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30 Mar


101 years ago on this day, June 28th 1914, Gavrilo Princip assassinated the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. This assassination has divided the world into several sections and was a prelude to the First World War.

With this act Gavrilo has changed the world permanently, and his name became immortal symbol of the individual who determines the course of history.

Franz and his pregnant wife Sophie came to Sarajevo to visit the Austro-Hungarian troops, the National Museum, and to take a ride in the first tram in Europe. In Sarajevo, they should celebrate  14th anniversary of their marriage. A large number of citizens came out to the streets that day to greet the prominent couple, and among them were also members of the organization Young Bosnia who had different intentions.

The first attempt took Nedeljko Čabrinović who threw a bomb at the car in which were Franz and Sophie, but the bomb exploded in crowd beside car. No one thought about the second attempt. Second attempt performed Gavrilo Princip with gun. He fired two bullets that killed Franz and his pregnant wife. This attack triggered the bloody wars that followed around the world, which lasted until 11th November 1918.  WWI killed more than 15 million people, and left injuring 22 million. It is considered the fifth deadliest conflict in human history.

A boy from a poor family

Gavrilo Princip was born in the remote hamlet of Obljaj, near Bosansko Grahovo, on july 25 th 1894. He was one of nine children, six of whom died in infancy. He was named Gavrilo at the insistence of a local Serbian Orthodox priest, who claimed that naming the sickly infant after the Archangel Gabriel would help him survive. Despite his father’s opposition, Princip first began attending primary school in 1903, aged nine. He overcame a difficult first year and became very successful in his studies, for which he was awarded a collection of Serbian epic poetry by his headmaster.

At the age of 13, Princip moved to Sarajevo, where his older brother Jovan intended to enroll him into an Austro-Hungarian military school. By the time Princip reached Sarajevo, Jovan had changed his mind after a friend advised him not to make Gavrilo “an executioner of his own people”. Princip was enrolled into a merchant school instead.

Young Bosnia and Black Hand

He became a member of the Young Bosnia when he was 17 years old. Gavrilo and other members of the organization have been meeting in secret – because local authorities have banned the formation of student clubs, particularly political. On meetings they discussed literature, politics and many other topics. The next year, 1912, Gavrilo Princip was expelled from school for taking part in a protest against the Austro-Hungarian authorities.

In the attack they had the help of so-called Black Hand, a military formation of the Kingdom of Serbia, which was the secret serviceThey’ve sent  weapon to attackers, gave them training with money and pills to commit suicide after the assassination. After Gavrilo shot, he took a pill of cyanide that was not working and tried to shoot himself in the head, but police prevented that. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The organizer of the assassination Danilo Ilic was sentenced to death by hanging.

After the trial, Gavrilo Princip was imprisoned in Terezin, in the area of today’s Czech Republic. Sources say his life in prison was particularly cruel, and the conditions worsened by the war. He died of tuberculosis on 28th April 1918. At the time of death, Gavrilo Princip, was significantly weakened by disease and malnutrition and weighed only 40 pounds. He died under torture – tuberculosis had consumed the bones to such an extent that his right arm had to be amputated. Originally, he was buried at a secret location, and in 1920, his bones were, thanks to the Czech soldier, found and transferred to Sarajevo.