Sarajevo, 28 June 1914


These are two photographs, taken in roughly 1914, of the building known to history as Schiller's bakery (which was really more of a delicatessen) on the corner of what are now Green Berets Street and Prince Kulin Quay in Sarajevo, formerly Franz Josef Street and Appel Quay (43.85791 N, 18.42892 E if you want to check it out for yourself). The second picture is taken from the end of the Latin Bridge, behind the photographer. This was the place where Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, starting a sequence of events which resulted in the first world war. (Incidentally, there is no possible truth in the story that Princip had just popped into Schiller's for a lunchtime sandwich and spotted the Archducal car going past. Schiller would not have sold sandwiches, and the assassination took place at 10.55 am. Princip was almost certainly there for a cup of coffee, and maybe a slice of cake.)

I spent a lot of time in Sarajevo in 1997 and 1998 (though I’m sorry to say I haven’t been back since 2003), and needless to say the very first thing I did on my first visit there was to go to the scene and take my own photographs. Here they are:

I'm glad to see that unwittingly I had stood at the same place as the person who took the second photograph above, though of course there's not a lot of choice if you don't want to be in the river or the middle of the road. This of course was just after the 1992-95 war, so Sarajevo in general and Schiller's former establishment in particular in particular were not in great shape. Basically it had been looted comprehensively, and was now nothing more than a shell. Before 1992, it had been the Young Bosnia museum, commemorating Princip, and had a rather pro-Serbian slant. Note that the window nearest the river on the Green Berets side has been long since bricked up, though the bas-relief on the walls remains. Note also the square shallow pit in the pavement at the zebra crossing, and evidence of something being removed from the wall behind it. The gap in the pavement, believe it or not, was a concrete representation of Princip's footprints when he fired the fatal shot, and the plaque behind, in Serbian, explained that he had done this "for the freedom of our people" (using the word "Народ" for people, which in this particular context means Serbs only and not the other residents of Sarajevo) [edited to add: I had neglected to observe that народа here is plural, so it’s a more inclusive “freedom of our peoples” rather than “people”]. Wikipedia has a picture:

It’s interesting to note that the first picture above marks the place where the assassination happened, “Ort der Katastrophe”, as the supposed location of the Archduke’s car, rather than the place where Princip was supposedly standing.

These days the museum has been completely revamped, and is now the Sarajevo Museum 1878-1918. I got a recent photograph of it from Google Maps:


The picture is taken from across the river, so you can now see the end of the Latin Bridge. You can also see that the Young Bosnia bas-relief has been removed, and the bricked-up window has been reinstated. What you can't see is that a more modest plaque has been erected in Bosnian and English simply stating that the fatal shots were fired from "near this spot". Times change, and often history changes with them.

Actual movie footage survives of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie arriving at their last engagement, a reception at the new Sarajevo City Hall (now the National Library, which in my day was a bombed out shell)

They are buried in one of their homes, Artstetten Castle, in Austria; Konopiště Castle, their main home, which is now in the Czech Republic, is commemorating the centenary with a special exhibition. One of the pictures they have displayed is this one, showing Franz Ferdinand's car coming along the quay (which is a little dissonant for anyone who's driven there in recent times, as now it's a one-way street with traffic going in the opposite direction).

You can see pretty clearly that this is taken from the corner across Franz Josef / Green Berets Street from Schiller's – it's the same tree, and the same cardboard champagne bottle, as in my first two pictures above, and the distinctive Emperor's Mosque is visible across the river. What is obvious here, and not visible in the first two pictures, is that Schiller put had tables out on the pavement to serve his customers, taking advantage of a fine June day.

This is therefore the last photograph taken of the Archduke and Sophie before they were shot; and it's entirely possible that Princip is one of the customers in the picture; he would certainly have been only a few metres away from the photographer.

