The Sarajevo Assassination

No single assassination in modern political history had such a profound impact as did the Sarajevo Assassination.

Although the vast majority of historians will agree that the shot which Gavrilo Princip fired at Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 was not the cause of the Great War, but rather a spark that set a series of events into motion which then led to its outbreak, the final outcome of the events that took place in Sarajevo 100 years ago was certainly devastating.

Official visit 

A full day of activities had been planned for the official visit made by Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife Sophie, who arrived in Sarajevo on June 27th to observe military exercises.

They were staying at Hotel Bosna (the present-day Hoteli Ilidža complex), in Ilidža, and on the evening before the fateful day, the royal pair hosted a dinner for Austro-Hungarian dignitaries. Dining on fine cuisine, which included fresh trout from the Bosna River and drinking fine wines, such as Žilavka from Herzegovina, Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, could never have imagined the dark clouds that were forming to cast a fateful shadow over their lives.

Meeting with a seemingly warm welcome on June 28th, the Archduke asked his driver to proceed slowly so that he could have a good look at the city. The royal party traveled via Appel Quay (the present-day Obala Kulina Bana St.) en route to Vijećnica (City Hall), where a civilian reception was to take place.

The first attack made on the Archduke’s life happened near what is now the Safvet Bey Bašagić Primary School. One of the conspirators saw the car approaching at a reduced speed so he threw a bomb. The driver, seeing an object coming toward him, sped up and the bomb landed on the retracted portion of the roof of the Archduke’s vehicle. Ferdinand shielded his wife with his hand and the bomb rolled off his car and landed beneath one of the other cars in his procession, where it exploded.

Tragic moment

The Archduke’s car hurried on toward Vijećnica in an attempt to avoid any further danger. After cutting their stay short, the royal pair then proceeded to the hospital to visit those who had been wounded during the earlier attack. As they were driving down Appel Quay, the driver made a fatal error when he turned sharply onto Franz Joseph Street (now Zelenih Beretki Street). He attempted to reverse the car back onto Appel Quay, but the assassin was waiting on the corner.

The young Gavrilo Princip saw his chance and fired two shots at close range, killing both the Archduke and his wife. This event resulted in the outbreak of World War I, which would completely change the face of the world at that time.

The conspirators, all of whom were arrested and tried, and most of them died in dungeons throughout the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After the Great War their remains were exhumed and buried at St. Mark’s cemetery in Koševo, a Sarajevo neighborhood, where a chapel dedicated to St. Vitus was erected in their honor.

The Archduke was killed in front of the building which now houses a museum covering Sarajevo history during the period of Austro-Hungarian rule.