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Because of the international conditions under which it occurred and the region where it took place, no other political murder in modern history has had such momentous consequences as the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand von Österreich-Este, the heir apparent to the throne of the Hapsburg Empire, at the hands of Gavrilo Princip, in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. In his native Bosnia, whose tribal society had been disintegrating under the impact of modern colonialism, Princip fired his pistol not only at an Archduke but also at the façade of a quiet, apparently stable world.
In reality, the year 1914 found Europe in a state of turmoil, and rapidly approaching the end of an era. Germany, with her increasing industry and population, was challenging Britain as the leading world power. The imperialist rivalry was intensified by the system of secret alliances; Britain, for one, found common interests even with her century-long opponent, Tsarist Russia.
The Balkans, the bridge between Europe, Asia and Africa, was a particularly sensitive area over which the Great Powers clashed. Germany and Austria- Hungary found a common interest in penetrating to the warmer seas through this region. France, Russia and Britain tried to establish a barrier to the "Drang nach Osten" by backing the small, economically underdeveloped Balkan states which were eager to be modernized. The leading European banking concerns were competing for the financing, through state loans, of the armaments of the Balkan armies. The success of Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and Montenegro in the 1912-1913 war, ending the centuries-long rule of the Ottoman Empire in Europe, was hailed in the stock exchanges of the European capitals as a victory for Schneider Creusot and Vickers-Armstrong over Krupp and Skoda.
One of the most controversial issues of modern history arises from this question: What were Princip's motives and who were his instigators, if any, and his accomplices? Sir Edward Grey described Princip's crime as a perfect political murder, in the sense that it would be impossible for the truth ever to be established.
This mystification over the Sarajevo assassination has arisen primarily in connection with the issue of the responsibility for the First World War. For some, Princip's conspiracy was a basic cause; for others it was merely a pretext, the spark which detonated a mass of hatred with which the world already had been charged, destroying the precarious balance of power among the empires which dominated Europe and shared the world.
At the very beginning of hostilities, Germany and Austria-Hungary claimed that the war's crucial cause was the Sarajevo murder. In trying to establish Serbia's role in instigating the crime, they intended to lay the blame for the war at her door, and thereby inculpate her allies: Russia, Britain and France. On the other hand, in the Peace Treaty of Versailles, the victorious powers laid the sole responsibility on the shoulders of Germany and her allies. "War guilt" became a basic issue in international relations between the two world wars, and it dominated the internal politics of Germany. Adolf Hitler's promise to free Germany from the punitive restrictions of Versailles paved his way to the Berlin Chancellery; they served him perfectly in his plans for resurrecting the driving forces of German imperialism.
The historians took up this controversy and by 1939 there had been some 3,000 books and pamphlets published on the subject. Different writers named the following countries as the hotbed of the Sarajevo conspiracy: Serbia, Russia, Hungary, Austria, Germany, France and Great Britain.
The Serbian Government was accused, first, of organizing the plot. Others blamed the government for silently sanctioning the conspiracy of the Belgrade secret society Ujedinjenje ili smrt (Union or Death), headed by Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevi?-Apis, by not trying to prevent it and by neglecting to inform Vienna of what it knew. It was alleged also that the Serbian heir apparent, Alexander, was involved in the conspiracy.
Russia, too, has been named an instigator because in 1914 she was Serbia's most trusted ally. Some claimed it was her policy to provoke a war to take revenge for the humiliation she suffered at the hands of Austria-Hungary in 1909 and 1913. Several writers alleged that the Russian General Staff and the Russian Secret Police, Okhrana, were the driving forces behind Colonel Dimitrijevi?-Apis. There were theories also that Trotsky and the Russian Social Revolutionaries instigated the assassination.
Others accused France and Great Britain, as allies of Russia and Serbia, of being the centers of the conspiracy. Father Anton Puntigam, S. J., even during the First World War alleged that the Sarajevo assassination was initiated, organized and carried out by Continental Freemasonry and that one of the assassins was himself a Freemason.
