Black Hand

There were many causes of World War I, but one of the most important ones is the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This event was not just a murder, but also the spark that lit up years of building tensions. Franz Ferdinand was assassinated on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo, the capital of the Austrian province Bosnia.

He was the nephew the current aging Emperor Franz Josef, and was set to take his place. Austria-Hungary was a dual monarchy, consisting of Austria and Hungary. The archduke was a strong believer in Trialism, the addition of a third monarch to represent the increasing Slav population. While this may by good for the Slav’s living in Austria-Hungary, it interfered with Serbia’s attempts to remove Austria-Hungary from the Balkans. Gavrilo Princip was a Serbian extremist and also the person who would take the life of the Archduke and spark the killings of many more.

Assassin: Gavrilo Princip

The archduke’s assassin had been armed in Serbia, under orders from the Chief of Intelligence of the Serbian Army and No. 6 in the Black Hand, Colonel Dragutin Dimitrievic. The Black Hand, also known as the Unity Of Death, was founded in May of 1911 for the sole purpose of making Serbia a better nation. With many members in the Black Hand also in the Serbian military, status, intellect, ammunition, and manpower were abundant. With the goal of a greater Serbia, the members of this group often resorted to violence, which is what happened with the planned killing of the archduke.

The Serbian Government, even with knowledge of the plot, did little more rather than send a small warning to the Archduke of the possibility of an assassin. As the royal life is filled with possible assassination attempts, the Archduke had ignored it. The Austrian Government did not know about the Black Hand or Serbia’s government’s involvement. All they knew was the weapons came from Serbia, and that the act was committed in the name of Serbia, but they immediately and correctly suspected that it was an act of state-sponsored terrorism. Austria-Hungary was also in a decline. It had issues with the budget, and the various ethnic groups were always trying to tear the country apart. It was believed by some that a war would deal with both the internal problems by rallying the population together and extracting new profits from the conquests, while at the same time removing the insolent Serbians once and for all.

(Eric Zhang H3G-06)