99 Years since the Senseless Assassination which sparked the Senseless War which Destroyed not only an entire generation of European youth but also (effectively) destroyed the 20th Century—Oh, and another Senseless War, the Korean War, Started on this same day in 1950—so June 28 was just, all round, a bad day to live in the 20th Century…


In the early chapters of Adolph Hitler’s autobiography Mein Kampf  (“My Struggle” in English, “Mea Lucha” en español, much more widely available and read in Mexico, and all over Latin America, oddly enough, than in the USA or Europe) the future Führer condemns the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Hapsburg dynasty as degenerate and oppressive, separating the German people from the Austrian people unnaturally.  It’s not the only ideological position I disagree with in Mein Kampf but I have to say I think it’s one of Hitler’s strangest ideas.   The Austro-Hungarian Empire, it seems to me, was one of the greatest peacekeepers in European history, and one of the greatest protectors of European Civilization.  From the Fall of Constantinople until 1918, Austria-Hungary was the Eastern Boundary of Christian Europe against the Turks (as the name Österreich indicates, the “Eastern Empire”),

How prophetic, how ironic, that it was a poor Bosnian Serb who fired the fatal shot which provided the pretext for plunging all of Europe into an idiotic, totally purposeless war that wiped out a whole generation of the young men of England, France, and Germany, and marked the end of the most glorious century in European history, starting after the fall of Napoleon I in 1815, and the beginning of the catastrophic 20th century.  

Austria was so civilized and so much ahead of its time in social thinking that it did not sentence the young terrorist (who was a couple weeks shy of his 20th birthday) to death.  The execution of youths for crimes committed while they are minors (at that time the age of majority was 21) is an issue that still vexes us today.  But to my mind, Hapsburg Austria-Hungary was not only not degenerate, it was the shining light of Central and Eastern Europe.  What a tragedy to see it fall.   We had an elderly neighbor, Faith Wagner, when we lived in Palm Beach, Florida 33480 back twenty plus years ago, who was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and still proudly kept her original Austro-Hungarian passport with Kaiser Franz Joseph’s image, seal, and printed signature.  It was a great nation and with its demise, Central and Southeastern Europe fell into major chaos.  I think that Austria-Hungary should have become a “triple crown” and absorbed Serbia rather than disappearing form the map.  Yugoslavia never really worked out as a nation, either as a kingdom under Serbian leadership or under Marshal Tito’s “separate way” of non-conformist communism.  (A memorably funny line in the French movie Entre Nous, set in France in the early 1950s comes when one of the two main (female) characters’ husbands says to his dog “Tito, couchez” —the dog ignores him— “Tito Couchez” he repeats.  “Comment vous l’appellez?” asks the other husband.  “Tito—il obait jamais.”)[“Tito, lie down; Tito lie down”—”what do you call him? [your dog?]” “I call him “Tito” because he never obeys”].

On This Day: Archduke Franz Ferdinand shot, triggering First World War

The death of the royal heir at the hands of Serbian gunman Gavrilo Princip led the empire, which then ruled the city in Bosnia, to declare war on neighbouring Serbia.

By Julian Gavaghan | British Pathé – 12 hours ago

June 28, 1914: Austro-Hungary’s Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo on this day in 1914 – triggering the First World War.

The death of the royal heir at the hands of Serbian gunman Gavrilo Princip led the empire, which then ruled the city in Bosnia, to declare war on neighbouring Serbia.

And, thanks to a series of alliances, Europe’s major powers were all dragged into fighting an unimaginably bloody conflict that led to the slaughter of 16million people.

The war, which pitted Britain, France, Russia, Italy and ultimately the United States against Germany, Austro-Hungary and Turkey, changed the face of the continent.

A British Pathé newsreel describes Britain’s prior innocence in with people shown enjoying cricket and “lovely things” at Ascot while unaware of trouble brewing.

An artist’s rendition shows the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and his wife, Czech …

In France, champagne growers are seen harvesting their grapes while soldiers were cheered off as they went to fight a conflict they thought would be over by Christmas.

But the war – characterized by the stalemate of trench war and of lions led by donkeys as they were machine-gunned down for a few inches of land – lasted until 1918.

[On This Day: HG Wells predicts outbreak of World War Two]

Ultimately, the British and French were victorious, but the German army was never defeated militarily.

Rather their countrymen were being starved to death at home and the entrance of the U.S. in 1917 made the Allies look unbeatable.

This sense of a cheated military outcome – combined with harsh reparations ordered by France – is argued by many historians to have been a cause of World War Two.

The First World War – characterized by the stalemate of trench war and of lions led by donkeys as they were machine-gunned …

Mounting Russian casualties during WWI also led to a Communist dictatorship that led to the deaths of millions in purges and careless tactics in the following war.

Yet all these tragic events might have been avoided if Franz Ferdinand’s chauffeur hadn’t driven the wrong way back in June 1914.

Driver Leopold Loyka made a wrong turn past Sarajevo’s Schiller’s deli, where forlorn gunman Gavrilo Princip was dining after his earlier assassination plan failed.

The Yugoslav nationalist, who hoped to unify occupied Bosnia with independent Serbia, leapt out of the café and seized his chance.

Two bullets later, both Franz Ferdinand and Princess Sophie, who was shot as she tried to cover her husband, lay dead and the rest, as they say, is history.

One response to “99 Years since the Senseless Assassination which sparked the Senseless War which Destroyed not only an entire generation of European youth but also (effectively) destroyed the 20th Century—Oh, and another Senseless War, the Korean War, Started on this same day in 1950—so June 28 was just, all round, a bad day to live in the 20th Century…

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