Question of the week – 30th June


On Saturday, it was 100 years to the day that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo; a month later and World War I had started. If the Archduke had not been assassinated, would World War I have happened?

Listen to the thoughts of some of Year 6 below:

39 thoughts on “Question of the week – 30th June

  1. Poppy

    I found out about Sophie – Franz Ferdinand’s wife.
    Sophie was born in Stuttgart Germany. She was the fourth daughter of Count Bohuslaw Chotek von Chotkow und Wognin and his wife, Countess Wilhelmine Kinsky von Wchinitz und Tettau. As a young woman she became a lady-in-waiting to Archduchess Isabella.

    We don’t know where the couple met but it might have bee a ball in Prague. They soon fell i love and where given permission to marry. Before the couple were assassinated they had been married 14 years.


  2. Graham Carter

    Good question. I think the war would still have happened – because of the way European countries had divided into two sides. I believe the biggest single reason for the war (out of many) was probably the build-up of the German navy, and because of this it was inevitable that they would be drawn into a war with the British Empire eventually.


  3. mroswin Post author


  4. Frank Tymrak

    Congrats! These types of Questions are the Best! They foster thinking and creativity! Both skills which will reap benefits for all !

    My take on all of this- WWI should have been a European War- with Britain neutral- assassination of Ferdinand was just a convenient pretext- – the War would have erupted in countless other ways. The UK govt entered the war late – and for very selfish reasons- Germans were surprised- (those few in the know) — The War would have been European- Germany would have won-peace settlement would have been similar to the FrancoPrussian War and most of what happened in the 20 th century never happened! ( No USSR- No WWII, No Cold War, No Holocaust, Genocides- Sykes Picot Treaty- ) This is why everyone needs to know The Great War- Impossible to understand our modern world !

    Keep up the Great Ideas! A transplanted American from Steel City !


  5. Richard Farrow

    War was inevitable because Germany had so much power that it needed an outlet. Most wars come as a result of economics, the scrabble for Africa had left Germany short of territory, so it decided to get it in Europe. Great to see a y6 class talking about this stuff and you have some excellent thoughts, I would comment on them but I’m not sure who is who from the audio. Keep up the good work everyone and good luck with the blogging!!!!!!
    Mr Farrow
    Y5 teacher, Stockport.


  6. Mrs Barlow

    Well done Y6 you’ve set out your arguments really well! I think the First World War would have still happened, but if the Archduke hadn’t been shot it might have taken a bit longer to break out.


  7. Mr Vaughan

    Wow what great historical thinking. I tend to agree with Richard that Germany needed an outlet and so the war would have happened but maybe a bit longer the line. Super blog Year 6.

    Mr Vaughan
    Year 6 teacher, Ipswich


  8. Robert Buckland

    Excellent arguments from Year 6. No 4 got closest to it, I think. Sarajevo brought conflict forward, Austria-Hungary wouldn’t take yes for an answer from Serbia as it exchanged ultimatums with Belgrade in the aftermath of the assassination of their Crown Prince by Bosnian Serb nationalists. The events at Sarajevo, avoidable as they clearly were, originated from resentment caused by Austria’s decision to annex Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908 after Russia sent mixed messages to Vienna about their attitude to the South Slavs. By 1914, Russia was in no mood to equivocate and was going to back Serbia.


  9. World War 1 Live

    That is a very tough question. There are many good reasons that pushed the war besides the assassination. Ultimately, the system of checks and balances that the Great Powers setup was failing. Some blame the Kaiser, indicating how Bismark was able to check large scale wars from breaking out. Some say that the Austrian-Hungarian Empire was drowning out the voices of minorities, and with the growth of nationalism in the 1800’s, it was a matter of time before the distinct ethnicities in the southern parts of the empire expressed a desire for freedom. I would agree with many of the respondents that much of the push for war came as a result of a power grab: more land, more territory, more control of resources.

    Keep following my twitter feed @worldwar1live
    or facebook at


  10. Swanscombe Memorial

    What an excellent project, you should be very proud if yourselves.

