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Annoyance and fear of Serbia had long been entrenched within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Long before the June 26 incident, the Austro-Hungarian generals, especially the military chief, Count Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, planned to occupy Serbia in response to Serbia's aggressive attitude in the Balkans and destroy the seeds of the old Moravian Serbian dream. The only fear was about Russia. But after the June 26 incident, Vienna was shocked and outraged. Although Serbia has verbally denied any involvement in the incident, Vienna can easily understand through the interrogation of the arrested assassins that the entire incident was planned, trained and supplied by Serbian military officers.
In response to the incident, Austro-Hungary took strict action against Serbia. But with Russia as Serbia's protector and France's virtually open but secret co-operation agreement with Russia on paper, Vienna first decided to issue an ultimatum to Serbia, declaring war without any diplomatic action would risk a huge war. In order to create the conditions for this ultimatum, they delayed in establishing diplomatic relations with Germany, Russia, France and Britain. One side in Germany was against creating a major state of war. So they gave the green light to Austro-Hungary to go to war but told them to end the war quickly and regionally. Some historians think that it was like a blank check given to Vienna by Germany. In other words, whatever you want to do with Serbia, Germany will be by your side in any danger. After receiving the green light from Germany and anticipating the weakness of France and Russia, Vienna prepared an ultimatum of 12-13 conditions for Serbia. The ultimatum was announced on July 23. 25 days after the murder of Archduke. The first and foremost condition is the elimination of all propaganda against the Austro-Hungarian regime in the Balkans inside Serbia and the elimination of Serbian nationalist groups dreaming of an all-Slavic state, and the trial of all military civilians involved in the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. In addition to these, all the conditions are given which cannot be accepted by any independent nation. The conditions were created in a way that Serbia could not comply with. Serbia was given only 48 hours to make it even more impossible. Within these 48 hours, Serbia contacted Russia. Russia still could not heal the wounds of the Russo-Japanese war. Russia therefore advises Serbia to accept the terms. Serbia finally agreed to almost all the conditions, except one. The condition was that the Austro-Hungarian police should be allowed to conduct an independent investigation inside Serbia in connection with the trial of the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
Serbia may have hoped that the other superpowers would understand the futility of this condition; No one will take the risk of a big war for this. But inside Germany, especially the old Prussian military elite, many were facing major wars; They remember the Franco-Prussian War of 181, in which Prussia plunged the mighty France into a zoo-like cage in just a month and a half. What is the harm if we can expand our empire in the opportunity of this war. From July 24 onwards, the possibility of a temporary local war began to fade. France begins preparations for its military. Russia also began to prepare its forces. Britain tried for a short time to cool all sides but quickly failed. In Vienna, in Berlin, in Paris, in Moscow, war is raging everywhere. On July 26, exactly one month after the assassination of Archduke, Vienna declared war on Serbia. Within a week, Germany, Russia, Turkey, Austria-Hungary, France, Serbia, Belgium, Luxembourg and Britain were embroiled in a complex multi-faceted war.
Prior to the formation of Greater Germany through the amalgamation of the small West German states with Prussia, the policy of the Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck was to keep France in isolation from others by keeping the balance of power in Europe. When Greater Germany was formed, Germany moved away from Bismarck's policy out of arrogance of power and military might. The first signs of this were seen at the 18th Berlin Congress. Although he accepted the demands of many there, Bismarck did not think twice to provoke Russia by collecting everything from Russia alone. Since then, it has been known inside the German military that if there is ever a war in Europe, Russia will go against Germany. On the other hand, it was a fact that France would attack Germany in any war opportunity to regain the Alsace-Lorraine territory snatched from France in the Franco-Prussian War. Germany, therefore, had long planned to fight alongside Russia and France on two battlefields. Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen, chief of the German military from 1891 to 1906, devised a theoretical plan for the war in 1905-6. According to the plan, Germany will attack France through Belgium. It cannot be done through Alsace-Lorraine in the south or even in the south of Switzerland, because the land in those areas is hilly and inaccessible. The land of Belgium, on the other hand, is almost entirely flat. And France, too, has built a number of heavily fortified armaments and armies on the frontier, learning from the humiliation at the hands of German forces who entered the Franco-Prussian War through Alsace-Lorraine.
