• Peace and Reconciliation Dialog in Norway and the Balkans

Katie's History Lesson Part 1 - The Assassination and a Sandwich

Sarajevo is a history geek's dream. That's why I decided to help Sarah out with the blog with my historical insights of our last stop in our trip through the Balkans.

Sarajevo was largely influenced and founded by the Ottoman Empire, but has been occupied and conquered numerous times throughout its history. Most notably, the Austro-Hungarian Empire which annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908. One of the most important events in Sarajevo whilst under the Austro-Hungarian Empire was the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Empire.

The assassination site is a stone's throw away from our hotel, which makes this history geek go crazy. This assassination marks one of the most immediate causes of World War I. But how did a conflict in the Balkans cause a greater global conflict?

On the 28th of June in 1914, Franz Ferdinand and his wife were traveling from their hotel in Sarajevo to the town hall on a scheduled trip. But before they reached the town hall, there was an attempted assassination from one of the members of the Black Hand, a Serbian nationalist group whose aims were to rid the Balkan area of the Empire and create a greater Serbia. This attempt missed the Archduke and the grenade exploded behind their car. As a result, they changed their route when heading back after the trip. However, their driver took a wrong turn, which allowed Gavrilo Princip (a member of the Black Hand) the opportunity to shoot Ferdinand from his spot in a cafe (today that corner is a museum).

Fun fact: the steps where Princip shot Franz Ferdinand were preserved, but had to be removed from the site because people would either spit on them or kiss them. This was due to conflicting opinions about the event.

The assassination of Franz Ferdinand ultimately caused Austro-Hungary to declare war on Serbia. Due to the alliance systems they had been established before the Assassination, Russia declared war on Austro-Hungary in order to aid Serbia. As a result of that, Germany declared war on Russia due to its alliance with Austro-Hungary. Thus, the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the nationalistic Serbian ideals sparked the beginnings of one of the first major global conflicts of the modern era.

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed my mini history lesson. Stay tuned for a second part about the Siege of Sarajevo!