It is well known that the trigger for the First World War was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. But the assassination itself was quite a chanceful event. Serbian nationalists wanted to break away from
and form part of a Greater Serbia. To achieve this they decided to assassinate
leading Austro-Hungarian figures. The assassination of Franz Ferdinand was set
to take place on 28th June. Six assassins were positioned along the
route of Ferdinand’s motorcade. As the cars passed, the first two assassins did
nothing, presumably they lost their nerve. The third assassin, Nedeljko
Cabrinovic, did throw a bomb but it missed, and instead blew up the next car in
the motorcade. Twenty people were wounded. The crowd panicked, Cabrinovic
quickly swallowed his suicide pill and jumped into the River Miljacka, but the
river was only a few inches deep and the pill only succeeded in making him
vomit. He was dragged out beaten to pulp, before being handed over to the
police (he supposedly shouted “I am a Serbian Hero”). Austria-Hungary
Despite the attack the Archduke decided to continue with the visit. He attended a town hall reception, and then the motorcade proceeded for the hospital, to visit those wounded by the bomb. Enroute the cars took a wrong turn, and so Ferdinand’s driver reversed into an alley, to turn around. There, the car happened by chance to pull up alongside one of the terrorist’s. His name was Gavrilo Princip. Gavrilo was himself in the wrong place, having been given faulty directions. Spotting his opportunity, Gavrilo quickly fired his gun into the car, killing both Ferdinand and his wife Sophie.
The assassination triggered the outbreak of the First World War.