Initial Weeks at the South-Eastern Front and Austria-Hungary’s First Offensive against Serbia
After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Austria-Hungary had all the reasons of the world to declare war on Serbia. Even though Serbia complied with much of her enemy’s demands, the imperialistic ambitions of the empire were just not settling down. Finally, while pointing out the partial objection of Serbia on just one of the ten demands, Austria Hungary declared war.
Serbia which just had a population of 4 million at that time versus Austria-Hungary’s 45 million, mobilized 1/8th of its population in a matter of days which was quite impressive. The mode was also already set as Austria-Hungary would be the one attacking and Serbia defending. This gave Serbia an advantage; the battle would be fought on its homeland and the area bordering the empire was mostly mountainous. Austrians who were already celebrating victory, thinking what a tiny nation could do against their power, were about to learn the hard way that the Serbians knew their business.
In early August 1914, Austria-Hungary launched its first offensive. Oskar Potiorek, the Austrian officer leading the charge was a survivor of the assassination a month earlier. The Serbian Capital, Belgrade, which was also the closest major city to its border with Austria-Hungary, had been continuously bombed by the enemy the week prior. This made the Austrians think that they had inflicted damage to their enemy while in reality not much had been done. Mountains and mountains were all that was in sight for the Austrians entering Serbia. Climbing these mountains was also no easy feat, so they had to leave their artillery behind giving Serbia the edge it needed. Days passed while climbing and walking through these mountains and on August 15th, 1914, on the top of Mount Cer, the tired Austrian Army was ambushed by the enemy. Austrians which were not only shocked by the sudden attack, were further in awe when hand grenades were thrown at them. Hand grenades were a first for the Austrians as they were not able to figure out where all the explosives were coming from. On August 20th, 1914, the Austrians retreated back into Bosnia while suffering nearly 28000 casualties and Serbia raising his head high.