Mapping the outbreak of war

Europe at the time of Franz Ferdinand’s assassination

“The outbreak of war in 1914 was a shock, but it did not come out of a clear blue sky,” writes Margaret MacMillan in her new book The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914. The First World War may have been triggered by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but all the bullets were already in their chambers when the event erupted into a brutal continent-wide conflict: many times prior had Europe’s nations managed to sidestep major war. As German diplomat Arthur Zimmerman explained to a British ambassador in August 1914, this time it all came down to “this damned system of alliances … the curse of modern times.”

Click on a yellow circle beneath a country name on the map to read about many of the tangled military alliances and recent historical events that led to a devastating chain reaction among Europe’s greatest powers.

UNITED KINGDOM
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GERMANY
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RUSSIA
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FRANCE
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AUSTRIA-HUNGARY
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SARAJEVO
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ITALY
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SERBIA
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Map of Europe 1914

Base map: historicair
Text: Nick Walker


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