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by
Rick Moran

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June 28, 2014 - 7:51 am

You just can’t make this stuff up, they say, and when it comes to the conspiracy to assassinate Archduke Ferdinand on his visit to Sarajevo 100 years ago today, no imagination in Hollywood would be capable of drawing it up.

Not surprisingly, some details of the plot and the assassination are in dispute. Were the conspirators really part of the shadowy Serbian intelligence agency known as The Black Hand? Or were they local recruits that allowed the Black Hand some plausible deniability? There are also minor discrepancies in how the plot unfolded.

But most agree on the broad outline of the conspiracy — which makes the fact that they actually pulled it off all the more remarkable.

The archduke announced the trip ahead of time and helpfully published a map of the motorcade that would take the royal party to a ceremony at city hall. He rode in an open car with this loving wife Sophie and basked in the cheers from the large crowd along the way.

There were 7 assassins in all. Boys and young men burning with nationalistic fervor who saw knocking off the heir to the Hapsburg throne as a signal for a general revolt. While long on patriotism, they were short on training, planning, execution, and courage. Looking at them from the distance of 100 years, it seems remarkable that this inept, awkward, not-very-bright group of teenagers could pull off the assassination of the young century and throw the world into chaos.

The fact that they did is an example of serendipity and coincidence that boggles the mind today.

There was minimal security — not even 100 police along the motorcade route. But even that paltry number was enough to deter at least 4 of the would-be assassins who chickened out without firing a shot.

One assassin was foiled by a jammed pistol. Another tossed a crude homemade bomb at the archduke’s car that Ferdinand fended off, which caused the device to land in back of the car on the street, injuring several bystanders when it exploded.

The bomb thrower, Nedeljko Cabrinovic, began to run toward the river, swallowing poison before he jumped in trying to drown himself. Unfortunately for him, the water was only inches deep and the poison only made him sick. He was hustled off to jail while the motorcade continued.

Here’s where serendipity makes an appearance:

The furious archduke arrived at City Hall, where the mayor of Sarajevo delivered some totally inappropriate remarks that were written before the assassination attempt.

The archduke snapped, “What kind of welcome is this? I’m being met by bombs!” Then he wiped the blood off his prepared speech and addressed the crowd.

Afterward, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne got back into his motorcade with his wife, Sophie. They had decided to visit the hospital to see the people who were wounded in the bomb attack.

But no one told the driver.

At that fateful intersection, the car was supposed to go straight — but it turned right. A general in the motorcade shouted, “You’re going the wrong way!”

And the driver stopped the car … right in front of assassin number seven.

Assassin number seven was 19 year old Gavrilo Princip. He was crestfallen that he and his comrades had failed in their attempts to kill Ferdinand and decided to visit a local deli to drown his sorrows in a bottle of beer and a sandwich.

The driver’s wrong turn changed the course of history. At that exact moment, Princip was emerging from the deli and not 4 feet away was Ferdinand’s car – conveniently stopped and with no bodyguards in evidence. Princip leaped upon the running board and pumped two shots into the car, hitting both Ferdinand and Sophie. They would die within minutes.

A conspiracy planned and executed by incompetent amateurs ended up completing the task of assassinating Archduke Ferdinand by simple dumb luck and remarkable coincidence.

Thirty seconds either way and Princip would have missed his opportunity. If the mayor had taken 30 seconds longer in his remarks, Princip would have been denied. If the driver had gone the right way, Ferdinand would have probably lived to ascend to the Hapsburg throne. You can point to a dozen scenarios where a few seconds would have made the difference and Princip would have missed his rendezvous with destiny.

But it wasn’t to be.

They unveiled a statue to Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo yesterday. Honoring a terrorist says more about Bosnian Serbs today than it does about what the nation was like in 1914. One man’s terrorist may be another’s freedom fighter, but even if you believe that, it takes a certain amount of obtuseness to celebrate an act that led to the death of 40 million people.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.
Top Rated Comments   
Yeah, but the Serbs aren't Muslims. Muslims are their enemies.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
"And the driver stopped the car … right in front of assassin number seven."

Otherwise known as "When God decides you're dead, you ain't getting away."

