The Assaination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
28th June 1914.Archduke Franz Ferdinand was the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, however the a large percentage of the population of the province of Bosnia Herzogovina were unhappy at Austrian rule, instead favouring a union with Serbia. The Archduke and his wife were invited to the province to watch army manoevers and they arrived around 10am by train.
At 10.10, when the six car possession passed the central police station, Nedjelko Cabrinovic, a member of the terrorist group ‘ Black Hand’ hurled a hand grenade station at the archduke’s car. The driver accelerated when he saw the object flying towards him and the grenade exploded under the wheel of the next car. Two of the occupants, Eric von Merizzi and Count Boos-Waldeck were seriously wounded. About a dozen spectators were also hit by bomb splinters.
Franz Ferdinand’s driver, Franz Urban, drove on extremely fast and other members of the Black Hand group on the route were unable to fire their guns or hurl their bombs at the Archduke’s car.
After attending the official reception at the City Hall, Franz Ferdinand asked about the members of his party that had been wounded by the bomb. When the archduke was told they were badly injured in hospital, he insisted on being taken to see them. A member of the archduke’s staff, Baron Morsey, suggested this might be dangerous, but Oskar Potiotek, who was responsible for the safety of the royal party, replied, “Do you think Sarajevo is full of assassins?” However, Potiorek did accept it would be better if the Duchess remained behind in the City Hall. When Baron Morsey told Sophie about the revised plans, she refused to stay arguing: “As long as the Archduke shows himself in public today I will not leave him.”
In order to avoid the city centre, General Oskar Potiorek decided that the royal car should travel straight along the Appel Quay to the Sarajevo Hospital. However, Potiorek forgot to tell the driver, Franz Urban, about this decision. On the way to the hospital, Urban took a right turn into Franz Joseph Street. One of the conspirators, Gavrilo Princip, was standing on the corner at the time. Oskar Potiorek immediately realised the driver had taken the wrong route and shouted “What is this? This is the wrong way! We’re supposed to take the Appel Quay!”.
The driver put his foot on the brake, and began to back up. In doing so he moved slowly past the waiting Gavrilo Princip. The assassin stepped forward, drew his gun, and at a distance of about five feet, fired several times into the car. Ferdinand was hit in the neck and the Duchess was hit in the abdomen. Princip’s bullet had pierced the archduke’s jugular vein but before losing consciousness, he pleaded “Sophie dear! Sophie dear! Don’t die! Stay alive for our children!” Franz Urban drove the royal couple to Konak, the governor’s residence, but although both were still alive when they arrived, they died from their wounds soon afterwards.
To put it mildly, this really annoyed the Austrians, who immediately set about to crush the Serbs. Exactly one month later on the 28th July 1917, Austria declared war on Serbia and Russia…over the next few months there was a lot of political pushing and shoving with governments facing up to governments declaring ‘ if you hurt my mate, you will have us to deal with’ and thus Europe quickly split into two sides, each side pushing out their chest in a show of confidence and military power.
It would only end in tears. And death. Lots of death.