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00:00
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Introduction




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01:21
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A Nobody Becomes the Most Important Person of the Century

It's not the terrorist act that changes the world. It's the response of the victims.

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04:50
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Gavrilo Princip was the reason there was a second World War because Gavrilo Princip is the reason there was a first.

— Dan Carlin



06:03
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If there is going to be some giant global conflict, it will probably break out because of some damn fool event in the Balkans

— Otto Von Bismarck, mastermind of the unification of Germany in 1871


10:10
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The Improbable Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

An assassination plot in Sarejevo fails. Fate allows it to succeed anyway.

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10:30
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Franz Ferdinand (pictured) is like the Prince Charles of Austria-Hungary. He's the heir to the thrown and the king is getting old. Unlike Prince Charles, he's likely to have real power and he is well-liked.
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10:50
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Austria-Hungary, formed in the Austro-Hungarian Compromise in 1867, would later be dissolved after WWI.
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12:53
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Franz Ferdinand’s car avoids a grenade explosion, continues on to town hall for a reception, then heads to the hospital to visit the victims of the grenade. On route, the driver takes a wrong turn. Realizing his error, the driver stops the car. They hap
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17:30
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Franz Ferdinand's tunic
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19:47
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The Aftermath, Conspiracies and the Two Sides of History

How did a 19-year-old Serbian freedom fighter successfully assassinate an Archduke without any broader support?



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26:55
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The Austrians thought the killing of their heir to the throne was an act of state-sponsored terrorism. And if it wasn’t they were going to make the case that it was anyway.


27:47
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Imagine, if you're an American, this happening in the United States. Imagine, say, Mexico creating instability and unrest and fomenting subversion and revolution in places like southern Texas and southern New Mexico and southern Arizona and southern California and then eventually these revolutionaries that have been egged on by the Mexican intelligence service, kill a major US public figure.


28:24
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Of all the many controversies in the story, one of the most enduring and important is whose fault everything that’s about to happen is. If this is a civil lawsuit, trying to figure out who’s responsible for damages is a key part of this story



31:28
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Otto Von Bismarck and a Complex Web of Alliances

A 19th century German diplomat created a system of alliances that both expanded Germany's possibilities and preserved a general peace in Europe, only to see it all fall apart.

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35:01
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How The German Empire Was Formed

On the day that the German Empire was formed, it instantly became the most powerful land power in Europe. The other major European powers were less than thrilled.

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37:25
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The Germans were said to be paranoid about being encircled. But actually they were encircled by enemies.
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37:49
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Russia, Austria-Hungary, and the European Powder Keg

Otto Von Bismarck famously advised that in a five superpower world, make sure your country is always one of three, so that it’s always three against two, and that Russia was always to be kept on your good side.

And then, he was fired.



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42:34
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War Isn't a Game Anymore

It had been a hundred years since there had been a general war in Europe. In the years since, new weapons and massive armies had become the norm.

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1:02:11
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Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Vacuum of European Leadership

Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Emperor of Germany (left) with his Field Marshall (right)
For years, Germany had continually produced brilliant diplomats and high quality leaders that propelled the country forward and worked tirelessly to preserve peace in Europe.

Unfortunately in 1914, diplomacy was the last thing on the militaristic new German monarch's mind.

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1:07:08
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The cousins who started WWI
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1:12:16
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Militarism, Economics and the British Dilemma

The fear of Germany's military ambitions leaves France desperate to find a regional ally before war is declared. But how can they convince Great Britain, a naval and economic superpower protected by sea, that going to war with Germany is worth the cost?

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1:12:49
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Prussian militarism was nothing new.
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1:13:29
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Published in 1890, "The Influence of Sea Power Upon History" by historian Alfred Thayer Mahan had a major influence on both Kaiser Wilhelm II and Theodore Roosevelt, among others
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1:13:56
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Diplomacy Behind the Scenes

There's a bit of a dead zone after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. France needs to figure out what they're going to do if war breaks out. France only have a handshake deal with Britain and they're on Germany's dinner menu.



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1:16:25
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England, the giant moat around their country, and the greatest navy in the world to protect it.
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1:21:03
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Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia

Jul 28, 1914, exactly one month after the assassination, Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia and they're shelling Belgrade in like five minutes.

The Russians declare mobilization in response to this.



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1:21:18
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A Very Short Window of Opportunity for Germany

German military plans give them a 950-hour window to crush France before they would need to have their troops on their eastern border, ready to fight the Russians.

All that stands in Germany's way into France is the most fortified border in the world.



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1:27:29
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One of the Greatest Mistakes Ever Made

Germany realizes they cannot meet their military timeline by entering France directly. What they decide to do next will go down as one of the worst military blunders in modern history.

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1:31:01
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Propaganda and Villains of Central Europe

When Germany decides to enter Belgium to get around the French military border, international opinions of Germany change overnight. Germany was now the villain of the Western world, and the British public, who had previously been against going to war, were now demanding it.

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1:31:43
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Belgium was an innocent bystander. It's like a shooting war breaks out between a couple of gangsters on the street and the first thing one of the gangsters does is turn to the side kills an innocent bystander because they're standing in their way.


