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Background to the Assassination
- By June of 1914 Europe had become a powder keg due to tensions between the major military powers; it was a situation just waiting for a spark to ignite it. Read about how Europe got into this situation on our World War One Causes page; for an explanation of the major causes.
- The 1908 annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by the Austro-Hungarian Empire enraged many Serbs and led to the formation of groups such as Young Bosnia.
- The 28th of June, the day of the assassination, was Serbia's National Day and it was insulting to most Serbs to have Franz Ferdinand visit Sarajevo on that day.
Facts about the Assassination of the Archduke
- Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated on June 28th, 1914 in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo.
- The Archduke's wife Sophie was also killed during the assassination.
- A group of seven Bosnian Serbs planned to kill the Archduke as his motorcade travelled down the Appel Quay; the main road in Sarajevo. Several of them positioned themselves along the route.
- The assassin was Gavrilo Princip a Serb nationalist who was a member of a group called Young Bosnia. This group was angered by the 1908 annexation of Bosnia- Herzegovina by the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
- There were two attempts on the Archduke's life on the day he was killed; both by members of the group called Young Bosnia. The first attempt was made by Nedeljko Cabrinovic. He threw a bomb at Ferdinand's car as the royal motorcade passed by him. The bomb was deflected and exploded away from its target injuring several onlookers.
- Like the other would be assassins Gavrilo Princip had positioned himself along the Appel Quay (the main street in Sarajevo). After the first attempt at the assassination failed the Archdukes car travelled past Princip to quickly for him to attempt to kill the Archduke. He walked to nearby Franz Joseph Street where later the Archduke's car would make a wrong turn and stop right in front of him.
- Archduke Ferdinand was shot at close range by Gavrilo Princip. He was hit in the throat and his wife was hit in the stomach. Both died minutes after the shooting.
- Perhaps due to the historical significance of the assassination the killing of the Archduke and his wife is often not described at a human level. This was a horrific event. As Archduke Ferdinand was bleeding to death from the wound to his neck he begged his wife, who lied mortally wounded on his lap, to stay alive for the sake of their children.
Aftermath of the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
- Following the assassination a series of diplomatic events took place that would lead to the Austro-Hungarian Empire declaring war on Serbia. This in turn would lead to all the major military powers in Europe becoming involved due to pre-established alliances.
- The assassin, Gavrilo Princip, was 19 years old at the time of the assassination; too young to legally receive the death penalty; he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. He would die in prison from tuberculosis in 1918.
- Several of the participants in the conspiracy were executed while others received jail sentences of various lengths.