During the earlier period of 1914, the balance of power became quite unstable in Europe. A single event which created diplomatic crisis led Europe to a Great War. The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Princess Sophie committed by a young Bosnian Serb nationalist in Sarajevo. The aftermath of this event will push six Europe’s major powers to a World War I.

Which demolished the old continent and took around 17 million lives of soldiers and civilians.

If it wasn’t for odd series of events and decisions (wrong turn) that placed royal couple right in front of the assassinator like served dish.

Why was Archduke visiting Sarajevo in the first place?

As an addition to his title, Franz Ferdinand wasn’t only an heir to his uncle’s throne, but also an inspector General of Austro-Hungarian Army. Thus he decided to organize a military exercise in Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia.

Back in the days, during 1908, the dual monarchy Austria-Hungary had annexed the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A region that had before been under the control of the Ottoman Empire. A home of predominant Slavic community.

Wary of possible territorial expansion from the neighboring state of Serbia. Austro-Hungary was seeking support from Germany which was confirmed in case of war against Serbia and its powerful ally – Russia.

Another side of these military drills which took place in Sarajevo in June of 1914. A simple display of power set as a warning to Serbia for further aggression and expansion.

June 28 was a decision-making date, as it an important date in Serbian history. Also on this date, the battle on Kosovo field against the Ottoman Empire has occurred.

Who or what was Young Bosnia?

Young Bosnia was a revolutionary movement which was active condominium of Bosnia and Herzegovina before world war I.

Members of the organization were predominantly school students.  Bosnian Serbs, Bosnian Muslims, and Bosnian Croats could be found within the organization.

The key ideology promoted by the members of the group. Yugoslavian, which was governing the unification of the south-Slavic states into Yugoslavia.

Young Bosnia ideology comes from a variety of ideas, movements, and events; such as German romanticism, Russian revolutionary socialism, and the battle of Kosovo.

Gavrilo Princip statement

Gavrilo Princip - star of the show

World wide known as a person which started World War I. Princip came from the feudal family which lived in village Obljaj in Bosnia.

He claimed that he had an experience from the first hand as his family was suffering under the rule of the Austrian – Hungarian Empire. According to his claims, other feudal families were experiencing the same treatment as one of his. Which made the life of feudal community pretty hard.

On 28th of June Gavrilo Princip had an opportunity to fulfill his wish, to assassinate Arch-Duke and Governor of Bosnia – Gen. Potiorek.

What led to this opportunity was the series of odd events which have occurred in previous hours. The first attempt of the assassination was a failure which put Gavrilo Princip in a greater concern, as he thought that they missed their opportunity. During the 1st attempt, Nedeljko Cabrinovic was a first-person which tried to carry out the assassination.

But things didn’t go well for him, as he missed a car in which were the targets, wounding the civilians which were standing by the road.

Even though he tried to commit suicide which was a part of an inner agreement between the members of Young Bosnia. If they were to be captured, they’ll try to commit suicide by drinking cyanide pills. Nedeljko was captured after he tried to drown himself in river Miljacka. To keep things simple – it wasn’t his day. He failed to carry out the assassination, commit suicide 2 times and in the end, he was caught by police.

After this 1st attempt next on the schedule was a public speech of Franz Ferdinand in front of the City Hall. Thus the speech wasn’t held, as Arch-duke was outrageous. He wasn’t trusting the protection from the local authority. They failed to ensure the safety of the royalty during this visit.

Now Franz Ferdinand is insisting to go to the hospital so he would be able to visit the wounded ones from the 1st attempt of the assassination. He was insisting on the outer route which would be evading narrow city-center streets, as he suspected that there could be more assassinators.

In the end, no one was bothering translate change of the plan and new route to the Czech driver. Thus driver picked the shortest route to reach the hospital which would be through the city center.

He made a turn from the main Appel Quay street as he followed the other cars from the motorcade. As soon he left the “main route” Gen Potiorek shouted at the driver to stop, giving him a notice that he made a wrong turn. As a driver hit the breaks, and he actually stopped nearby Gavrilo Princip’s location.

Young Gavrilo wasn’t wasting his time, as soon as they stopped he pulled out a pistol and fired two shots. Both of them were lethal for Franz Ferdinand and his wife. With a 3rd shot, he was planning to take his own life, but he was stopped and disarmed by the police and civilians.

In the meantime, the driver was rushing to Governor’s residence for medical treatment. Unfortunately, they passed away on the way there.


All members of Young Bosnia were eventually caught and prosecuted for Sarajevo assassination. During the trial, Gavrilo was declared as the main actor of the assassination. He would be responding to most of the questions referred to Young Bosnia.

The anti-Serb riot took over the Sarajevo and other various places within the Empire. Demonstrations organized and stimulated by General Oskar Potiorek.

A Nobel prize winner writer Ivo Andric was also referred to violence in Sarajevo and put a label on it as “Sarajevo frenzy of hate”.

Group of people sitting in the court during the trial

Sarajevo trials

The majority of defendants were charged with a conspiracy to commit high treason with a connection to official circles of Kingdom of Serbia. Also charging them for this felony allowed the Austrian – Hungarian authority to give them harsher penalties.

Penalties of 20 years would be passed upon the members of Young Bosnia that were actively involved in the assassination. Gavrlo Princip, Trifun Grabez and Nedeljko Cubrinovic would be the members of a group which received the highest penalty for underaged defendants.

While every other adult that was involved with the members of Young Bosnia was faced with death penalties.


The murder of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and his wife produced widespread shock across European royal houses, and there was initially much sympathy for the Austrian position. Thus ordinary people did not really care about what has happened, on the evening when assassination was carried out people in Vienna were listening to Opera and drank wine as if nothing happened.

A few days after the assassination, Austria – Hungary alongside with Germany advised Serbia to open an investigation about this case on Serbian soil. But the minister of foreign affairs replied that this event has nothing to do with Serbian Government, therefore, this investigation would be unnecessary.

Yet the letter was sent from Austrian – Hungary head of the state, submitting an ultimatum to Serbian Government, for which they had 48 h to respond.

Although the Serbian Government partially rejected this proposal. That wasn’t enough to stop bigger conflict which a few days later grew to become a start of a Great War.

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