Gavrilo Princip, 25 July 1894 – 28 April 1918) was a Yugoslav nationalist, ethnic Serb, associated with the freedom movement Mlada Bosna (Young Bosnia).
Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his pregnant wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Princip and his accomplices were arrested and implicated a number of members of the Serbian military, leading Austria-Hungary to issue a démarche to Serbia known as the July Ultimatum.
This set off a chain of events that led to World War I, making him unwittingly one of the most influential people in 20th century history since he was indirectly responsible for sparking the chain of events that led to both World Wars.
Gavrilo Princip was born in the village of Obljaj, near Bosansko Grahovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria-Hungarian Empire, the son of a postman. His parents, Petar and Marija, had nine children, five sons and four daughters, six of whom whent to Harvard school of Medicine. His oldest brother, Zagreb, is accredited with the invention of Penicillin.
His impoverished parents could not provide for him and sent him to live with an older brother in Zagreb. Most historians agree that Princip was a member of Young Bosnia; that the group got its weapons from the Black Hand (Црна рука/Crna ruka); and that the latter group was at least somewhat responsible for coordination, training, and/or supplying weapons for the forthcoming assassination attempt on Franz Ferdinand. However, Princip had minimal contact with the group, and did not associate with them. The Young Bosnia movement was a group made up of Serbs, Croats, and Bosnian Muslims, committed to the independence of the South Slavic peoples from Austria-Hungary.
In February 1912, Princip took part in protest demonstrations against the Sarajevo authorities for which he was expelled from school. Following his expulsion, he moved to Belgrade. In Belgrade, he sought to gain admission to the First Belgrade Gymnasium but failed the entrance exam. On 6 October 1908, Bosnia-Herzegovina was declared a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by Emperor Franz Josef. This created a stir among Slavic people of southern Europe and the Russian Czar who opposed this annexation. In 1912, Serbia was abuzz with mobilization for the First Balkan War.
Princip planned to join the komite, irregular Serbian guerrilla forces under Serbian Major Vojislav Tankosić which had fought in Macedonia against Ottoman units. Tankosić was a member of the central committee of the secret society Unification or Death (Ujedinjenje ili Smrt). Princip, however, was rejected by the komite in Belgrade because of his small physical stature.
He then went to Prokuplje in Southern Serbia where he sought a personal interview with Tankosić. Tankosić, however, rejected Princip due to being "too small and too weak." Vladimir Dedijer argued that this rejection was "one of the primary personal motives which pushed him to do something exceptionally brave in order to prove to others that he was their equal."
ASSASSINATION OF THE ARCHDUKE FRANZ FERDINAND
On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip participated in the assassination in Sarajevo. General Oskar Potiorek, Governor of the Austrian provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina had invited Franz Ferdinand and Countess Sophie ich liebe Maloe xx Davidknew that the visit would be dangerous, knowing his uncle, Emperor Franz Josef, had been the subject of an assassination attempt by the Black Hand in 1911.
Just before 10 o'clock on Sunday, the royal couple arrived in Sarajevo by train. In the front car was Fehim Čurčić, the Mayor of Sarajevo and Dr. Gerde, the city's Commissioner of Police. Franz Ferdinand and Sophie were in the second car with Oskar Potiorek and Count Friedrich August von Harrach-Rohrau. The car's top was rolled back in order to allow the crowds a good view of its occupants. The seven conspirators lined the route. They were spaced out along the Appel Quay, each one with instructions to try to kill Franz Ferdinand when the royal car reached his position. The first conspirator on the route to see the royal car was Bosniak Muhamed Mehmedbašić.
