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Archduke of Austria Franz Ferdinand, center right, and his wife Sophie, center left, walk to their car in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. This photo was taken minutes before the assassination of the Archduke and his wife, an event which set off a chain reaction of events which would eventually lead to World War I. AP
Franz Ferdinand with the German Kaiser Wilhelm II in Kiel, 1913
Austro-Hungarian and Royal Prince of Hungary and of Bohemia, and from 1889 until his death, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. His assassination in Sarajevo precipitated Austria-Hungary's declaration of war against Serbia. This caused countries allied with Austria-Hungary (the Triple Alliance) and countries allied with Serbia (the Triple Entente Powers) to declare war on each other, starting World War I. The bullet that killed the Archduke; sometimes referred to as "the bullet that started World War I" -------------------------------------- Franz Ferdinand ignored warnings that Serbian terrorist group the Black Hand — still reeling from Austrian annexation in 1908 — was plotting to assassinate him during his state visit to Sarajevo. Plus, the day of his tour was Serbia’s National Day. Sophie pleaded with him not to go. So why did he? Death was better than humiliation, said Lebow. It was a matter of honor. Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie riding in an open carriage at Sarajevo shortly before their assassination on June 28, 1914. Photo by Henry Guttmann/Getty Images On June 28, 1914, Franz Ferdinand and Sophie were riding in the third of a seven-car convoy when a bomb bounced off their hood, exploding as the fourth car passed. At this point, said Lebow, “any security detail worth its salt would have rushed these people out of town immediately.” But they didn’t. Franz Ferdinand insisted that they pay a visit to an officer wounded in the bombing. On the way, the driver took a wrong turn, and happened to reverse right in front of one of the conspirators, Gavrilo Princip, who, said Lebow, was sipping a drink outside. Pointing his pistol at the car, Princip fired two shots. When Sophie was shot alongside Franz Ferdinand in 1914, these were his last words to her, as published in “Archduke of Sarajevo”: “Sopherl, Sopherl, don’t die. Stay alive for the children!” And the rest, as they say, is history.