Serbia Erects Statue To Honor Assassin Who Triggered World War I

There is a fascinating story out this week that reminds us of how people can view history and violence in vastly different ways, including attacks of terrorism or assassination. Take Gavrilo Princip. Most of the world view him as a fanatic who triggered World War I with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. However, Serbia just honored him with a statue — commemorated by President Tomislav Nikolic, who heralded Princip as a freedom fighter and hero.

The statue was unveiled at a ceremony in central Belgrade on the Serbian national holiday of St. Vitus Day (or Vidovdan). Nikolic declared “Today, we are not afraid of the truth. Gavrilo Princip was a hero, a symbol of the idea of freedom, the assassin of tyrants and the carrier of the European idea of liberation from slavery,” adding that “others can think whatever they want.”

1318720819116132422That is not how he was viewed of course at his arrest and the bloody aftermath. He was a member of Young Bosnia with ties to the Serbian extremist group Black Hand. He lived to see the aftermath of his murder in the slaughterhouse of the trenches of World War I. He died in prison of tuberculosis in 1918. However, his action did succeed in ultimately destroying the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Yet from 1914 to 1918, Serbia would lose between 300,000-450,000 military deaths and between 450,000-800,000 civilian deaths. That constituted as much as 28% of its total population.

For Serbs, Gavrilo Princip resisted an occupation and authoritarian government by killing a dictator. For the world, he was an assassin. Few would have anticipated however that his actions would lead to the bloodbath of the Great War, including Princip. It would have been interesting to know if he felt the loss of up to 28 percent of the Serbian population and millions of killed and wounded worldwide was worth the cost to overthrow the Austro-Hungarian. He was only 19 years old.

Gavrilo_Princip's_parentsPrincip’s life is a tragic reflection of the time. His parents were serfs or “kmets” under abusive Muslim landlords. He was one of nine children, six of whom died in infancy. Before becoming an assassin, he fought in the Herzegovina Uprising against the Ottoman Empire and later worked a small plot of land as a farmer and had to give up one-third of his income away to his landlord. He later joined Young Bosnia to fight to separate Bosnia from Austria-Hungary and unite it with the neighbouring Kingdom of Serbia. In the end, he saw the killing of the Archduke as a necessary moral and political act. Many appear to agree today with that judgment.

It is interesting however to see a head of state honor an assassin since many in Serbia could view his death as a morally correct act. Indeed, ISIS and others maintain precisely that type of moral reasoning.


45 thoughts on “Serbia Erects Statue To Honor Assassin Who Triggered World War I”

  1. The despatch of a leader by bullet rather than by ballot may be an example of Freedom as defined by some, but it isn’t an example of democracy.

    Assassination attempts and plots on Presidents of the United States have been numerous: more than 20 attempts to kill sitting and former presidents, as well as the Presidents-elect, are known. Four sitting presidents have been killed: Abraham Lincoln (the 16th President), James A. Garfield (the 20th President), William McKinley (the 25th President) and John F. Kennedy (the 35th President). Two presidents were injured in attempted assassinations: Theodore Roosevelt (the 26th President) and Ronald Reagan (the 40th President). With the exception of Lyndon Johnson, every president’s life since John F. Kennedy has been threatened with assassination.

    I would suggest that this is not the legacy to leave the World.

    Freedom requires responsibily and accountability to become a reality. Many Americans have forgotten this, or more correctly never really wanted to understand this in the first place.

    And it is only with responsibility and accountability that the ideals the Americans profess to hold so dearly, can emerge from the current delusion.

    George Washington was an American Hero and this is recognised by the British. If the British had won democracy would still have continued to develop as in Canada and a Civil War just might have been avoided. But they didn’t win and the result is what we have today

    But the American Revolution failed to deliver the Goods. It is a country run by the Privileged and more importantly unelected Few. It is not yet a proper democracy but it is on the way.

    They just have to learn not to shoot their leaders and they should reach the Promised Land someday.

    As for the British? Well we are on the same road trying to get there as well.

    Others will judge who gets there first.

    As for the Balkans it doesn’t appear that Princip achieved anything.

    We have seen what ethnic cleansing did in recent times and we await the next outrage.

    This is the result of radical Nationalism and manipulation of the people again by the Few.

    So shooting leaders hasn’t delivered the goods and we all know it but it does create power bases for a fleeting moment in history. Until the Empire is destroyed to be replaced by another.

