Sunday, June 29, 2014

100 Years Ago - Riots in Sarajevo

On June 29, 1914, the war beat which would drum thousands of men and women into their graves began. Franz Joseph, Austro-Hungarian emperor and uncle of the victim, consulted his advisors on the best way to respond to his nephew's killing. He was advised to begin a military investigation and mobilize the military in preparation for a war with the Serbs. In Vienna the German ambassador delivered the message that the Kaiser would support any action the Austro-Hungarian emperor decided to take. In the meantime, under a torturous interrogation by Austrian police, the chief assassins were revealing the full extent of the plot that ended in the Archduke's death.

Before June 28th was over, Sarajevo broke out in riots, with anti-Serb violence spreading across the city with Austro-Hungarian encouragement. A mob attacked and destroyed the Hotel Europa, the largest hotel in Sarajevo (and owned by a Serb). Order was restored by mounted solders that night. In a reactionary move, the provincial Bosnian government and Herzegovina's Oskar Potiorek issued a proclamation directing the city police to "eradicate all subversive elements in this land." Posters bearing this edict were nailed up around Sarajevo and on the 29th a series of even more violent demonstrations began. There were and marches and incendiary speeches by political leaders who disappeared when they'd whipped the mob to a frenzy. Serb schools, shops, and homes were attacked, sacked, and burned and by the time the sun went down Sarajevo's governor had declared a state of siege. Order would not be restored until the bodies of Franz Ferdinand and his wife had left Sarajevo by train, but by then the war's fuse had been lit and there would be no turning back.

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