1:32:54
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Triple Entente: Britain, France, Russia and other allied countries, which will eventually be joined by the United States in 1917.
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1:33:04
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Central Powers: Alliance with Germany, Austria-Hungary, later Turkey and some other countries.
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1:33:24
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The Allies didn't need to exaggerate too much to portray the Germans as the modern day version of the Huns
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1:33:37
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The End of Armed Peace




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1:34:17
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Aug 1, 1914: German ultimatum to the Russians runs out, Germany declares war on the Russians. The Russians know what's coming and they're okay with it.


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1:34:21
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Aug 1, 1914: Italy says they're out. They were a part of the alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, but they say their agreement only covers defensive wars and this appears to be an aggressive war.


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1:34:42
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Aug. 2, 1914: Germany invades the tiny neutral country of Luxembourg and issues an ultimatum to Belgium saying they need to use their country to get to France, just let us march through.


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1:35:04
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Belgium says no.


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1:36:55
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Aug. 3, 1914: Germany declares war on France and Belgium


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1:40:49
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Britain delivers ultimatum to Germany to get out of Belgium. Germany won't retreat from Belgium with their tails between their legs and so Britain is in the war.


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1:46:30
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Aug. 4, 1914 at 11 PM: Britain's ultimatum to Germany expires. Britain declares war on Germany.


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1:47:11
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Prophesies of Doom

The bankers and investors are saying that this is a crisis. It will destroy Britain fiscally! Communists are hopeful there will be a silver lining. Warnings are ushered about putting the fuse to the powder keg.



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1:52:14
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The Greatest Army the World Has Ever Seen

What we are about to see is a true heavyweight clash. The Germany army that is about to enter Belgium might be the greatest army the world had ever seen.

At the beginning of the war the German army has more than 80 divisions (a division is equivalent to an entire army in the medieval period).

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1:59:02
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When the head of the column starts walking, they've gone 29 miles before the end of the column can start walking.


2:04:43
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Hour after hour passed and there was no halt, no breathing time, no open spaces in the ranks. The thing became uncanny, inhuman, you return to watch it, fascinated. It held the mystery and menace of fog rolling towards you across the sea.

— Richard Harding Davis

2:06:00
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The French think it's a good idea to wear red pants to WWI
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2:09:48
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The fur helmet of the death head hussars.
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2:11:01
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The Great German Army vs Tiny Belgium




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2:11:47
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Belgium has ingeniously designed, Star Wars-like forts.


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2:12:41
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Cross-section of subterranean Belgian fort with disappearing gun
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2:12:41
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2:13:48
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Map of Belgian forts. Forts built between 1888 and 1891 are in blue, the forts built in the 1930s in red. Note: Lüttich is German for Liège
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2:16:31
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Lessons About Machines

Belgium teaches the great first lesson of the war as they show how much killing power machines can have. This is the war where machines take over completely.



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2:20:21
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Combat-ready French calvary in 1914
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2:21:12
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Battle of Liège

( 5 August - 16 August, 1914 ) The Battle of Liège was the opening engagement of the German invasion of Belgium and the first battle of the First World War.



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2:21:12
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Aug. 5, 1914: Germans make their first attack on the Belgian forts. They get slaughtered. The advancing German infantry piled up, dead on dead, into a wall of bodies a yard deep.


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2:26:07
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Aug. 5, 1914 (night time): Germans regroup and attack again.
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2:28:24
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Erich Ludendorff
That same night, Ludendorff, a general, finds a spot that's undefended, leads some troops past the forts, into the city on a gamble that maybe the city won't be defended. Everyone more or less surrenders to him in the city. He goes up to the citadel, the main defence of the city with his sword hilt and pounds on the door demanding surrender. They open up the door and surrender.
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2:33:03
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The world was used to 1200 lbs guns. This one the German's hauled into Belgium was 300,000 lbs.
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2:34:22
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Instead of 9 lbs or 12 lbs cannon balls, the German's were shooting these 2000 lbs shells.
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2:37:22
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How the Germans destroyed the Belgian forts
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2:45:30
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The German Military's Schrecklichkeit Policy

Germany was a hot bed of human culture: the cutting edge of art, science, religion, philosophy and music. They threw that reputation away with their Schrecklichkeit Policy. Schrecklichkeit is the German word for terror or fright. The military tried to frighten the Belgian civilian population. These fear tactics, scaring regular people, began here in the invasion of Belgium and would continue to be used prominently throughout both world wars.

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2:59:02
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"The bayoneted baby" was a favorite anti-German image
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3:01:12
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Where Are Belgium's Protectors?

They're on the way. The British are landing troops on the continent to aid the French who are preparing to launch an offensive. The Russians putting together enough troops to remind Germany that you can't just leave your eastern border undefended and throw everything against France.

The Austro-Hungarians are about to find out why the Serbs have such a ferocious military reputation.

And all of this is going to happen more or less simultaneously.



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3:03:18
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Credits





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3:03:24
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Follow Hardcore History on Twitter: @HardcoreHistory


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End
The planet hadn't seen a major war between all the Great Powers since the downfall of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. But 99 years later the dam breaks and a Pandora's Box of violence engulfs the planet.