World War I


Following the Balkan wars and the grouping of large European imperialistic powers into two mutually opposed blocks, the trigger that set off a new war of international proportions was the assassination in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914 of the Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand and his wife, organized by “Young Bosnia”. The Austro-Hungarian Empire sent Serbia an ultimatum, which was refused. Following that, on July 28, 1914, war was declared on Serbia.

After the success of the Serbian army in 1914 in the battles of Cer and Kolubara, calm was restored until the fall of 1915, when the German and Austro-Hungarian armies launched an attack on the frontline along the rivers of Danube, Sava and Drina, while Bulgarian troops attacked from the East. As a consequence, the Serbian army retreated across Montenegro and Albania towards Skadar, Drac and Valona, and finally to the island of Corfu. Large numbers of the civilian population followed the army. On Corfu the Serbian army was reorganized and transported to the Thesalloniki frontline. Following fierce battles against the Bulgarians, on September 1916 in Kajmakcalan, a part of Macedonia with Bitola was liberated. Calm on the Thessaloniki frontline lasted until September 1918, when an offensive of the Serbian army was launched and the allied troops under the command of French general Franche d’ Epere. Shortly afterwards one by one of the Central Axis powers surrendered.

According to the estimates, during World War I up to one million men, women and children lost their lives in Serbia, mostly from the workforce population. The army was halved, and more than half of the male population was killed.

The Danube division entered into the newly liberated Belgrade on November 1, 1918. A month later, Regent Aleksandar Karadjordjevic proclaimed the unification of the Kingdom of Serbia with other south Slav nations, in the house of Aleksa Krsmanovic (today the Protocol building).

After the war ended, from January until July of 1919 a conference was held in Versaille, in the vicinity of Paris, of the representatives of the Triple Entente for the purpose of determining the conditions of peace. The newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was not satisfied with the decision, since part of the South Slav nations in Istria, the Slovenian coast, Koruska and on the islands remained outside of the newly formed state.


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