Europe in 1914 was divided into two camps, each eyeing the other with mistrust, apprehension and animosity. Germany and Austria-Hungary formed the Central Powers while Britain, France, Russia and Italy formed the Allied Powers. Since 1900 a number of incidents threatened open conflict, but each time, war was averted and tempers cooled - until June 28, 1914. On that day a Serbian gunman assassinated Franz Joseph, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife in the Bosnian town of Sarajevo. (see Assassination of an Archduke) The bullet that killed an Austrian Archduke in Sarajevo provided the spark that ignited the political tinder box. Austria accused Serbia of masterminding the murder. Emboldened by the military support of Germany, Austria delivered an ultimatum to the Serbian government that, if accepted, would have made that country a virtual possession of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Russia weighed in on the side of the Serbs. Surprisingly, Serbia bowed to all of Austria's demands -- except one. Austria found Serbia's refusal justification enough to declare war, which she did on July 28, 1914. Events now took on a life of their own as each power acted according to the dictates of the secret agreements they had previously signed. First, Russia declared war against Austria. Next, Germany declared war against Russia (August 1). Russia's ally, France, mobilized against Germany, prompting Germany to declare war against France (August 3). Germany attacked France by first invading neutral Belgium. Britain, as a guarantor of Belgium's neutrality, then declared war against Germany (August 4). The lines were drawn, the players on each side chosen. The First World War had begun. "This was a machine, endless, tireless, with the delicate organization of a watch and the brute power of a steam roller." The German juggernaut smashed its way into Belgium on August 5, initially targeting Belgium's line of defensive fortresses. The Belgian army was forced to retreat and by August 20 the Germans entered Brussels on its way to France. The Belgians elected not to defend the city and the Germans marched through unhindered. http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/brussels.htm Heres an interesting picture ...... Belgian troops in retreat August 20, 1914 .... look at the uniforms .... and look at the dogs too !!