Year
1914

Archduke Ferdinand assassinated

On this day in 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie are shot to death by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during an official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The killings sparked a chain of events that led to the outbreak of World War I by early August. On June 28, 1919, five years to the day after Franz Ferdinand’s death, Germany and the Allied Powers signed the Treaty of Versailles, officially marking the end of World War I.

The archduke traveled to Sarajevo in June 1914 to inspect the imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908. The annexation had angered Serbian nationalists, who believed the territories should be part of Serbia. A group of young nationalists hatched a plot to kill the archduke during his visit to Sarajevo, and after some missteps, 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip was able to shoot the royal couple at point-blank range, while they traveled in their official procession, killing both almost instantly.

The assassination set off a rapid chain of events, as Austria-Hungary immediately blamed the Serbian government for the attack. As large and powerful Russia supported Serbia, Austria asked for assurances that Germany would step in on its side against Russia and its allies, including France and possibly Great Britain. On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the fragile peace between Europe’s great powers collapsed, beginning the devastating conflict now known as the First World War.

After more than four years of bloodshed, the Great War ended on November 11, 1918, after Germany, the last of the Central Powers, surrendered to the Allies. At the peace conference in Paris in 1919, Allied leaders would state their desire to build a post-war world that was safe from future wars of such enormous scale. The Versailles Treaty, signed on June 28, 1919, tragically failed to achieve this objective. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s grand dreams of an international peace-keeping organization faltered when put into practice as the League of Nations. Even worse, the harsh terms imposed on Germany, the war’s biggest loser, led to widespread resentment of the treaty and its authors in that country–a resentment that would culminate in the outbreak of the Second World War two decades later.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Archduke Ferdinand assassinated

On this day in 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie are shot to death by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during an official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. The killings sparked a chain of events that led to the outbreak of World War I by early ...read more

The Stonewall Riots begin

Just after 3 a.m., a police raid of the Stonewall Inn—a gay club located on New York City’s Christopher Street—turns violent as patrons and local sympathizers begin rioting against the police.Although the police were legally justified in raiding the club, which was serving liquor ...read more

Charles elected Holy Roman emperor

Charles I of Spain, who by birth already held sway over much of Europe and Spanish America, is elected the successor of his late grandfather, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. Charles, who was also the grandson of Ferdinand II and Isabella of Spain, had bribed the princes of ...read more

Keynes predicts economic chaos

At the Palace of Versailles outside Paris, Germany signs the Treaty of Versailles with the Allies, officially ending World War I. The English economist John Maynard Keynes, who had attended the peace conference but then left in protest of the treaty, was one of the most outspoken ...read more

Louis Armstrong records “West End Blues”

On June 28, 1928, a 26-year-old Louis Armstrong walked into a Chicago recording studio with five fellow jazz instrumentalists and walked out having changed the course of music history. The record Armstrong and his Hot Five had just made was of a song called “West End Blues,” ...read more

U.S. forces launch first offensive

In the first major offensive ordered for U.S. forces, 3,000 troops of the 173rd Airborne Brigade–in conjunction with 800 Australian soldiers and a Vietnamese airborne unit–assault a jungle area known as Viet Cong Zone D, 20 miles northeast of Saigon. The operation was called off ...read more

Mike Tyson bites ear

On June 28, 1997, Mike Tyson bites Evander Holyfield’s ear in the third round of their heavyweight rematch. The attack led to his disqualification from the match and suspension from boxing, and was the strangest chapter yet in the champion’s roller-coaster career.Mike Tyson ...read more

Harry S. Truman marries Bess Wallace

On this day in 1919, future President Harry S. Truman marries his longtime Missourian sweetheart, Bess. When the two met, Truman told a friend that she had the “most beautiful golden curls and blue eyes” and that she was the “one girl in the world” for him.Although they had known ...read more

Western writer Emerson Hough is born

Emerson Hough, one of the most successful writers of adventure novels of the romantic western genre, is born in Newton, Iowa.After graduating from the State University of Iowa in 1880, Hough briefly studied law before turning to a career in journalism. In his 20s, he became the ...read more

Two big quakes rock California

Two of the strongest earthquakes ever to hit California strike the desert area east of Los Angeles on this day in 1992. Although the state sits upon the immense San Andreas fault line, relatively few major earthquakes have hit California in modern times. Two of the strongest, ...read more

A teenage girl’s boyfriend murders her parents

Police are called to the home of Jim and Naomi Olive in Terra Linda, California, after Jim Olive’s business partner reports that the couple has not been seen in a week. The house in disarray, officers found no sign of either the Olives or their adopted teenage daughter Marlene. ...read more

A serial rapist strikes in Allentown

A knife-wielding serial rapist and murderer attacks Denise Sam-Cali in her Allentown, Pennsylvania, home. Although he succeeded in raping Sam-Cali on the front lawn outside her house, the courageous woman survived and later proved instrumental in bringing him to ...read more

Confederates capture commercial ship

On this day in 1862, a Confederate band makes a daring capture of a commercial vessel on Chesapeake Bay. The plan was the brainchild of George Hollins, a Maryland native and veteran of the War of 1812, who joined the U.S. Navy at age 15 and had a long and distinguished career. ...read more

Yugoslavia expelled from COMINFORM

The Soviet Union expels Yugoslavia from the Communist Information Bureau (COMINFORM) for the latter’s position on the Greek civil war. The expulsion was concrete evidence of the permanent split that had taken place between Russia and Yugoslavia. The Soviet Union had established ...read more