Yesterday I visited the battlefield of last year. The place was scarcely recognisable. Instead of a wilderness of ground torn up by shell, the ground was a garden of wild flowers and tall grasses. Most remarkable of all was the appearance of many thousands of white butterflies which fluttered around. It was as if the souls of the dead soldiers had come to haunt the spot where so many fell. It was eerie to see them. And the silence! It was so still that I could almost hear the beat of the...
At the end of 1916, Russia's domestic situation was extremely difficult. The prolonged war made the imperfections of the political system and state apparatus, along with the inadequacy of the arms industry and the lack of infrastructure completely apparent. The situation was further complicated by the breakdown of society and an increasing anti-war sentiment among the soldiers.
The ultimatum to Serbia triggered the system of alliances that, years before, had been judged the best deterrent against the outbreak of war. Thus, the last hope of isolating the conflict in the Balkans failed: the July crisis had begun. Europe was just one step away from disaster.