News / Europe

    Sarajevo Marks WWI Centenary

    Tourists looking at exhibits in Sarajevo museum, including portraits of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Sofia von Hochenberg, in Sarejevo, Saturday, June 28, 2014
    Tourists looking at exhibits in Sarajevo museum, including portraits of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Sofia von Hochenberg, in Sarejevo, Saturday, June 28, 2014
    Reuters

    Sarajevo marked the centennial on Saturday of a prince's murder that lit the fuse for World War One, offering a message of unity to a divided country and a continent buffeted by deep social and economic strife.

    The centerpiece of a string of cultural and sporting events will be a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra in the Bosnian capital, where the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was shot dead with his wife on a bright June morning in 1914.

    The murder of Franz Ferdinand by a 19-year-old Bosnian Serb called Gavrilo Princip set the Great Powers marching to war. More than 10 million soldiers died, as empires crumbled and the world order was rewritten.

    Sarajevo closed the century under siege by Bosnian Serb forces during Yugoslavia's bloody disintegration. Still coming to terms with that conflict, Bosnia's former warring communities met Saturday's centennial deeply at odds over Princip's motives and his legacy.

    Leaders of Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs, who consider the assassin a hero, are boycotting the official commemoration in Sarajevo, angered by what they say is an attempt to link the wars that opened and closed the 20th century, and to pin the blame on them.

    They will instead re-enact the murder and Princip's trial in the eastern Drina river town of Visegrad, scorched into the memory of many in the Balkans for some of the worst atrocities of the 1992-95 war by Bosnian Serb forces driving out Muslim Bosniaks.

    In Sarajevo, the Vienna Philharmonic will perform a repertoire harking strongly back to the days of the Habsburg Empire, including Haydn, Schubert, Berg and Brahms.

    The concert will take place in the capital's restored City Hall, known as Vijecnica, where Ferdinand attended a reception on June 28, 1914. He left in an open car with his wife, Sophie, but the driver took a wrong turn and Princip shot them from a Browning pistol on the banks of the river.

    The Austrians attacked Serbia a month later and the Great Powers, already spoiling for a fight, piled in. The neo-Moorish Vijecnica, which later became the National Library, went up in flames in 1992 under fire from Bosnian Serb forces in the hills, almost 2 million books perishing in the inferno.

    “Never again”

    “This is a symbolic concert in a symbolic location,” Professor Clemens Hellsberg, the orchestra's president and first violin, told a news conference on Friday. “We want to provide a vision of a common future in peace,” he said.

    The conductor, Franz Welser-Most, noted that the Austrian composer Alban Berg “was in favor of the outbreak of World War One”. But, he said, the “Three Pieces for Orchestra” that he wrote at the time and was to be performed on Saturday “describes the marching to war and what disaster it brings”.

    Asked about the significance of a Viennese orchestra marking the event, Welser-Most said: “You should not deny the burden of history.” The message, he said, was “never again”.

    Leaders of the 28-member European Union marked the centennial on Thursday in Ypres, the Belgian city synonymous with the slaughter of the war, papering over divisions borne of economic crisis and growing support for the anti-EU right.

    For visitors to the city, guides offered tours of Sarajevo, Princip's haunts and the key locations on the day he killed Franz Ferdinand. Performers rehearsed for a midnight musical planned on the bridge near where he fired the fatal shot.

    On Friday, Serbs in Bosnia unveiled a statue of Princip in East Sarajevo. They have rebuilt his family home, razed during the 1992-95 war, and will open it on Saturday as a museum.

    Serbs see Princip as a freedom fighter not just for Orthodox Serbs but for Bosnia's Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats too, his shot bringing down the curtain on centuries of imperial occupation over the Balkans.

    That was the official narrative for decades under socialist Yugoslavia. But the collapse of their joint state shattered perceptions of Princip, whom many Bosniaks and Croats regard as a Serb nationalist with the same territorial ambitions as those behind much of the ethnic cleansing of the 1990s.

    Bosnia was divided into two autonomous regions after the war, in a highly decentralized system of ethnic power-sharing that has stifled development and, critics say, only cemented divisions.

    Asked about the absence of official Serb representatives from the Sarajevo commemoration, the city's Croat mayor, Ivo Komsic, told reporters: “They demonstrate their attitude not to the past but to the future.” 

    You May Like

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    City could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters

    Turkey Aims New Crackdown at Journalists, Academics, Airline Workers

    Ankara continues targeting people allegedly linked to exiled cleric, who it says led the failed military coup

    Pakistan Ready to Inaugurate Rebuilt Afghan Border Crossing

    Construction of Torkham Gate triggered deadly clashes between Pakistani and Afghan military forces

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mark from: Virginia
    June 29, 2014 9:25 AM
    The shot fired that morning ended up killing millions, most certainly that was not on the mind of Gavrilo Princip when he jumped up on the running board of that open topped car. Princip was one of many who were lining the route with the intent to kill the Archduke. It was (luck, fortune, coincidence?) for Princip to have been in position to take that opportunity. A bomb was thrown at the car earlier in the day and missed.

