungarian Empire, which also included German soldiers.