I recently read McMeekin's "July 1914," about the assassination and the subsequent crisis that lead to the declarations of war. While I disagree with his thesis that it was Russia's fault that a regional conflict turned into a continental, then global war, he has a very good detailed account of the assassination, itself. One thing he makes clear that you just hint at, Rick, is the utter bungling of the A-H security arrangements for the royal visit to Sarajevo. Not just on the day of the motorcade (though that was worst of all), but in prior planning or any sense of potential danger at all. Bosnia was only recently annexed to the Empire, there was great resentment, there had been prior assassination attempts, and yet the Austrian general in charge, Potiorek, spent most of his time planning the menu for his dinners with the Archduke and Duchess. The man should have been shot for incompetence. Or taken a job with the IRS IT department.

But this event wasn't really the cause of WWI. The Imperial government really didn't care for him (his funeral was almost an afterthought). To Emperor Franz-Joseph I and his government, this finally gave them an excuse to dismember Serbia, something they had wanted to do for years. And Germany gave them a blank check, the wider consequences be damned. To answer the inevitable question of "whose fault was WWI," the finger of blame has to point at Vienna and Berlin.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (13)
All Comments   (13)
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To add to the comic nature, the Archduke for vanity was sewn into his uniform. He bled to death before a scissors could be found.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
The headline led me to believe that Insane Clown Posse would be referenced in some way. Sorely disappointed.

"Entangling alliances! How do they work?"
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
Princip's act should not bear the burden of causing WWI. A world that went to war because obscure Serbia, resenting the overlordship of the Austro-Hungarian empire, produced a fanatical assassin acting for no state, was a world that was going to war and only wanted an excuse. Without Princips, something else would have served.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
It probably wasn't the Serb's best idea; 62% of the Serb army was killed and about 16% of the total population.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
"It takes a certain amount of obtuseness to celebrate an act that led to the death of 40 million people." That's what the medieval Arabian death cult is all about, death!
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, but the Serbs aren't Muslims. Muslims are their enemies.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
History is full of strange coincidences or baffling events on which entire world history turned (Dunkirk, death of Stonewall Jackson before Gettysburg). I don't believe those are really coincidences though.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
To be fair, the Archduke's trolling around Sarajevo in his coach was in and of itself a provocative act and intended to be a visible device reminding the Serbs who was now the boss. It was rather clumsy hubris on the part of Vienna.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
"And the driver stopped the car … right in front of assassin number seven."

Otherwise known as "When God decides you're dead, you ain't getting away."

I recently read McMeekin's "July 1914," about the assassination and the subsequent crisis that lead to the declarations of war. While I disagree with his thesis that it was Russia's fault that a regional conflict turned into a continental, then global war, he has a very good detailed account of the assassination, itself. One thing he makes clear that you just hint at, Rick, is the utter bungling of the A-H security arrangements for the royal visit to Sarajevo. Not just on the day of the motorcade (though that was worst of all), but in prior planning or any sense of potential danger at all. Bosnia was only recently annexed to the Empire, there was great resentment, there had been prior assassination attempts, and yet the Austrian general in charge, Potiorek, spent most of his time planning the menu for his dinners with the Archduke and Duchess. The man should have been shot for incompetence. Or taken a job with the IRS IT department.

But this event wasn't really the cause of WWI. The Imperial government really didn't care for him (his funeral was almost an afterthought). To Emperor Franz-Joseph I and his government, this finally gave them an excuse to dismember Serbia, something they had wanted to do for years. And Germany gave them a blank check, the wider consequences be damned. To answer the inevitable question of "whose fault was WWI," the finger of blame has to point at Vienna and Berlin.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is the best ending to an article I've read in a long time. My jaw actually dropped and I slammed myself back in my chair.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
WOW! You really did that?

WOW!
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, I did. I was going along, reading an article about history when Rick dropped a bomb in the first sentence of the last paragraph.

Okay. "Slammed" might be a touch too much. I fell back, quite quickly. It caught me off-guard.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Honoring a terrorist says more about Bosnian Serbs today than it does about what the nation was like in 1914."

And their utterly unprincipled support for the Serbs says a lot about the Russophiles here...


...primarily that they are abjectly evil lickers of Putin's boots.
3 weeks ago
3 weeks ago Link To Comment
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