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Assassination of Franz Ferdinand

Gavrilo Princip assassinated Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, setting off World War I.  Created by Sal Khan.

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  • leafers seedling style avatar for user Darwin
    At it is mentioned that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, but he was the nephew of Franz Joseph. Did Franz Joseph have any legitimate children? And who succeeded him as emperor?
    (158 votes)
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  • aqualine tree style avatar for user Free runner
    What is 'annex'?
    (63 votes)
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  • leafers seedling style avatar for user Darwin
    Why did Blessed Charles of Austria become 'Blessed'?
    (22 votes)
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  • ohnoes default style avatar for user Jibreel Nikenge-Jawdi
    why is this assassination important?
    (11 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Sam
    So why did Ferdinand visit Sarajevo if Serbia was the home base of the nationalist movement? Wasn't he worried about personal harm or possible assassination attempts?

    Also, since Franz Ferdinand was traveling in a motorcade with a preannounced route, was this a sign of possible Austria-Hungarian occupation or annexation of Serbia also?
    (13 votes)
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  • aqualine seed style avatar for user Sarah
    What's the difference between an archduke and a duke?
    (7 votes)
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  • piceratops sapling style avatar for user Jitesh D
    What happened to Gavrillo Princip
    (3 votes)
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  • mr pants teal style avatar for user pras
    if there were no treaties and no assassination, would it be enough to stop the world war?
    just think, archduke Ferdinand in heaven, mysteriously surprised at the world going to war cause of him.
    (1 vote)
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    • leafers sapling style avatar for user Jean-Charles Zurawicki
      Several factors were leading to a global conflict and war most certainly would have broken out even without the assassination. Even before WWI, European nations were expanding their armed forces and competing economically with one another. The net of secret alliances created beforehand would no doubt escalate a small conflict into a global one. The frenzy for Imperialism in Africa also paved the way for war; the Fadosha and Moroccan Crises could have just as easily have the same impact the assassination did.
      (8 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Tim4you
    why did the killing of Franz Ferdinand start the fuse that led to world war 1
    (3 votes)
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    • male robot hal style avatar for user RN
      As SAM said, Germany had given a "blank-check" that they would show unconditional support to Austria regarding its actions toward Serbia, and Russia then mobilized to come to the aid of their Slavic brothers, which caused Germany to actually put that support to action and fulfill their own military interests in the west so they then invaded Belgium and through there attacked France, and they did so with something called the Schlieffen plan, a plan formed by German field marshal Alfred Von Schlieffen which was a plan formed in case they had a war with France(which they did) and the plan was to encircle France through Belgium and capture Paris within 6 weeks and then send those forces back to counter Russia whom they falsely assumed would take more than 6 weeks to mobilize. But since Britain had signed the 1939 London treaty with Belgium which was a treaty to protect Belgian sovereignty from an external aggressor, so they declared war on Germany and things went downward from there on.
      It's pretty fascinating how one conflict in the Balkans can fuel a global war.
      (4 votes)
  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Nicolas San Miguel
    So why did Austria-Hungary go to war with Serbia if they were attacked by a terrorist group? Was the Black Hand affiliated with the Serbian government or was Austria-Hungary just really eager to go to war?
    (3 votes)
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    • blobby green style avatar for user Richard Nixon
      I think, to be honest, that Austria was eager to do a couple things; one, to flex their military arm and assure everyone that they were still a world power, as well as to test germany's will to help them; two, serbia had been on the verge of rebellion for quite a long time, and there was much more than just this attack...Serbs had been showing up in rebel/opposition rallies for quite a long time now, as well as deserting the Austrian Army, and conducting guerilla activities in the countryside. Austria was aware of all of this; three, after the colonial explosion of the Victorian 1800s, relations were strained and everyone knew there was going to be war, just not where or when, so Austria probably wanted to strike first and be sure that they would not be surprised by an attack by a united Yugoslav/Eastern European front.
      (those are my thoughts, at least)
      (4 votes)

