Ferdinand’s Assasination

The World War I broke out due to a series of events in the year 1914, but, it was the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungaraian throne that started the war. He was killed at point blank range by a Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip while Ferdinand was visiting Sarajevo. Count Von Harrach was also accompanying them and he wrote about the assassination on 28th June 1914. Following is an reproduced excerpt from his memoir:

“As the car quickly reversed, a thin stream of blood spurted from His Highness’s mouth onto my right check.  As I was pulling out my handkerchief to wipe the blood away from his mouth, the Duchess cried out to him, “For God’s sake!  What has happened to you?”

At that she slid off the seat and lay on the floor of the car, with her face between his knees.

I had no idea that she too was hit and thought she had simply fainted with fright.  Then I heard His Imperial Highness say, “Sophie, Sophie, don’t die.  Stay alive for the children!”

At that, I seized the Archduke by the collar of his uniform, to stop his head dropping forward and asked him if he was in great pain.  He answered me quite distinctly, “It is nothing!”

His face began to twist somewhat but he went on repeating, six or seven times, ever more faintly as he gradually lost consciousness, “It’s nothing!”

Then came a brief pause followed by a convulsive rattle in his throat, caused by a loss of blood.  This ceased on arrival at the governor’s residence.

The two unconscious bodies were carried into the building where their death was soon established.”