Much like June 14, June 28 is also a very interesting day. It marks the beginning and ending of The Great War or, The War to End All Wars. Though true that the guns fell silent on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month with the signing of the Armistice in a railroad car in Compiègne, France, today’s date serves as solid markers in the timeline. ~Vic
On this day in 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie are shot to death by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during an official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The archduke traveled to Sarajevo […] to inspect the imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908. The annexation had angered Serbian nationalists, who believed the territories should be part of Serbia. A group of young nationalists hatched a plot to kill the archduke during his visit to Sarajevo and, after some missteps, 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip was able to shoot the royal couple at point-blank range, while they traveled in their official procession, killing both, almost instantly.
The assassination set off a rapid chain of events, as Austria-Hungary immediately blamed the Serbian government for the attack. As large, powerful Russia supported Serbia, Austria asked for assurances that Germany would step in on its side against Russia, and its allies, including France and possibly Great Britain. On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and the fragile peace between Europe’s great powers collapsed, beginning the devastating conflict now known as the First World War.
World War I officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles [on this day in] 1919. The treaty, negotiated between January and June […] in Paris, was written by the Allies with almost no participation by the Germans. The negotiations revealed a split between the French, who wanted to dismember Germany to make it impossible for it to renew war with France and, the British and Americans, who did not want to create pretexts for a new war. The eventual treaty included 15 parts, […] 440 articles, […] reassigned German boundaries and assigned liability for reparations.
The German government signed the treaty under protest. The U.S. Senate refused to ratify the treaty and the U.S. government took no responsibility for most of its provisions.
For five years the French and the Belgians tried to enforce the treaty quite rigorously […]. In 1924, however, Anglo-American financial pressure compelled France to scale down its goals and end the occupation. […] The French assented to modifying important provisions of the treaty in a series of new agreements. Germany in 1924, and 1929, agreed to pay reparations under the Dawes Plan and the Young Plan but, the Great Depression led to the cancellation of reparations in 1932. Hitler denounced the treaty altogether in 1935.
One can never know whether either rigorous Franco-British enforcement of the original treaty or a more generous treaty would have avoided a new war.