This is the July Crisis Anniversary Project...

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, I wanted to do something special - something that nobody has ever done. I wanted to deliver a day by day analysis of the outbreak of the First World War, and I wanted to do it free from my old bias or ideas about why the war happened, and what it did to us. What I learned during the course of this two month journey were lessons I will never forget.

Today, the July Crisis Project remains my most popular project, and is widely seen as the moment when When Diplomacy Fails Podcast found its 'groove' so to speak, in investigating detailed, immensely specific and complex stories, but making them accessible, compelling and above all fun to listen to. Why not take a trip down memory lane today, and have a listen to this series, which is fasting approaching its fourth birthday!


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100 years ago our ancestors launched the First World War. Now it is time to examine their moves, mistakes, decisions and hopes in a day by day account of the month that preceded the war; the so-called July Crisis. Herein, I explain what my plan is for it, why I'm doing it and why you should be excited. A brand new project starts here, and in case you didn't know, I'm SUPER excited! Thanksssss!


The shot heard around the world' sparked the July Crisis; herein we examine it as a prologue to our wider project on the crisis itself.


How did the powers of Europe react to the news that Austria-Hungary's heir had been assassinated? The answer may surprise you...


The background story as to why Austria so suspected Serbian involvement in the assassination cannot be understood unless one looks at the background of that Balkan state, which is what we seek to do here.

WW1 is a story incomplete without Austria-Hungary. Herein lies the tale of Habsburg decline, and should help explain the mind-set of its statesmen during the July Crisis.

On 5th-6th July the infamous 'blank cheque' was created in Berlin. Here we trace its origins and expel the myths that surround it

On 7th July Austro-Hungarian statesmen met to discuss the previous events and formulate policy. The result was a fundamental transformation of how the Habsburgs planned on representing themselves in the coming days.

On 10th July, as Berchtold and Conrad attempted to overcome their own respective obstacles, an event occurred in Serbia which dramatically changed the atmosphere..

Picking up the pieces after the death of the Russian ambassador, the Habsburg foreign minister acquires evidence which he believes, will finally persuade the Hungarian minister president towards war.

Armed with his pro-action arguments, the Austro-Hungarian foreign minister believed he had finally acquired the tools he could use to persuade the most ardent opposer of his plans: the Hungarian minister president..

The story of how Russia came to be opposed against Germany and Austria is one you have heard many times. This time, we take a different tone, and suggest that Russia's old enemy may not have been as forgotten as some histories would have you believe...

On 15th July the French president and Prime Minister set off from Paris to join the Russian Tsar for a summit in St Petersburg on 20th July, herein we recount the journey


By the time of 19th July, the word of the ultimatum had already reached the majority of European capitals; yet, in Vienna, Habsburg ministers carried on blindly..

Over the course of 20-23rd July 1914, the French President and the Russian Tsar met in a summit that had been many months in the making, but which happened to coincide with the plans of Habsburg statesmen back in Vienna...


The process that landed Austria-Hungary in the position of delivering an ultimatum to Serbia has been covered in previous episodes, the details of the ultimatum and its delivery is covered here.

24th July greeted the Russian foreign minister as instantly busy. He had much to do...


How would Serbia react to the deadline now that they had Russian support? Could Britain do anything to dissuade the powers away from their respective courses? On a day that three states mobilised, was there any stopping anyone anymore?


On 26th July 1914 Sazonov met with numerous officials from foreign states. He said one thing to them while his country was doing another..

How were the powers in Europe on so many different levels? The dissemination of information, barely considered in most histories of the event, was in fact a key point for all involved

On 28th July, contrary to both their previously declared policy and common sense, A-H declared war on Serbia. Europe scrambled to understand what had just happened


The aftermath of Austria's war declaration was felt across Europe, when the real intentions of all seemed to appear more and more clear. By the end of the day, it was clear to all where Europe was going

n 30th July Germany was reacting to the news that Russia had effectively been pulling the wool over its eyes for the past 5 days. As the last efforts to acquire peace came to nothing, Sazonov was attempting round 2 of mobilisation in St Petersburg.


How could the powers of Europe push through the recent diplomatic calamities? You'll be sorely dissappointed if you think they were at all capable of doing so...


How did we get here and why don't we stop should have been the questions European statesmen asked themselves on 1st August 1914. Instead to them the peace was already lost, and all that remained was to jump into the abyss


How did Grey persuade Britain towards intervention? Or had he really done the job by the end of the day? The time was coming near for Britain to decide its stance.


Sir Edward Grey was delivering his speech to a packed meeting in the House of Commons, in which he hoped to bring British opinion around to intervention. Meanwhile, Germany was declaring war on France, and preparing to move against Belgium.


How would Britain finally react to the news of what Germany had done? The same way everyone else had reacted to everything in the past week of course!


The results of the mess of the July Crisis was worse than anyone could have imagined, as the war acquired its own aura and the events that preceded it were left behind and forgotten.

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Here we rap up our analysis of events, and deliver a stunning verdict on what went on in the process