I'll leave the last word with Rebecca West:

Not having been told how supremely important it was to keep going, the puzzled chauffeur stopped dead at the corner of the side street and the quay. He came to a halt exactly athwart the corner of the side street and the quay. He came to a halt exactly in front of a young Bosnian Serb named Gavrilo Princip, who was one of the members of the same conspiracy as Chabrinovitch and had gone back to make another attempt on the Archduke's life after having failed to draw his revolver on him during the journey to the town hall. As the automobile remained stock-still, Princip was able to take steady aim and shoot Franz Ferdinand in the heart. He was not a very good shot: he could never have brought down his quarry if there had not been this failure to give the chauffeur proper instructions. Harrach could do nothing; he was on the left side of the car, Princip on the right. When Princip saw the stout, stuffed body of the Archduke fall forward he shifted his revolver to take aim at Potoriek. He would have killed him at once had not Sophie thrown herself across the car in one last expression of her great love and drawn Franz Ferdinand to herself with a movement that brought her across the path of the second bullet. She was already dead when Franz Ferdinand murmured to her, 'Sophie, Sophie, live for our children'; and he died a quarter of an hour later. So was your life, and my life, mortally wounded.

(From Chapter XXX of Black Lamb and Grey Falcom).

  • between the bridges

    It was the spark that lit the fuse for both WW’s…

  • SDLP supporter

    Very interesting post, Nicholas. I remember Professor Jim Mallory, who is an Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at QUB, and from California, telling me he was on a ‘dig’ in the area in the seventies and being introduced to a very elderly man who was one of Princip’s co-conspirators.

    I can’t vouch for this, but I have a memory in childhood of an interview in the long-defunct ‘Sunday Press’ with a doctor who had been in the square in Sarajevo that day. He was a medical student in the College of Surgeons at the time. This really may be false memory syndrome but, IIRC, the article said he took the photo of Princip being seized. No passports needed then to travel, apparently.

    Rebecca West’s book is one of the greatest ever written, though hard going at well over a thousand pages. The blurb on my copy said she was born in County Kerry, though I had always read she was born in London. She had a son, the novelist Anthony West, with HG Wells and mother and son had a very bad relationship.

    WW1 ruined the twentieth century.

    There is footage on Youtube of a fifties TV programme of a very old man who had witnessed the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865.

  • SDLP Supporter,

    Thanks. It’s very likely that Jim Mallory met with Cvjetko Popović, who missed his own chance earlier in the morning of 28 June 1914, but ended up as a curator in the Sarajevo museum.

    The photo of Princip being seized is a little controversial, which is why I didn’t link to it. I don’t think the chap in the picture looks all that much like Princip, and rumours are that it is either co-conspirator Nedeljko Čabrinović or a passer-by called Ferdinand Behr. The photographer was Milos Oberajger.

    Rebecca West’s book is these days regarded as a bit dodgy politically, but there is a jewel of prose on almost every page.

    Apparently they re-enacted the fatal drive today on the spot: my friend James Lyon took photographs.

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    I was there for my honeymoon.

    Do you have a proper translation for the Cyrillic memorial? (I fear my own attempt is unworthy)

    Being in Sarajevo and the Krajina(s) made me realise how lucky NI is.
    Things could be so very much worse.

  • AG,

    Indeed; we do not always appreciate how bad it might have been.

    Wikipedia offers this translation:

    28 JUNE 1914

    Actually on closer inspection I realise that “народа” in the last line is in the plural not singular, so it’s not as exclusive as I made it out to be – the above translation should be “peoples”.

  • poblachtsolais

    I suspect that naroda is the genitive singular of narod so people would be correct. Narod usually confers the notion of ‘ ethnic group.

  • PS,

    As I should have spotted first time round, “naroda” is both genitive singular and genitive plural of “narod”. The key is the preceding word in the inscription, “naših” (plural) rather than “našog” (singular). The word “narod” has a very specific Yugoslav/Bosnian meaning, applying to one of the constituent “peoples” of former Yugoslavia / current Bosnia, but not other groups like Albanians, Jews or Roma.

  • Am Ghobsmacht


    “The word “narod” has a very specific Yugoslav/Bosnian meaning, applying to one of the constituent “peoples” of former Yugoslavia / current Bosnia, but not other groups like Albanians, Jews or Roma.”

