Wednesday, September 24, 2014

History Lesson: Welcome to Sarajevo

It started like this..... last night with the Middle Offspring:

"Dad, why did America get involved in WWI?"

"Well, Germany sunk our ships."

"And why was that?"

"Because Britain was our trading partner."

"And why was that?"

"Because Britain declared war on Germany."

"And why was that?"

"Because Germany declared war on Belgium."

"And why was that?"

"Because Germany wanted to invade France."

"And why was that?"

"Because France declared war on Germany."

"And why was that?" 

"Because Germany declared war on Russia."

"And why was that?"

"Because Russia declared war on Austria."

"And why was that?"

"Because Austria declared war on Serbia."

"And why was that?"

"Because Serbia hired a nihilistic teenager with a gun to shoot the Austrian heir to the throne."

"And why was that?"

"Beats the shit out of me, son...."

* * *

It all started with a car ride--which should never have been taken.

The guy in the silly hat and his wife, shown here, are about to get into a car. The purpose of the trip was to visit certain individuals who had been wounded in an assassination attempt while riding in another car an hour earlier.

Bad idea.

The big bang that followed reverberates to this day.

I have been to Sarajevo. In the summer of Y2K I was a peacekeeper (some would say 'war tourist') in Bosnia, and went to see the spot of the assassination in Sarajevo.

Here we are outside of the Old Town, our backs to a structure now called by its original name, the Latinska Bridge.....

As I take this next photograph I am standing on the very spot where the horror story called The Twentieth Century began. As best as I can, my feet are in the very position of those of Gavrilo Prinzip, who shot the Archduke and Sophie.


A contemporary wood cut of the assassination. Both died within minutes.

She was pregnant..... aside from the unborn child, they left three children under the age of ten.

(Sophie was three times a countess and twice a duchess; but that wasn't royal enough for the Hapsburgs; not only could her children not succeed to the throne, but they would not even bury her in the same royal tomb as her husband.)

These white bricks replaced the former memorial to the assassin. Yes, they actually honored him with a monument. It read, "In honored memory of Gavrilo Prinzip, who freed his country on this spot, June 28, 1914." The white stones replaced the memorial in 1999. The memorial was removed to a Serb section of the city. As it is, after suffering three year of Serbian artillery fire, the city felt free of the need to honor a Serbian fanatic.

(The spot has since been made much more 'touristy' for the centennial. I prefer this.....)
I like this next picture much better--not because of the bridge, however. The bridge was actually renamed the Prinzip Bridge! (Imagine getting a book at the Oswald Depository or seeing Our American Cousin at the Booth Theater!). Anyway, I like the picture much better because of Jasmina Spahic, our tour guide--now Jasmina Hansen of Texas, now an American citizen and a mom!  (Yes, kiddo, this one is for you!).

Our other tour guide, whose name, alas I no longer remember. Latinska Bridge is clearly visible here.

I don't revere assassins. I can't name a single one--other than Caligula's, maybe--that EVER did ANYTHING to improve things. (I have heard Prinzip called "The Serb Washington" or compared to Klaus von Stauffenberg. Horsehockey. Washington never shot pregnant women. And I hardly see the Archduke as Hitler.)

Let me respectfully note one other person in this scenario: one Dragutin Dimitrijevic, AKA Apis, who had organized the assassination. He also assassinated the Serb king Alexander Obramovic and his wife Draga, making him a most rare criminal--a quadruple regicide. But he wasn't executed for those crimes, but for plotting the assassination of the next Serbian king, Peter I.* One must give credit where credit is due. It takes a certain Olympian level of bloodthirst to do such a thing....

But anyway. When these pictures were taken, it was eleven years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, eight years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and all was well in the world (outside of Bosnia, of course).

What we thought were breezes on the wind were the Cheyne-Stokes breathing of a world about to die.

We had no idea.


Any more than Franz Ferdinand and Sophie.



*"Good afternoon and welcome to Regicides Anonymous. My name is Apis, and I am a regicide." "Hi Apis!" :/


  1. No, it's not "Hi, Apis." It's "Et tu, Apis?" I believe the group was started by a Brutus W.

    (I crack me up.)

  2. Dear site pest: you won't find your pro-BS (Bosnian Serb) rant posted here. Begone.


Keep it clean for gene.