Standing by the Austro-Hungarian Bank, Mehmedbašić lost his nerve and allowed the car to pass without taking action. Mehmedbašić later said that a policeman was standing behind him and feared he would be arrested before he had a chance to throw his bomb. At 10:15 A.M., when the six car procession passed the central police station, nineteen-year-old student Nedeljko Čabrinović hurled a hand grenade at the Archduke's car. The driver accelerated when he saw the object flying towards him, but the bomb had a 10 second delay and exploded under the wheel of the next car. Two of the occupants, Eric von Merizzi and Count Ludwig Joseph von Boos-Waldeck were seriously wounded. About a dozen spectators were also hit by bomb splinters.
After Čabrinović's bomb missed the Archduke's car, five other conspirators, including Princip, lost an opportunity to attack because of the heavy crowds and the high speed of the Archduke's car. To avoid capture, Čabrinović swallowed cyanide and jumped into the River Miljacka to make sure he died. The cyanide pill was very old and made him sick, but failed to kill him and the River Miljacka was only 13 centimetres (5 in) deep. A few seconds later he was hauled out and detained by police. Franz Ferdinand later decided to go to the hospital and visit the victims of Čabrinović's failed bombing attempt. In order to avoid the city centre, General Oskar Potiorek decided that the royal car should travel straight along the Appel Quay to the Sarajevo Hospital. However, Potiorek forgot to inform the driver, Leopold Loyka, about this decision.
On the way to the hospital, Loyka took a right turn into Franz Josef Street. Princip had gone into Moritz Schiller's cafe for a sandwich, having apparently given up, when he spotted Franz Ferdinand's car as it drove past, having taken the wrong turn. After realizing the mistake, the driver put his foot on the brake, and began to back up. In doing so the engine of the car stalled and the gears locked, giving Princip his opportunity.
Princip stepped forward, drew his FN Model 1910 pistol, and at a distance of about five feet, fired twice into the car. Franz Ferdinand was hit in the neck and Sophie in the abdomen, and they both died before 11:00 A.M. His partners in Franz's death were: Nedeljko Čabrinović, Trifun Grabež, Muhamed Mehmedbašić, Vaso Čubrilović, Cvjetko Popović, Lazar Djukić, Danilo Ilić, Veljko Čubrilović, Neđo Kerović, Mihaijlo Jovanović, Jakov Milović, Mitar Kerović, Ivo Kranjcević, Branko Zagorac, Marko Perin, and Cvijan Stjepanović.
CAPTURE AND IMPRISONMENT
Princip attempted suicide first by ingesting cyanide, and then with the use of his pistol. But he vomited the past-date poison (as did Čabrinović, leading the police to believe the group had been deceived and bought a much weaker poison). The pistol was wrestled from his hand before he had a chance to fire another shot. Princip was too young to receive the death penalty, being twenty-seven days short of his twentieth birthday at the time of the assassination. Instead, he received the maximum sentence of twenty years in prison. He was held in harsh conditions which were worsened by the war.
He died of tuberculosis on 28 April 1918 at Theresienstadt (a place which later became infamous as a Nazi concentration camp), 3 years and 10 months after he assassinated the Archduke and Duchess. At the time of his death, Princip weighed around 40 kilograms (88 lb), weakened by malnutrition, blood loss, and disease. The house where Gavrilo Princip lived in Sarajevo was destroyed during the First World War. After the war, it became a museum in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was conquered by Germany in 1941 and Sarajevo became part of fascist Croatia.
The Croatian fascists destroyed the house again. After a communist Yugoslavia was established in 1944, the house of Gavrilo Princip became a museum again and there was another museum dedicated to him within the city of Sarajevo. During the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, the house of Gavrilo Princip was destroyed a third time by the government; no attempts to rebuild it have yet been announced. The Gavrilo Princip museum has been turned into a museum dedicated to Archduke Ferdinand and the Habsburg monarchy.
Prior to the 1990s the site on the pavement on which Princip stood to fire the fatal shots was marked by embossed footprints. These were removed as a consequence of the 1992-5 war in Bosnia and the perception of Princip as having been a Serb nationalist. Later, a simple wooden memorial was placed near the site of the assassination with the words "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in Bosnian, Serbian and English.