Saturday, June 28, 2014

Gavrilo Princip

One hundred years ago today Gavrilo Princip murdered Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. A little over a month later -- days drought with nationalistic bluster and fatally flawed diplomacy -- the most
catastrophic war in history began. Of course, in those early August days of 1914 the belligerents did not know how badly it would turn out for them. They expected a short, glorious war. Instead, they got a protracted, draining conflict that killed millions of their people, and opened the doors of social upheaval that we are still living with today! I always make clear to my students that World War I was the pivotal moment of the twentieth century.

There is a good article here from the Guardian discussing the assassin who more or less set off the chain of events that led to the Great War. Was he a villain for a murderous deed that plunged the world into war (although this was not his intent), or a hero for liberating subjected people from the yoke of a harsh foreign regime in Vienna that gave them no voice? I always thought the most ironic outcome of the war (and their are many) is that Princip got what he wanted, a Slavic state free and independent from Austrian control.

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