Analyzing Differing Perspectives:

The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand



Account #1

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary was on a good-will tour.  He and his wife, Sophie, were visiting the town of Sarajevo.  The year was 1914.  On the morning of June 28, they took a drive through the streets.  It was a holiday, and many flags were flying.  People lined the streets to watch the Archduke pass.  No one knew that seven young men in the crowds were waiting to kill him.

            Who were they?  They were Serbians.  Serbia was a small country.  But in those days many Serbian people were ruled by Austria-Hungary.  This made some patriotic Serbians hate the Austro-Hungarians because they wanted all Serbians to live together under one flag.  So the seven young Serbians plotted to kill the Archduke—for Serbia.  They spread out along the streets of Sarajevo.  They were armed with pistols and bombs.  The streets were not well guarded.

            The Archduke’s car passed the first Serbian plotter.  The Serbian lost his nerve and did nothing.  But the second plotter threw his bomb at the Archduke.  The Archduke raised his arm and knocked the bomb into the street, where it exploded and wounded about a dozen people.  Quickly the Archduke’s car sped past three more of the plotters, who did nothing.

            Finally the car stopped at the City Hall.  The Archduke was very angry.  He shouted at the mayor, “I came here for a visit and I get bombs.  Mr. Mayor, what do you say?”  The mayor did not understand what happened.  He made a speech welcoming the Archduke.  The Archduke calmed down and smiled.

            The Archduke then said he wanted to visit the hospital.  He wanted to see the people who had been wounded by the bomb explosion.  He begged his wife not to go with him.  It was too dangerous.  But she said, “No, I must go with you.”  Along the way, their car passed the sixth plotter.  He did not make a move.

            Then the Archduke’s driver made a mistake.  He turned the car into the wrong street.  He stopped to turn around.  Five feet away was the seventh Serbian plotter.  He drew his gun and fired twice.  One bullet hit the Archduke in the neck.  The other hit Sophie in the stomach.

            The car sped back.  Blood began pouring from the Archduke’s mouth.  Sophie cried, “For heaven’s sake, what has happened to you?”  Then she fell forward.  The Archduke became frightened.  He cried, “Sophie dear, don’t die!  Stay alive for our children!”  Then he, too, fell forward.  Both were soon dead.









Account #2

The little newspaper clipping… declared that the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand would visit Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, on June 28, to direct army maneuvers in the neighboring mountains…

            How dare Franz Ferdinand, not only the representative of the oppressor but in his own person a tyrant, enter Sarajevo on that day? Such an entry was a studied insult.

            June 28 is a date engraved deeply in the heart of every Serb… it is the day on which the old Serbian kingdom was conquered by the Turks at the Battle of Amselfelde in 1389. It is also the day on which in the Second Balkan War the Serbian army took glorious revenge on the Turk for his old victory and for the years of enslavement.

            That was no day for Franz Ferdinand, the new oppressor, to venture to the very doors of Serbia for a display of the force of arms which kept us beneath his heel.

            Our decision was taken almost immediately. Death to the tyrant!

            Then came the matter of arranging it… But here Gavrilo Princip intervened. Princip is destined to go down in Serbian history as one of her greatest heroes….

            The fateful morning dawned….

            When Franz Ferdinand and his aides passed Gabrinovic, he threw his grenade. It hit the side of the car, but Franz Ferdinand with presence of mind threw himself back and was uninjured. Several officers riding in his attendance were injured.

            The cars sped to the town hall…. After the reception in the town hall, General Potiorek, the Austrian commander, pleaded with Franz Ferdinand to leave the city, as it was seething with rebellion. The archduke was persuaded to drive the shortest way out of the city and to go quickly.
            The road to the maneuvers was shaped like the letter V, making a sharp turn at the bridge over the River Nilgacka. Franz Ferdinand’s car…was forced to slow down for the turn. Here Princip had taken his stand.

            As the car came abreast he stepped forward from the curb, drew his automatic pistol from his coat and fired two shots. The first struck the wife of the archduke, the Archduchess Sofia, in the abdomen. She was an expectant mother. She died instantly.

            The second bullet struck the archduke close to the heart.

            He uttered only one word;Sofie”--a call to his stricken wife. Then his head fell back and he collapsed. He died almost instantly.

The officers seized Princip.  They beat him over the head with the flat of their swords.  They knocked him down, they kicked him, scraped the skin from his neck with the edges of the swords, tortured him, all but killed him.


Response Activity.

1.     On a sheet of paper, create a Venn diagram that identifies significant similarities and differences between the two accounts.

2.     Explain why you think these two accounts of the same event diff