Friday, September 07, 2007

Who really killed Franz Ferdinand?

Who gained from the assassination?

The Archduke Franz Ferdinand and family

The Austro-Hungarian Empire (in colour) included many different groups. Both Austria-Hungary and Serbia wanted to control Bosnia.

The official story is that the plot to kill Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was intended to benefit Serbia. But an alternative theory is that the plotters, unwittingly in most cases, were being manipulated by members of the Austro-Hungarian elite. The evidence is limited and sometimes confusing.

In 1914, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie led to the outbreak of World War One.

In 1914 there were people within the ruling elite of Austia-Hungary who -
(1) wanted an excuse for a war to crush Serbia
(2) would not have been unhappy if Franz Ferdinand and his wife were to be assassinated.

Serbia was seen as a nuisance to Austria-Hungary because certain Serbians had given encouragement to the Bosnians to break away from Austria-Hungary and join up with Serbia. The people of Serbia and Bosnia were Slavs.

Franz Ferdinand was not popular with certain members of the elite in Austria-Hungary because of his sympathy for the Slavs.

In 1895, Franz Ferdinand had met Countess Sophie Chotek. (Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )

The Emperor of Austria-Hungary, Franz Joseph, was not keen on the idea of Franz Ferdinand marrying Sophie as she was a Slav and she was not from a royal family.

The two leading groups in the Austro-Hungarian Empire were the Austrians and the Hungarians; the Slavs were seen as second-class citizens.

However, in 1899, the Emperor gave Franz Ferdinand permission to marry Sophie, on condition that the children of the marriage would never ascend the throne.

Sophie would not share her husband's rank, title, precedence, or privileges. She would not normally appear in public beside him. She would not be allowed to ride in the royal carriage, or sit in the royal box.

The wedding took place in 1900. Emperor Franz Joseph did not attend, nor did any archduke including Franz Ferdinand's brothers. The only members of the imperial family who were present were Franz Ferdinand's stepmother, Maria Theresia, and her two daughters.

Sophie was treated poorly at court.

Franz Ferdinand was not popular with the ruling elite in Austria-Hungary, because he wanted to give more power to the Slavs within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Austo-Hungarian empire contained many races, including Austrians, Hungarians and Slavs.

Ferdinand was considering the idea of a federal state.

In 1914, General Oskar Potiorek invited Franz Ferdinand to come to Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia, part of the Austrian Empire, to inspect army manoeuvres.

It was in Sarajevo, on 28 June 1914, that Franz Ferdinand was shot dead.

The assassin was Gavrilo Princip, one of a group of 6 assassins organised by Danilo Ilic. Princip was one of those who wanted Bosnia to break away from Austria-Hungary and join up with Serbia.

The exact course of events is dificult to describe; this is partly because of the inconsistent stories of the witnesses and partly because the main inquiry was carried out by powerful Austria which may have slanted the evidence.

On the morning of June 28, six conspirators, with six bombs and four revolvers, were in Sarajevo waiting for Franz Ferdinand's motorcade. (Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand - Wikipedia, the free ...)

At approximately 10AM, Franz Ferdinand, his wife and their party left an army camp, where Franz Ferdinand had reviewed the troops. The motorcade consisted of seven cars.

In the third car were Franz Ferdinand, his wife Sophie, Bosnia's Governor Oscar Potiorek and Franz Ferdinan's bodyguard Count Franz von Harrach.

At 10:15 the motorcade passed the first assassin. The assassin failed to act.

The second assassin also failed to act.

The third assassin was Nedeljko Cabrinovic. As Franz Ferdinand's car approached, Cabrinovic threw his bomb. The bomb bounced off the folded back convertible cover into the street. Its timed detonator caused it to explode under the next car, putting that car out of action and wounding a total of 20 people.

The tree remaining assassins, Cvjetko Popovic, Gavrilo Princip and Trifun Grabez failed to act as the motorcade sped away to the Town Hall.

At the Town Hall, officials and members of the Archduke's party discussed security.

A suggestion that troops be brought in to line the streets was reportedly rejected because they did not have their parade uniforms with them. Security was left to the small Sarajevo police force.

