Austria-Hungary Annexes Bosnia (1908)


Figure 1.--. Here Serbs are demonstrating in Belgrade, protesting against the Austrro-Hungarian annexation of Bosnia (1908). Austria had administered Bosnia since 1879, but did not formaly annex it until 1908. .

Ottoman rule in Bosnia ended with the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78) and the Congress of Berlin (1878) peace settlement crafted by Chancellor Bismarck. The Great Powers had aspirations of carving up the Ottoman Empire to their own benefit. The Ottomons at this time have been partioned as Poland had been. The Empire was unable to meet its financial obligations. There were internal civil disorder, restive minorities, and hotile neighboring coubntries, especially Russia and Austria-Hungary. The Ottomon Empire, however, survived the crissis because the Great Powers could not agree on how to divide it. Austro-Hungarian Administration Austro-Hungary was determined to administer Bosnia-Herzegovina as a showcase. The Austrians built railroads one of many technologies that had been sadly negleted by the Ottomans. The Austrins also developed industries with state subsidies. Other public works included schools, public buildings, parks and other symbols of modernity. There was a building-boom in Sarajevo and little intellectual circles began discussing modern European ideologies in the many coffeehouses. One of these ideologies was nationalism that had been unleased in the rest of Europe by the French Revolution and Napoleon. Bosnia was a calderon for nationalism. Not only was the population ethnically Slavic, but many Orthodox Bosnians resented Austrain Catholic rule and were drawn to the neighboring new Serbian monarchy. Austria-Hungary finally decided to formally annex Bosnia (1908). At the Congress of Berlin, Bosnia had been tirned over Austria-Hungary to administerm, but it was not to be incorporated into the Austro-Hungarian Empire itself. This was part of the delicate series of compromises enginered by Bismarck. Many Serbs lived in Bosnia and there was outrage in Serbia over the Austrian action. Serbia protested the 1908 annexation bitterly. Russia intervened to help defuse the situation.

End of Ottoman Rule (1878)

Ottoman rule in Bosnia ended with the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78) and the Congress of Berlin (1878) peace settlement. The Great Powers had aspirations of carving up the Ottoman Empire to their own benefit. The Ottomons at this time have been partioned as Poland had been. The Empire was unable to meet its financial obligations. There were internal civil disorder, restive minorities, and hotile neighboring coubntries, especially Russia and Austria-Hungary. The Ottomon Empire, however, survived the crisis because the Great Powers could not agree on how to divide it. Austria-Hungary only reluctantly agreed to occupied Bosnia. It hd some intention o return it to the Ottomans . What it did not want was for Serbia to acuire Bosnia.

Austro-Hungarian Administration (1878-1918)

Austro-Hungary was determined to administer Bosnia-Herzegovina as a showcase. The Austrians built railroads one of many technologies that had been sadly negleted by the Ottomans. The Austrins also developed industries with state subsidies. Other public works included schools, public buildings, parks and other symbols of modernity. There was a building-boom in Sarajevo and little intellectual circles began discussing modern European ideologies in the many coffeehouses. One of these ideologies was nationalism that had been unleased in the rest of Europe by the French Revolution and Napoleon. Bosnia was a calderon for nationalism. Not only was the population ethnically Slavic, but many Orthodox Bosnians resented Austrain Catholic rule and were drawn to the neighboring new Serbian monarchy. The situation was complicated there were Roman Catholic Bosnians and a much larger number of Muslim Bosnians. The Muslim Slavs were not attracted by the Serbians. They saw no place for themselves in an Orthodox South Slav or Greater Serbian state. They continued to support the Bosnian ideal of a pluralist, multi-faith society. The Austro-Hungarian authorities supported this vission, seeing the Serbs as a growing threswat to the Empire. A few Bosnian Muslims emigrated to Turkey and other parts of what remained of the Ottoman Empire, fleeing Austrian military conscription and a politically uncertainties in Bosnia. Most Bosnian-Muslims stayed in Bosnia and benefitted from the educational and economic opportunities promoted by the Austrians and Bosnia did benefit economically by Austria-Hungarian administration.

Serbian Nationalism

The new Serbian Kingdom established in 1878 strongly supported Slavic nationalism which now was seen as Serbian natioanlism. The dream was for a great Balkan South Slav state united under the leadership of Orthodox Serbia. The Serbs believed that Bosnia should be part of this new Slav state and were outraged that the Great Powers had put Bosnia under Austro-Hungarian administration. Serbian agents promoted groups in Bosnia opposing Austrian rile. This effort was covertly financed by the Russians who shared both ethnic and religious ties with the Slavs. The Russians themselves as the protector of Orthodox Christians. Serbian nationalists were also actively plotting to overthrow Austro-Hungarian rule in other South Slavic lands, Croatia and Slovenia.

