World War I: Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (June 1914)

Figure 1.--This is from film footage just before the assassination. The car is driving along of Sarajevo to cheering crowds. In Vienna the Archuke and Countess Sophie could not vhave appealed in public seated together like this. The Archduke ignored the imperial rules as they were in Bosnia. Note how close the open car is to the people.

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.



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Created: 6:57 AM 11/20/2009
Last updated: 6:57 AM 11/20/2009