This is, without doubt, one of the most famous killings in the history of mankind. Compete with him on the degree of fame can, perhaps, the killing of Kennedy. However, we here do not make ratings of recognition. The heir to the Austrian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia Hohenberg, were killed in Sarajevo (at that time part of Austria-Hungary) by the young terrorist Gavrila Principle. A curious fact, the group that organized and committed the murder was called “Mlada Bosna”. Of the six terrorists, only one was Bosnian. And Gavrilo Princip himself was a Serb.
The goals of the “Young Bosnians” are well known to everyone: to achieve the separation of Bosnia from Austria-Hungary with the subsequent joining to a single Balkan state, which at that time did not yet exist. And it is not by chance that the powerful organization “Black Hand” was behind the murderers of Franz Ferdinand. Her head was called Dragutin Dimitrievich, and he already had experience of political assassinations. 11 years before (in 1903) he had not even killed the heir to the throne, but the monarch, and personally. Then the extremely unpopular king of Serbia Alexander Obrenovic fell victim to Dimitriyevich. Together with him, the conspirators brutally murdered Queen Drago (even more unpopular than her husband), her two brothers, and the Serbian Prime Minister. This led to the change of the ruling dynasty and the restoration on the Serbian throne of the Karageorgievich dynasty. However, we digress.
Could it all happen otherwise?
Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Modern historians believe that the death of the archduke was the result of a whole chain of tragic accidents. There are at least several reasons to believe that an heir could have survived. One of them is medical. With the current level of medicine, Franz Ferdinand would certainly have saved. However, now is not about that. First, you need to clearly understand the situation in the Balkans in the pre-war years, when Serbia and Austria were in a state of undeclared war. There were a lot of reasons for hatred. And the deep split of the Balkan elite, part of which was to Austria, and partly to Russia, and the so-called “pig war”, after which Austria-Hungary began the customs blockade of Serbia, and finally the factor of the Serbian military, who could not accept the Austrian dominion in the Balkans. It was mainly about the fact that Greater Serbia could not accept the fact that Bosnia and Herzegovina are part of Austria-Hungary. The stated reason: a large number of Orthodox Serbs living in the territories controlled by Vienna. There is a version that Orthodox Serbs in Ostro-Hungary were ostracized, persecuted and discriminated, however, there are studies indicating that such cases were not of a mass nature. However, many Serbs believed that their brothers in blood and faith were not free and needed to be saved. It was under this sauce at the beginning of the twentieth century that the real terrorist war against the Austrian presence in the region was unleashed. It began in 1903 with the assassination of the pro-Austrian king of Serbia, Alexander I, and his wife Draghi, which led to a change of dynasty and foreign policy.
The next act of war was the numerous attempts on the lives of high-ranking Austrians in Bosnia. True, none of them failed. Participants in the terrorist organization were preparing to kill the two governor-generals of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Marjan Varestanin and Oscar Potiorek. There were also frequent attacks on Austrian generals in Sarajevo. All this created a serious threat to the security of the heir to the throne during his visit. That is why many advised Franz Ferdinand not to go to Sarajevo. Moreover, the reason was, in general, foolish. The Archduke visited the maneuvers that took place near Sarajevo, and came to the city itself to open a state museum. Among those who tried to discourage Franz Ferdinand was his wife Sophia. Yielding to her persuasion, the archduke, before that, twice canceled his visits to the Balkans. There is a second reason to believe that the heir to the Austrian throne could have avoided death. The fact is that by the time when the fateful attack of Gavrilo Princip had happened, it was already absolutely clear that the life of the heir was in jeopardy. After all, the Principle was a backup option, plan B. The Mlad Bosna group included several terrorists at once who were to attack the motorcade. All three are Bosnian Serbs, Austrian nationals who lived in Belgrade at the same time. In addition to Gavrilo principle, the group included Trifko Grabiezh and Nedelko Chabrinovich. It Chebrinovich made the first attack, throwing a grenade into the Archduke’s car. The car grenade bounced off and exploded in the air. Several people were injured, and Chabrinovich was detained while trying to sink. Anyway, at that moment it became absolutely clear that the terrorists were preparing an attack on Franz Ferdinand, that the life of the heir was in danger, and that security measures had to be strengthened. Why didn't this happen? There are quite a few versions explaining this. Some point to a general panic and confusion, and the archduke’s refusal to remain in the Town Hall, to which he safely reached. Others believe that Potiorek and a group of Austrian generals connived the conspiracy, for Franz Ferdinand did not arrange them as heir to the throne.
There are two more reasons. Firstly, the Principle could simply miss. Secondly, the Archduke could have been saved. If Franz Ferdinand were to receive immediate medical care, there would be a chance to save his life.
