World War I

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15. World War I

On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated by a conspirator in Sarajevo. This initiated World War I. It is not necessary to go into the details of this war, except three particularities that seem worth mentioning: (1) Contrary to expectation, it did not become a short, refreshingly cheerful war. Sudetengerman troops were engaged on all fronts suffering enormous losses. They believed they were serving the German cause when they fought for Austria and the kaiser. The Czechs went into the war without enthusiasm, remained in wait and feared German supremacy in Austria in case of a German victory. This again revived the tragedy of national discord in the Sudetenlands. The Germans battled on the side of Germans, but the Czechs, so to speak, against their Slavic brethren. (2) Kaiser Franz Josef died in November 1916. His successor, the 29-year-old Karl was not sufficiently prepared for governmental office, and inexperienced as he was, he blundered in domestic as much as in foreign policy. (3) Towards the end of the war, a terrible famine developed in the Sudetenlands while Methods and experience for governmental control of food distribution did not exist. Here again the Austro-Hungarian duality generated catastrophic developments. Rich Hungary withheld supplies or sold them only in exchange for political concessions. In Bohemia, Czech nationalism and sabotage against the state as well as profit-mongering by prosperous Czech farmers enhanced the misery. The government was too weak to intervene. One cannot fully comprehend the catastrophe of 1918 when not considering that it befell a totally emaciated country.


Copyright © by Inge Schwarz 1997 (Heimatstelle Maffersdorf) 
Copyright © by Anton Möller • 2005

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