One weakness of the whole plan, however, is that it is based on Russia's military incompetence and delays in preparation. In Europe's military calculations, it was common knowledge that Russia would take more than a month to move. Schlieffen had a war plan - to pass through Belgium and encircle the French capital, Paris, as soon as possible before Russia could move. We have to send the whole German army through Belgium and move forward at a breakneck speed. The siege must be carried out in such a way that the line of German forces reaches the English Channel. Almost all the troops of the German army will be gathered there. Once Paris is captured, France will be deactivated, and Russia will be deactivated by gathering troops on the eastern battlefield.
According to the Western Front Schliffenplan, Germany occupied Luxembourg on August 2 and gave an ultimatum to Belgium to allow German forces to pass through it without hindrance. Belgium rejected the offer. Germany declares war on the 4th and invades Belgium. England also had to step in, as the Treaty of London of 1839 decided to keep Belgium neutral forever, mainly under British pressure. The agreement stated that if anyone broke this neutrality through aggression, Britain and other parties could declare war on the aggressor state. Britain therefore declared war on Germany on the 4th. Even so, when Germany declared war on France on the 3rd, Britain declared to defend the French coast with naval aid. There was nothing new about declaring war, but Germany hoped that Britain, being a naval power, would not come to London on the ground. The Schlieffenplan was also drawn up on the premise that Britain would not enter the mainland war in Europe because of the isolated islands and naval power, and that German forces in Belgium-Luxembourg would not face any resistance. But in the first week of the war, Germany faced two bitter realities. Schliffenplan was a great idea on paper. Schlieffen also had a reputation in the German army for his excellent tactics. But at the time of the implementation of this plan on the ground, General Schlieffen had been retired and aged for almost a decade. General Von Moltke the younger was responsible for implementing his plan. Britain enthusiastically announced its participation in the mainland war in Europe, and Belgium was the first to show incredible resistance. Because even though the big powers in the London Agreement recognized Belgium's independence and neutrality and accepted their responsibility to protect them, Belgium knew the difference between the paper agreement and the dirty politics of the field, realpolitik. Belgium has long had the strength to defend itself in times of great danger.
Despite the immediate declaration of an all-out war against Germany, Britain had little to say on the ground. Veterans of various wars in Africa and the Middle East have been called out of civilian life to go to war. The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was formed. When Britain proudly announced that it was sending a large expedition of 70,000 experienced and well-fed soldiers, calling on people of all ages, the German generals must have laughed at this British force. France and Belgium must have been disappointed, too, because hundreds of years of practice and common sense about land warfare and military forces in mainland Europe have all been overturned since the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte more than a hundred years ago. After the French Revolution, almost all of Europe declared war on France for the brutal massacre of the royal family and the aristocracy. In Europe at that time, countries, states and subjects were different, but the royal family and the aristocracy were all basically the same party. The King of Britain is the cousin of the Queen of France, the Queen of France is the cousin of the Tsar of Russia, the King of Spain is the cousin of the Kaiser of Germany. The situation was such that when the various regions of Eastern Europe and the Balkans were gaining independence by breaking the yoke of Ottoman Turkish and Austro-Hungarian rule, they too had to bring a king from one of the royal families by agreement and put them on their thrones. The racism among the elite was so naked that no one would respect that freedom if a new ethnic group became independent by making a leader from within itself; Within a few days of independence a great power will swallow up that new state. For this reason, if someone was brought from a large royal family, many friendly kingdoms would be found in his kinship, with the idea that the new states would bring the king from a few aristocratic families. When the French royal family and aristocracy were assassinated in such a situation, those killed were close relatives of all the royal families in Europe. Moreover, the whole of Europe invaded France almost immediately after the French Revolution, thinking that they could expand their kingdom by occupying hundreds of years old and impregnable France in the face of chaos.
