Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated by the Bosnian student Gavrilo Princip, at 10:45 am, on June 28, 1914, in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Black Hand, a secret nationalist organization created in 1911 by Serbian Army officers, was behind the assassination. Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian-born pro-Serbian nationalist, was only the executioner, who acted that day together with a group of five other conspirators. One of them, Nedeljko Gabrinovic, had attempted to kill Franz Ferdinand from a different location about half an hour before by throwing a hand grenade at the car in which the Archduke was traveling, but missed. This cause the driver to accelerate the car on the way back from the hospital the couple were scheduled to visit, but he turned into the wrong street. When the driver realized it, he tried to back up the car but the engine stalled. It was at that precise moment, near the Moritz Schiller’s café, on Appel Quay, that Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated. When Gavrilo Princip pulled the trigger of his Browning FN M1910 pistol, he was not being aware he was also triggering World War I. But why did the assassination of the Archduke unleashed a chain of events that led straight to the Great War?
Archduke Franz Ferdinand was heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and was soon to inherit it since the Emperor Franz Joseph I was already and old and frail man. Bosnia-Herzegobina was a Slav region, which had been part of Serbia until 1878, when powerful Austria-Hungary annexed it to make it part of its empire, which stirred resentment and a deep-seated nationalism both in Serbia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Austrian authorities soon found out that the Serbian government was also implicated in the assassination plot. Thus, on July 23, Austria-Hungary sent Serbia an ultimatum, whose demands were not met. As a result, the Austrians declared war on the Slav country. To protect Serbia, Russia, which was allied to France and England, mobilized its troops. This was how WWI started.