The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by 19-year-old Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip was major news around the globe.
European powers had been eyeing each other warily for decades, building warships and negotiating tangled alliances.
The Globe, deep in the midst of covering the Great Salem Fire that left 20,000 people homeless, still made the assassination its lead story, ominously warning: “Should Austrian soldiers go to the aid of [Austria-Hungary], an international conflict of no small size would probably be threatened.”
That conflict was first called the European War, then the Great War, and later (with black optimism) “The War to End All Wars,” and it was indeed of no small size.
Not until an even more horrific conflagration followed did it get its enduring label, World War I.
The war introduced suffering on a scale never seen before — 18 million dead, another 20 million wounded — as well as tanks, chemical weapons, aerial bombing, and post-traumatic stress (then known as “shell shock”).
Empires were destroyed, revolutions were sparked, and the seeds of World War II were sown in Germany’s defeat.Bennie DiNardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @bdinardo.