World War I/Causes/Franz Ferdinand

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Franz Ferdinand

As stated in the introduction to the causes section of this Wikibook, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was an event which led directly to declarations of war starting World War I.

The assassination was carried out by a group of six assassins, who intended to end the Austro-Hungarian Empire's control of some of it's southern provinces.

Preparation of the assassination[edit]

Danilo Ilić, who co-ordinated the assassination, discussed the idea of using violent direct action to achieve his goals in late 1913. Originally Ilić's plan was to kill the governor of the region, although on March 26, 1914, he changed his intentions, and decided to plan an assassination of Franz Ferdinand.

In April Ilić persuaded Vaso Čubrilović and Cvjetko Popović to assist in the plot to assassinate the archduke. In addition, Gavrilo Princip, Trifun Grabež and Nedjelko Čabrinović, the other individuals involved in the assassination, became involved in the plot at a similar time, after approaching others stating their wish to participate in an assassination.

Milan Ciganović, who had access to weapons and was a former guerrilla fighter agreed in April 1914 with Princip, Grabež and Čabrinović to provide the assassins with the weapons required to carry out the assassination. Due to a delay, the weapons were only delivered on May 26.

Ciganović provided the assassins with training, suicide pills and money, in addition to six hand grenades and four automatic pistols with ammunition.

Travel[edit]

The route of the assassins from Belgrade to Sarajevo, where the assassination took place.

On May 28, just two days after the delivery of the weapons, Princip, Grabež, and Čabrinović left Belgrade by boat. In the Sava River, the group traveled to Šabac, where they assumed the identities of custom officials. With this new identity, the group took the train to Loznica, a town that was on the border between Serbia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

In Loznica, Princip and Grabež fell out with Čabrinović, who they believed to have been constantly failing to ensure security. As a result, he gave all his weapons to the other two members of the group and traveled to Tuzla alone (see illustration).

On May 30, the remaining two walked to Isaković’s Island, an island in the Drina river, that was located on the border between Austria-Hungary and Serbia. At this point they were guided to Tulza by agents of Serbian nationalist organization Narodna Odbrana. After arriving in Tulza, the group left the agents and met up with Čabrinović. Following this, Sarajevo Princip waited at a co-conspirators house for the arrival of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, while Grabež and Čabrinović both stayed with their parents.

For the next eleven days, the group attempted to avoid attention as much as possible.

Final preparation[edit]

On June 27, the day before the planned assassination, the conspirators were provided with the weapons they needed to carry out the assassination.

The day of the assassination[edit]

A map showing the location of the assassination

While reading this section, it is important to be aware of the fact that inconsistent witness statements mean that one can not be entirely sure of the true course of events. This section provides the events with facts that are generally accepted, although all information must be taken with a pinch of salt.

It is believed that when, on June 28, 1914, Ferdinand got in his car in Sarajevo an error meant that some special security officers intended to protect the archduke failed to leave with him.

The first attempt at assassinating Ferdinand failed, with the assassins failing to throw the bomb. Due to this Čabrinović was given the weapons needed for another assassination attempt later in the day. This attempt also failed, with the bomb bouncing off the archduke's car onto the road. It's explosion injured twenty people, but the archduke survived.

After failing to commit an assassination Čabrinović attempted to commit suicide by swallowing a cyanide pill and jumping into a nearby river. The suicide attempt failed, however, as the river was too shallow to cause drowning and the cyanide pill only had the strength to cause vomiting.

Due to this failure, the assassins attempted an assassination slightly later into the Archduke's journey. However, the motorcade passed Gavrilo Princip, Cvjetko Popović and Trifun Grabež, the potential assassins, without any of them taking any action.

Following these two failed attempts Ferdinand arrived at the town hall of Sarajevo, where in addition to making the speech at which he had prepared, he angrily said "I came here on a visit and I get bombs thrown at me. It is outrageous."

Following this, Ferdinand decided to visit the people injured by the first assassination attempt. Then, at 10:45, he went back into his care and continued the parade.

Meanwhile, Princip went to a local shop to buy a sandwich, after being made aware that the assassination attempt had failed. Coincidentally, the archduke and his wife traveled past Princip after he had left the shop, and as a result he had the opportunity to complete a successful assassination. This time he killed both Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie.

In the hours after the assassination, people in Sajerevo started rioting against the Serbs, with the military being forced to take action to stop the rioting.

Aftermath[edit]

On July 23, 1914 Austria-Hungary provided the Serbian government with the "July Ultimatum", which demanded that Serbia:

  1. Ban publications criticizing the monarchy of Austria Hungary
  2. Dissolve Serbian nationalists groups such as Narodna Odbrana
  3. Stop teaching anything against Austria Hungary
  4. Remove opponents of Austria Hungary from it's military
  5. Allow the Austro-Hungarian government to intervene to enforce condition one (above)
  6. Launch a judicial inquiry into the assassination
  7. Arrest Vojislav Tankosić and Milan Ciganović, who Austria wrongly believed to be involved in the assassination.
  8. Co-operate with moves limiting arm-trafficking into Austria Hungary
  9. Give Austria-Hungary explanations from powerful officials for their previous opposition to Austria-Hungary
  10. Notify Austria Hungary of their compliance with the above conditions

Serbia didn't comply in full with any of the conditions except for conditions eight and ten. In response to this, Austria-Hungary ended all its diplomatic relations with Serbia, while Serbia prepared its army for possible war.

Declarations of war[edit]

The German declaration of war

On July 26, Serbian troops accidentally entered Austria Hungarian territory. The Austrian leader received reports exaggerating the severity of this event, and, as a result, declared war on Serbia.

In response, Serbian allies Russia mobilized its troops on July 30, and, in response to this Austria-Hungary mobilized its army on July 31.

Also on July 31, Germany demanded that Russia stops mobilizing it's troops within 12 hours. Russia failed to do this, so, in response, Germany declared war against Russia on August 1.

Then, on August 2, Germany invaded Luxembourg to prepare for its planned invasion of Belgium. After this, on August 3, Germany demanded that Belgium permit the German army to pass through their country on the passage to France. Belgium refused, so, on August 4, Germany declared war on both Belgium and France.

Britain, who were allied with France, then declared war in response to the German attacks on France.

The aforementioned declarations of war meant that most of Europe was now in conflict, and, as Europeans controlled large numbers of countries across the world, many countries across multiple continents were involved in the war.