Austrian Annexation (1908-09)

Austro-Hungary decided to formerly annex Bosnia (1908). The immediate cause was the Turkish Revolition of 1908 and the posibility that Serbia might itself annex Bosnia. This caused a major European crisis at it upset the Austro-Russian entente of 1897 that had to a degree stabilized the Balkan situation. Russia protests over annexation were met with German backing for Austria. This reversed the Bismarkian concept of a purely defensive alliance with Austria-Hungary. From 1908 until the outbreak of World war I, the Russians and Austrians were at loggerheads over the Balkans with the Germans backing the Austrians. Austria would not have dared a war with Russia on its own, but became more asertive with Germn backing. The essentially German "offensive" support for Austria-Hungary also had the affect of further consolidating Russia ties to the French. The Austrain to formally annex Bosnia-Herzegovina infuriated Serbian nationalists who longed to annex Bosnia-Herzegovina to Serbia. (Bosnia had a substantial Serbian population.) The Austrian action added to desire on the part of Serb nationalists to resist Austri-Hungary before they had fully incorporated Bosnia into their Empire. Austrian Foreign Minister ─hrenthal contemplated a preventive war against Serbia (early-1909). .

Assasination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1914)

Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip (June, 28, 1914) assasinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. The Austrians were incorporating Bosnia into their Empire and had chosen the most sacred day in Serbian history, their defeat by the Ottoman Turks on the plains of Kosovo, for the Archduke's visit. The Archduke and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia (June 28, 1914), their 14th wedding anniversary. The Archduke's role of Inspector General of the Austrian army had brought him to Sarajevo for the summer maneuvers. Coming to Bosnia on of all days the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Pale was sure to arouse the emotions of Serbs who took it as a personal affront. I'm not sure to what extent the Archduke was aware of the passions involved. Surely he would not have exposed his wife to the danger if he was. The Archduke appears to have disregarded the most basic safety precautions. The local authorities appear to have concentrated security precautiions on the main streets where it was assumed that the official cars would be driven. As the cars had set out for the Town Hall, a bomb had been thrown at them, severely injuring the Archduke's aide-de-camp. Rather than intensifying security, on leaving the Town Hall, the Archduke ordered his car to be driven to the hospital to which his aide-de-camp had been taken so he could personally check on his condition and care. As his car turned slowly into a side street out of the well-guarded main street, the grammar school boy, Gavrilo Princip, took advantage of the confusion arising from the approach of the Archducal car to fire two pistol-shots with lethal accuracy. The dying Duchess of Hohenberg sank on to the shoulder of her mortally wounded husband. Both were taken to the Konak, the residence of General Potiorek, the commanding officer. The Archduke died shortly afterwards without regaining consciousness. The bodies were brought back to Vienna for a state funeral. Neither Emperor Franz Josef or the Kaiser saw fit to attend the funeral. This would seem a strange reaction when in response to the assasination, they were to plunge Europe into World War I which would result in the loss of millions of lives and end both the Austrian and German monarchies. Sources

World War I (1914-18)

War had been brewing in Europe for decades. The Balkans in particular were apowder keg. It was a Serbian nationalist youth named Gavrilo Princip assassinated Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, on June 28, 1914 lighting the fuse that began World War I. The Arch Duke was in Bosnia to direct army maneuvers in the neighboring mountains. He had ignored warnings of a possible assassination plot and decided to tour the capital on the anniversary of the 1389 battle of Kosovo Polje. This date was sacred to Serbian nationalists who took it as an insult to the Serb people. It was a terrorist act that was the actual catalyst. The Austrians decided to punish the Serbs. The German Government (July 6) gave its support for Austro-Hungary's plan to punish the Serbs. Germany and Austria-Hungary became known as the Central Powers. When Austria-Hungary with German backing declared war on Serbia, Russia and France began to mobilize its troops. As a result of Kaiser Wilhem's bumbling, France had succeeded in signing a mutual defense treaty. Germany felt impelled to strike at France before Russia could mobilize. Germany declaring war on Russia (August 1) and France (August 3). The German Army entered neutral Belgium (August 4), in an effort to go around the strong French border defenses. Britain declared war on Germany over the violation of Belgian neutrality. But it was terroism was at the heart of World War I in a chilling reminder to our modern age. World War I was the most destructive War up to that time. Millions died or were maimed throughout Europe. Bosnians werwe drafted to fight in the Austro-Hungarian army . The caualty statisdtics are staggering. Perhaps no nation suffered more than Serbia. More than half of Serbia's military-age male population was dead, wounded, or missing in battle.

Sources

Andras Riedlmayer, "A Brief History of Bosnia-Herzegovina", internet site accessed June 24, 2002.







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Created: 5:23 AM 10/22/2012
Last updated: 5:23 AM 10/22/2012



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