The Arrest of Gavrilo Prinzip


Few in Europe realised that the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in a black comedy of errors instigated by rogue elements of the Serbian security apparatus would plunge Europe into an orgy of military madness. Security arrangements on the day were chaotic, and it is said that Prinzip, a Bosnian Serb, fired his revolver with his eyes averted. Assassinations had not typically lead to international crises in the past. But the Viennese war party made capital out of the incident, irrespective of the fact that the Archduke and his schemes for a federal empire had incurred the displeasure of the Emporer Franz Joseph. In the end the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia, which Vienna knew was not responsible for the assassination, was drafted in deliberately unacceptable terms, because the war party, which mendaciously declared its disinterest in conquering Serbia, wanted war to dismember Serbia amongst its Balkan neighbours. Longstanding Russian guarentees to Serbia activated the Triple Entente with England and France, while unconditional German support for Austria meant that the localised Balkan war irresponsibly brought on by Austria gave rise to a general European conflagration.

Photo from Gersheim `Historic Events 1839-1939' Longmans London 1960

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