    So be careful what you wish for…

    And more importantly, what you vote for……

    1. ninianpeckitt – you have finally convinced me of the truth. We need to import some Germans to be figureheads, give them outrageous budgets to live on and call them King and Queen. I think the last English monarch was Elizabeth I. Yep, we need us some of that.

      1. Your presidency costs more than the monarchy.

        America is a Nation of migrants so you don’t need to deliberately import more to run the country.

        In your “democracy” US citizen Arnold Schwartenegger cannot stand for the presidency.

        Now that’s democracy – US style.

        It should be a breach of Human Rights

        1. ninianpeckitt – we do not want ‘carpetbaggers’ coming here to govern the country. They can run for every office but President.

          1. Paul Schulte

            Carpet Baggers

            So its not a democracy after all then.

            Arnie can be a Governor but not president.

            There must be some logic there but I am blessed if I can see it.

            What I must lack is Blind Faith

            1. ninianpeckitt – what you lack is an basic understanding of American Civics. Do you know what a ‘carpet bagger’ is?

  2. I am a huge enemy of the Serbian State. That is because I am Albanian from Kosovo, but I do not consider our state to be any better than Serbia. I do however consider Princip a hero cause he shot a tyrant who owned everything that was to be owned. Remember though, George Washington was a terrorist in the eyes of the Brits. So I see nothing wrong in honoring his name and action just as I do not see anything wrong when Washington was fighting the British crooks.

    1. nickos – George Washington was NOT a terrorist in the eyes of the British. Washington liked fighting the British in the European fashion. He might have been hung as a rebel had we lost the war, but we didn’t. Tarleton could be considered both a terrorist and a war criminal, but the British see him as a hero.

      1. George Washington was regarded as a rebel not a terrorist as far as the British were concerned. He commanded an Army and there was an element of chivalry in 1776.

        I agree with you; if he had been captured he probably would have been tried and executed as a traitor to the Crown.

        But there is another side to George III.

        He is now regarded as being less of a tyrant by modern historians in comparison to some of the other European Rulers.

        There was a softening of resolve against the Americans, as the war had been so expensive and public opinion waned as the war progressed.

        There is no doubt that it was the American alliance which resulted in success and humiliation of the British Army which always thought it would win.

        One thing for sure was that George III was devastated at the loss of the American Colonies and refused to admit. But he did admit it in the end.

        A new research project based at the University of London, has concluded that George III did actually suffer from mental illness rather than porphyria, a diagnosis favoured by Prince Charles.

        During his episodes of illness, his sentences in letters were much longer than when he was well. A sentence containing 400 words and eight verbs was not unusual. This is consistent with the manic phase of bipolar disorder.

        Witnesses spoke of his “incessant loquacity” and his habit of talking until the foam ran out of his mouth. Sometimes he suffered from convulsions, and his pages had to sit on him to keep him safe on the floor.

        George III’s medical records show that the king was prescribed medicine based on gentian. This plant, with its deep blue flowers, is still used today as a mild tonic, but may turn the urine blue. So maybe it wasn’t true that the king’s “madness” was due to porphyria. It could have simply been his medicine.

        I have discovered that one of his doctors was a William Peckitt, who was an ancestor and maybe sometime American Agent?

        George III’s recurring bouts of illness caused him to withdraw from daily business to recuperate out of the public eye in seclusion at Kew Palace, near Richmond.

        His son, the Prince of Wales, with whom George III had a terrible relationship, wanted to be appointed regent, and to act as the king in everything but name.

        But the future George IV was very much associated with the political opposition, and the government was determined to keep him out.

        But the king got better (despite the bizarre and sometimes inhumane treatments given to him by the royal doctors).

        When the Hanoverians had been invited over from Germany in 1714 to take the throne after the death of Queen Anne and failure of the Stuart line of succession, they came at the invitation of Parliament.

        Parliament therefore held the whip, and the powers of the monarchy declined.

        But despite his illness, and uninformed American opinion, George III was a dedicated and diligent king, and won the respect of his politicians.

        In fact, when his illness drove him off the political scene, they realised how much they needed him. If he had been a despot this would not have been the case.

        So the Power Base for dispute with the colonies lay with Parliament and not the King.

        But in America he has be maligned because it was expedient to do so. Not because it was true. In the same way that the meaning Freedom was maligned with references to white males only.

        The Big Question is: Would America have done better if its evolution had paralleled that of Canada? The diehards of American Republicanism will cry “NAY” without any thought and the greatest indignation.

        The Canadian view should be somewhat different. Canadians have said to me that they achieved democracy without the carnage of the birth of the USA and the costly Civil Wat 90 years later.