Vienna, Budapest and Berlin were blamed by some either of knowing about the preparations for the assassination of the Archduke (who was unpopular in many circles in both Vienna and Budapest) and doing nothing to prevent it, or of actually taking part in the conspiracy itself through their agents in the South Slav secret societies. Several writers have hinted that the Hungarian Prime Minister, Count Stephen Tisza, the deadly enemy of the Archduke, was in secret league with Colonel Apis. The Archduke's eldest son, Max Hohenberg, in 1937 accused the German Secret Service of being behind the assassins in Sarajevo.[i]
Thus the whole issue of the Sarajevo assassination has been treated almost entirely from the standpoint of responsibility for the First World War-as a legalistic question; hypotheses were put forth as to which side might have had an interest in eliminating the Archduke and then the smallest details were eagerly collected to prove the thesis.
The least elaborated side of the Sarajevo story deals with the assassins themselves: their psychological and intellectual characteristics, the social and political milieu in which they grew up, the interrelations between their political and personal motives,[ii] and the relations of the secret Bosnian societies with other secret societies among the South Slavs. Therefore, we have to relate the Sarajevo assassination not only to the external relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to the character and actions of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but also to the problems of life and society within the two provinces. Today, 50 years after the crime, one can gain a clearer picture of the complexities of the Sarajevo assassination from those archives which are open for academic research.
The private papers (Nachlass) of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the archives of his Militärkanzlei (military chancellery), which this writer examined for several years, comparing them with the relevant documents of the German Foreign Office, make it possible to assess more fully the character of the Archduke and his plans for the reform of the Hapsburg Empire.
The Archduke, an energetic man with a lucid mind, was brought up in the strict legitimist tradition of clerical monarchism; his lifetime goal was to restore the greatness of the Hapsburg Dynasty. His private letters to his uncle, the Emperor Franz Joseph, reveal a fairly good sense of humor, and his many reports on the festivities which he attended at the royal capitals of Europe have touches of an almost Twainian satire. Yet he was wholly an aristocrat. When he met Theodore Roosevelt in 1910 in London, he reported to the Emperor that "Rooseveldt"[iii] distinguished himself by "a remarkable lack of court manners," adding that he "was enormously witty-to put it more clearly: impertinent."
The Archduke was a relentless traveler with a talent for quickly grasping the situation around him. His several reports from Cairo are full of bitter criticism of the British rule in Egypt and the Sudan. Franz Ferdinand was a devoted father. He listened attentively to the advice not only of his wife, the Duchess of Hohenberg, but also of his father-confessors, even on matters of state. He felt most at home among the big landowners of Bohemia and the army generals. His financial affairs preoccupied much of his time; he had interests in the Skoda armaments works and used his power to give the banking concerns of his choice priority in the building of the Austro- Hungarian Navy and in the exploitation of the rich Bosnian ore mines. He was particularly hostile to the Rothschilds.
He sharply disagreed with the Emperor over the reforms of the Empire. For Franz Joseph, the 1867 Compromise, which introduced a kind of dualism within Austria-Hungary, represented the cornerstone of the Monarchy; for the Archduke, it was a humiliation of the royal family at the hands of the Magyar gentry. In his correspondence and private talks with the German and Russian Emperors, he used the harshest language about the Magyars. As far back as 1907, with the help of Foreign Minister Aehrenthal, he began formulating the so-called Thronwechsel program, the policies he would follow on his accession to the throne, and whenever the aging Franz Joseph was threatened by his chronic bronchitis, a new version of the plan was elaborated. The last revision was made in April 1914. As the documents from the Nachlass show, it was much harsher than has been generally believed. Hungary was to be reduced to the status of a Hapsburg crown land. If the Hungarian Prime Minister, Count Stephen Tisza, should reject the Archduke's plan, the Army would be ready to move in. In the Nachlass are the texts of the Archduke's orders to the Minister of War and to the Army corps commanders, typed on the proper paper and needing only the Archduke's signature and the date in order to be implemented. In 1913 the Archduke began replacing the Magyar units in Hungary with non-Magyar regiments recruited from other parts of the Empire.
