The “casus belli” for WW1

[Reading time: 3 minutes]

The assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on the june 28th 1914 is recognized as the “casus belli” for WW1, and almost everybody knows that Gavrilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist, shot to death the archduke and his wife. But how did that day pass off? How did a rabble of students manage to kill the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire?
Although several reports of great danger were presented to Austro-Hungarian authorities regarding the passage of the archduke through Sarajevo, Habsburg police did in fact entrust the security to the holy providence, leaving Franz Ferdinand and other officials almost alone. Furthermore, the 28th june for serbians is not a day like others, it is indeed the most important Serbian festivity, the Vidovdan. This day is actually commemorated since 1389, when Ottoman sultan Murad destroyed Serbian feudal army in the Kosovo battle. For Serbian nationalist, so, Franz Ferdinand’s decision to visit Sarajevo on the 28th of june was a deep snub.
There was almost no surveillance on the streets during Franz Ferdinand’s parade, that is quite a strange event, since, four years before, when the emperor Franz Joseph had visited Sarajevo, his course had been protected by thousands of soldiers, arranged in two columns, and hundreds of suspects had been held by police.
Returning to the events of june 28th, Nedeljko Cabrinovic, a Serbian nationalist, asked to a policemen in which of the car the archduke was, and, the agent, who was inattententive because of the parade, pointed the correct car. At that point, Nedeljko threw a grenade that wounded twenty people, without killing, though, the archduke. In spite of it, the authorities decided to make the parade proceed. Though, the archduke in person decided to change the course in order to visit one of the wounded officials.

Another joke of fate, he forgot to tell his decision to the drivers, who continued following the previous course of the parade. When the archduke realized it, asked the drivers to make maneuver. In that moment, Gavrilo Princip, who was disillusioned because the attempt to Franz Ferdinand life had failed, saw the archduke car, took the opportunity, got closer, pulled the trigger and shot him and his wife to death, giving life to that series of events that brought the world to war.

Nowadays, there is yet uncertainty regarding how the events of that day had gone, this is due to the fact that the witnesses were really confused and different from each others.

Gabriele Marolla

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