        So everyone will have to make their own minds up about that. All I am doing is asking a provocative yet legitimate question.

        Rebellion always generates passion but with that comes a distortion of the truths that are held dear.

        This happens or shall happen in every country.

        The main thing is to prevent preconceived myths of conception from obstructing the progressive path to Freedom and Democracy, a path that all nations tread at some time in their history.

        1. ninianpeckitt – you need to take the word progressive out of your vocabulary.

          1. To Paul Schulte

            Progressive is a good word. It recognises human fallibility and a desire to improve

            It is the antithesis of arrogance

            1. ninianpeckitt – humility is the antithesis to arrogance. Don’t they teach English in the UK?

  3. PCS, are you a fan of King SCOTUS? Since 1789, the new sovereign is the People. The SCOTUS legislated and dictated Obamacare and homosexual marriage, in cases such as California and Utah, over the will of the sovereign, the People.


    Thanks to the wrongheaded, misdirected, corrupt, lazy and greedy unions that comprise the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” Chicago is America’s future and Tytler’s example:

    “It’s no secret that Chicago is in a pension crisis and deeply in debt. Most of that debt comes from the city’s pensions, but health insurance and long-term debt are also a significant part of Chicago’s fiscal shortfall.”

    Google Chicago debt.

    “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the people discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy–to be followed by a dictatorship.”

    ― Alexander Fraser Tytler

  4. King George III was a Constitutional Monarch and did the bidding of Parliament which was the basis of British Power. This had been the case since Oliver Cromwell and the execution of Charles I. For some of his reign he didn’t even function as King as he was mentally ill (porphyria?).

    The Colonial Break was a Rebellion. Its brilliance was related to its Victory, as its concepts were not altogether new. The success of the Rebellion was only possible with French financial and military backing against the World’s Superpower which was taught a lesson. From the British point of view the Rebellion weakend and bankrupted France and thus secured the British Empire.

    The individual freedom “stumbled on by the Founding Fathers” was about the freedom for them to make money and not pay taxes to the legitimate British Government at the time – which had funded the defence of the Colonies against the French.

    Insurrection is always planned this way by the Few, ostensibly for the Many. Only it doesn’t quite work out that way as you can appreciate by examination of your distribution of wealth. The Power base just moves to another Elite in this case the Founding Father’s. But in the birth of a State it is not sold to the population in this way, which is a good thing if you are creating a National Identity.

    It is the Individualisation of Freedom that is the Achilles Heel of the American concepts of freedom because it contradicts freedom of the masses and leads to chaos. You will understand the chaos better than I – but a Global World is influenced by such events and the influence is there for all to see.

    The current system doesn’t work and the courts are used for the interests of minority groups over the will of the majority.

    This isn’t democracy and never can be. It leads to your concepts of democracy being hijacked by strong commercial and more importantly, unelected forces.

    This is plain to see.

    Who REALLY runs America and calls the shots? It”s not the Senate or House of Representatives. They are the mouthpieces of the Real Power base wherever that may be.

    There may be exceptions of legal procedure of course e.g. Louisana, and one or two other States, which appear to adhere somewhat to the Napoleonic Code, which is probably a much better example of a legal system based on democracy.

    American Democracy will continue to evolve and with God’s Help a path to some sort success will be found. What doesn’t seem to be appreciated is that this takes time. Sometimes a long time.

    Leaders need to be chosen with great care and it will be interesting to see if Chelsea Clinton’s “Maiden Speech” will be her christening into the Bear Pit of American Politics.

  5. PCS, what was King George, an innocent little angel; a choir boy?

    The colonial break from the empire was simple cell division – normal and predictable evolution.

    What has been lost is the brilliance of the Founders once they set out on the path of rationalizing what could have been construed as a negative act.

    The Founders stumbled onto individual freedom. The freedom of God himself. The freedom of the individual from the dictates of the despotic monarch.

    The next dictator on the scene, after Lincoln and his “Reign of Terror,” was Karl Marx with the enslavement of the new “dictatorship of the proletariat.”

    A “republic, if you can keep it.”

  6. The Hapsburg Empires were better for the people they ruled than the EU which is nothing more than a financial cabal.

  7. Oh, and IIRC, didn’t the Duke die because of his fashion sense??? Here is an Irish Poem which dares to address that point!

    The Old Sew and Sew???
    An Irish Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    There once was a Serbian kook,
    Who shot a Hungarian Duke!
    The poor Son of a B-tch,
    Died because of a stitch,
    That they couldn’t get out of his suit!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

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