    If history and memory still serves me...the event on that 28 June morning ignited World War I, and really did not officially end until 7 May 1945. The interlude between the world wars was just a breather for Europe to prepare for another round. While 11 November 1918 saw the end of fighting in WWI, it was an armistice, not an actual surrender by Germany, which gave birth to the idea that Germany could have fought on, even going so far as to say the Germany could have won that war. It raised such sentiment in Germany itself of the "November Criminals" (the German politicians who signed the Armistice) that bolstered the rise of the Nazis and precipitated the start of WW2. Between the two world wars, nearly 100 million people died; soldiers and civilians, in and out of combat and from diseases and crimes of all sorts.

    I wonder if Gavrilo Princip and those who still honor him as a hero, have considered those facts.....

    by: Glauro Campello from: Brazil
    June 29, 2014 8:14 AM
    It's unbeliveble that after the stupidity of the carmificine of the 90's, an all destrucions an pain, people proof that the human race is stupid indeed. Proudness is one of the most ambiguos feeling of all of us. Clever people don't have it. After millions of deaths destruction of inteire cities and thousands of years of culture destroied, stupid people still feel hungry. We don't deserve what the nature has given to us. Poor us. Por Serbians, Bosnians, Croats, Russians, Ukranians, Afegans ... Catholics, Muslins, Jeweshs, etc. Fighting for money power and stupidity.
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    June 30, 2014 3:24 AM
    The things we celebrate, anywhere, just doesn't make any sense at all! There is nothing to mark nor celebrate about this! Nothing! What ever happened to leaders who actually led his people into battle? Back in those days, eons ago, kings, lords, emperors, were the first to charge his enemies, but nowadays, the leaders sit in their comfortable offices, sipping tea, eating fresh baked scones, smiling for the cameras, smoking hookas, and telling his common people, "OK, men, go fight a battle that I just started! Oh, and I support you! (hehe) OK, go!!!"

    We even celebrate Columbus' Day. Why? What did Columbus do? He discovered land?
    Oh yeah, when he said "I have discovered America!"
    The PEOPLE already here said, "Awe man, I didn't know that the LAND WE HAVE BEEN LIVING ON FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS was called America?
    (Sitting Bull) Thanks alot Tecumseh!
    (Geronimo) Yeah, Tecumseh, it's your fault! And you too, Incan King Tupac! I told you guys we should have a game show called "Name this land before somebody else does"
    (Tupac) Wait I was in Peru the whole time guys! You know the internet there sucks!
    (Tecumseh) I get blamed for everything, the heck with you guys, I'm going to McDonald's, I've got the munchies! What was in that peace-pipe, Sitting Bull? And stand up for once!
    (Dances with Wolves) What the heck is McDonald's? I've got the munchies too!
    (Great Eagle) Dances with Wolves, hehe, what a stupid name! Guess it's not as bad as Raping Chicken over there.
    (Raping Chicken) Hey, come on, it was consensual! Eating Poo can vouch for me.
    (Eating Poo) Anyone have mouth-wash, I have a hot date tonight and she eats a lot of fiber!

    by: Andy from: UK
    June 28, 2014 5:51 PM
    Have just finished "The Sleepwalkers" by Christopher Clark, bit heavy but an amazing history of stupidity. I read, there were two shots, the first killing his wife Sophia.

    by: Scott Boggs
    June 28, 2014 3:59 PM
    Unbelievable. No one beat me here to commemorate; here I am an old fool American...from Florida! Well, at least I know a thing or two about divided nations, political subdivisions, and families. My great-grandfather fought on the side of some 1860's Kentucky wild men who wanted to raid Cincinnati, burn it, and return south to continue farming their tobacco using slaves. But lo and behold, failing that ambition the poor young fool returned to his father's house only to discover that his dad had allowed Union troops to camp on the front lawn before continuing their Atlanta-bound invasion. Filial and neighborly schisms aren't exclusive to Europe by any means. The pride and jealousy that results from suspicion and, especially, insult and injury yields a type of societal machismo that can hardly ever be eradicated. Too often, the younger generation has to wait for elderly ex-combatants to pass away; then the turf under all those blue and white UN flags with the doves holding olive branches becomes a little bit safer to walk upon without hawks swooping down and--well, you know what I mean!
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    June 29, 2014 3:47 AM
    Well said Scott. Wars are never about who's way of life if just, it's about who is better equipped, and most of all, who wins! So what for this centennial. Thanks for the Civil War reference, after all, when we commemorate the Civil War, we honor both sides of the coin. Shame on Sarajevo for not honoring 'all' that were responsible for bringing about WWI. But since this flame of bitterness is still smoldering, they should not have done this centennial, period!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora