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THE BULLETS THAT BEGAN WORLD WAR I The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
When Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, he set off a series of events that would lead to the largest-scale war the world had ever known. The shots he fired on June 28, 1914, led directly to the collapse of fragile alliances throughout Europe and the beginning of World War I. Since the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by Austria-Hungary in 1908, tensions were high between the people and their ruling empire. With the Archduke visiting Sarajevo in June of 1914, the Serbian secret military society, known as the Black Hand, devised a plan to assassinate Ferdinand. Seven men were stationed throughout the city as the Archduke’s motorcade traveled through the streets. One of the attackers threw a bomb at the vehicle containing the royals. Instead of landing in their car, it bounced off, coming to a stop in the street and exploding underneath the following car in the motorcade. The explosion wounded roughly 20 people, but did not harm the intended targets.
a safety precaution, officials devised an alternate route that would avoid major streets and crowds. Tragically, the motorcade took a wrong turn, putting them back in harm’s way. As the car stopped to turn around, Princip produced his pistol and fired two shots that would fatally wound Ferdinand and Sophie.
In the aftermath of the assassinations, Austria-Hungary would issue an ultimatum
to Serbia that would test alliances throughout Europe. A month later, on July 28, 1914, World War I had officially begun. For more information on this subject, check out Greg King and Sue Woolmans’ book, “The Assassination of the Archduke.”
Shaken by the first attempt, the Austrian royals altered their plans. They decided to head to the hospital to visit those injured in the bombing. As
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