Gavrilo Princip, Sarajevo And World War I

3648 words - 15 pages

Gavrilo Princip, Sarajevo and World War I

In present-day Sarajevo alongside the Miljacka River there used to be commemorative footprints in the concrete sidewalk. Spanning across the Miljacka River was the Princip Bridge, named after the man who took not only the life of an Archduke, but also the lives of many more during World War I. Bismarck had predicted that, “Some damned foolish thing in the Balkans” would cause the war. He was partially correct. The assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Gavrilo Princip did not cause World War I; instead it served as one of the contributing factors to the start of the war. This is why in Sarajevo, after 1990, there are no traces of the assassination. Street names have been changed, and Gavrilo Princip is now considered a criminal terrorist by Bosnia. Today it is known that “The assassination is a very sensitive topic” and that is is “hard to find people willing to talk candidly about Gavrilo Princip.” There were many reasons for the assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. Many of these reasons had to do with the relationship between the countries of Austria and Serbia.

After the Treaty of Berlin in 1878 Austria was given the right to govern the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the time, Bosnia consisted of Croats who are Roman Catholic, the ethnic Serbs who were Serb-Orthodox, and the Muslims who were left from when the Turks ruled populated the province of Bosnia. Unfortunately there was no one set ethnic group for Bosnians. Many of the Bosnians wanted to have their province shared in conjunction with Serbia, which was only across the river. Serbia agreed with the Bosnians on this matter and were very eager to see this happen, but Austria was handed the right to govern. Thirty years later, on October 6, 1908 Austria directly annexed both provinces into the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This immediately left no hope for the Turks to regain their lands; however, Bosnians would now have full rights and privileges of the Empire. The reason for doing this is not really known, but it is thought by some that the Austrians were just exercising their right as a sovereign power. Turkey was paid a settlement in cash from the Austrians and much of Europe calmed down, except for the Serbians who wanted the territory as their own.

On October 8, 1908, two days after the annexation, the founding of a semi-secret society called Narodna Odbrana occurred. They met in the City Hall in the city of Belgrade. Many of these men were Serbian ministers, government officials, and generals. The group was founded to give a purpose to Pan-Slavism and to recruit and train for a potential war with Austria. Anti-Austrian propaganda was spread and spies of the Narodna Odbrana were now operating in the Austrian provinces. One year later, in 1909, Austria asked the Serbian government to put a stop to their revolution against Austria. The Narodna Odbrana was...

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