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Outbreak of the War


How the War Began

World War 1 started with nothing more than allies making good on their word. On June 28th 1914 three members of the Serbian Nationalists terrorist group know as "Black Hand" set out through the streets of Sarajevo with the intent to assassinate the Austria-Hungary Emperor. The Emperor was invited with his wife Sophie to watch his troops on maneuvers in June. It was well known to be a dangerous trip. Sarajevo was largely populated with people who wanted a Union with Serbia. Three members of Black Hand were sent to assassinate Franz Ferdinand. Each man was armed with a revolver, two bombs, and a small vial of cyanide. They were instructed to commit suicide after the assassination was complete. The three assassins Gavrilo Princip, Nedjelko Cabrinovic, and Trifko Grabez, were all suffering from tuberculosis and knew they wouldn't live long and were glad to give their life for the cause they believed in.


Archduke Franz Ferdinand

Assassinated on June 28, 1914.


Duchess Sophie Chotek

Franz Ferdinand's wife, who was also assassinated on June 28, 1914.

At the same time Nikola Pasic, The Prime Minister of Serbia, was being informed of this plot by Major Voja Tankosic. Tankosic was a high-ranking official in the Black Hand organization. Although Pasic supported Black Hands overall ideas did not want the assassination to take place for fear or causing a war with Austria-Hungary. Pasic gave orders for the three men to be arrested when they tried to leave the country. However his orders were not carried out and the men arrived in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where they met with fellow conspirators, Muhamed Mehmedbasic, Danilo Ilic, Vaso Cubrilovic, Cvijetko Popovic, Misko Jovanovic, and Veljko Cubrilovic. Franz Ferdinand Arrived in Sarajevo shortly before 10 o'clock. The Royal Procession consisted of three cars. In the first car were Fehim Curcic, the Mayor of Sarajevo, and Dr. Gerde, the city's Commissioner of Police. The second car contained Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie von Chotkovato, Oskar Potiorek, and Count von Harrach. The cars top was rolled back in order to see the occupants better.


In charge of security was the local police force. One hundred twenty Sarajevo policemen lined the route along with seven members of Black Hand, the first of these was Muhamed Mehmedbasic, standing by the Austria-Hungarian Bank; Muhamed watched the royal procession pass by. He later claimed there was a policeman standing behind and he feared he would be immediately stopped in his attempt. The next man was Nedjelko Cabrinovic. He was better prepared and at approximately 10:15 he stepped out and hurled his bomb at the Archdukes car. The Archdukes River quickly accelerated when he saw an object flying at the car. The bomb exploded under the wheel of the next car in the procession. Eric von Merizzi and Count Boos-Waldeck were both seriously wounded along with about a dozen spectators who were hit by bomb splinters.


General Oskar Potiorek

The Governor of Austrian provinces, who was with Franz Ferdinand at the time of his assassination.

Emperor Franz Joseph

Franz Ferdinand's uncle. Also former ruler of Austria-Hungary.

After tossing his bomb Nedjelko swallowed his cyanide and jumped into the River Miljacka. He was followed by four men including two detectives and was arrested and taken to the local police station. The poison had not been enough to kill him. Franz Urban, the Archdukes driver, drove extremely fast and the other five Black Hand members decided it was useless to try and kill the Archduke while the car was going that fast. After the official reception at city hall The Archduke asked about those injured in the blast. When he was informed that they were in the hospital badly injured he insisted on going to see them. Some of his staff thought that it might be dangerous for the archduke to go out again. But eventually it was decided that the Archduke would go to the hospital and the Archduchess would stay behind. But when she heard this she refused to stay behind saying "As long as the Archduke shows himself in public today I will not leave him."


In the defense of safety it was decided that the royal car would travel straight along Appel Quay to the hospital. However no one told the driver, Franz Urban. On the way Urban turned right to get on Franz Joseph Street. General Potiorek, whose idea it was to travel down Appel Quay, immediately realized the error and shouted, "What is this? This is the wrong way! We're supposed to take the Appel Quay!" One of the Conspirators was standing on the corner. The conspirator, Gavrilo Princip, was suddenly less then 10 feet from his target. Mean while Ferdinand's driver had slammed on the brakes to back up when Gavrilo stepped out and at a range of about 5 feet fired several shots at the vehicle. Franz Ferdinand was hit in the neck and his wife in the abdomen. Franz Urban drove the couple to the governor's residence. Both died soon after. After shooting the couple Gavrilo turned his pistol on himself. Ante Velic, who was standing nearby, saw and grabbed Princip's arm. Another man also grabbed Princip and within moments the police arrived and arrested him.


Gavrilo Princip

Franz Ferdinand's assassin.

Dragutin Dimitrijevic

Head of the Black Hand.

Both arrested conspirators were arrested and eventually gave away the names of their fellow conspirators. However all had managed to escape to Serbia. Other Black Hand members were arrested and interrogated and gave the names of the three men they claimed organized the plot. The Austria-Hungarian government demanded that these men be arrested and sent for trial in Vienna. On the 25th of July 1914, Nikola Pasic, the Prime Minister of Serbia, said he would be violating "Serbia's Constitution and criminal in law" and could not hand over these men. Then on the 28th of July 1914 Austro-Hungarian declared war on Serbia. On the 6th of July Germany declared it full support for Austria-Hungary if it moves against Serbia. Later that month the Serbian government appealed to Russia for help against a war with Austria-Hungary. Two days later Russia promised help for Serbia.


Three days after Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, Russia mobilized it's armed forces in support of Serbia, including sending troops to its borders with Germany and Austria-Hungary. On the 1st of August Germany declared war on Russia. Then on the 3rd of August Germany declared war on France. Britain then sent a warning to Berlin saying if Germany invades Belgium, Britain will go to war. The next day the German Army marched into Belgium, and Britain declared war on Germany. Then, on the 5th of August Austria-Hungary declared war on Russia. In five days France declared war on Austria-Hungary. And then Britain declared war on Austria-Hungary. As you can see, within three weeks practically all of Europe is in war. Events quickly accelerated, as they did for the rest of the war.


Nedjelko Cabrinovic

Black Hand member who threw a bomb at Franz Ferdinand.

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