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Assassination at Sarajevo

記事ID:0001818 更新日:2020年11月30日更新 印刷ページ表示 大きな文字で印刷ページ表示 <外部リンク>

The Balkan situation at that time

The decline of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans was crucially defined by the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 between the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. At the Congress of Berlin where representatives from each country mediated this conflict, Serbia, Montenegro and Romania were officially granted independence as Balkan states, and Austria-Hungary gained administrative authority over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister Alois Lexa von Aehrenthal aimed to secure their interests in the Balkans while maintaining cooperative relations with Russia. By taking advantage of the turmoil triggered by the Young Turk Revolution (July 1908) in the Ottoman Empire, Austria-Hungary declared the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and their integration into the Austro-Hungarian Empire in October 1908. This move provoked a strong reaction from Serbia. Peter I of Serbia (reign 1903–1918), who was proclaimed king after a political upheaval in 1903, had connections with the domestic extremists and he approached Russia on the matter of Austria-Hungary. In addition, many Serbs were living in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in other Austro-Hungarian areas. Serbian nationalists set the goal of liberating their compatriots outside Serbia and building a nation that brought together all Serbs.

After the Balkan Wars (the First Balkan War from October 1912 to May 1913, the Second Balkan War from June to August 1913), the Ottoman Empire was expelled from the Balkans. Serbia extended its power as a Balkan state and doubled its territory and population. Serbian nationalists became a huge threat to Austria-Hungary.

Assassination at Sarajevo

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife were assassinated by a Serbian student in the streets of Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, at around 11:30 am on June 28, 1914. Earlier that morning, after viewing a military exercise on the outskirts of the city, Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie arrived at the station in Sarajevo and from there they rode to the city hall in two separate cars. On their way, hand grenades were thrown at the cars. FortunaTely, Franz Ferdinand and his wife escaped unharmed and arrived at the city hall in safety. After being welcomed by the mayor, Ferdinand changed his schedule in order to visit the hospital and call on the people who were injured in the grenade explosion. Just when the car carrying Ferdinand and his wife was about to cross the Latin Bridge several minutes after leaving the city hall, Gavrilo Princip drew his pistol and fired twice. The bullets hit Ferdinand in the throat and Sophie in the abdomen. They were rushed to the governor’s residence for medical treatment, but Sophie died on the way and Ferdinand died shortly after.

The assassination plot was carried out by Serbian nationalist members of a secret society called the Black Hand. After Austria-Hungary’s annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1908, the Serbian racial integration movement flared up. Princip, a student from Bosnia, was part of the movement. After learning that Franz Ferdinand would be visiting Bosnia, Princip worked out an assassination plot and recruited collaborators. In addition, Serbian troops and officials were secretly involved in procuring and transporting the weaponry necessary for the assassination. Princip and his collaborators failed with the hand grenades, but they succeeded in assassinating Ferdinand by pistol.

image: Sarajevo in 1910
Photo: Sarajevo in 1910 (Rumpler, Eine Chance, S.562)

 

image: Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife leaving Sarajevo city hall
Photo: Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife leaving Sarajevo city hall (Rumpler, Eine Chance, S.569)

 

image: The uniform worn by the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria
Photo: The uniform worn by the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria (displayed at the Museum of Military History, Vienna [Heeresgeschichtliches Museum], photo taken by Daisuke Ishii)

 

image: The car that carried Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife
Photo: The car that carried Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife (displayed at the Museum of Military History, Vienna [Heeresgeschichtliches Museum], photo taken by Daisuke Ishii)

 

The news about the death of Franz Ferdinand flashed across Austria-Hungary immediaTely. The June 29, 1914 edition of the Vienna Daily reported, “An unexpected cruel stroke of misfortune befell the imperial family, the empire and the people and greatly shocked everyone in the country. The Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie were killed by vicious bullets at Sarajevo on the morning of today (June 28).” Franz Josef I, the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, heard the distressing news at Bad Ischl, Austria, and left for Vienna at 6:00 am the following morning. In addition, the newspaper reported the situation in Vienna on the day of the assassination as follows: “This news about the terrible crime spread among the people like wildfire. But there were so many rumors that nobody knew exactly what had happened… The city government and newspaper companies were flooded with Telephone calls and people talked about this terrible incident at cafes and bars. In the streets as well, strangers gathered to nervously discuss the disaster.” Of course, the news about the death of Franz Ferdinand immediaTely spread to other countries as well. Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany heard an initial report about the assassination while at Kiel, a naval port in northern Germany.


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