Video transcript

We're now ready to talk about one of the most famous events in all of world history that really was the trigger for World War I, or the Great War, as it was called back then. So just as a little bit of backdrop, in 1908, the Austro-Hungarian Empire formally annexes Bosnia and Herzegovina. It had already been occupying it since the late 1800s, since the Ottomans were being pushed out. But then in 1908, it formally annexes it. And just as a little bit more backdrop, as the Ottomans were being pushed out of the Balkans, it helped rekindle or bring about more hope of unifying the Yugoslavic people, the southern Slavic people. When people talk about Yugoslav, they're literally talking about the southern Slavs. So that literally means southern. So you had these nationalistic hopes. But now in 1908, it was already being occupied. A significant state, that would be part of a potential future Yugoslav, was now formally annexed by the Austro-Hungarians. Now, you also had an independent kingdom of Serbia right here. And you can imagine that this was the home base of the nationalistic movement. If only they could add the other southern Slavic states to this, it could one day turn into a greater Yugoslavia. So in that context, we get to 1914. So let me draw a little line here. So we're getting to 1914. June 28, which is one of the most famous dates in all of history. And you have the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie. They're visiting Sarajevo which is now in annexed Bosnia. And when they are there, there is a ploy. There is a scheme to assassinate them, from a group-- they're called the Young Bosnians. They have ties to the Black Hand, which is this nationalistic group. That has ties, many, many people say-- all these things are all very shady and behind the back, behind the scenes. But it has ties to elements in the kingdom of Serbia. They attempt to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand. And it's actually a fascinating story because the initial assassination attempt is completely, completely botched. There's even one case of a guy, one of the guys who tried to be an assassin when it gets botched, he tries to bite on a cyanide capsule and then jump into a river. The cyanide capsule had gone bad. The river was only 10 inches deep. And so they were able to get their hands on him. And one of the conspirators, Gavrilo Princip-- at this point, once the whole thing was botched, he gives up on the whole assassination attempt. And he's having, literally, a sandwich at a cafe in Sarajevo, thinking about how botched their whole attempt was. And while that was happening, a mistake on the part of those planning Archduke Franz Ferdinand's route as he was traveling within Sarajevo has them driving right near Gavrilo Princip. So he sees, all of a sudden, that they've taken the wrong route, that they're driving right by him again. Remember, his people already knew that there was an assassination attempt on him earlier in the day. So they should have been more careful. Now, Gavrilo Princip gets up, puts his sandwich down, and starts walking over to where he sees Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Sophie's car going. Now, the drivers, once they realized that they had made a mistake, they had taken a less safe route. They tried to back up, which makes things even worse because then the car starts stalling. And Gavrilo Princip literally walks up to the car and is able to shoot Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Sophie. And just to give you a sense of how important this is, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria is the heir. He's the nephew of Franz Josef, who was the ruler of Austria-Hungary. And so he is the heir to the empire. And so he gets assassinated by Gavrilo Princip. So Franz Ferdinand assassinated by Gavrilo Princip. And we have right over here a picture right after Gavrilo Princip-- I believe this is Gavrilo Princip right over here, right after he was arrested. And just to get a little sense of how this was tied to this whole Yugoslavian nationalistic movement. This is what he said once he was arrested. "I am a Yugoslav nationalist, aiming for the unification of all Yugoslavs, and I do not care what form of state, but it must be free of Austria." So this act, this assassination motivated by a nationalistic movement, motivated by a desire to maybe merge Bosnia and Herzegovina with Serbia and maybe eventually Croatia, with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. This assassination, as we'll see in the next video, is the trigger for all of World War I. And the reason why it triggers it is because, well, there's many things you can cite. You could argue that many of the empires in Europe were already militarizing, already had a desire for conflict. But then you also had all of these alliances that essentially allowed the dominoes to fall in all of Europe. And because they had these empires, essentially much of the world to be at war with each other.