    There was an ongoing situation in the Balkans which would have no doubt ended in some form of conflict, assassination or not. Had Austria-Hungary quickly punched Serbia on the nose then retreated back then perhaps the war, on the scale it took, wouldn’t have happened. There is no doubt The Kaiser was bristling for some form of fight too however he didn’t want to get tangled with his cousins. Had the Great War not have started, we maybe could have seen round 2 of the Franco Prussian war, but this time fought in Africa.

    Keep up the good work & well done all of you.


  11. Peter Hitchens

    Yes, alas, the war would have happened anyway, as Germany was determined to provoke Russia into a conflict. The great German historian, Fritz Fischer, has shown that Germany was intent in war. What is much more interesting is : Did Britain have to join in? I say not. Did you know four members of the Cabinet resigned rather than go to war in August 1914? Few do.


  12. Poppy

    I also think that if the duke hadn’t been shot then WW1 would have still happened but at the time when the second world war had happened. Then I think people would have realised there was no point in fighting so WW2 would not of happened. Also if WW2 didn’t happen some of the wars after the WW’s might not have happened. For example Hitler killed a lot of Jews, maybe if WW2 didn’t happen some or the wars to do with religion wouldn’t have happened.


  13. Gary Sheffirkd

    War would have occurred at some stage because Austria-Hungary & Germany were determined to settle scores with Serbia, no matter the consequences. Europe didn’t sleepwalk into war – it was caused by conscious decisions taken in Berlin & Vienna. Germany used the Balkan war to seek hegemony in Europe. For Britain, it was a war of national survival.


  14. Sean McDermott

    Well done Yr6, son excellent, thought provoking hypotheses here. WW1 I think was inevitable. Empire building ambitions on the part of the Kaiser, Nationalistic rumblings in the Balkans and an unhappy situation in Russia were the ingredients for war.


  15. Russel Tarr (@activehistory)

    The assassination of Franz Ferdinand was merely a pretext used by Austro-Hungary to declare war on Serbia – a war they were desperate to have before Serbia became any stronger. The reason this became a world war rather than remain a localised one is because of the Blank Cheque provided by Germany to Austria, which in turn was largely the result of Germany desperately trying to keep close to her one loyal ally. The reason for Germany’s diplomatic isolation by 1914 can be explained largely in terms of the Kaiser’s rather reckless foreign policies, which had thrown both Britain and Germany’s former ally, Tsarist Russia, into the arms of Republican France. Germany’s Schlieffen Plan, designed to avoid a war on two fronts by knocking out France by going through neutral Belgium before attacking Russia, was guaranteed to escalate a local Balkan conflict into a World War.


  16. Alan Peat

    YES! I think that it was Multicausal but the expansion of the German navy was a clear threat and this would certainly have led to War with or without the assassination. British dominance of the seas at that point in time was under threat….
    Great question. Ace work by the pupils. Check out
    we start podcasting the airy of Major Beale Browne one hundred years to the day it was written on August 4th. It might interest you all!
    Well done! Alan Peat


  17. Mrs Thorne

    What a great project! Did you know that the Archduke and Princess Sophie were almost never allowed to appear together in public, because his family thought she wasn’t posh enough to be married to him? So, I always think it is EXTRA sad that they were shot on a day when they were so happy and able to be out together.

    I think there would still have been a war. After 1900 lots of the old empires were facing problems. The Ottoman empire and the Austro-Hungarian empire were both really struggling and this created a power vacuum that lots of other countries wanted to fill. Nowadays we have the UN and other places where diplomatic discussions can go on to try and prevent war, but there was nothing really like this then.

    Keep up the good history – if I get a chance I will play these for my Y9s and see if they agree with you!


  18. mroswin Post author


  19. Rob Schäfer

    Terrific project! I love the idea and hope to be able to hear a lot more from you in the future.

    Best wishes from Germany



  20. John Gillard

    What an excellent question! The best thing about this type of question is that we will never actually know the answer! On one hand, I think if the war hadn’t started after the assassination, it would have started after a crisis elsewhere- maybe another argument over expanding empires as had already happened in Morocco. There almost seemed to be a thirst for war in some European countries- still believing the war would be a quick and relatively glorious campaign.

    On the other hand, maybe Britain and Germany could have negotiated a peaceful solution to their disagreements which would have cooled the arms race, removed the need for the Schlieffen Plan and stopped Germany from giving Germany an unconditional ‘blank cheque’ to Austria which encouraged their invasion of Serbia.