The Archduke envisaged having on his side the non-Magyar nationalities in Hungary. In his proclamation he promised general suffrage, but the Thronwechsel documentation, and particularly his correspondence with the Emperor Wilhelm in 1909, reveal that this was only a tactical move; he had no intention of giving equal rights to the non-Magyar peoples or of granting their demands for badly needed agricultural reforms. He rejected Wilhelm's opinion that the Slavs represented the immediate danger for both Germanic empires, and stated that he first had to punish the Magyars, "the teachers of rebellion to other nationalities," before dealing with the Slavs. The Thronwechsel documentation throws new light on the plan for a third federative unit of the Monarchy composed of the South Slavs. The Archduke completely discarded this plan as dangerous; yet he permitted it to remain in public discussion in order to frighten the Magyars, as well as to drive a wedge between the Serbs and the Croats.
The Archduke envisaged a more absolutist and centralized state; the German element was to become the cement of the Empire and he emphasized more reliance on the Army as the most faithful instrument of the Dynasty. As in the internal relations of the Empire he was a defender of legitimacy and the established order, so in international relations he cherished the idea of the unity of all monarchs against revolution-a kind of revival of the Holy Alliance, He even dreamt of restoring the Papal State in Italy. He hoped for particularly warm relations with the Russian Tsars, always aware that Nicholas I saved the Hapsburg throne in 1849. Although his relations with General Conrad, the Chief of the General Staff, were much closer than it has been supposed, he often warned him against provoking a war with Russia:
I shall never lead a war against Russia. I shall make sacrifices to avoid it. A war between Austria and Russia would end either with the overthrow of the Romanovs or with the overthrow of the Hapsburgs-or perhaps with the overthrow of both.
When the political realities of the first decade of the twentieth century gave little possibility for relying on the Russian Tsar, the Archduke turned toward Germany. He had to forget his hostility toward the Hohenzollern Dynasty, stemming from the defeat of the Hapsburgs in 1866 by Protestant Prussia, and his public statements "that the hypertrophy of Prussia is a misfortune," which will lead "to a terrible catastrophe," endangering "both the future of Germany and Austria-Hungary."
After the grave crisis with the Magyars in 1907, the Archduke approached the German Ambassador in Vienna with a request for support of his policies toward Budapest. The Ambassador reported to Berlin:
One must keep in mind that the Archduke recently stated that "one must conquer Hungary once more with the help of Russia." Since Russia could not be used now for this purpose, we can assume the Archduke, by appealing to the monarchical principle, would like to use German help against the revolting Magyars . . . I would consider this participation on our side a great error. The Magyars even at this date have not forgotten this Russian intervention, not to speak of the kind of gratitude Russia got from Austria.
The Archduke and Emperor Wilhelm established closer political relations; they saw eye to eye on many problems. Unlike Franz Joseph, who was principally interested in Balkan affairs, the Archduke was an imperialist in the modern sense of the word. He supported Wilhelm's aspirations for a big navy and felt that the Monarchy should exercise its prestige in all parts of the world. During the Boxer uprising in China, he bitterly complained: "It is scandalous that we did not send any troops to China, while such small, ridiculous states as Belgium and Portugal had their troops there."
Faithful to his conceptions of legitimacy and fearful of risking a big war with the Great Powers, at a time when his own state was not yet stabilized, the Archduke outlined with the opening sentences of the 1914 Thronwechsel the foreign policy he would follow when he ascended to the throne: "Foreign countries have to be assured that the policy of peace will be preserved under the maintenance of our trusted alliances, especially the one with German." But he added: "A revolution in Hungary, war with Italy and perhaps with Serbia and Montenegro, are expected with certainty."
The Archduke believed that a war against Serbia could be localized, particularly after the meeting at Konopischt, in October 1913, when the Emperor Wilhelm finally committed himself to backing more actively Austria- Hungary's policy in the Balkans.
