« The Sarajevo assassination » is known in history as the assassination perpetrated on Sunday, June 28, 1914, against Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife, Sophie Chotek, Duchess of Hohenberg1, by the group Young Bosnia (Mlada Bosna). Gavrilo Princip was the author of the fatal shots. This event is considered as the trigger of the First World War, which resulted in the defeat, fall and dismemberment of the Russian, Austro-Hungarian, German and Ottoman empires, as well as the outbreak of the Russian and German Revolution.
But who were these Young Bosnia? Were they Serb nationalists, as the Serbian Government is now pretending, in an attempt to rewrite history?
Our anarchosyndicalist companions of Anarchosyndicalist Initiative (ASI) of Belgrade set the record straight at the History’s time …
(Translation of an article published in the July 2019 issue of « Direktna Akcija », Action Directe)
« Every night, I dreamed that I was an anarchist, that I was fighting with cops. »
Gavrilo Princip, a member of the Young Bosnia, talking about his life before the assassination of Sarajevo
Young Bosnia (MLADA BOSNIA)
We live in a time that is spiced up with a huge amount of innacurate, unverified information. Daily political juggling of historical facts and bizarre attempts to establish non-existent links between those facts and the recent wars in the Balkans.
Official history is written by the winners, and in that sense it is no wonder that Gavrilo Princip and comrades, the whole generation of rebelled Jugoslav youth, were put on the pillar of shame by the regime’s intelectual hounds, and accused of provoking World War I. And today, in commemorating one hundred and fifth anniversary since the assassination of the Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, we witness the placement of many lies, as well as attemtps to restore and exploit the revolutionary views of the assassins by the regime in Serbia, placing them in the context of Serbian nationalism.
World War I was intra-imperialistic conflict that claimed nearly forty million lives. At that time, Bosnia and Herzegovina was in the forst position of all South Slavic countries under Austro-Hungarian rule, since the criminal regime, popularly known as the ’’dungeon of the people’’, maintained feudal relations together with the breakthrough of capitalism.
The generation whose view of the world was built on the myth of Bogdan Žerajić, the great admirer of the anarchist Peter Kropotkin, and the unsuccessful assassin of General Marijan Varešanin – governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina, whom Žerajić shot at in June 1910, stood and grew up there. ’’With the last bullet he shot himself, while the general remained unharmed. Police ripped the head of the Žerajić’s corpse, and displayed it at the police collection as a sample of the anarchist’s head, while the body was burried secretly. The youth have found his grave, visited it, planted flowers there, and swore at it to work to achieve the ideals of freedom’’, the literature informs us.
One should be aware that during this period, nationalism, as the new phenomenon, was insufficiently crystalized, and so national, religious, and political ideas, which were often opposed – coexisted. Only at the moments where different inclinations would come into direct conflict with one another, would the problem of choosing between them arise in the minds of people. This was also true for the Yugoslav revolutionary and national youth movement by the year 1914.
Undoubtedly, the Youth was primarly for the unification of the South Slavs, while the ideas of social justice, federalism, anti-clericalism, anti-parliamentarism and anarchism also played a prominent role in shaping the consciousness of these young generations in Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, which were at that point under the Austr-Hungarian monarchy.
’’The spirit that these boys were ,intoxicated’ with, was a fanatical hatred of authority and tiranny – at school, in the family, on the street, and against every government. For the youth, this was the meaning of politics.’’, says Josip Horvat, historian and contemporary of the events, describing the atmosphere that prevailed among the rebelled youth in Zagreb at the time.
Marked as one of the leading inspirers and organizers of the assassination, and as such condemned to death and killed in February 1915, Young-Bosnian Danilo Ilić, worked extensively on translating and publishing revolutionary, socialist, and anarchist literature before the assassination. So, as the first book in his Oslobođenje Library in Sarajevo, in the year 1913. he published the ,Paris Commune and the Idea of the State’ by Mikhail Bakunin, and immediately afterwards, as the second title in the same year’s edition, ,The lie of Parliamentarism’ by prominent Austrian anarchist Pierre Rami.
It is only a matter of chance that Nedeljko Čabrinović, who was along with Gavrilo Princip the main organizer of the assassination, did not go down in history as tyrant – a bomb he threw at Ferdinand’s car, just moments before the shots from Princip’s revolver, bounced off and exploded with a delay. Nedeljko was the typesetter of the anarcho-syndicalist newspaper ,Komuna’, which was printed in Belgrade at the time. At the trial, he unambigously declared himself as an anarchist, talking about his ties to anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists in the region, and explaining the development of his views from nationalism, through socialism to anarchism.
It is often speculated about the role in the assassination of a belated « Manzinian » figure (1), the Serbian colonel Dragomir Dimitrijević – Apis, and his organization Unification or Death, better known as the Black Hand. Apart from some circumstantial evidence of the contacts of some people from his encirclement with the Young-Bosnians, there is no evidence to support thesis of him being the main inspirer and organizer of the assassination.
A wealth of material evidence and testemonies of contemporaries show that the assasination was the work of young idealists who, in the lack of possibility of collective resistance to repression, in the tradition of anarchist propaganda by deeds, resorted to tyrant assassination as the expression of the aspirations for freedom of the South Slavs. Even the judical system of the Austrian ruling class found it impossible to prove the direct involvement of the Serbian state apparatus in organizing the assassination. Indeed, there are clues that indicate that the Serbian ruling party was not aware of the details of the assassination, but that, expecting a similar move, it alerted Austro-Hungary of such possibility. Therefore, it is extremely inappropriate to attempt to establish the thesis on the acts of Young-Bosnians as the executors of the Serbian state Policy.
History today is interpreted by opponents of the values such as unity and freedom. That is precisely why it is our duty to combat their criminal interpretation by taking a firm anti-militaristic and anti-imperialist stance, in order to contribute to preserving the memory of a generation that was never allowed to free themselves completely.
Ko hoće da živi nek` mre,
Ko hoće da mre nek` živi !
’’Who wants to live – let him die,
Who wants to die – let him live!’’
Poetry of Bogdan Zerajic, sang by Gavrilo Princip
(1) From the name « Manzini », Italian revolutionary and patriot, supporter of conspirative secret societies. He fought in all the italian insurrections of the nineteenth century in order to achieve Italian unity.
In Serbocroatian : http://cnt-ait.info/2019/08/31/mlada-bosna/
In French : http://cnt-ait.info/2019/09/08/JEUNE-BOSNIE