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Princip And Ferdinand Essay, Research Paper

In history classes today (elementary, high school, and some in the

college or university level as well) our teachers rarely give us an in-depth

look at events, instead they just give us a quick scan of what happened, when,

and why the events mentioned are important. I have yet to have had a history

teacher get deep into the subject matter of a certain event, or chain of events

as I would like. My favorite topic of history, or the area that I find the most

interesting would be the events leading up to The Great War, or as we call it,

World War One. In particular I find the events surrounding the assassination

of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand an interesting subject, and it is also

something a lot of people do not know much about. Every time we get to it in

a class, it seems that the teacher has something more important to talk about,

or they want to go back to something else, or the class period is over and they

forget where they were at the next class meeting.

I find this a very sad and disappointing characteristic of every history

class so far that I have taken which deals with the twentieth century.

Therefore, I have chosen this topic so that I may satisfy myself (and perhaps

many others as well) as I will attempt to resolve this deficiency. I plan to

explain in depth the reasons behind the assassination, which span way back

beyond the fourteenth century during the Ottoman conquest of Bosnia. You

will learn about the motivations behind Austria’s annexation of Bosnia and the

consequences of the action, and you will know who was behind the

assassination and their philosophy which brought the world to war in 1914.

The Ottomans (1463-1878)

Until the thirteenth century, Bosnia was under control of the Roman

Empire, and when Roman rule collapsed around 476 A.D. , Hungary took

over the small Balkan country which would then gain its short era of

independence about 1200 A.D. After 260 years of self-rule, Bosnia was once

again put under another kingdom’s authority. This time, it was the Turks who

ruled Bosnia.

It was inevitable for the Christians that under Turkish (Islamic) rule,

they wouldn’t have a very good time. Indeed the Muslims persecuted the

Serbs very heavily if they did not change their beliefs. It is recorded1 that the

Serbs were disarmed and dispossessed of their properties, and pressed into a

condition of serfdom under Turkish masters. The only way to escape this

slavery was to become assimilated into the Islam faith or move to the other

Serb lands of Venice or those under Hungary. They also fled into the

mountains where they could live in relative peace, whereas Christians left,

referred to as “giours” or in the mass as “rayah” – meant “the herd”, were

often harassed and victims of Turkish violence or injustice, for which there

was no redress. Christians were forbidden the use of horses or camels, but

only allowed mules or donkeys as long as they were not in the presence of a

Turk, and their houses were forbidden to be of a better appearance than that

of a Turkish house. The churches were destroyed and not allowed to be

rebuilt, and the building of new churches was also forbidden, along with the

reading aloud of the Holy Scriptures, the pronunciation of the words “Jesus

Christ”, as was the display of or making the sign of the cross. All of these

reasons as well as many others forced the Serbs to worship in secret.

The Serbs lived like this for over four hundred years, until in 1878 the

Turkish occupation came to an end, as a result the Berlin Congress, which

was called because of peasant uprisings. In the Berlin Congress, the Great

Powers were trying to decide what they wanted to do with the Ottoman

Empire, seeing that the nation had large debts and held lands which were

eyed keenly by the powers as potential gain for their colonial conquests.

Pan-Serbism

During this four century period of persecution, there came about among

the Serbs a want of freedom and political power. For four hundred years this

want was held in, and finally in 1878, when Bosnia became free of the

Ottomans, this want was satisfied, for the moment. This want I am taking

about is commonly known as Pan-Serbism. To illustrate this, Henri Pozzi

writes in Black Hand Over Europe:

“Imagine a poor man, whose ancestors have lived for centuries in

hovels, suddenly set free from his poverty by the wave of a magic

wand;. Imagine him, after generations of bowing to the lord of the

manor, suddenly transported into the home of that lord.”2

Free at last, after centuries of being under another’s rule, the Serbs finally got

what they wanted……then they had it taken away.

The Annexation

On October 6, 1908, Franz Joseph (Emperor of Austria, King of

Hungary) proclaimed to Bosnia and Herzegovina:

“When a generation ago our troops crossed the borders of your lands,

you were assured that they came not as foes, but as friends, with the

firm determination to remedy the evils from which your fatherland

had suffered so grievously for many years. This promise given at a

serious moment has been honestly kept. It has beenthe constant

endeavour of our government to guide the country by patient and

systematic activity to a happier future.

To our great joy we can say that the seed then scattered in the furrows

of a troubled soil has richly thrived. You yourselves must feel it a

boon that order and security have replaced violence and oppression,

that trade and traffic are constantly extending, that the elevating

influence of education has been brought to bear in your country, and

that under the shield of an orderly administration every man may

enjoy the fruits of his labours.

