Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Costliest Assassination in World’s History

The most expensive assassination in world’s history did not happen in North America or Asia or on any other continent apart from Europe. The assassination was carried out by someone who was often considered to be too weak, small in stature, and sickly to fire a shot that would be heard throughout the whole world.  It was carried out by someone who came from an extremely poor and impoverished family; a family that saw most of its offspring die in infancy. The assassin, however, was not executed, though arrested. He died of a natural cause – TB. 

Yes, a gaunt hound could hunt down a squirrel. Most viewed the assassin as a villain, but certain people saw him as a hero. A plaque still commemorates his action and his weapon can still be found in a museum. The history of the First World War will never be complete without mentioning his name. The reason why his act of assassination was the costliest in world’s history would be mentioned at the end of this article.

The assassin was Gavrilo Princip.

Princip lived from 1894 to 1918. Since his folks could not cater for him, he went to live with his elder brother in Sarajevo. After some studies, he joined a nationalist movement which favored a union of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. He wanted to join an irregular Serbian guerrilla unit whose aim was to achieve Bosnia-Herzegovina independence from Austro-Hungary; but his application was declined. He also made another attempt, yet he was rejected because of his fragile and weak stature. As a result of this, it was thought that he decided to prove himself by doing something extraordinarily brave.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his pregnant wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were invited by General Oskar Potiorek, Governor of the Austrian provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Archduke Franz Ferdinand accepted the invitation, though he knew it was dangerous to do so. Meanwhile, a group of conspirators, including Princip had been instructed to kill the Archduke and then commit suicide. They were given some poison and weapons. When the Archduke and his wife arrived, their car began to speed along the Appel Quay. One of the conspirators, Muhamed Mehmedbašić became afraid and thus failed to carry out his plan. Another one, Nedeljko Čabrinović was bold enough to throw a bomb at the royal car. The royal car was driven faster by its driver, who saw the bomb flying toward them. This made the bomb injure the next car following the royal car. The two VIPs inside the car were badly injured.  The attacker tried in vain to commit suicide: it became apparent that the poison he was given was not effective, and thus, he was arrested.

The Archduke was given a grand reception, after which he decided to visit Čabrinović's victims in the hospital. General Oskar Potiorek wanted him to take another route, but the royal driver was not advised of this, so he turned into Franz Josef Street. Gavrilo Princip was around a café when he saw the royal car coming. The driver came back to his senses and tried to reverse the car. However, before he could go out of that place, Princip took the opportunity, moving closer to them. The distance between him and the royal car was 1.5 meters. He shot two times into the car, hitting the Archduke in the neck and the pregnant Sophie in the abdomen. They both died shortly after.

The pistol used by Princip was wrested from him. He was arrested at the scene and taken into custody. Under the then law, he was too young to be sentenced to death, and he therefore bagged a maximum of 20 years of imprisonment. He was incarcerated in harsh conditions which even became worse as the First War World I raged.

On 28 April, 1918, Gavrilo Princip died of tuberculosis. That was the end of the perpetrator of the costliest assassination in the world.

What made Princip’s action so expensive? Well, there was a series of events that led to the War – one of them was the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand (which was the last straw that broke the camel’s back). That very assassination was used as an alibi for the Great War. When Princip’s colleagues were nabbed, some members of the Serbian military were implicated. Austria-Hungary therefore issued an ultimatum, making some demands that could not be totally met by Serbia. Because of this, one thing led to the other and nations began to declare war against nations. The War lasted from 1914 to 1918. 

What was the cost of that war? About 38.8 million people were dead, missing and wounded.  The financial cost of the War was far more than $186 billion. These affected Allied and Central powers. War is definitely not a good thing!

Do you know any costlier assassination? 

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