Judging from the documents in the Nachlass, Militärkanzlei and other sources, the Archduke's life was threatened many times. Apparently three attempts against his life were made (in 1902, 1906 and 1910); many other conspiracies were detected, and the number of warnings and rumors received by the police was countless. It is interesting that in the Vienna archives the Magyars are seldom mentioned as plotters and the most frequently accused are the Italians and the South Slavs, both those living within the Monarchy and those in overseas émigré communities. Like the Irish Fenians, wherever they lived they plotted against the tyranny in their old home. The Archduke read all the police reports and wrote his directives in the margins; often he would accuse the wrong man.[iv]
The group of Bosnian youths who killed the Archduke has been called by some historians "Young Bosnia," but actually no organization of that name existed. However, there were scores of secret clubs and societies with basically the same characteristics. Understandably, they usually did not keep elaborate minutes of their doings. Primary sources on the life and work of Princip and his accomplices are scarce and those that exist must be treated with care; in a part of the South Slav society, for example, there is a kind of idolatry of Princip.[v]
Princip and his friends were under the strong influence of the milieu in which they grew up. Most of them were born among villagers who lived in feudal bondage to the Hapsburg rule. In 1910 the illiteracy rate in Bosnia was 87 percent. Consequently oral folklore, poetry and ethics were functional. Among the rural South Slavs the belief flourished that to kill a foreign tyrant was the noblest goal in life, and this was expressed in the Kosovo cycle of the folklore epics. This saga grew up after the Battle of Kosovo, on June 28, 1389, when the Turks destroyed the independent, mediaeval state of Serbia. The Harvard graduate, John Reed, roaming through the Balkans before the First World War, found it very much alive: "Among the Serbs," he wrote, "every peasant soldier knows what he is fighting for. When he was a baby, his mother greeted him: 'Hail, little avenger of Kosovo!' " Gavrilo Princip and his accomplices knew the Kosovo heroic poems by heart: it was a most unfortunate decision of the Archduke to visit Sarajevo on the June 28 anniversary.
The Young Bosnians were also greatly influenced by Schiller's conceptions of tyrannicide, as expressed in "William Tell," as well as by the teachings of Mazzini. In the Serbian student publication Zora, in Vienna in 1910, a long essay was published on tyrannicide and its moral justification.
Princip and his friends were rebels not only against a foreign rule which kept their country in the position of a colony, but also against their parents and their teachers, whom they denounced for their conservatism and slave mentality.
They were pure ascetics: they did not drink; an expression of love toward a girl was regarded as a violation of her dignity; physiological life had little meaning. Literature was their world. To write in free verse was regarded as a sign of rebellion against their teachers, who preferred the classics. Their idols were Gorki, Andreyev, Guyot, Whitman, Oscar Wilde and Henrik Ibsen. They built their own theory of permanent revolution, which resembled Ibsen's view; they published long essays on Ibsen and had read his correspondence with Georg Brandes, the eminent Danish literary critic. Princip tried his hand at poetry, but without much success. He promised Ivo Andri?, the president of their secret literary society, that he would show him his verses one day, but he never did. Ivo Andri? survived and got the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961; his "Story from Japan," written after he had left jail in 1918, is a kind of literary testament of Princip's generation, expressing the peasant restlessness and the dichotomy between revolution and rebellion.
The Young Bosnians, being somewhat primitive rebels, did not have much appreciation of the theories of Social Democracy, which did not seem to them relevant to the non-industrial peasant society of Bosnia. Besides, these youths were highly critical of the centralistic principle of Social Democratic organization. During his Balkan journeys and in Switzerland, Trotsky met some of the members of these societies and tried to talk them out of individual terrorism, but with little success.[vi]
Princip and his accomplices had no particular grievance against Archduke Ferdinand; they were ready to kill any Hapsburg dignitary as a protest against the conditions in which their country existed. They had plotted against the Emperor Franz Joseph, his ministers, Burian and Bilinski, and against all the Bosnian Governors. In the summer of 1910, when the Emperor Franz Joseph came to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina, he was almost assassinated. A student named Bogdan Zeraji?, with a gun in his pocket, was standing at the Mostar railway station on June 3, only a few steps from the old Emperor. Zeraji? did not shoot because "he was so much impressed by the serenity radiating from the face of the old man." But a few days later, on June 16, 1910, he fired five shots at General Vare?anin, the Governor of the provinces, and with the last bullet committed suicide. In 1912, Princip gave his word at Zeraji?'s grave that he would avenge him by assassinating the first Hapsburg he met, and on the eve of June 28, 1914, he placed a wreath on Zeraji?'s tomb.
The Young Bosnians had contact with the secret societies in Serbia and in the South Slav provinces under Hapsburg rule, particularly Croatia and Slovenia. Princip knew personally Luka Juki?, who had tried to kill the Royal Commissioner, Count Slavko Cuvaj, in Zagreb on June 8, 1912. The Slovene secret revolutionary society, Preporod, had very close relations with the Bosnians. But it is an open question whether the Slovene revolutionary, Ivan Endlicher, was involved in the plot of June 28. The act of a Croat youth, Stjepan Dojti?, who had left his job in Illinois in order to try to kill the Governor of Croatia, Count Ivo Skerletz, in August 1913, was hailed by Princip.
From the Austrian archives it is clear that the Bosnians had contacts with European anarchist organizations; the Hapsburg spies had information from a Paris anarchist society that Zeraji? intended to assassinate the Emperor Franz Joseph. The interview by the Russo-American anarchist Alexander Berkman, which appeared in The New York Times of June 29, 1914, is still a puzzle to the historian. Berkman said: "The assassination of Ferdinand was a plot of the anarchists and revolutionaries" and that their plan was "to strike down the only man strong enough to continue the iron rule of Emperor Francis Joseph." Berkman also claimed that "Austria-Hungary is a hotbed of revolution" and that "the anarchists, the revolutionaries and the strong republican factors . . . have tried to make complications which would bring on a civil war." Berkman did not deny this interview, although in his book, "ABC of Anarchism," published in 1929, he said that Princip was a Serbian patriot who had never heard of anarchism. Yet, after Princip's arrest, police searching his room found a selection of anarchist writing from Bakunin to Kropotkin. It is interesting that in jail Princip told Dr. Martin Pappenheim, the prison medical officer, that he believed that his act would provoke a world revolution.
Both Princip and ?abrinovi? were extremely sensitive young men. Princip suffered much from an inferiority complex, particularly because he was rejected in 1912 as a volunteer in the Serbian Army. ?abrinovi? had a hard childhood. When he was a 13-year-old apprentice, a journeyman pressed a red- hot iron on his neck out of fun. ?abrinovi?'s father was very strict and often beat him. He fled from his home but wrote many moving letters to his grandmother and sisters. ?abrinovi?'s father was accused of being an Austrian spy and this haunted the young boy. When he was caught, his first words were: "I am a Serbian hero."
Some of the Bosnian students studying in France and Switzerland had planned as early as January 1914 to act against Franz Ferdinand. Princip and his friends in Sarajevo decided in March of that year to move against the Archduke when they read in the papers about his coming visit to Sarajevo. Five out of the six Sarajevo assassins were young men, between the ages of 16 and 20. Their attempt at crime was the most amateurish political homicide of modern history; it was a miracle that they were not caught before the 28th. The assassination itself was a product of pure chance. After ?abrinovi? threw his bomb, all of the other assassins left their assigned places, except Princip. The Archduke's driver took a wrong turn and while backing the car out he made the fatal mistake of stopping just in front of Princip, who from a distance of a few feet shot at the Archduke and Governor Potiorek. The first bullet hit the Archduke, but the second hit the Duchess of Hohenberg. At the interrogation half an hour later, Princip declared that he felt sorry for accidentally shooting the Archduchess.
The latest historical evidence suggests that the Sarajevo assassination was a result of collusion between the secret revolutionary societies of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Colonel Apis' Ujedinjenje ili smrt based in Belgrade- although their motives were by no means identical.
In assessing the role of Colonel Apis' secret society, it is important to take into account the changes which took place within it between the time it was founded in 1911 and the eve of World War I. In the two Balkan wars, some of the leading members of the society were killed in action, including Ljuba Jovanovi?-?upa, the editor of the society's paper Pijemont, a man of great influence among the South Slav youth. From all the evidence, Jovanovi? was a Freemason and published in Pijemont several articles on Freemasonry. Since Jovanovi? was killed in the summer of 1913, the theory that Freemasons organized the Sarajevo plot through Apis' society loses one of its main supports.
