Tomorrow, 28th June 2014, marks the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by a Serbian nationalist. The incident led directly to the outbreak of World War I.
It can legitimately be argued that the event also foreshadowed and ultimately engendered all the genocides of the 20th century. Consider:
- Communism took over Russia after the fall of the Tsar towards the end of World War I, and all the massacres for which that political creed has been responsible can therefore be blamed on that event;
- The Armenian Genocide in Turkey began in 1915, shortly after that country entered World War I, and continued after Turkey’s defeat by the Allies and the collapse of its corrupt government;
- Germany’s defeat in World War I and its humiliation in the Treaty of Versailles led more or less directly to the Nazi assumption of power in the 1930’s, the Nazi domination of Europe during World War II, and the Holocaust;
- The redrawing of Middle Eastern boundaries along colonial lines, irrespective of tribal or ethnic realities, plus increased Jewish immigration to what was then Palestine after World War I (and later after World War II, when the survivors of the Holocaust went there), sparked intense internecine conflict in the Arab world. Massacres over religious and racial differences became more common. In the final analysis, the post-World War I division of the Middle East is at the root of the present crisis in Iraq;
- Japan fought alongside the Western Allies during World War I, and against them during World War II. Her deep suspicion (amounting to paranoia) about Western intentions, coupled with the militarism encouraged by her local successes, gave rise to her occupation of much of China during the 1930’s, much of Asia and the Pacific region during the early 1940’s, and many atrocities committed by her forces. Again, World War I was a seminal influence in this litany of tragedies.
Gavrilo Princip has a lot to answer for . . .