– World War One was initiated with a terrorist act – the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie on 28 June 1914 in Sarajevo (today Bosnia and Herzegovina, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire)

– Within 30 days of assassination, the World War begun with great powers choosing sides already prepared for the conflict

– The assassination was an example of terrorism for nationalistic reasons – the objective was to break the Austro-Hungarian south-Slav provinces off from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and free from the Austrian oppression


Under the 1878 Treaty of Berlin, Austria-Hungary occupied and administered the Ottoman provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina while the Ottoman Empire retained sovereignty – raised dissatisfaction in Bosnia but also in Serbia because large number of Serbs were living in Austria-Hungarian Empire. The desire to gain independence from the Monarchy resulted with forming many secret organizations of which the most prominent is Young Bosnia.


The assassinator is Gavrilo Princip, young Serb from Bosnia, a part of the organization Young Bosnia. Members of Young Bosnia were mainly Serbs from Bosnia, the organization also involved some young Croats. Their main aim was to unite south Slavs in a free state not controlled by the great European monarchies at that time. Young Bosnia received some training and organizational support from the Kingdom of Serbia.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand together with his wife visited Bosnia-Herzegovina to observe military maneuvers and open the state museum in Sarajevo in its new premises.


Despite intelligence information that the assassination was being prepared, Archduke Ferdinand insisted on a long drive in the streets of Sarajevo. First attempt to bomb his car was unsuccessful and after the official reception in the Town Hall, Archduke suddenly decided to change his route and go to the hospital to visit the wounded in the bomb attack. Gavrilo Princip was accidentally on the new route and when he saw the vehicles, fired gunshots in the Archduke and his wife killing them both. Princip was arrested, put on trial and later died in prison.


Austrian-Hungarian Empire issued a list of ultimatum demands from Serbia: preventing the publication of propaganda against Austria-Hungary, removing the people behind this propaganda from the Serbian Military, arresting the people who were involved in the assassination plot and preventing the shipment of arms from Serbia to Austria-Hungary. Serbia rejected most of the requests and Austria-Hungarian mobilized army declaring war against Serbia. Russia and France according to the previous agreements immediately mobilized their armies because of the agreement that this reaction was necessary after Austria-Hungarian Empire made the first move. The war was ready to begin.

The assassination, an essentially a terrorist act, triggered a whole series of events that led to World War One – this shows how acts of terrorism can change history of the entire continents and have a long-term effects on politics and society in the world.