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These alliances were reorganised and expanded as more nations entered the war: Italy, Japan and the United States joined the Allies, while the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria joined the Central Powers.The trigger for the war was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914.For example, the Kaiser refused, in 1890, to renew the Reinsurance Treaty with Russia.
On 28 July, the Austro-Hungarians declared war on Serbia.
As Russia mobilised in support of Serbia, Germany invaded neutral Belgium and Luxembourg before moving towards France, leading the United Kingdom to declare war on Germany.
During the 19th century, the major European powers went to great lengths to maintain a balance of power throughout Europe, resulting in the existence of a complex network of political and military alliances throughout the continent by 1900.
These began in 1815, with the Holy Alliance between Prussia, Russia, and Austria.
This agreement failed because Austria-Hungary and Russia could not agree over Balkan policy, leaving Germany and Austria-Hungary in an alliance formed in 1879, called the Dual Alliance.