Writer Historian Producer

Sarajevo June 1914.


It’s amazing to think that one hundred years ago today – the 28th June 1914, the heir to the Austrian Hapsburg throne was murdered in a botched and disorganised assassination attempt in this provincial Bosnia city.

The assassination attempt was planned by the Serbian nationalist Black Hand cell and comprised six assassins. Spread along the route to be driven by the Archduke’s motorcade on his visit to the city, their first attempt on his life failed when the bomb they threw bounced off the rear of the car, exploded on the road, injuring instead bystanders and members of the official party in the following car.

After giving a speech at the Town Hall, the Archduke asked that he visit the hospital to see the wounded members of his party and so he and his wife Sophia returned back along the river. At one point they took a wrong turning and as their driver tried to reverse, stalled the car. By unfortunate accident, one of the six conspirators, Gavrilo Princip stepped forward and from just one and a half metres, (5 feet) fired two shots.  One hit the Duke in the jugular vein while his wife was hit in the abdomen.  Both died soon afterwards. Though there were many “causes” and reasons for the start of the Great War, this was a significant trigger.



The Archduke's blood stained uniform in the Vienna Military Museum.

The bloodstained uniform is today exhibited in Vienna’s Military History Museum along with the Graf and Stift car the couple were travelling in and the Belgium made pistol used by Princip. Interesting, a memorial depicting Princip has recently been unveiled in a Bosnian town and he has been hailed as a nationalist hero. There you go, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. It will always be the same.


Will Davies


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