At the beginning of the twentieth century, Europe was composed of a complex system of alliances of different ideas, attitudes and fears.The flimsy stability of the European status quo shifted one way or the other with the slightest breath of wind.The cement holding this fragile structure together was the threat of the military power that armed each nation.
The assination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, on June 28, 1914 was the ground shaking event that caused this fragile alliance to come toppling down.Once the alliance started to fall, it rapidly became the bloody horror that was World War I.The United States tried to walk the tightrope of neutrality as the world began to explode around them.President Woodrow Wilson had a deep abhorrence of war and the vast majority of the American public was not interested in gettinginvolved in a conflict so far from home.If the United States were to enter the war, there would have to be a st! rong reason or act to overcome the general apathy.
The sinking of the Lusitania, proved to be such an act.This unprovoked, unjustifiable act of war, so enraged the American public, that they would forever be galvanized in their bitter resentment toward Germany.Even though the United States did not enter the war for several more years, the sinking of the Lusitania guaranteed their allegiance to the Allied forces. Europe was divided into two basic rival power-groups.On one side, was the Triple Entente which consisted of Great Britain, France, and Russia.The opposing group, the Triple Alliance, was composed of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy.
When the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were shot by a Serbian Nationalist, Austria decided to punish Serbia.Immediately Russia, Serbia's ally, ordered their troops to mobilize at the Austrian border.Russia expected Germany to join Austria, so they also sent troops to the German border.Whil…