The trigger that started the First World War was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, on 28th June 1914 in Sarajevo. The war ended in 1918; some 65 to 70 million people from 36 countries were mobilised, most of those called to arms being from Europe. The Entente Powers, gathered around the United Kingdom, Russia and France, waged war against the Central Powers lead by Austro-Hungary and Germany. In one of the most gruesome confrontations in the history of the human race, more than ten million people died and twenty million more were wounded; the Kingdom of Serbia lost to the war more than a million of its citizens – 370,000 of them under the arms (26%).
Serbia was the very first country under attack. The Austro-Hungarian offensive in 1914 ended miserably with a tremendous defeat of the imperial army in the battles of Cer, Kolubara and Drina. The Serbian army was headed by Prince Alexander Karageorgevitch, the Supreme Commander, and marshalls (“vojvodas”) and generals Živojin Mišić, Stepa Stepanović, Radomir Putnik, Petar Bojović and Pavle Jurišić-Sturm. After initial victories, the Serbian army was forced to retreat to Albania and further to Greece, together with the Serbian King Peter I and Nikola Pašić, the Prime Minister, under the massive Austro-Hungarian onslaught in 1915. The survivors recovered in the Allies’ military hospitals in the Corfu island and Salonica, Greece, and Bizerta, Tunisia. In the autumn of 1916, the Serbian army achieved a great victory in the battle against the Bulgarian army at Kajmakčalan, and two years later, together with the Allies, launched an offensive to break through the Macedonian Front.
The war ended by the Treaty of Versailles on 20th June 1919, with a new territorial recomposition of Europe as the consequence. Germany lost its colonies, and on the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman Empires new countries were born: Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and, thanks to the victories on the battlefield and diplomatic skills, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The territories of the Ottoman Empire outside Anatolia were assigned to the Entente Powers as protectorates, whereas the core territory of the Empire was reorganised into the Republic of Turkey. The Russian Empire, leaving the war after the October Revolution in 1917, ceded large parts of its territory to newly-emerging European countries: Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
The motifs of the stamps, First Day Covers, maximum cards and the text were done in collaboration with the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Military Museum in Belgrade, Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade and PTT Museum in Belgrade.
Motif on the stamp face value 23,00 RSD: “Crossing of the Serbian army through Albania“, 1915, oil on canvas, author Miloš Golubović; collection of the PTT Museum in Belgrade; regiment flag from the collection of the Military Museum in Belgrade; Motif on the vignette: “From the war“, 1915 / 1916, ink, watercolor / paper, author Miloš Golubović; collection of the Museum of Applied Arts in Belgrade; Order of the Star with Swords of Karađorđe of the IV degree from the collection of the Military Museum in Belgrade; Motif on the envelope: “Crossing of the Serbian army through Albania“, sculpture by Jovan Pešić, collection of the PTT Museum in Belgrade; Order of the Star with Swords of Karađorđe from the collection of the Military Museum in Belgrade.