    Again, to hammer in a Northern Irish context:
    WATP = “Mi smo narodi”

  • Harry Flashman

    I have to ask, why “Green Berets” Street?

    Bismark was right about the value of the Balkans compared to the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier.

  • Bosnian Green Berets, explained by Wikipedia.

    Bismarck’s successors made a different calculation, of course.

  • Greenflag

    SDLP supporter ,

    ‘WW1 ruined the twentieth century.’

    The 40 period prior to 1914 was the worlds first for want of a better word globalisation era . Advances in technology , communications , international cooperation etc , fast growing industrial economies in Germany,Great Britain , USA and huge investments in Russia seemed to herald a new era of prosperity ,

    Alas Bismarck’s fear that ‘ Any future war between the European powers would start in the Balkans ‘ proved only too true .

    I guess we can but hope that the wars in Syria /Iraq/ Afghanistan in 2014 don’t lead to a repeat of the first half of the 20th century .

    WW1 gave us totalitarian communism and in it’s aftermath along with 1920’s/1930 global economic -recession -totalitarian nazism/fascism .

    In 2014 a new totalitarianism is in place . But this time around it’s multinational and financial and seemingly beyond the powers of what we call democracies to regulate or make accountable to the peoples of not just Europe but the world .

  • Greenflag

    Am Ghobsmacht,

    Being in Sarajevo and the Krajina(s) made me realise how lucky NI is.

    Indeed -location -location .

    ‘Things could be so very much worse.’

    Indeed which is why the NI politicians and their British & Irish counterparts need to keep the lid on during the marching seasons and prevent /minimise any sectarian violence from those who would return NI to the past .

  • Greenflag

    Thanks Nicholas for the above pics and thread . Sophie – Ferdinand’s wife was not at all favoured by the Hapsburgs-shades of latter day Diana at a monarchy closer to these parts .

    Had the chauffeur not made the wrong turn or had Gavril Princip missed his target one wonders what Europe would be like today ? The Austro Hungarian Empire was ‘liberalising ‘ it’s society . It’s economic and intellectual life (Vienna ) were flourishing . It’s multinational make up (although more complex than that of Great Britain ) could have been ‘strengths ‘ instead .of political weakness . The Austrian accomodation with the Hungarians proved unable to be replicated with the Czechs , Bosnians , Slovenians etc etc .

    It’s difficult to envisage what present day Europe and indeed the world would look like minus WW1 and WW2 ? It beggars belief that one individual with a couple of shots could alter the futures of hundreds of millions of people most of whom would not have been alive at the time of the assassination .

    Such is history /life /fortuna / joss / circumstance .

    As a certain Mr Jara of Chile would no doubt attest the morning after yesterday’s game 🙁

  • SDLP supporter

    Greenflag, can’t disagree with you. I believe that the more precise translation of what Bismarck presciently said was “some damn fool thing in the Balkans….”

    By any reckoning Princip and his mates, as with Lee Harvey Oswald, etc ad infinitum, were all useless tossers and I don’t think a lot of the narcissism of Serbian nationalism either.

  • poblachtsolais


    Imas li pravo pa naravno! Ako sam vidio “nasih” bilo bih znati, ali tesko mi je citati taj. Hvala puno

  • poblachtsolais


    Imas pravo!

  • PS,

    Trebao sam vidio prvi put. (I ti si!!!)

  • Greenflag

    @ SDLP,

    ‘ I don’t think a lot of the narcissism of Serbian nationalism either.’

    A cursory read of Serbian history 1200 AD to 1914 AD should leave you thinking even less of the much greater narcissism of Ottoman Imperialism and the ‘other ‘ imperialisms which saw WW1 herald the end of their tyrannies . That some were replaced by even greater tyrannies during the 1930’s is an example of what can happen when those in power decide to go to war .

    What we now see in Iraq/Syria /Afghanistan being a sort modern versions of the 1914 era Balkans as the regional powers Iran , Saudi Arabia , Turkey etc jockey for the crumbs from the fall out of the ongoing Sunni v Shiite sectarian wars .

