At 10.10am on the morning of 28th June 1914 on the way to the Sarjevo Town Hall from the station, would-be assassin Nedeljko Čabrinović hurls a bomb at the car carrying the 51 year old Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The bomb bounces of the open hood and blews up under the vehicle behind.
Less than an hour later, and back in his open top chauffeur-driven tourer, the Archduke wants a change to the planned itinerary to visit the injured from the bomb explosion.
The owner of the car, Count Harrack gets up on the running board by the Archduke as it sets off down the Quay D’Appel by the River Miljaka. The chauffeur turns into Franz Josef Street as per the original itinerary but is advised by his front seat passenger Count Potoirek to stop the car and reverse back onto the Quay. It is 10.55am. 19 year old Gavrilo Princip, one of the armed assassins on the route that morning, sees his opportunity, pulls out a pistol, steps forward, aims and shoots. The first shot hits Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s in the neck lacerating the jugular while the second hits his wife the Duchess, Sofia of Hohenberg in the abdomen. The car stops. Men grab the assailant. Heading off again, this time to the safety of the Governor’s House, Franz Ferdinand’s mouth falls open and blood squirts onto Harrack’s right cheek.
Sofia asks ‘Was ist mist dir passiert?’
As Franz Ferdinand turns his head it topples forward. Franz sees that Sofia too has been hit and begs her to stay alive for the sake of their children.
‘Sofia, Für unsere Kinder sterben nicht’.
Sofia dies before they reach the Governor’s house while Franz Ferdinand dies ten minutes later.
- Joe Sacco on five great books about the First World War (telegraph.co.uk)
- Today in History (bokertov.typepad.com)