It is the duty of us all to advance steadily along this path. With this

goal before our eyes, we deem the moment come to give the

inhabitants of the two lands a new proof of our trust in their political

maturity. In order to raise Bosnia and Herzegovina to a higher level

of political life, we have resolved to grant both of those lands

constitutional governments that are suited to the prevailing conditions

and general interests, so as to create a legal basis for the

representation of their wishes and needs. You shall henceforth have a

voice when decisions are made concerning your domestic affairs,

which, as hitherto, will have a separate administration. But the

Necessary premise for the introduction of the provincial constitution

is the creation of a clear unambiguous legal status for the two lands.

For this reason, and also remembering the ties that existed of yore

between our glorious ancestors on the Hungarian throne and these

lands, we extend our suzerainty over Bosnia and Herzegovina, and it

is our will that the order of succession of our House be extended to

these lands also. The inhabitants of the two lands thus share all the

benefits which a lasting confirmation of the present relation can offer.

The new order of things will be a guarantee that civilization and

prosperity will find a sure footing in your home.”3

When you have a country finally freed after such a long period of time

from such conditions, wherein there exists a great sense of nationalism within

its territories (in the form of Pan-Serbism), and then an outside country comes

in and declares for the betterment of that society that they will be overtaken

once again, it is very understandable that there was assembled a group of

nationalistically motivated terrorists and their actions should not be

unexpected events, but are justifiable under the circumstances.

The Black Hand

On October 8, 1908, two days after the annexation, many of those who

adhered to the principles of Pan-Serbism met in secret and formed the

anti-Austrian group Narodna Odbrana (National Defense)4; this group soon

spawned satellite groups over all of Slovenia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and

Istria. These groups undertook anti-Austrian propaganda, recruited and

trained members for war with Austria. They also organized spies and

saboteurs to operate missions which included assassinations among other

activities.

In 1909 the group disbanded as an act of self-preservation for Austria

was ready to go to war and the Bosnians did not yet have Russia on their

side. Two years later, the same men reorganized under a new group which

was called Ujedinjenje ili Smrt (Union or Death, better known as The Black

Hand). Their constitution5 (signed May 9, 1911) set up the new organization

as a secretive Serbian terrorist group whose primary goal is the Unification of

Serbdom6. This goal of the creation of a Greater Serbia was to be reached by

any means necessary, which included violence. The Black Hand was well

known for its abilities concerning political murders; one of the common

activities for the group was to recruit and train guerillas, saboteurs, and

assassins.

The Conspiracy

By the invitation of General Potoirek to oversee the Austrian army’s

maneuvers, Ferdinand decided he would travel to Sarajevo, since he was

Inspector General of the Austrian Army. Being in Sarajevo, this was also a

chance for Ferdinand to give his wife an anniversary gift (on June 28) by

letting her sit in the same car as he, something she was not permitted to do in

Austria, being that she was not of royal blood.

In late April, 1914, the leaders of The Black Hand received word from

one of the small satellite groups stationed in Zagreb that Franz Ferdinand, heir

to the Austrian throne, would indeed be visiting Sarajevo on June 28. Killing

Ferdinand would be a blow to Austria and would remove the threat of his

political reforms, all which conflicted with the politics of the Serbian

nationalists who ran Ujedinjenje ili Smrt.

The leaders of the Directorate, which ran The Black Hand, decided to

train and send three assassins to meet Ferdinand on his visit. For this, Colonel

Dragutin Dimitrijevic, who ran the organization, chose Gavrilo Princip,

Nedjilko Cabrinovic, and Trifko Grabez. A common factor among these three

young Serbs was that they all had Tuberculosis.

Dragutin Dimitrijevic7 was the Chief of Intelligence Department in the

Serbian General Staff and one of the four staunch Pan-Serb founders of The

Black Hand. He was a professional army officer since the beginning in his

teen years, when he received the nickname of Apis (Bee) for his boundless

energy. As a soldier, he was a specialist in the fields of: revolution,

conspiracy, and assassination. He was known for his murder attempts on

King Alexander (successful on second try, after Ferdinand’s assassination),

Franz Josef, General Potoirek(both failed), and Franz Ferdinand.

Gavrilo Princip8 was, at the time, a nineteen year old student that went

to a university to further his education, but while in Belgrade, Princip became

close friends with Nedjelko Cabrinovic and Trifko Grabez, both members of

the secret Serbian organization Mlada Bosna, and he got caught up in the

Serbian nationalist movement, becoming a member himself. He was

ultimately drafted by The Black Hand with his friends to assassinate the

Archduke Ferdinand in June of 1914.

