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Monday, June 29, 1914

Assassination -- Tragedy of the Hapsburgs

VIENNA, June 29, 1914 (UP) - The map of Europe may be altered by two assassins' bullets that yesterday struck down to instant death at Sarajevo, Bosnia, Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his morganatic wife, the Duchess of Hohenberg. Gravest fears are entertained here that the octogenarian Emperor, Franz Josef, now en route here from his summer palace at Ischl, cannot recover from this latest of a long series of tragedies that have marked his life.

Reports here to-day said that Sarajevo was practically under martial law, while the government sought the details of the plot which they believe was responsible for the tragedy. Two students, one of whom threw a bomb at the royal pair, which the Archduke deflected from his carriage without injury, and another, who later fired the shots which caused their death, are held. They disclaim any plot, but the police are certain the long-smouldering hatred of the Servian prince of the populace was behind the murders. The bomb-thrower was a Servian compositor, named Gabrinovics, who came to Sarajevo from Trebinje.

The murderer was Gavrio Princip, also a Servian, of Grahovo, a mere boy of 19 years of age, who said he was a student. Supporting the authorities' belief of a widespread plot was the discovery of a third bomb, unexploded, near where the tragedy occurred.

It assumed that a third assassin stood ready to hurl this at the royal couple had Princip's bullets not found their mark. This bomb came from Belgrade, Servia, according to police.

Rigid questioning of the two Servians failed to elicit any admission of a plot. Both were cynically indifferent. The bomb thrower injured nearly a score of people. His missile, hurled at the royal carriage, was deflated by the Archduke and exploded near the carriage, which followed him, injuring two military aides and a number of townspeople.

It was while the Archduke and his wife were en route to the hospital to visit Count Von Boos-Waldeck and Colonel Morrizzi injured by the bomb explosion, that they were assassinated.

The political situation created by Archduke Francis Ferdinand's assassination may be acute especially if the aged Emperor cannot withstand the shock of the tragedy. The new heir to the Austrian throne is Archduke Charles Francis Joseph, who is 26 years of age. He is popular with the people of the dual monarchy, but is believed to lack the forcefulness of character of the slain heir apparent.

It was the ambition and forcefulness of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand that caused Servia's hatred of the Hapsburgs, the family to which he belonged. Servia hated Austria-Hungary because that monarchy prevented realization of the Servian dream of a port on the Adriatic, following the division of land acquired in the latest Bosnian war. In 1908 Herzegovina and Bosnia were absorbed by Austria, which sought further and further to extend its boundary southward and to acquire more extensive slav territory.

Backed always by Russia, Servia has resented this onward march of the dual monarchy-and always has blamed Archduke Francis Ferdinand, the strong, the ambitious, for Austria-Hungary's aggressive policy, rather than the aged Emperor Franz Josef.

Dominant Austria-Hungary has long been hated by Servia, Montenegro and other small principalities who felt slowly but surely Francis Ferdinand was absorbing their territory.

Careworn and feeble, the aged Emperor Franz Joseph arrived here at 11 o'clock this morning. The populace, massed at the station, gave him respectful greeting in a tremendous demonstration. Ministers Berchtold and Tisza met the monarch, and on his arrival at the palace, he immediately called a ministerial conference.

Black flags float from all public buildings to-day and from nearly all the houses. The greatest apprehension is felt that the Emperor, weakened by his recent prolonged illness, may not survive this latest tragedy in his life.

The heat here is terrific and debilitating in the extreme to the aged ruler.

Dispatches from Sarajevo to-day said that scores of arrests had been made of those suspected of complicity in the assassination plot.

Because of the kindly feelings of the people toward the archduke and his wife no special precautions had been taken to safeguard the royal party on their arrival, aside from the usual police and military guard to keep the crowd at a respectful distance. The assassins taking advantage of this condition stationed themselves on the edge of the crowd at a point where the royal carriage would pass close to them within a few yards of the railroad station.

The archduke and the duchess entered their carriage and followed by their escort stared for the City Hall along the flag decorated avenue.

Neither of the assassins moved until the carriage horses were abreast of them. At that moment the thrower leaped out into the road hurling his bomb straight at the royal couple.

Then while the crowd shrieked in horror and fell back in panic the lifting smoke revealed the archduke and duchess sitting upright in their carriage apparently unharmed. Francis Ferdinand, noted for his courage, leaned forward as though to reassure the duchess who also appeared to be perfectly calm.

As the Archduke leaned forward the Servian youth sprang alongside of the carriage, pistol in hand. The Archduke, apparently catching the glint of the weapon, faced the youth, throwing his body in front of the Duchess. Before he could do more the student fired, the first bullet hitting the Archduke in the face. Francis Ferdinand managed to remain upright for a moment and then as the second shot struck him fell back against the cushions of the carriage. The youth, so close now that he could almost touch the Duchess, continued firing, his bullets taking effect in her abdomen. Each of his shots had struck a vital spot.

Having emptied the pistol the youth turned and stood with the most useless weapon in his hand and made no attempt to flee until the onlookers, recovered from the shock of the tragedy, flung themselves on him with cries of execration and demands for vengeance.

This final tragedy which has come to the house of Hapsburg is the culmination of the personal sorrows that have overshadowed the life of the Emperor. His reign began with sinister omens, for he faced internal dissensions and external aggressions from the moment he came to the throne. In 1853 the list of the tragic incidents that began with an attempt upon his life, when a Hungarian named Lebenye wounded him with a knife.

Fourteen years later his brother, Archduke Maximilian, Emperor of Mexico, was captured by those who rose against him, condemned to death by court martial and executed. Then followed the burning to death of a niece in Vienna, a sister in Paris and the death by suicide in Slahrenberg lake of a cousin.

In 1898, the Emperor's wife, who was the daughter of Maximilian Joseph, Duke of Bavaria, was stabbed to death at Geneva by a mad Italian anarchist. They had been estranged for many years, but the Emperor had never ceased to show a deep affection for her.

Less than ten years before, the Emperor's only son, the Crown Prince Rudolph, a man of ability and promise, upon whom the Austrians had pinned their hopes, met death in a mystery which to this day has not been cleared. On January 30, 1889, his dead body was found in a hunting lodge at Myerling, not far from Vienna. Beside his body lay that of the Baroness Marie Vetsera.

Archduke Charles Francis, known popularly as Karl, who becomes heir to the Austrian throne, owing to the morganatic birth of Archduke Francis Ferdinand's children, debarring their succession, has been carefully educated with a view to fitting him for the position of Emperor. He differs from all other members of the imperial family, inasmuch as he is the first member of the imperial house to have been educated in the public schools of Vienna, where he mixed with scholars of every class of society. He associated with workingmen and tradespeople and joined them in their games, thus getting into closer touch with the aspirations and ideals of the people than any of the other Hapsburgs. He is a first lieutenant in the Austrian navy.

While no arrangements have yet been made here for the royal funeral, it was stated unofficially that the ceremony would probably be held July 10th. As yet the Emperor and all his people are stunned by the shock of the tragedy.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International.