Assassination of Franz Ferdinand - A Cause of WWI

Gavrilo Princip tries to commit suicide, after his fatal shooting of the Archduke and his wife, but the cyanide in the capsule he swallows is old, hence ineffective. He remains unbowed, insisting he is a Serbian patriot.

Just under the legal age to hang, he is sentenced to life in prison and dies of tuberculosis, four years later.

The single bullet he used to kill Franz Ferdinand starts the first world war. Alliances between nations, as depicted in this video, pull other countries into a disastrous conflict.

At the beginning of The Great War, people cheer. At its end, Europe is utterly devastated.

With his co-conspirators, Gavrilo Princip—the Bosnian Serb—is buried in a chapel outside Sarajevo.  His legacy is still the subject of intense debate:

  • Was he a hero (for sending a message to the Astro-Hungarians that his country wanted to be free)?
  • Was he a terrorist (for providing the spark to alight a ghastly war in which millions of people died)?

The answer depends on one’s point of view.

A citation, at the burial chapel, gives evidence of one side of the debate.  The words, by Njegos (a Montenegrin poet), seem to extol a hero:

Blessed is he who lives forever. He had something to be born for.

Families of all the lost millions would more likely quote an ancient Greek poet, Theognis, to express how they view Princip and the Black Hands:

Best of all for mortal beings is never to have been born at all...

A different question one might ask, a century after Princip killed the Archduke, is this: What, if anything, have we learned about the concept of war during the last one hundred years?

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5184stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Jul 22, 2019

Media Credits

Clip from the BBC series, Days That Shook the World.  Copyright, Lion Television and BBC, all rights reserved.  Clip provided here as fair use for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with the 770-minute production (which includes many events which "shook the world").


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"Assassination of Franz Ferdinand - A Cause of WWI" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jul 22, 2019.
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