Franz Ferdinand decided to go to the hospital and visit the wounded victims of Cabrinovic's bomb.
Meanwhile, Gavrilo Princip had gone to a nearby food shop, Schiller's delicatessen, after learning that the assassination had been unsuccessful. Emerging, he saw Franz Ferdinand's open car reversing after having taken a wrong turn.

The driver, Franz Urban, had not been told of the change in plan and had continued on a route that would take the Archduke and his party directly out of the city.

Princip moved forward and fired twice.

Franz Ferdinand and Sophie were hit and died soon after.

Princip died in an Austrian jail of tuberculosis in April 1918, aged 23.

The assassin Mehmedbašic was arrested in Montenegro, but was allowed to "escape" to Serbia, but in 1916 Serbia imprisoned him 'on false charges'.

Princip and the other assassins were said to be members of the Black Hand organisation.

Borijove Jevtic, one of the leaders of Black hand, gave his account of the assassination.

According to this account, there were twenty-two conspirators spaced five hundred yards apart along the route the Archduke would take. After the Town Hall reception, General Potiorek persuaded the Archduke to leave the city. They took the shortest route which the road had a sharp turn in it for which the car would have to slow down. This is where Gavrilo Princip made his move.

The prime minister of Serbia was Nikola Pasic and he was not a fan of the Black Hand. (Archduke Franz Ferdinand / Black Hand )

Before the assassination of Franz Ferdinand took place, it was clear that the Black Hand group had been infiltrated.

In 1914, Major Voja Tankosic, a member of the Black Hand, told prime minister Nikola Pasic about the plot.

Pasic did not want the assassination to take place, as he feared it would lead to a war with Austro-Hungary.

The Serbian government sent a warning to the Austrian government, but it seems that the warning was ignored. (Trenches on the Web - Timeline: 28-Jun-1914 - Assassination in ...)

Pasic ordered that Gavrilo Princip, Nedjelko Cabrinovic and Trifko Grabez be arrested when they attempted to leave the country. His orders were apparently ignored.

According to a Wikipedia article, (Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand - Wikipedia, the free ...) the Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevic, known as Apis, may have played a part in the assassination.

Apis confessed to a Serbian Court in 1917 that he had ordered the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in his position as head of the Intelligence Department. (Dedijer, Vladimir. The Road to Sarajevo, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1966, p 398 )

However, when Apis made this confession, he was on trial in Serbia, accused of treason against the King of Serbia. Apis apparently believed that he would be treated more leniently if he was thought to have been the brains behind the assassination.

As it turned out, the king and his supporters decided that Apis was to be shot.

Back in 1914, the Austrian military was keen to blame the Serbian government, rather than a bunch of nationalist students who might have been acting on their own.

Austria's chief of staff, General Franz Baron Conrad von Hoetzendorf, wanted war against Serbia.

When the Austrian Council of Ministers met on July 7, the majority opted for war.
Sometimes it is difficult to tell which side is pulling the strings.
Prior to World War I, Alfred Redl was the Chief of Counterintelligence in the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was homosexual and was blackmailed and bribed into becoming a spy for Russia. (Nona: Alfred Redl)

Redl gave to the Russians the Austrian plan for the invasion of Serbia.

Redl was eventually caught by agents that he had himself trained. Redl's apartment in Prague was searched. Uncovered were sexually explicit photographs of Redl and other Austrian officers.



Term papers said...

The official story is that the plot to kill Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, was intended to benefit Serbia. But an alternative theory is that the plotters, unwittingly in most cases, were being manipulated by members of the Austro-Hungarian elite

Anonymous said...

Did he really die? Wasn't it just another show for the public?

Anonymous said...

Fascinating stuff. It is plausible to be believe the assassins were being handled at a distance by senior Austrian intelligence using double agents like Redl. He seemed to be playing both sides or to the highest bidder. And yet did he have a true cause.? Gross deutscher or panslavic? The stakes were so high and the cost so bloody, its plausible to ask if the Prussian intelligence were involved. Who had most to gain - or lose?

Anon said...

Dear Owen,


Who had most to gain - the Anglo-Americans?

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