VIENNA 1913

Cakes, newspapers, chess and not insignificant small-talk are the passions of the patrons drawn to the coffee houses of old Vienna in 1913, a nostalgic legacy of the formerly glorious Ottoman empire.

Vienna, astride the splendid River Danube, is a city of classical music and art and the cultural heart-beat of an empire ruled by the aging Franz Jozef for the best part of sixty years.

There has not been a war in Europe since the Franco-Prussian conflict of 1871.

Social unrest, however, in many of the European nation states, industrialisation, a naval arms race and the unease of a series of Treaties, Ententes and Accords are potentially sowing the seeds for another.

The world as we know it has long been ruled and colonised in Africa, asia and America by the ‘big cheeses’ of Britain, France, Russia, Spain and Portugal.

But the number is up for the long-time monarchies of many of these nation states and a new world order is about to take hold.

A group of men sit together in a viennese coffee house with a role to play in the mapping of the political eventuality of Europe.

They are political activists, some might say war-mongers but each one has a vision far beyond this morning.

Josef Stalin, Leon trotsky, Josef Tito, Sidmeund Freud and Adolf Hitler are that group of men sipping coffee under the magnificent colonnaded arches of this great old city.

The patchwork of International bi-lateral agreements sits uneasily with them.

The cause is already there.  All that is needed is a trigger, a touchpaper, as so often provided throughout history.

Germany was certainly mobilized for warfare and the Schlieffen Plan was an open secret

One hostile act to the imperial interests of Germany and war would surely be inevitable.

Germany was allied with Austria-Hungary.

France was allied with Russia.

Britain would act to protect its channel sea ports and also the neutrality of Belgium in event of invasion by Germany.

Russia would intervene to protect their interests in the Balkan region of eastern Europe, notably Serbia and Bosnia-Hercegovina.

When the heir apparent to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Crown Prince Ferdinand, was assassinated by a Serbian terrorist in the Balkan city of Sarajevo just a year later in 1914, the touch-paper was lit.

 

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