  • poblachtsolais

    Until it was checked by Operation Oluja in 1995 Serbian nationalism had been upgraded to Serbian imperialism. Basically the Serbian generals dreamed the dream of a Velika Srpska ( Greater Serbia) and wanted a line drawn roughly from Ilok in Eastern Slavonia to Dubrovnik in Dalmatia which would have included large swathes of Croatia and Bosnia populated by ethnic Croats and Muslims. But for the heroism of the Croatian people in that dark time we would have a very different Balkans now.

  • Harry Flashman

    “Basically the Serbian generals dreamed the dream of a Velika Srpska ( Greater Serbia) and wanted a line drawn roughly from Ilok in Eastern Slavonia to Dubrovnik in Dalmatia which would have included large swathes of Croatia and Bosnia populated by ethnic Croats and Muslims.”

    I never understood that idea of seizing territory that includes large swathes of your bitterest opponents thinking that this was going to be successful. It seems to be a thing among some ethnic groups, if I’m not mistaken the Greeks tried something similar in Turkey and ended up losing territory that had once been theirs, a bit like the Serbs later.

    I remember reading Robert Fisk (yeah I know, but he can occasionally come up with something interesting), contrasting the Christian Lebanese and the Ulster Unionists who both had their states carved out at the same time. The Lebanese went for maximum territory thus incorporating hundreds of thousands of their Muslim opponents, whereas the Unionists sacrificed territory in exchange for security, the latter seems more logical.

    As for describing one side or other as heroic in the appalling Balkan wars of the 1990s (or indeed in the appalling Balkan wars of the 1940s, 1910s or back into the mists of time) frankly that stretches it a bit. Maybe the Serbs were in the wrong in the 90s but maybe they had scores to settle with others who were wrong in the 40s or beyond.

    Frankly all sides were utterly repellent and to praise one above the other is taking sides in a revolting and squalid blood feud that is none of our concern.

  • MYtwocents

    note to greenflag at the bottom.
    I cut and paste this (not link) as I am not quite up on the old computer thingy, some on this thread may find it interesting.
    FROM THE BBC NEWS SITE, world/europe
    “Gavrilo Princip: Bosnian Serbs remember an assassin
    The house in eastern Bosnia where Gavrilo Princip was born has been renovated and opened to the public During preparations to mark 100 years since the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the BBC’s Guy De Launey found Bosnian Serbs in eastern Sarajevo paying tribute to the 19-year-old man whose actions triggered World War One.

    East Sarajevo seems a world away from notions of Hapsburg emperors and an idealistic assassin who fired the shots that ignited World War One.

    Boldly coloured but otherwise identical mid-rise concrete blocks line the largely treeless streets. Cyrillic signs indicate that the visitor is in Bosnia’s ethnic-Serb “entity”, Republika Srpska.

    But on an unpromising patch of land, fully exposed to the fierce Balkan summer sun, workers are sweating over a tribute to the man who brought Austro-Hungarian influence over Bosnia to a violent end.

    They are rushing to complete a small municipal garden in which the centrepiece will be a statue of Gavrilo Princip, the young Bosnian who shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June 1914.

    The few passers-by stick to the shade at the perimeter of the park. But, when asked their opinion of the subject of the statue, they light up.

    An unassuming plinth and a small municipal garden were prepared for the statue in East Sarajevo
    “Historically, Gavrilo Princip was an important person,” says a man emerging from a decorators’ shop. “He used to play an important role in our society and then suddenly that changed.”

    “I think Gavrilo Princip deserves to have his monument erected,” says a woman walking past with plastic bags of shopping.