    To conclude,I think there probably would have been a war, the tension and secrecy/suspicion between both alliances seemed to make war inevitable, but I am far from sure!

    I enjoyed listening to your responses and look forward to reading other people’s ideas. Good work!



  21. @ian_bec

    This is a great project. Congratulations to all.

    I think there would have been a European conflict anyway. Too many important leaders underestimated the costs and overestimated the potential gains. The assassination determined that it happened when it did, and where it began. It was a pretext for a conflict that Austria-Hungary and others wanted to have.


  22. miss morris

    What an interesting question!

    I think yes, perhaps not as quickly as it did but discourse had been growing between the major European powers for a long time. It’s important to consider the arms race also happening at that time. Countries became obsessed with being ‘the most powerful’.

    So in answer to your question – yes, but at a different time.

    I hope you are enjoying finding out about ww1, this week also sees the anniversary to the battle of the somme which is a very interesting topic!

    Happy learning!


  23. Mr Beverley (@iowhistoryguy)

    Well done on your fantastic work on the causes of the Great War. It is true that the assassination was a catalyst for war. However, it could have been caused by any other spark.

    Franz-Ferdinand’s survival would have meant a reformed federal Hapsburg empire. If he had been able to come to a fresh compromise with the other nationalities there could have been a continuation of a unified Central Europe. I think if there had been another spark, it would be likely Franz-Ferdinand would have kept out of a war. Without Austria, and with just the Ottomans, (Italy being an unreliable ally) would the Kaiser have been as bold as he was? Wilhelm was all bluster. Maybe a world war could have been avoided? We’ll never know!


  24. Alena

    Wow – I am so impressed with the knowledge of these students. And a BRILLIANT idea to record answers on a blog. Keep up the great work guys!


  25. Sarah Wilkin (WW1C)

    What an excellent way to commemorate the First World War with students and the thoughtful, carefully constructed responses the young people offer is impressive. This is a big question that is still contested internationally so well done to the students for approaching this with such enthusiasm and insight. You might find it useful/interesting to take a look at some of these interactive maps which show just how much of a ‘world’ war the conflict really was: Though the assassination of the Archduke may have propelled things forward, there were tensions elsewhere which would have likely materialised at a later date.

    But- fantastic- super work Year 6 and thanks for getting in touch with us.

    Good luck for the rest of the project. Best wishes, Sarah


  26. @MrHistoire

    Yes, the war would still have happened, but maybe a few months later. So many of the other responses have correctly identified Germany’s aggression, although the British and French were very guilty of this too.

    One country that is often forgotten is Russia, partly because it ducked out near the end of the war when Tsar Nicholas II left the throne. The Tsar’s popularity had been low for years, ever since Russia had lost a war with Japan ten years earlier. Many Russians felt that their country was falling apart. I think that despite the Tsar’s poor leadership Russia might have stumbled into a war whatever happened, partly to make up for their loss against Japan and partly to show that they were helping other Russian speaking people in Serbia.

    Great stuff!


  27. Laura

    Like I said before (WW1 cause 4) I still think WW1 would have happened , because eventually a war would happen beetween two countries they would get their allies involved even if it wasn’t between Germany and Russia. 🙂


  28. Peter Doyle

    Austria-Hungary was a nation of many peoples, with several languages. The Emperor Franz Josef faced growing claims for the independence of its many ethic groups. The murder of Franz Ferdinand – who could have been a force for change in the nation – was a provocation that the Austro-Hungarians felt that they could not ignore. But it was also a reason to take on what they thought was a ‘rogue state’, Serbia. For the Austro-Hungarians, the Serbians needed to be taught a lesson, and the murders provided the excuse. If it wasn’t this reason, then there would have been another. War would have happened at some time with Serbia threatened with extinction. Once Austria-Hungary acted to extinguish this Balkan country, the other great powers would be drawn in.


  29. Stephen Cooper (Great War Rugby)

    A breakdown of Europe was inevitable and already underway in the creaking Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires, where ethnic and linguistic groups were forcibly held together in a fragile and outdated political structure. What however caused a pan-European conflict was Germany’s determination to use its military and industrial might to take advantage and drive its own imperial expansion by force.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *