The Gavrilo Princip Theory


Benjamin Jensen, Columnist

The events of the 20th, 21st centuries all would not have happened without one person. This person can be seen as a hero, terrorist, a misguided child, or the man responsible for billions of deaths worldwide. On June 28, 1914, A 19 year old boy shot and killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. Only a few days later, the world was plunged into World War I. After World War I, the German Empire was blamed for the war, which began years of poverty and the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany. The U.S.S.R was also formed, and created the fear of the spread of communism, which led to the Vietnam War, Afghanistan, Korean War, etc. World War II then began which also caused, The holocaust and the Cold War. Personally, I believe that the person responsible for world events for the past 107 years, would be the 19 year old boy, Gavrilo Princip. 


Gavrilo Princip was born on July 25, 1894 in Obljaj, Bosnia. On October 7, 1908, Bosnia was annexed into the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Over the years, Gavrilo noticed the mistreatment of Bosnians and Serbians by Austrian-Hungarians. Gavrilo attended High School in Sarajevo and Tuzla however he failed his classes and was removed from the school. At this time he also contracted Tuberculosis, at the time it was a fatal disease. 


Gavrilo then went to Belgrade to become a Serbian propagandist to promote a greater cause for Serbia. Gavrilo then joined Major Tankosic’s Black Hand partisan academy in 1912, but his poor health rendered him unfit for active duty. Just two years later, the plot to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand was underway. 



On June 28, 1914, Gavrilo Princip and other Black Hand conspirators carried out their plan to throw bombs under Archduke Ferdinand’s car. However, upon throwing the explosives, the timers were delayed and blew up the car behind Ferdinand. Gavrilo and the conspirators fled the scene and most of the conspirators were captured and arrested. Gavrilo was not pursued and decided to stop at a local delicatessen store to figure out what to do next.


Instead of remaining in hiding, the Archduke went back to Sarajevo to visit the soldiers that were in the car that exploded in the hospital. However, one crucial mistake was made by the Archduke’s chauffeur. The chauffeur accidently took a wrong turn and ended up in front of the delicatessen Gavrilo was at. The car the Archduke was in, a One Gräf & Stift luxury limousine, took a while to reverse. Because of this, Gavrilo took his chance and shot and killed Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. Gavrilo fled but was quickly captured by police. Gavrilo attempted suicide by a cyanide tablet, however the tablet was faulty which caused Gavrilo to vomit. 


After the arrest and of Gavrilo Princip, the news of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand spread throughout Europe. The Austrian-Hungarians wanted a war against Serbia because they  that the Serbian government were apart of the assassination. The Austrians sent a list of demands to Serbia to avoid a war, however some demands were impossible or went against the Serbian Constitution. After the demands were denied, The war to end all wars was ignited. 


Germany joins alongside the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, and Russia joins on the side of Serbia. France will follow along with Russia then Britain and Belgium join in on the side of the Allies. 


The Great War raged on for four years, with over 17 million casualties, civilian and military. 



The Treaty of Versailles was made to punish Germany for causing The Great War even though that Germany did not cause the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Germany was forced to pay an impossible bill of 33 billion dollars to the Allies. Because of this new bill, the Weimar Republic began to excessively print German marks, thus decreasing its value. The value decreased so much that 1 american dollar would be worth 4 trillion German marks. Germany faced hyperinflation, and civil unrest by the NSDAP, led by Adolf Hitler. The Nazi Regime rose to power in Germany and after the Invasion of Poland in 1939, the Second World War was on.


After the Second World War and the Holocaust, Germany was broken up into 4 sectors, each owned by the allies. At the same time the Soviet Union was hungry for power in Europe, thus starting the Cold War.  Jewish refugees were also heavily displaced from the war, thus a plan to help relocate the refugees to Palestine. World War II was also the first time an atomic bomb was used in warfare. This sparked a new kind of fear, a fear of total atomic annihilation. World War II also caused the rise of fascism and dictators in many countries, such as North Korea. 



It is possible that other events of World War I and the Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand such as Militarism, Alliances, and Imperialism, but personally I nationalism was the primary cause of World War I. Nationalism is what brought Gavrilo Princip into the Black Hand and eventually started the first world war. Almost every single event of the 20th or 21st century can be traced all the way back to this day. Some of these events are still going on today, like the Cold War, the Israel/Palestine conflict, constant warfare in the Middle East, and Dictatorships and the rise of unjust political parties. Some see Gavrilo as a hero, or a villain, but in reality he was just a 19 year old who wanted to do what he thought was right for his country. What he wasn’t aware of was the consequences of his actions.