Monday, March 4, 2013
Just about every schoolchild knows that World War I started when the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was assassinated by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princep. They also know that shortly thereafter, Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia, causing the Russians to declare war on Austria-Hungary, and then the Germans to declare War on Russia, and then so on and so forth. The Serbian Campaign opened with the Austrian shelling of Belgrade on July 29, 1914, followed by the military invasion of Serbia on August 12. Despite being outnumbered, the Serbians managed to blunt the Austrian invasion for most of 1914 and into 1915, when the Germans and Bulgarians joined the Austrians in the effort to conquer Serbia and launched a new offensive, culminated in the Battle of Kosovo in November and December of 1915, where the Serbian army was finally broken and Serbia crushed. The campaign was horrendously bloody for both sides, with the Austrians, Germans and Bulgarians losing a combined 313,500 casualties, and the Serbians losing over 320,000.