France then did an unimaginable job to protect itself from these attacks. Forced all the people of the whole of France to engage in war. In other words, everything in French life will be war-centric. From farming, science, technology, games to the love of the bedroom. It was an unimaginable thing for the traditional powers of Europe. They all wanted the common people to be involved in arms, war and politics as little as possible. They were sitting on the necks of the people on the pretext of the blood of the elite who declared themselves in the family sources. Professional troops were needed to make that sitting uninterrupted. If the knowledge of arms warfare and politics penetrates the common people, then everyone must flee the throne. Since France was a people's state after the French Revolution, France did not have this fear. For this reason, while the other European powers had a well-trained and well-equipped force of ten to twenty-forty thousand houses, France had a small-trained and well-armed force but a huge force numbering in the millions or even millions at a time. At the urging of this huge force, Napoleon conquered a large part of Europe at breakneck speed and built his empire. After failing to deal with Napoleon's forces, the warlords of other European countries began to appeal to their kings, emperors, Caesars, and Tsars to increase their forces. As a result, even before the outbreak of World War I, the size of the armies of other European countries also went from millions to millions. The Reserve Force was on him again. In that place, when Britain came to the defense of Belgium with its BEF of 70,000, Germany considered their obstruction so important. Although these forces were experienced and skilled assassins in various battles, the German forces were superior to all other forces in technology, training and weapons. Of course Britain also realized within a few weeks of the war that it would not be working with a trained, skilled and experienced small force; In his own country, he started working with conscription and volunteers to increase his army. Towards the end of the war, the number of British troops reached two million.
To break this stalemate in the long run, both sides have tried hundreds of times to find a hole somewhere in the enemy's line. The two bloodiest, most terrifying and almost supernatural are the Battle of Verdun and the Battle of Somme. Verdun has been France's toughest and heavily armed stronghold on the France-Germany border since the Franco-Prussian War.
Erich von Falkenhayn took over as the new general when German General Fon Maltka of the Western Battlefield suffered a nervous breakdown during the Battle of Mern. Falkenhein's concern with Verdun was not to make a hole in the enemy's front, but to make sure that as much damage could be done to France. Falkenhein assumed that France would use all its strength to defend its territory. The landscape of Vardan was inaccessible, full of hilly forests. There, from February to December 1918, the two forces plowed the entire region with millions of artillery shells and machine gun fire in every forest, on every hill. The nature of this war was so bizarre and chaotic that a whole book has been written in military history about just one of the skirmishes there. One hill, one jungle has changed hands a few times, dozens of times. And there is an indescribable condition inside the trench. Yet, a century later, the bones of anonymous soldiers were found while digging for a house in Vardan.
Between July and November 1917, Britain and France planned to save a lot of energy on the banks of the Somme River to break the stalemate. Initially, there was a plan for a double attack, but the loss of French troops in Vardan reached such a level that eventually Britain took the lead in the attack. But by then the German forces had surrounded them with barbed wire fences, greatly improving the condition of the trench. From the other side, they have seen everything about the enemy's war preparations. They have practiced hundreds of times how to prevent attacks once they start. But the British generals demanded that the barbed wire fence be blown up by artillery attack. Accordingly, Britain fired artillery shells continuously in the first week of the offensive, in such a huge amount that almost two million shells were fired in one week, breaking all previous records. But when the infantry was sent, they landed on the field and saw no damage to the barbed wire fence. This is because artillery shells have been used against infantry with shells filled with small splinters. As a result, German forces began firing machine guns at British troops from their defensive positions as they tried to advance. The casualties in this attack reached such a level that many battalions changed plans and stopped when they saw a few battalions being crushed. But foolishly, the British generals sent millions of troops to be crushed. Sir Douglas Haig, the British general at the Battle of Somer, was named a butcher in Britain for pushing millions of soldiers into a meat-milling machine in vain. Still in Britain, the heated debate and anger among historians over the issue has almost reached a stalemate.