The successes of the Serbian Army in the 1912-1913 wars opened the possibility for closer collaboration between Apis and the societies of Bosnia. Yet, there were differences between Colonel Apis' national program and the Bosnians'. Colonel Apis heralded Serb supremacy over the other South Slavs (for him Croatia was just a Serb province), while Princip and his friends favored federalism with equality for all South Slavs. Apis' program had elements of an East-Orthodox clericalism, while Princip's was atheistic. Colonel Apis was a general staff officer who favored the use of the Army, while individual terror was the very basis of Princip's credo. An article in Pijemont of October 1911 ridiculed the idea of political homicide. But the two groups found a common base for action against the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914. The main go-between was Major Vojin Tankosi?, the right-hand man of Colonel Apis and the leader of Komite, the Serbian guerrilla force operating in Macedonia which many Bosnian students joined as volunteers. Tankosi?, himself of Bosnian descent, was looked upon with veneration by these Bosnians,
Having seen what motivated Princip and his friends in deciding to assassinate the Archduke, we must turn to analyzing Apis' motives as well. He was not an anarchistic youth, but a cool-minded and well-trained general staff officer. He was aware of the plight of the Serbian Army after two wars and the Albanian rebellion, in which losses among the officers were great and military equipment was exhausted. To risk a war against Austria- Hungary under these conditions was unthinkable. Also Apis knew that Russia, Serbia's closest ally, had not completed her army reforms.
The theories that both Princip's group and Colonel Apis were moved to action by some outside force (the Russian General Staff or the German General Staff, as some historians claim) seem to be based on inadequate evidence. The Bosnians had contacts with some anarchistic groups outside their own country, and with the Russian revolutionary socialists, but there is no evidence that any intelligence services of the Great Powers succeeded in establishing control over the Bosnians.[vii] Colonel Apis was also a rather independent man. Accusations of complicity with Austria-Hungary have no basis. It is true that from 1903, when Austro-Hungarian authorities helped the conspirators against Alexander Obrenovi?, some of the older officers of Apis' group preserved their Viennese contacts,[viii] but Apis himself looked upon Austria-Hungary as the most deadly enemy of Serbia.
Colonel Apis' relations with Germany are of a more complex character. He himself visited Germany several times; his Pijemont praised the role of the German Army in the "resurrection of the German nation;" and he had rather close relations with the Serbian diplomat Milo? Bogi?evi?, who defected to Germany in 1915. But there appears to be no evidence to prove that Colonel Apis worked as a German agent, as he has been accused by some historians. He maintained contacts with the Germans only for the purpose of trying to augment the differences between Vienna and Berlin.
Nor was Colonel Apis a Russophile. Pijemont attacked all the Great Powers for neglecting the interests of smaller nations, and was particularly critical of Russia's secret agreements with the Hapsburgs over the Balkans, calling her a "brotherly Judas." The reports of the French Ambassador in St. Petersburg suggest that Emperor Nicholas II was hostile to Colonel Apis and that he pressed King Peter of Serbia several times to dismiss him.[ix]
Of all the theories as to why Colonel Apis decided to take part in the conspiracy against Franz Ferdinand, the most probable is that he feared that at the Konopischt meeting between the Emperor Wilhelm and the Archduke, at the end of October 1913, Germany had given Austria-Hungary a free hand to crush Serbia. By murdering the Archduke, Apis believed that he would cause confusion among the enemy ranks and thus force the Viennese war party to postpone its designs against Serbia at a time when she and her ally, Russia, were not ready for war. Significantly, the attacks in Pijemont against the Archduke increased after the Konopischt meeting. In the issue of January 2, 1914, following an article by Stefan Grossman marking the Archduke's fiftieth birthday, the editor added his own comment which amounted to a public threat of death to the Archduke. Indeed, Apis instructed his men at that time to explore the possibilities for eliminating Franz Ferdinand.
Princip came to Belgrade in January 1914 to prepare for his final matriculation examination and in mid-March, when his group from Sarajevo sent him a press clipping about the Archduke's visit to Bosnia, he contacted the Bosnian students in Belgrade, asking them for weapons. Thus a direct link was established with Colonel Apis through Major Vojin Tankosi?, and a coördination of all conspiratorial groups at last was achieved.
The relations of the Serbian Government, Colonel Apis and the Young Bosnians during the fateful weeks before June 28, 1914, can now be more easily assessed in view of new historical evidence.
