The Austro-Hungarian Red Book: 29 June 1914

On 28 June 1914, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie Chotek are assassinated in the streets of Sarajevo. In this document, the Austrian counsellor of legation William Ritter von Storck informs Vienna of the reaction to the assassinations in Belgrade, the Serbian capital. Storck reports on the sentiment of joy in Belgrade.

29 June 1914

 

Counsellor of Legation Wilhelm Ritter von Storck to Minister of Foreign Affairs Leopold von Berchtold. Belgrade, 29 June 1914.

Still under the profound impression of the ghastly outrage of yesterday, I find it difficult to comment upon the bloody deed of Sarajevo in the calm, self-possessed manner befitting the seriousness of the occasion. I therefore beg to be allowed to confine myself today to a mere record of some facts.

Yesterday, the 28th, the anniversary of the battle of the Amselfeld, was celebrated with greater ceremony than usual, and there were celebrations in honour of the Servian patriot, Miloš Obilić, who, in 1389 with two companions treacherously stabbed the victorious Murad.

Among all Servians, Obilić is regarded as the national hero. In place of the Turks, however, we are now looked on as the hereditary enemy, thanks to the propaganda which has been nourished under the aegis of the Royal Government and the agitation which has for many years been carried on in the press.

A repetition of the drama on the field of Kossovo seems, therefore, to have hovered before the minds of the three young criminals of Sarajevo, Princip, Cabrinovic and the third person still unknown, who also threw a bomb. They also shot down an innocent woman, and may therefore think that they have surpassed their model.

For many years hatred against the Monarchy has been sown in Servia. The crop has sprung up and the harvest is murder.

The news arrived at about 5 o’clock; the Servian Government at about 10 o’clock caused the Obilić festivities to be officially stopped. They continued, however, unofficially for a considerable time after it was dark. The accounts of eye-witnesses say that people fell into one another’s arms in delight, and remarks were heard, such as: “It serves them right, we have been expecting this for a long time,” or “This is revenge for the annexation.”

 

Source: The Austro-Hungarian Red Book, with minor edits.

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