In short, the Austrian archduke could well have survived on June 28, 1914.
If there were no murder, there would be no war?
Gavrilo Princip right after arrest
Not. The murder was the occasion, but not the cause. If the archduke had returned home safe and sound, the war would have begun anyway. Just later. The leading powers, in fact, have already divided the world into either their own domains or spheres of influence. America, where most countries achieved independence by the middle of the 19th century, did not get into the partition zone. But all other territories from the Atlantic Ocean to the date line, plus Oceania, were, to one degree or another, divided. Even formally independent countries were under the influence of someone, either political or economic. The only exception was Japan, which managed to overcome outside pressure thanks to the famous reforms of Emperor Meiji. A couple of simple examples: independent Bulgaria had, with a completely Orthodox population, dependent on the German Empire of the King Catholic, independent Persia in 1910 was divided into spheres of influence by Russia and Great Britain. The treaty, in fact, was a division, no part whatsoever was involved in it by the Persian side. However, the most telling example is China. The Celestial Empire was severed by the great powers in 1901, the field of the Ihetuan uprising. It was suppressed by a coalition from Russia, Japan, the UK, France, the USA, Germany, Italy and Austria-Hungary. The contingent of the last two countries was 80 and 75, respectively. Nevertheless, Italy and Austria-Hungary along with everyone participated in the signing of a peace treaty, according to the results of which, China, while maintaining formal independence, became a zone of economic interests of eight countries at once.
When all territories are already divided and eaten, there is only one question, when the dividing people get involved in a conflict with each other. The great powers evidently kept the future conflict in mind. No wonder long before the war global geopolitical alliances were concluded. Entente: Great Britain, France, Russia and the Central Powers: Germany and Austria, which were later joined by the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. All this laid a powder keg under a peaceful Europe. However, Europe was already not peaceful. She fought constantly and continuously. The goal of each new campaign, albeit very small, was the desire to chop off some more square kilometers for itself under the sphere of influence. However, another thing is important, each power had an interest that went against the interests of another power. And this made another conflict inevitable.
Map of Europe before the First World War
The governments of Austria, Germany, the Ottoman Empire, Russia, Great Britain and France were interested in war with each other, because they did not see any other way to resolve existing disputes and contradictions. Great Britain and Germany divided East and South-West Africa. At the same time, Berlin did not conceal that it supported the Boers during the Anglo-Boer Wars, and London responded with an economic war and the creation of an anti-German bloc of states. France also had many complaints against Germany. Part of society demanded a military revenge for the humiliation of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, which resulted in France losing Alsace and Lorraine. Paris sought their return, but under no circumstances would Germany give these territories to Germany. The situation could be resolved only by military means. Plus France was unhappy with the Austrian invasion of the Balkans and regarded the construction of the railway Berlin-Baghdad as a threat to its interests in Asia. Germany demanded a revision of the colonial policy of Europe, constantly demanding concessions from other colonial powers. Not to mention the fact that the Empire, which existed just over forty years, sought to rule, if not in all of Europe, then at least in its continental part. Austria-Hungary had huge interests in the Balkans and perceived as a threat to Russia's policy aimed at protecting Slavs and Orthodox in Eastern Europe.
In addition, Austria had a long dispute with Italy over trade in the Adriatic Sea. Russia, in addition to the Balkans, wanted to gain control over the straits between the Black and Mediterranean Sea. The number of mutual claims and conflict situations suggested only one way out - the war. Imagine a communal apartment. Six rooms, in each of which lives a family of well-armed people. They have already divided the corridor, kitchen, toilet and bathroom and want more. The question is, who will control the whole communal apartment? At the same time, families cannot agree with each other. What will happen in such an apartment is war. Needed only a reason. In the case of Europe, the murder of Franz Ferdinand was such a pretext. If it were not for him, there would be another reason. This, by the way, is quite convincingly shown by the negotiations that took place in July 1914. The great powers had a month to negotiate, but they did not even try to do it.
The only option
Another thing is that no one, obviously, did not suspect how the global conflict of all the strongest countries on the planet could end. Governments believed the war would be long, but not so long. A year or two, not more, and then the world and the expectation of a new conflict. But two years passed very quickly, the war was not over, and the economy began to pop. Five empires and one republic entered the war. Four years later, from the four Empires there was not a trace left. Austria-Hungary, Germany, the Russian Empire ceased to exist in the form in which they existed before. The Ottoman Empire also died. If the governments of these countries would admit such a development of events, then perhaps the war could have been avoided. In the end, for Russia and Austria the option of non-participation was possible. Moreover, quite influential politicians lived and worked in these countries, who convinced the Emperors not to get involved in the conflict.