The Royal Jugoslav Governments did not publish the official Serbian documentations on the Sarajevo plot because the whole issue had deep internal political repercussions. Between 1903 and 1914 Colonel Apis was the eminence gris of Serbia's political life, a kind of king-maker. He was challenged from the beginning by the Radical Party and its leader Nikola Pa?i?, who was the Prime Minister of Serbia before the First World War. Their disagreement came into the open in May 1914, when Apis provoked the dismissal of Pa?i? by King Peter. The Russian Government intervened and Pa?i? was reinstated. On June 10 Apis tried to organize a coup d'état, but his influence was waning and his old comrades rejected his orders. At this stage Prince Alexander moved into the conflict, siding with Pa?i?. As a result King Peter had to resign, Alexander became the regent and new elections were announced for August 1. Despite the outbreak of war, the conflict did not recede, and in 1917 Apis and his principal followers were arrested, charged with attempted assassination of Alexander; Apis and two of his lieutenants were executed.
In view of these events, any publication of the relevant documents on Sarajevo, 1914, could have hurt the interest of the Crown as well as of the powerful Radicals. But during the Second World War, German troops captured the Jugoslav archives and a collection of the Serbian documentation was in press in May 1945, but was never published. These archives were returned to Belgrade, but some of the key documents are still missing. At the retrial of Apis in Belgrade in 1953, most of the documentations were revealed. Hans Uebersberger also published some of the Serbian documents in 1958 in his book "Öesterreich zwischen Russland und Serbien," although not objectively. The recently published memoirs of Slobodan Jovanovi?, one of the last Royal Prime Ministers of Jugoslavia and a historian of reputation, who was a friend of Apis and had contacts with King Alexander, contributed much to clarifying some of the missing links in this complex historical issue.
Major Tankosi? aided Princip and his accomplices in crossing from Serbia to Bosnia through a secret "kanal," the underground link between the two countries. It happened that the same people were serving in the underground chains of both Colonel Apis' military intelligence and Narodna Odbrana, a society which had a more cultural function among the South Slavs in Bosnia and which was under the influence of the Serbian Government.
One of the peasants, Jakov Milovi?, who helped Princip to cross the border to Bosnia, was at the same time a confidant of Narodna Odbrana, and he at once informed Bo?a Milanovi?, his contact in ?abac, the Serbian border town, that he had guided two schoolboys who were carrying four revolvers and six bombs. Milanovi? sent an urgent message to his superior in Belgrade, General Bo?a Jankovi?, the President of Narodna Odbrana, who in turn informed the Minister of the Interior, and finally the report reached Prime Minister Pa?i?.
In his own hand Pa?i? made a summary of the first part of the document and this piece of paper, without a date, exists in the Serbian archives. It was published by Uebersberger in 1958 together with a facsimile of the first part of the document in which all the information about the crossing of the schoolboys was mentioned. But Uebersberger omitted the second part of this document, which is of vital importance in assessing the responsibility of the Serbian Government for the Sarajevo crime. However, the page proofs of the projected German publication of the Serbian documents show a facsimile of the second part of the document.
On the basis of this report, Pa?i? contacted the Chief of the General Staff asking him to investigate Colonel Apis, because the report mentioned the fact that the weapons were carried to Bosnia at the request of Rade Malobabi?, the chief secret agent of Serbian Military Intelligence in Bosnia, Herzegovina and Croatia. Apis wrote a long explanation in his own hand (without a date), stating that the revolvers and bombs were sent for the protection of his confidants in Austro-Hungarian territory.
But Pa?i? was not satisfied with this answer and ordered an official investigation which was conducted by the Chief of the Judiciary Department of the Ministry of War, Colonel Stanko Cvetkovi?. At the same time the Minister of War issued an order to the Military Frontier units to prevent the crossing of people to Bosnia or the transport of weapons, and the civil authorities in ?abac also started their investigation and issued similar orders.
Under these conditions, Colonel Apis decided to stop Princip and his accomplices.[x] One of his men contacted Danilo Ili?, a teacher from Sarajevo, who was the main technical organizer of the plot. Ili? tried his best to convince Princip to postpone his action, but Princip stubbornly rejected such a suggestion. At the investigation and at the trial, as the available official documentation reveals, Ili? spoke about his conflict with Princip on this issue.
But now the affair took a new turn. Rade Malobabi? appeared in Bosnia seven or eight days before the 28th, and, according to the information revealed in a recent book on Princip by Dr. Drago Ljubibrati?, he revoked Apis' previous decision to abandon the plot. Malobabi? seems to have been at the exact spot where the Archduke was killed.
