Book One – Ep.7: The Great War

The Lion and the Sun Podcast - Season 1 Episode 7 - The Great War

As the great war breaks out in Europe, Persia is turned into the ultimate proxy battleground. The story of the First World War and how British, Russian, and German forces competed for control in Iran.

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Episode Summary

On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip who fired the fatal shots that killed Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie.

This assassination proved the spark that ignited World War I. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, embroiling Russia, France, Germany, Britain, and their alliances in a devastating global conflict.

Across the border in Persia, after the battle of Tehran, the young Ahmad Shah assumed the throne in July 1914 at just 16 years old. Despite immense pressure, Persia announced neutrality, though its position surrounded by belligerent nations made this neutrality precarious.

Suffering soon followed as various Persian regions fell under military occupation from the proxy wars between Russia, Britain, and the Ottoman Empire. Atrocities by occupiers, displacement of civilians, and disrupted trade and agriculture led to the deadliest famine in the nation’s history.

Germany conducted propaganda efforts to foster Persian nationalism and resentment towards British and Russian interference. A group called the Committee for National Defense, aided by German agents like Wilhelm Wassmuss, formed to resist foreign domination. But Russian advances crushed their efforts.

While in the midst of war, the 1917 Russian Revolution saw the collapse of the Russian Empire. The new Bolshevik regime withdrew from Persia, annulling prior agreements and concessions, offering a glimmer of hope for true Persian sovereignty. However, this vacuum was swiftly filled by Britain, determined to secure its interests – especially Persia’s coveted oil resources.


  • Shattered Glass – CJbeards
  • Written in Ink – Kai Engel
  • Highway Chase – Hampus Naeselius
  • Deserted City – Kai Engel
  • Katyusha – Russian Folk Song

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