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Ursula Rothrock
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Lecture to explore assassination that sparked WWI

Fri, 03/28/2014

LAWRENCE — On June 28, 1914, the heir to the Habsburg throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and his wife, Sophie, were murdered by a Serbian nationalist. This gruesome event triggered a war never before seen: a “total war” now known as World War I.

Yet, such an assassination was not unique. The king and queen of Serbia and the king of Italy had been murdered about a decade before, and the prime ministers of Bulgaria and Russia had been assassinated even more recently. What made this assassination incendiary enough to start a war?

Nathaniel Wood, associate professor of history at the University of Kansas, will explore that question and more in his lecture “All for you, Franz? From the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to Total War.” The lecture will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 3, in the Spencer Museum of Art Auditorium.

Using historical research, newspaper reports and images, and artwork from the Spencer Museum of Art, this lecture will look into the circumstances surrounding the event that helped trigger WWI and how total war affected society once the conflict began. The lecture will be followed by a reception and viewing of art from the WWI era. The event is free and open to the public.

Wood’s research addresses the challenges and opportunities that came with industrialization and modernization in the 19th and early 20th centuries in East Central Europe. His first book is about the rapid urbanization of Cracow until 1915, while his current project explores cycling, motoring and aviation in the Polish lands from 1885 to 1939.

Sponsors of the event include European Studies; Spencer Museum of Art; Department of History; Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures; Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies; University Honors Program; Hall Center for the Humanities; and Peace & Conflict Studies in the Humanities & Western Civilization Program.

The lecture is part of the KU centennial commemoration of World War I, coordinated by the European Studies Program. Learn more about participating units and upcoming programs at

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