WWI: Franz Ferdinand Assasinated

It is now June of 1914 and by this time Europe had long been in a tizzy from the revolutionary movements going on in Russia. Many radical parties were being formed and testing the political waters in France and Germany. And the Balkans, Croats, Slovenes, and Muslims were itching for freedom from the Astro-Hungarian rule of Emperor Franz Joseph and his unwillingness to change with the political culture. 

Secret societies started popping up in the major cities of civil unrest and political change including Sarajevo Bosnia. A group that called itself Young Bosnia with over 5,000 members was pressuring the Austro-Hungarian empire to release annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina. There had been decent support for the Black Hand within Serbia itself and the government had been facilitating and encouraging the organization of conspiratorial/military organizations within the boarders of its enemies (i.e. Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire) (MacMillan, 547) 

They called for action refraining from violence as the Serbian government renounced their cause at the use of force. So they declared Young Bosnia a "cultural society" and encouraged a break off group, the Black Hand, to do their dirty work. The nationalist movement and group itself was feeling particularly strong at the time because to two major victories in the Balkan wars of 1912 & 1913 that gained huge territories and Serbian independence; making fighting for the remaining southern Slavs still apart of Bosnia and Herzegovina a legitimate achievement. (MacMillan, 547)

Gavrilo Princip was one of the Black Hand members that was determined to make a difference for his cause with violence, the only means that he saw appropriate and effective.

The Black Hand members each swore this oath: 

"I ..., by entering into the organisation "Unification or Death", do hereby swear by the Sun
which shineth upon me, by the Earth which feedeth me, by God, by the
blood of my forefathers, by my honour and by my life, that from this
moment onward and until my death, I shall faithfully serve the task of
this organisation and that I shall at all times be prepared to bear for
it any sacrifice. I further swear by God, by my honour and by my life,
that I shall unconditionally carry into effect all its orders and
commands. I further swear by my God, by my honour and by my life, that I
shall keep within myself all the secrets of this organisation and carry
them with me into my grave. May God and my comrades in this organisation
be my judges if at any time I should wittingly fail or break this oath!"

The symbol of oppression for Princip and the Black Hand was the heir the to Austro-Hungarian throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand, making him the perfect target for assassination. It was announced in the local newspapers that the Archduke would be in Sarajevo to dedicate the opening of a new museum on June 28th. **It is highly disputed if the men were recruited for the mission or simply requested weapons from the organization to carry out their plan.

He started by recruiting help realizing that to pull off a successful assassination of the Archduke he would need more than one gun in the crowd. Weeding through his radical bars, coffee houses, childhood friends, and "cell" of the Black Hand he found five enthusiastic participants that were dedicated to acts of terror against important targets. (MacMillan, 547) (all but one including himself were teenagers) -- The leader of the Black Hand and Serbian intelligence officers provided Princip with four guns (non of the six teenagers had ever shot a gun) & six bombs -- Pre-determined shooting spots along the four and a half mile motorcade  provided them with enough chance for success and a margin for error were anything to go wrong. 

Each man was given a bomb and the oldest four carried the guns under their heavy baggy clothing that looked suspicious in the late June weather. As the Archdukes car starts its four and a half miles back to the train through crowds of cheering people everything goes wrong. First, the motorcade goes past the -- first conspirator he got cold feet and did not set off his bomb --the second conspirator set off his bomb but it missed the Archdukes car by mere inches and injured some of his security detail -- the motorcade stopped in front of Prinicp to make sure everyone was okay from the bomb but the crowd had become so thick and Princip was so short that he could not get a glimpse of the Archduke or a field of fire to shoot him -- once the motorcade was on its way again it went past the last conspirator so fast that he had no time to react. 

Princip had thought that he had missed his chance but the driver of the motorcade had taken a wrong turn leading the Archduke straight to a disappointed Princip. 5 feet from the Archduke Princp took his shots, shooting Ferdinand in the throat and his wife Sophie in the stomach. Both were dead within minutes. 

 MacMillan, Margaret. The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914. New York: Random House, 2013. Pg. 547. 

Pozzi, Henri. Black Hand over Europe. Zagreb: Croatian Information Centre, 1994.