August 3, 1914 ~ Germany Kick-starts the Great War
World War I, also known as the great war and “The war to end all wars” began as a regional crisis following the assassination of Austro-Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914.
Throughout July of that year, a network of interlocking alliances enlarged the crisis to one involving most of Europe. On August 3, 1914, Germany began its invasion of Belgium and declared war on France the same day.
Having previously declared war on Russia to support its alliance with Austria-Hungry, the declaration of war against France on August 3rd meant that Germany would be fighting a two front war.
German strategy was to rapidly concentrate the bulk of its army in the West to defeat France within six weeks, then shift forces to the East before Russia could fully mobilize.
The Schlieffen Plan, as it became known required moving troops through Belgium in order in order to smash into the left flank of the French army and knock that country out of the war.
Belgium’s refusal to allow German Free-passage through that country complicated the Schiefffen plan resulting in the German invasion of Belgium on August 3rd and the declaration of war on France the same day.
The Belgian government invoked the 1839 Treaty of London and in compliance with its obligations under this, Britain declared war on Germany on August 4th. On August 12th, Britain and France also declared war on Austria-Hungary.
In fellow swoop the major European powers had begun a war that would would last 4-years, cost the 37 million civilian and military casualties and destroy the old European order forever.