Nedjelko Cabrinovic was a hot-tempered teenager who’s political

viewpoint would sometimes shift between socialism, anarchism, and

nationalism. He quit school at the suggestion made by his father and found

work at an anarchist printshop, where he would take a leading role in the

typesetter’s strike of 1912. After the strike, he was banished from Sarajevo

and sent to Belgrade, where he was drafted into the assassination plot.

While these three were being recruited for their mission, word got out

to Danilo Ilic, a member of the group Mlada Bosna (Young Bosnia) and he

joined in the conspiracy with permission from Major Tankosvic, the

recruiting officer who was Colonel Dimitrijevic’s chief aide, and Ilic also

recruited three of his friends to come along as well: Vaso Cubrilovic,

Cvijetko Popovic, and Mohammed Mehmedbasic. Ilic gave Cubrilovic and

Popovic a short one-day training course for bomb throwing and using their

pistols; Mehmedbasic9 (a sympathetic Muslim) had participated in past

activities of The Black Hand and needed no training.

The Assassination

After the training was complete, the assassins were smuggled into

Sarajevo (in late May) and awaited Ferdinand’s arrival. News of this reached

the Serbian Minister to Vienna, Jovan Jovanovic, who tried to warn Austria

while Prime Minister Pasic ordered The Black Hand to recall, but the group

only gave a half-hearted attempt to recall the group. The Austrians did not

take Jovanovic seriously. No further measures were taken to protect the

Archduke, only Sarajevo’s one hundred twenty police officers attended the

motorcade, no secret service agents were present.

The motorcade consisted of six vehicles. In the first was Mayor Fehim

Effendi Curcic and the city’s Police Commissioner Dr. Gerde. These two

were followed by the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, his wife Sophie, and

General Potoirek in the second car, with the car’s owner (Count Harrach) and

the driver sitting in the front. The third vehicle carried the head of Ferdinand’s

military chancellery, Sophie’s lady in waiting, Lt. Colonel Merizzi, and the

car’s owner and driver. The fourth and fifth carried members of Ferdinand’s

staff and some Bosnian officials, while the sixth was kept empty in case one

of the other cars broke down.

At 10:00, the motorcade left the army base and proceeded into the city,

where the assassins had already taken their positions (See Figure 1, on Page

Figure 110

12) and were awaiting the archdukes arrival.

At the beginning of the gauntlet laid along the Sarajevo street, Apple

Quay, stood Mohammed Mehmedbasic. As the motorcade approached, he

noticed that a Bosnian police officer was standing near him and he was

watching the visitors pass through from the crowd. Mehmedbasic decided he

should do nothing with the nearby cop, and so he let the cars pass. Next in

line was Nedjelko Cabrinovic, who succeeded to throw his bomb at

Ferdinand’s car, but it was not a good throw and the bomb was swatted away

by Ferdinand himself. The bomb detonated after the car had passed and left

Ferdinand unharmed, but it injured about a dozen people in the crowd

watching alongside the road and some fragments hit the third car, making it

stall out. Merizzi (in the third car) obtained a deep cut on the back of his head

from some of the flying shrapnel.

Cabrinovic at this time swallowed some cyanide (to keep his

identity and association with The Black Hand secret) but found it to be

ineffective, only making him vomit. He then proceeded to jump in the river to

drown and found the water to only be a few inches deep. He was then

arrested and taken into custody.

In the ensuing chaos, Ferdinand’s car was rushed to safety at the city

hall, while the remaining assassins took secondary positions along Apple

Quay in case the motorcade came back. Princip went into Schiller’s, a nearby

food store (see map), and bought a sandwich while he was waiting for the

possible return of the motorcade.

Meanwhile, the motorcade went to the Sarajevo City Hall where things

went on as planned, the mayor gave a prepared speech, which eventually

calmed the enraged Ferdinand. The archduke then tried to convince his wife

to leave for her own safety, which she denied, then they made plans for their

departure, to include going to visit Merizzi, who was transported to the

hospital, but they failed to inform the drivers, who were naturally going to

drive, as previously planned, down Franz Joseph Street. When the motorcade

made its trip, the drivers turned right at Franz Joseph Street towards the

museum, as originally planned. Realizing what was happening, Potoirek told

the driver to stop, turn around and go to the hospital on Apple Quay. The

driver of the car Ferdinand was in stopped and immediately two shots were

heard. General Potoirek saw Princip standing just outside of Schiller’s Store.

