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Daily History

June 28 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassinated


Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, shortly before his assassination

On June 28th 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie were shot to death by a Bosnian Serb nationalist during an official visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo.

The killings sparked a chain of events that led to the outbreak of World War I by early August. On June 28, 1919, five years to the day after Franz Ferdinand’s death, Germany and the Allied Powers signed the Treaty of Versailles, officially marking the end of World War I.

The archduke travelled to Sarajevo in June 1914 to inspect the imperial armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, annexed by Austria-Hungary in 1908. The annexation had angered Serbian nationalists, who believed the territories should be part of Serbia.

A group of young nationalists hatched a plot to kill the archduke during his visit to Sarajevo, and after some missteps, 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip was able to shoot the royal couple at point-blank range, while they travelled in their official procession, killing both almost instantly.

The assassination set off a rapid chain of events, as Austria-Hungary immediately blamed the Serbian government for the attack. As large and powerful Russia supported Serbia, Austria asked for assurances that Germany would step in on its side against Russia and its allies, including France and possibly Great Britain. On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and the fragile peace between Europe’s great powers collapsed, beginning the devastating conflict now known as the First World War.

After more than four years of bloodshed, the Great War ended on November 11, 1918, after Germany, the last of the Central Powers, surrendered to the Allies. At the peace conference in Paris in 1919, Allied leaders would state their desire to build a post-war world that was safe from future wars of such enormous scale. The Versailles Treaty, signed on June 28, 1919, tragically failed to achieve this objective.

U.S. President Woodrow Wilson‘s grand dreams of an international peace-keeping organisation faltered when put into practice as the League of Nations. Even worse, the harsh terms imposed on Germany, the war’s biggest loser, led to widespread resentment of the treaty and its authors in that country–a resentment that would culminate in the outbreak of the Second World War two decades later.

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Discussion

6 thoughts on “June 28 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassinated

  1. Just in Vienna, but born in the city where this happened.
    😀 both cities are full of connected history even though Vienna is so much more recognized in the world.
    Excellent blog, thanks for your hard work.

    Posted by O'Muppet | June 28, 2012, 13:58
  2. Can’t forget Sophie!

    Posted by sheafferhistorian | June 28, 2012, 14:53
  3. Great blog; thanks for your very informative and excellent post!!!
    Cheers!

    Posted by aidaweb101 | June 29, 2012, 00:23
  4. Brilliant post, Craig – yes, start shot for WWI.

    Posted by viveka | June 29, 2012, 04:20
  5. I’ve had a fascination with the tragedies of the Great War since I studied Russian and learned about how the world changed so dramatically because of the failed monarchies that led to the war and eventually the Russian Revolutions of 1917. We toured Flanders Field last summer, visiting battlefields, memorials, and cemeteries with a very knowledgeable guide.
    Later in the summer, we were in Graz and walked into a museum where a plaque on the wall announced the building was the birth site of Franz Ferdinand. It was one of those moments when you recognize you’re in a little known place which had a tremendous impact on world events.
    I included a photo of the plaque in my travel blog about Graz.
    I recommend a book, “To End All Wars”, by Adam Hochshield about the Great War and the dissent in Britain before and during the war by labor unions, suffragettes, and pacifists including George Bernhard Shaw. Britain’s political and military leaders also cooped the media to publish misleading propaganda that masked the bloodshed in Belgium and France that prolonged the war and caused millions to die needlessly.

    Posted by jackandmarilynerickson | July 6, 2012, 10:19

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: The Heritage of the Great War / First World War 1914-1918. « I Love History…and Research - August 2, 2012

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