Gavrilo Princip

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‘Mlada Bosna’ (Young Bosnia) movement member and Yugoslav nationalist Gavrilo Princip. In Sarajevo in 1914, he killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, setting off a series of events that ultimately resulted in the start of the First World War. The ‘Young Bosnia’ movement, which was primarily made up of Serbs but also included Croats and Bosniaks, aimed to bring all of the Yugoslav people together and overthrow Austro-Hungarian control in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to Princip, the reason the Archduke was chosen as the target was that it was highly likely that, as a future sovereign, he would have started reforms that would have given the Slavic areas more autonomy, thwarting the intended unity. The dramatic events of the day of the assassination resulted in Princip and his collaborators being apprehended; as a result, the “Black Hand,” a covert Serbian nationalist organization, was implicated, leading Austria-Hungary to give Serbia the “July Ultimatum” and imprison Princip and his associates. Princip passed away from tuberculosis at the age of 23, which he acquired as a result of the subpar prison circumstances.

Early Childhood & Life

On July 25, 1894, Gavrilo Princip was born in Obljaj, a small town in Canton 10 of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, east of Bosansko Grahovo. The local Eastern Orthodox priest insisted that naming him Gavrilo after Archangel Gabriel would help him to avoid infantile death, which was common in those days and caused his parents to lose six of their nine children. Gavrilo was the second son and fourth child of his parents, Petar and Marija.
The Serb family of Princips, who farmed for a living, was extremely underprivileged. Petar carried passengers through the mountains dividing Bosnia and Dalmatia to increase his income because the farm’s earnings, after he paid his landlord one-third of the rent, weren’t enough to sustain the family.

Princip started attending elementary school in 1903 at the age of nine, against the wishes of his father and quickly established himself as a model student.

When Princip was 13 years old, his older brother Jovan invited him to Sarajevo so that he might attend an Austro-Hungarian military academy. He eventually enrolled in a merchant school but after a friend persuaded Jovan to stop considering Gavrilo “an executioner of his own people”. Princip enrolled at a Tuzla classical high school in August 1910 after completing three years of study there, and the following year he received his diploma.

He got to know and appreciate Bogdan “eraji” in 1910, a rebel Bosnian Serb who tried failed to assassinate Marijan Vareanin, the Austro-Hungarian governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina, before taking his own life. Princip joined “Mlada Bosnia” (Young Bosnia), an organization that worked to liberate Bosnia from Austria-Hungary and unite it with the neighboring Kingdom of Serbia, full of zeal.

In 1912, Princip was expelled from school for taking part in a protest against the Austro-Hungarian government. Soon after, he left the city and traveled 170 miles on foot to Belgrade in an effort to join the war against the Ottoman Turks led by Major Vojislav Tankosi, a notorious member of the ‘Crna Ruka’ (Black Hand), the main secret society in Serbia at the time.

He personally saw Tankosi, who also rejected him because he was too small and frail at the ‘Black Hand’ recruitment office in Belgrade because of his small stature. Princip was so embarrassed that he went back to his brother in Sarajevo and spent the following months traveling to and from Belgrade.

He was dispatched with 15 other members of “Young Bosnia” to the training facility of the “Serbian Chetnik Organization” in Vranje to learn how to shoot, use bombs, and wield knives after impressing “ivojin Rafajlovi,” one of the organization’s founders, in Belgrade with his tenacity.

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

When the Archduke of Austria visited Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, to oversee Bosnia’s military training, Princip and his fellow conspirators had plans to assassinate him.

The royal couple was driven into the city in a six-car cavalcade just before 10 a.m. from the Sarajevo station. Fehim Uri, the mayor of Sarajevo, and Dr. Edmund Gerde, the chief of the city’s police, were in the front automobile, and they were in the second car with Lieutenant Colonel Count Franz von Harrach and Oskar Potiorek. To give the throng a better glimpse of the royalty, the top of the Archduke’s automobile was rolled aside.

Princip was one of six conspirators who lined the Appel Quay, the path of the automobiles, evenly spaced so that each could make the best assassination attempt. The first conspirator, Muhamed Mehmedbai, who was standing near the “Austro-Hungarian Bank,” suddenly became terrified and let the automobile pass.

Several minutes later, while the Archduke’s automobile was driving through the main police station, a 19-year-old student named Nedeljko “abrinovi” threw a bomb at it. However, the driver sped up after detecting the thrown object, and after a 10-second delay, the device detonated beneath the fourth car, badly injuring two passengers and striking a dozen onlookers with shrapnel.

The other conspirators were powerless to stop the automobiles’ rapidity or the crowd’s presence. Abrinovi decided he would rather die than be imprisoned so he took a cyanide tablet and jumped into the Miljacka River. However, because the cyanide pill had lost its strength and the river had little water, he did not perish and was instead apprehended.

Ferdinand made the decision to visit the grenade attack victims in the hospital after the reception at City Hall. General Oskar Potiorek determined that the car should avoid the city center and travel to the hospital in Sarajevo via Appel Quay, but he forgot to tell the driver, who made a mistake turning onto Franz Josef Street, halted, and then attempted to reverse out of the situation but managed to stall the engine.

Princip, who was nearby Moritz Schiller’s café, seized the chance to kill Ferdinand and Sophie by shooting them both in the neck and belly with two shots from his 9 mm FN Browning Model 1910 pistol at a distance of five feet.
Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia on July 28, 1914, one month after the killing, blaming Serbia for it.

Incarceration and death

Princip attempted to shoot himself immediately, but his plot was unsuccessful. After being taken into detention, he attempted to take a cyanide pill, but it had expired. Due to his age being under the minimum legal requirement of 20 years, he was given a sentence of 20 years in jail rather than the death penalty.

He developed tuberculosis as a result of the brutal conditions in Theresienstadt Prison, and on April 28, 1918, three years and ten months after the murder, he passed away. He died at a meager weight of 40 kg, weak and emaciated. He had previously had his right arm amputated because of severe bone TB.
The prison guards secretly interred him in an unmarked grave out of concern that they would serve as relics for Slavic nationalists. However, a Czech soldier who was present at the time made it possible for his body to be exhumed in 1920 along with the bodies of other “Heroes of Vidovdan” and transported to Sarajevo where they were interred beneath a chapel at St. Mark’s Cemetery.

Legacy of Gavrilo Princip

Princip’s home in Sarajevo was destroyed during World War I and later restored as a museum. The “Croatian Ustae” destroyed it, and after communists took control of Yugoslavia in 1944, it was reconstructed. In Sarajevo, a new museum bearing his name was established. During the third Yugoslav War in the 1990s, the home was damaged, and it was reconstructed in 2015.

Plaques identify the location where Princip shot; the older imprinted footsteps on the pavement were damaged during the 1992–1995 Bosnian War.

A bust of Princip was revealed in Tovarievo, Serbia, on April 21, 2014, while on April 14, 2014, the centennial of the murder, a statue of Princip was constructed in East Sarajevo. Serbia was given a statue of Princip by Republika Srpska, which was put up in Belgrade on June 28, 2015.

The Princip pistol, which the Austrian Jesuits long guarded, is currently on display in Vienna’s Museum of Military History’s permanent collection.

Estimated net worth

The estimated net worth of Gavrilo Princip is about $1 million.