Alberto Pollio, the chief of the Italian general staff, died early on Wednesday morning, 1st July 1914, in Turin, aged 62. He had entered the Naples military college in 1860, aged 8, and was first commissioned as a sub-lieutenant of artillery in 1870. He had written military histories of Waterloo and Custozza which had been widely translated and praised.
Lieutenant-General Pollio was an enthusiastic supporter of the Triple Alliance of 1882 between Italy, Germany, and Austria-Hungary, despite the historical enmity of the Austro-Hungarian Empire towards Italy.
On 29th June, Nikola Pašić, Prime Minister of Serbia and Minister for Foreign Affairs, received a telegram from the Serbian Minister at Vienna, M. Yov. M. Yovanovitch:
The Vienna Press asserts that the magisterial enquiry has already shown that the Serajevo outrage was prepared at Belgrade; further, that the whole conspiracy in its wider issues was organised at Belgrade among youth inspired with the Great Serbian idea, and that the Belgrade Press is exciting public opinion by publishing articles about the intolerable conditions prevailing in Bosnia. Press articles of this kind, according to the Vienna Press, are exercising a strong influence, as Serbian newspapers are being smuggled in large quantities into Bosnia.
In 1904, Britain and France had signed an agreement – the Entente Cordiale – that did not bind them absolutely to come to each other’s military defence, but was intended as a protection against the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. In 1907, Russia joined the Entente Cordiale.
On 28th June 1914, in Sarajevo, capital and largest city of Bosnia and Herzegovina – then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire – the Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was killed by a Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip.
Gove Goes Forth:
Archduke Franz Ferdinand was visiting Sarajevo because the Empire had annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina from the Ottoman Empire in 1908.
Serbia, which had once been part of the Ottoman Empire, and which had been recognised as an independent nation only in 1878 – but under the domain of the Austro-Hungarian Empire – felt that Bosnia and Herzegovina should have become part of Serbia. Gavrilo Princip, who shot Archduke Ferdinand, was a Serbian nationalist.
From Count Franz von Harrach’s memoirs:
As the car quickly reversed, a thin stream of blood spurted from His Highness’s mouth onto my right check. As I was pulling out my handkerchief to wipe the blood away from his mouth, the Duchess cried out to him, “For God’s sake! What has happened to you?”
At that she slid off the seat and lay on the floor of the car, with her face between his knees.
I had no idea that she too was hit and thought she had simply fainted with fright. Then I heard His Imperial Highness say, “Sophie, Sophie, don’t die. Stay alive for the children!”
Michael Gove in the Daily Mail: “The First World War may have been a uniquely horrific war, but it was also plainly a just war.”
Michael Gove’s qualifications for being Secretary of State for Education consists of a 2:1 degree in English at Oxford, and once winning Top Club.
Michael Gove does not care for shows like Blackadder Goes Forth, which he feels depict World War One – or as it was called then “the Great War”, as “a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite”, whereas, Gove thinks, WWI was really about British opposition to:
“The ruthless social Darwinism of the German elites, the pitiless approach they took to occupation, their aggressively expansionist war aims and their scorn for the international order all made resistance more than justified.
“And the war was also seen by participants as a noble cause. Historians have skilfully demonstrated how those who fought were not dupes but conscious believers in king and country, committed to defending the western liberal order.”