The question is why Malobabi? acted in this way. Was he induced by Colonel Apis or did he act under someone else's order? The Serbian Government ordered the arrest of Malobabi? as soon as he recrossed the border into Serbia and accused him publicly of being "an Austrian spy." But this accusation has not been confirmed. This writer's opinion is that Malobabi? acted on the orders of Major Vojin Tankosi?, a man of violent character, who was much perturbed by Colonel Apis' failure to win over Pa?i? during the crucial weeks before June 28. This hypothesis is confirmed by Tankosic's statement when he was arrested in Belgrade following the Archduke's assassination. When he was asked why he had done such a thing, he answered: "To spite Pa?i?."
To sum up the issue concerning the amount of knowledge the Serbian Government had about the Sarajevo plot, it appears that Pa?i? knew about the crossing of the armed men, but not about the plot itself. Naturally he presumed what might happen in view of the Archduke's visit to Bosnia and tried his best to prevent any conflict with Austria by ordering investigations against Apis and directing the border guards to stop the illegal crossing of the frontier. But it is important that in the second part of the report he received from the Ministry of the Interior the purpose of sending the arms was stated to be to arm Malobabi?'s chain of intelligence men in Austro-Hungarian territory, and the plot against the Archduke was not mentioned at all.
Thanks to new primary sources, the story of the Sarajevo assassination looks simpler than before, when the whole issue was blurred by the problem of responsibility for the First World War. The Archduke was killed by the joint action of the secret revolutionary societies of Bosnia and Belgrade. The theories that Russian, German, Austrian, or British and French agencies participated, or that Colonel Apis was in league with the Hungarian Prime Minister, Count Stephen Tisza, have not been proved by the available documentation.
[i] When Austria was occupied by the Nazis in 1938, this allegation, among other reasons, led Max Hohenberg and his younger brother to Dachau concentration camp.
[ii] At the outset it can be said that mental illness was not a cause. Princip and his accomplices were sane and fully aware of their crime, which they defended from the first moment they were caught.
[iii] The Archduke was an anti-Semite, and this is manifested even in his humorous spelling of Roosevelt's name with a "dt."
[iv] In May 1914 he commented bitterly on a report about the "anti-state" activities of Michael Pupin, of Columbia University, an American of Serbian descent.
[v] This writer was given proof that some of Princip s letters were forged. Also some of the surviving members of the outer ring of conspirators had their personal prejudices: after World War I,cent.
[vi] This writer was given proof that some of Princip's letters were forged. Also some of the surviving members of the outer ring of conspirators had their personal prejudices: after World War I, Borivoj Jevti? praised Princip but accused some of the other assassins (particularly Danilo Ili? and Nedeljko ?abrinovi?) of being cowards and almost traitors. From the minutes of the interrogation one gets the impression that this accusation was unfounded.
[vii] He had nothing to do with their plot, although immediately after June 28, 1914, Vladimir Ga?inovi?, one of Princip's friends, gave Trotsky a story about the conspiracy which he published in 1915 in a Kiev paper. Closer ideological links existed with the Russian social revolutionaries, particularly with M. A. Natanson, who took to Russia in 1917 the most important parts of the Ga?inovi? archives.
[viii] There were rumors that Mustafa Golubi?, an important member of the Bosnians, worked for the Russian Okhrana. This writer checked the names of all the leading members of Princip's society in the archives of the Balkan section of Okhrana (as they are preserved in the Hoover Institution for War, Revolution and Peace, Stanford University), but none of them was on the list of Okhrana's confidants.
[ix] Colonel Ma?in and Colonel Damjan Popovi? for a time favored Skoda guns over French onea.
[x] It is interesting that in 1917, when Apia faced the death sentence passed on the insistence of the Regent Alexander Karadjordjevic, Kerensky's government gave the strongest support to Apis. Relations between Hartwig, the Russian Minister in Belgrade, and his military attaché Artamonov were not particularly close, although this was not the case with Captain Alexander Ivanovich Werhovski, Artamonov's deputy, who later became Kerensky's Minister of War, and finally one of the commanders of the Red Army.
[xi] Narodna Odbrana on three occasions sent messages to their contact man in Bosnia to stop the plot.