The Long Shadow Of World War I
Old Tensions Resurface On 100th Anniversary Of World War I
The city of Sarajevo held a myriad of events to mark the 100th anniversar0y since the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand triggered World War I.
A century later, however, emotions remain raw about what happened on that day and how the history of the war has been told.
Claiming that the occasion was being used as an opportunity to incriminate Serbs, several leaders of Serbia, as well as Bosnian Serbs, decided to protest by not appearing at official gatherings.
The Serbian Republic his holding its own commemoration instead in Visegrad, a Serb-dominated town.
“Serbian officials say they believe Princip, whom they consider a national hero, will be portrayed as a terrorist by the federation, which is populated mostly by Bosniak Muslims and Croats. But analysts and some citizens of both entities say politicians are using the historical event as another chance to perpetuate division,” reports Kristen Chick of The Christian Science Monitor.
Simon Winder offers a different take on the centenary by reexamining Archduke Ferdinand’s efforts to bring about reconciliation and contemplating what he might have done had her survived.
“The recklessness and stupidity of the Hapsburg response to the assassination — the ultimatum of humiliating demands served on Serbia, a response so crucial to the outbreak of the World War I — would not have occurred in the face of some other provocative outrage that had left Franz Ferdinand alive,” asserts Winder, who adds that “the shadow of this vanished empire continues to hang over Europe” to this day.
Global Post columnist Paul Ames writes about “the shadow” of World War I and its “role in molding modern nationhood.”
He writes of how the events affected various nations – and future generations.
“Australian national identity was forged in the fire of the Gallipoli campaign against Turkey. Poland re-emerged as an independent country after WWI. States such as Finland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia grew out of the debris.
“The war also triggered the Russian Revolution and saw the United States emerge as a world power. In Germany, humiliating defeat sowed the seeds of Nazism. The breakup of Turkey’s empire drew new borders across the Middle East.
“Beyond the geopolitical legacy, the scale of the carnage meant more families were touched by that war than by any previous conflict. And the new technologies of photography and film ensured they had tangible images of the lost to pass down through the generations,” says Ames.
Is History Repeating Itself?
Noting that few observers would have predicted an assassination of one man would lead nations into a global war, Michael Vatikiotis writes in Asia Times that the geopolitical chaos and redrawing of maps could lead to a similar outcome.
“The major powers today it seems are just as oblivious to the risks of wider conflict growing out of the Middle East. The sudden dissolution of the old boundaries drawn by great powers a century ago is allowing once localized insurgencies to acquire the capacity to occupy territory and threaten the integrity of established states, argues Vatikiotis, Asia Director of the Geneva-based Center for Humanitarian Dialogue and former editor and veteran correspondent of the Far Eastern Economic Review.