The question on each of these men’s mind was why and who had let this happen.They only knew what their governments had told them – so what were the driving forces behind the fatal decisions to go to war in 1914, and why had they been made?
The First Treaty of London in 1839 had agreed on perpetual Belgian neutrality and committed all other signatory powers, including Great Britain, to intervene in the event of a Belgian invasion.
With the single exception of France, monarchies supported by a small group of wealthy individuals were the sole decision makers in the European powers.
The power that could be exercised by such a monarch is often underestimated, in particular if they freely go against the wishes of their people.
The rising trend in militarism that had gripped the countries involved in conflict is often seen as a prime factor in the pre-war tensions.
There is certainly no denying that Europe was growing increasingly militaristic in the years leading up to the outbreak – in August 1914, Russia had an army of 5,971,000 men, Germany 4,500,000, France 4,017,000, Austria-Hungary 3,000,000 and Great Britain 975,000.On the 30th of July, Germany had mobilised in support of Austria-Hungary, who had entered into war with Serbia on the 28th of July, supported by Russian mobilisation, exactly a month after the assassination of their Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo by the Serb nationalist Gavrilo Prinzip.