In his hand was a pistol from which tendrils of smoke were rising from the

barrel tip. Realizing what must have happened, he ordered the driver to go to

the Governor’s house. As they crossed the Lateiner Bridge, they started to

look for wounds and a trickle of blood was noticed at the side of Ferdinand’s

mouth. Immediately Sophie enquired Franz of his health, exclaiming “For

Heaven’s sake! What happened to you?”. She did not know of the second

assassin, Princip. In her excitement, she then fainted from loss of blood, as

she was shot in the stomach. Ferdinand, thinking she was then dying, plead of

her “Sophie dear! Sophie dear! Don’t die! Stay alive for our children!” Both

were dead in a matter of minutes.

Afterwards

After Princip shot Ferdinand, he decided he wouldn’t have time to drink

the cyanide with the converging crowd, so he raised the pistol to his temple,

and before he could fire, an onlooker batted away the weapon and the crowd

began to mob him. He the went for his cyanide poison, but like Cabrinovic’s,

it was too old to be effective and it only made him retch. The police arrived

and had to break through the group of angry spectators to arrest Princip. The

rest of the assassins hid their weapons and laid low to see what would

happen, with the exception of Mehmedbasic. In the confusion, he was the

only one who fled. He went south to Montenegro.

A few days later the police were making a roundup of suspects for

questioning, and since Princip lived with Ilic, Ilic was one of those taken into

custody. It was through Ilic, who cracked under pressure during the

interrogation, that the identities of the other conspirators were revealed and

the secret of The Black Hand made known. The remaining conspirators

mentioned in Ilic’s confession were arrested, and the group went on trial.

Princip, Cabrinovic, and Grabez all received twenty year prison sentences,

while Cubrilovic was sentenced sixteen years, and Popovic was sentenced to

thirteen. Only Ilic was old enough to receive the death penalty, and on

February 3, 1915, he was hung in a Sarajevo prison. Princip, Cabrinovic, and

Grabez all died of tuberculosis in prison. At the collapse of the Austrian

government, Popovic and Cubrilovic were both released from prison. Popovic

became the Curator of the Ethnography Department at the Sarajevo Museum.

Cubrilovic became a teacher and a university professor and later he served

the Tito government as Minister of Forests.

While in Montenegro, Mehmedbasic openly talked of his participation

in the assassination and was arrested. The Motenegran government was not

pro-Austrian, and they did not want to upset their sister country Bosnia, so

Mehmedbasic conveniently escaped. This way, Montenegro easily avoided

any potential diplomatic problems that would have resulted by holding him.

He then reunited with The Black Hand and, in corroboration with Apis, was

involved in a plot to kill King Alexander. At this time he was again arrested,

convicted, and sentenced to fifteen years of prison. He had only served two

years of his prison sentence when he was pardoned. For the rest of his life he

worked as a gardener and a carpenter.

In March of 1917, Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevic (Apis) was arrested in

a Bosnian government crackdown of Ujedinjenje ili Smrt. He and his

counterparts received a sham trial before a military tribunal, he was sentenced

to death for treason and on June 24, 1917, Col. Dimitrijevic was executed by

firing squad at sunrise with three other members of The Black Hand.

Prelude to War

Austria-Hungary was not aware of the Black Hand’s participation in the

archduke’s assassination and would not be for a few weeks longer. By that

time, it was too late to call off the army. The act was blamed on the Serbian

government and an on July 26, an ultimatum11 was issued, in which the

following demands were made: 1) The Serbian government would condemn

all propaganda against Austria-Hungary and suppress publications and

societies that opposed Austria-Hungary, 2) Bosnia would ban its school

books and teachers who did not favor Austria-Hungary, 3) Bosnia would

dismiss any officials who had prompted propaganda against Austria-Hungary,

4) Austro-Hungary judges would conduct the trial of those accused of the

crime at Sarajevo, and 5) Bosnia had to accept all of the above terms within

forty-eight hours of the issue of the ultimatum or Austria-Hungary would

declare war on Bosnia. All but the last two of the demands of the ultimatum

were met. Bosnia would not let Austria-Hungary conduct the investigation

because it would be a breach of the country’s sovereignty. Austria-Hungary

declared war on Bosnia two days later. This action brought to light many

secret alliances. Coming to Bosnia’s rescue were Russia and France. To aid

Austria there was Germany, who would later provoke England and America

into joining France and Russia. All told, what started as two gunshots ended

up costing those who fought estimated at over 6,800,000 lives and

$177,000,000,000.12

On December 1, 1918, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes

created as a constitutional monarchy under the Karadjordjevic dynasty. Since

then, there have been numerous civil wars as groups struggle against each

other for power. The fighting has yet to have stopped.


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