Saturday, June 28, 2014

First World War Centenary: the Assassination of Franz Ferdinand, as it Happened

The memory expressed in so many contemporary accounts of England in that last summer of peace was the "picnic-perfect weather".
This has somehow morphed into an idyllic fantasy of a time when everyone was upper-middle class or above, the boys were handsome and sporty, the girls beautiful and witty with not a care in the world, which would be silly except that, with the benefit of hindsight, we know it is a saner remembrance than thinking about most anything that was to come.

And just for for the record, the weather was was pretty nice:

From The Telegraph:
On Sunday June 28 1914 in Sarajevo, Gavrilo Princip fired the shot that killed the Archduke and started the train of events that led to global war. Here is a step by step account of how the dramatic day unfolded
Murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand Telegraph headline
The Daily Telegraph, June 29 1914 
Our journey starts with an extremely promising omen. Here our car burns, and down there they will throw bombs at us.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand comments wryly on the fact that his journey to Bosnia in June 1914 begins with his car overheating
The Archduke: Franz Ferdinand, the bumptious, little-loved 51-year-old nephew of the ailing Emperor Franz Joseph, was heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. In 1913 he was made inspector general of the armed forces of Austria-Hungary; it was this role that took him to Bosnia in June 1914, to inspect the army’s summer manoeuvres.
The Duchess: Franz Ferdinand married Countess Sophie Chotek for love, for which both paid a price. She was from a Czech noble family but was deemed unfit to be a Habsburg bride; she had been a lady-in-waiting to Archduchess Isabella, whose sister Franz Ferdinand was expected to marry. Their marriage was morganatic, meaning their children were excluded from the line of succession. Although she was made Duchess of Hohenberg in 1909, the slights were constant at functions such as imperial banquets, where she had to enter the room last.
[Sophie] could never share [Franz Ferdinand’s] rank ... could never share his splendours, could never even sit by his side on any public occasion. There was one loophole ... his wife could enjoy the recognition of his rank when he was acting in a military capacity. Hence, he decided, in 1914, to inspect the army in Bosnia. There, at its capital Sarajevo, the Archduke and his wife could ride in an open carriage side by side ... Thus, for love, did the Archduke go to his death.
AJP Taylor

The family: Three much-loved children, aged between 10 and 12 – Princess Sophie von Hohenberg (1901-1990), Maximilian, Duke of Hohenberg (1902-1962), Prince Ernst von Hohenberg (1904-1954); there was also a stillborn son (d. 1908). On the morning of his death, the Archduke sent a telegram to his children, congratulating Max on his recent exams. 

The empire: 11 nationalities lived under the dual monarchy of Austria-Hungary, with as many grievances – 50 million people across modern-day Austria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, parts of Poland and northern Italy. Bosnia-Herzegovina was the most recent addition, having been annexed in 1908. Franz Ferdinand had opposed the annexation, not from any love for the southern Slavs, but as a pointless provocation of them and of Russia.

The grievance: The formal independence of Serbia had been recognised at the Congress of Berlin in 1878. Bosnian Serbs dreamt of joining it in a Greater Serbia. While Franz Ferdinand had no personal liking for the Serbs, he was not hostile to them: in fact he was thought to be a ‘federalist’ who supported giving more autonomy to Slavic lands. This alarmed the Serbs, who foresaw the creation of a third crown in the Austro-Hungarian empire with Zagreb the possible capital – if that happened the chances of creating Greater Serbia would vanish.

The targeting of the Archduke thus exemplified one abiding strand in the logic of terrorist movements, namely that reformers and moderates are more to be feared than outright enemies and hardliners.
Christopher Clark
The martyr: Bogdan Žerajić, a 22-year-old Serb medical student from Herzegovina, resolved to kill Emperor Franz Joseph at the opening of a new parliament in Sarajevo in June 1910. In the event, he fired at Marijan Varešanin, the governor of the province, missed, then killed himself with his final bullet. Vladimir Gaćinović, a driving force behind the liberation movement Mlada Bosna – Young Bosnia – wrote a pamphlet celebrating Žerajić and made a hero of him; his grave became a shrine. Among those inspired by his memory was Gavrilo Princip.

I often spent whole nights there, thinking about our situation, about our miserable conditions... and so it was that I resolved to carry out the assassination.

Gavrilo Princip, the eventual assassin, explains at his trial how he was drawn to Žerajić’s grave
The Black Hand: The annexation of 1908 helped radicalise Serb nationalist groups. On March 3 1911, in a Belgrade apartment, Ujedinjenje ili smrt! – Union or Death! – was formed, the secret society that came to be known as the ‘Black Hand’.

 Gen Potiorek and Dragutin Dimitrijevic - 'Apis'
The plot: Just as they were intended to be, the details of the plot are difficult to nail down. The prime mover was Dragutin Dimitrijević, nicknamed ‘Apis’ (after the Egyptian bull god), 36-year-old head of Serbian military intelligence. In May 1903, he had led Serbian officers in overthrowing King Alexander I and his wife Queen Draga, who were murdered. The conspirators installed Peter I as the new king. Apis was present at the founding meeting of the Black Hand in 1911, as was his co-conspirator from 1903, Vojislav Tankosić, who was one of the handlers of the Sarajevo assassins....MUCH MORE
The lie that started the First World War
7:10AM BST 28 Jun 2014

The Telegraph has been doing a daily series:
In yesterday's Travel section:

First World War centenary: Franz Ferdinand’s final journey
100 years ago, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated, an event that triggered the First World War. Adrian Bridge traces his final journey from Vienna to Sarajevo
First World War centenary: Franz Ferdinand’s final journey Archduke Franz Ferdinand arriving in Sarajevo in 1914 
Daily Telegraph June 25 1914
25 Jun 2014