Thursday, 26 June 2014

Commemoration of WW1 Debate in the Commons today - 100 years after death of Franz Ferdinand

Around 12.15 there will be a debate on how we as a country are commerating the First World War, and also a discussion of the contriubtion o many members of local communities up and down the country.
I hope to be able to contribute to the debate but I am spending most of the afternoon opn Home Office business in Westminster Hall on the student debate.
The debate is timely as the murder of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28th 1914 is accepted by historians as the immediate cause of World War One, though serious trouble had been brewing for sometime. It is good that we as a parliament are discussing and debating the way in which we as a country are remembering the hundreds of thousdands of lost soldiers, sailors and airmen.
On June 28th 1914, the heir to the Austrian Empire, Franz Ferdinand, was visiting Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. Bosnia was in the very south-east corner of the Austrian empire and some people there wanted to be independent from Austria and set up their own state which could run itself. Franz Ferdinand had been warned that his visit could provoke trouble but he ignored this advice and visited Sarajevo regardless. As was common at the time, he travelled in an open topped car.

Franz Joseph and his wife
There had been trouble at the start of his royal tour of Sarajevo when another car in his entourage was hit by a grenade and an Austrian officer had been injured. However, Franz Ferdinand wanted to demonstrate that his family was in control of Sarajevo, and to have stopped the tour would have been seen as a sign of weakness by those who did not want Bosnia and Sarajevo ruled by the Austrians, so he directed a trip to the hospital to see the officer. Driving to the hospital his driver did not fully understand his instructions and got lost.
Stopping to check where he was, the driver attempted to reverse out on to the main street. By bad luck, he stopped right by a man called Gavrilo Princip. He was a member of the Black Hand Gang which wanted to rid Bosnia of Austrian rule. He had also been behind the grenade throwing and was now trying to disguise himself among the many people who lined the streets fearing the police might arrest him. Not believing his luck, Princip pulled out the revolver he had on him and shot Franz and his wife. Both died as a result. The slow march to world war 1 between many of the European powers, including Britain was about to begin.
War followed weeks later.