    Princip and the shot that sparked WWI

    Gavrilo Princip was one of seven members of Mlada Bosnia (Young Bosnia), a Bosnian Serb militant organisation which wanted independence from Austria-Hungary
    Archduke Franz Ferdinand and wife Sophie shot dead in their car by Princip on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo
    Austria responded angrily and declared war on Serbia, securing unconditional support from Germany
    Russia announced mobilisation of its troops
    Germany declared war on Russia, 1 August
    Britain declared war on Germany, 4 August
    Gavrilo Princip’s living legacy
    Ten interpretations of who started WW1
    A short walk away in the municipal town hall, Mayor Ljubisa Cosic offers highly alcoholic apple rakija and a voice of reason.
    “There are many different discussions about his role and his act,” he says. “Our opinion is that he was not a terrorist. He had revolutionary ideas of liberty, not just for Serbs – he belonged to the Slavic movement.”
    Local Mayor Ljubisa Cosic argues the statue should not be seen as provocative
    In the former Yugoslavia – the pan-Slav state which emerged from World War One – that would have been a reasonably uncontroversial statement. But following the ethnically charged Balkan conflicts of the 1990s, Princip, as a Serb, has become a far more divisive figure.
    Still, Mayor Cosic insists that the erection of a statue to the assassin should not be viewed as an act of provocation to Bosnia’s other ethnic groups.
    “Erecting a Princip statue is not an act against reconciliation,” he says. “I have my own view of history – so do my citizens – and they view Princip as a hero.”
    The view could hardly be more different in the centre of Sarajevo, some 20 minutes’ drive away.
    Many of the buildings here date back to before 1914 – a daily reminder that Bosnia was once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. For some of the Bosniak Muslim majority here, Princip’s shot was the start of the country’s descent into tragedy.
    “The consequences of his action were very bad for Bosnia,” says Fedzad Forto, an editor at the news agency of the Bosniak-Croat ethnic entity.
    “Bosnia ceased to exist in Yugoslavia, and Bosnian Muslims were not recognised until 1968.”
    Fedzad’s view is that Princip was a terrorist – an uncontroversial position in Bosniak parts of the country, where the assassin is largely viewed as an ethnic Serb nationalist rather than a pan-Slav idealist. Even pointing out that Austria-Hungary was an occupying power fails to persuade Princip’s critics that he helped to liberate Bosnia.
    The shooting took place on a street corner near the Latin Bridge in Sarajevo “They were still much better rulers than the kingdom of Yugoslavia or communist Yugoslavia,” says Fedzad of the Hapsburgs. “You can look at the historical records and see how Austria-Hungary cared about issues like the rule of law. We lost so much in 1918.”
    So the commemorations in the centre of Sarajevo will take on a completely different tone to those in the east of the city. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra will visit and play, in front of City Hall, a selection harking back to Hapsburg days, including Haydn’s Emperor Quartet.
    The concert will end with an extract from Beethoven’s ninth symphony – since adopted as the anthem of the European Union. Fedzad Forto admits a display of unity would be better for his country than the rival commemorations.
    “We should join forces to commemorate the victims of the war – and make new common ground, not more divisions.”
    But that is not going to happen. Princip’s pan-Slav dreams are further away now than they were a century ago.”.

    Greenflag, I have been trying to get a discussion going around the whole Iran/Gulf states thing by using one of Patricks old threads, so far no luck, I could do with some help.

  • Gopher

    The whole Princip thing gets too many people off the hook it’s naive to believe some other excuse would not have been found. Simply put the German and Austro Hungarian General staff believed there was a window for a favourable war which would close around 1916 with Russian rearmament.

    Slightly tangental just finishing Andrew Wheatcroft’s “Enemy at the Gate, Habsburgs, Ottomans and the Battle for Europe”‘ Found it an engrossing read.

  • Greenflag

    @ MYtwocents

    “I have been trying to get a discussion going around the whole Iran/Gulf states thing by using one of Patricks old threads,?

    Apologies late reply . Patrick ? Try the archives using some key words is about all I can suggest or perhaps one of the SOT bloggers will help you out .

    I tend to agree with Gopher above that the Princip thing can be overblown .

    The main reason WW1 took place was because of the rivalry of the then Imperial Powers and the fact that then ‘international diplomacy ‘ found the war factions in all the powers in the ascendant over the peace factions .

    22 million dead was the result and you can add another 55 million dead in WW1 part 2 1939-1945 . Since then of course you can add the two world wars total and then some but none achieved ‘World War ” status .