10 Little Known Facts About The Sarajevo Assassination – By James Lyon PHD

1. There were 2 silent films showing in Sarajevo the weekend Franz Ferdinand and Sophie visited. The titles of both films eerily anticipated events to come. The Imperial Kino was showing “The World Without Men”, while the Apollo Kino was showing “The Shot at Midnight”.

Photo_1_Sarajevo_Movie Advertisement_27_June_1914

2. The Russian Military attaché in Belgrade, Artamanov, gave money to the head of Serbia’s military intelligence to finance the assassination.

Photo_2_Okhrana Shield

3. The first monument to the assassins was erected in 1930, a black marble plaque with gold Cyrillic lettering on the wall high above the spot where Princip stood. It read: “Princip proclaimed freedom on St. Vitus’ Day June 28, 1914.” The Wehrmacht removed it following the 1941 German invasion of Yugoslavia and presented it to Adolf Hitler for his fifty-second birthday that year.

4. Gavrilo Princip and Nedeljko Čabrinović both swallowed cyanide capsules before being arrested. The cyanide had expired and instead of dying they had horrible stomach-aches.


5. Franz Ferdinand and Sophie’s motorcar — a 1911 Gräf & Stift Double Phaeton — belonged to Count Franz von Harrach, a military officer stationed in Bosnia who was a member of the Volunteer Automobile Corps.


6. After the first assassin threw his bomb, the Military Governor of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Feldzeugmeister (Lieutenant-General) Oskar Potiorek resisted calling out troops to provide extra security for the Archduke, as they had been on maneuvers in the rain for two days and didn’t have presentable dress uniforms.


7. The mastermind of the Sarajevo assassination, Lieutenant-Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijević, was nicknamed “The Bull” (Apis) because of his large size.

Photo_7_Dragutin Dimitrijevic Apis

8. The driver of Franz Ferdinand’s motor car made a wrong turn into Franz Josef’s Gasse because no one told him the motorcade route had been changed.


9. Franz Ferdinand was not the first member of the Habsburg royal family to be killed by an assassin. The Emperor Franz Josef’s wife, Empress Elisabeth was killed by an Italian anarchist in 1898. The Emperor himself survived two assassination attempts.


10. The assassins were equipped with 4 Browning FN 1910 automatic pistols firing .380 ACP rounds, 6 percussion cap hand grenades manufactured in the Serbian Royal Arsenal at Kragujevac, and cyanide pills.


James Lyon is author of Serbia and the Balkan Front, 1914: The Outbreak of the Great War (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015). He has a Ph.D. in Balkan History, is founder of the Foundation for the Preservation of Historical Heritage, and an Associate Researcher at the University of Graz.