Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Franz Ferdinand and Sophie leaving the City Hall after the official reception
In June 1914, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were welcomed in Sarajevo by General Oskar Potiorek, the Governor of the Austrian provinces of Bosnia-Herzegovina, who had invited them to watch his troops on manoeuvres.
Franz Ferdinand knew that the visit would be dangerous and that a large number of Serbs living in Bosnia-Herzegovina had formed a resistance group called ‘The Black Hand’ (Crna Ruka) and were in favour of a union with Serbia.
On the 28th June 1914, Franz Ferdinand and his wife were driven in a convoy of six open top cars from the train station of Sarajevo to the City Hall for the official reception.
The Mayor of Sarajevo, Fehim Curcic and Dr. Gerde, the city's Commissioner of Police were in the first car. Franz Ferdinand and Sophie were in the second car together with General Oskar Potiorek and Count Harrach.
Suddenly a bomb was thrown at the Archduke's car but missed and exploded in front of the car behind.
Two of the occupants were seriously wounded and a lot of spectators were also hit by shrapnel. Franz Ferdinand's chauffeur drove on extremely fast and other members of the Black Hand along the route decided that it was useless to try anything when the car was going at such a speed.
After the official reception at the City Hall Franz Ferdinand asked about the members of his party who had been wounded by the bomb and then insisted on being taken to see them in hospital. He was warned of the possible danger to his life, and it was suggested that it would be better if his wife remained behind in the City Hall. Sophie refused and said, “As long as the Archduke shows himself in public today I will not leave his side.”
General Oskar Potiorek decided the convoy should drive straight to the hospital and avoid the city centre but forgot to inform the chauffeur. On the way to the hospital the driver took a right turn into Franz Joseph Street.
Potiorek immediately realised the driver had taken the wrong route and stopped the car. As the chauffeur began to back up the car very slowly, one of the conspirators, Gavrilo Princip, who happened to be standing there, immediately reacted by drawing his gun and firing into the Archduke’s car.
Franz Ferdinand and Sophie were mortally wounded.
Before the Archduke lost his consciousness, he pleaded:
“Sopherl! Sopherl! Don't die! Stay alive for the sake of our children!”
Franz Ferdinand and his wife were driven in a convoy of six open top cars
from the train station of Sarajevo to the City Hall for the official reception.
The driver had taken the wrong route and stopped the car.
As the chauffeur began to back up the car very slowly, Gavrilo Princip, who happened to be standing there,
immediately reacted by drawing his gun and firing into the Archduke’s car.
Gavrilo Princip, was immediately arrested.
Princip was nineteen years old at the time and too young to receive the death penalty.
The prevailing laws allowed a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison.
Princip suffered under the harsh conditions in prison and contracted tuberculosis.
He died on the 28th April 1918.