The main players remain the same, but the supporting actors made things interesting.
Major Voja Tankosic, was a top ranking member of a secret faction within the Serbian army called the Black Hand. He was the one who supplied the weapons used in the assassination. The question is, did Gavrilo Princip, an untrained college student, really develop the assassination plan, or did Major Tankosic engage him to carry out his own plan.
Of course there is political intrigue as to the Major’s motive for getting involved. One consideration is that he wanted the event to be blamed on Nicola Pasic, the Prime Minister of Serbia, a man he considered a weak leader.
The plot thickens when one of Princip’s friends by the name of Ciganovic, was the one who arranged the meeting between Major Voja Tankosic and Princip. However, he was also a police informant, which would offer the Prime Minister, Nicola Pasic, to be kept informed of Princip’s progress.
If word got out that the Prime Minister was kept abreast of the assassination plot and did nothing to stop it, he would receive international criticism. Austria would think that the Serbian government was behind the assassination because they remained silent. However, if Pasic had stopped Princip, and word got out, then he would be considered a traitor and hung. The only other option was fall back on the politician’s oldest disclaimer; deny all knowledge of any information regarding the plot. His only hope for saving himself would if Princip failed to carry out the assassination.
Some historians have mentioned Pasic may have sent a cable to his minister in Vienna requesting him to warn the Austrian Government. The cable would state that the Serbian Government uncovered information of a possible attempt on the Archduke’s life and perhaps the Austrian government should reschedule the Archduke’s trip.
Substantiation that a cable was sent is based upon the Serbian Minister’s official request for an interview with the Austrian Foreign Minister. But, since they despised one-another, the Minister instead sought a meeting with the Austrian Finance Minister. During their meeting, the Serbian Minister decided not to deliver the exact cable information, instead he watered it down to convey the possibility of a disenchanted Serb might try to attack the Archduke.
It did not matter which version of the cable the Minister delivered. Since the Finance Minister was not in charge of security for the Archduke, the information would be transmitted to General Potiorek. But the General did not include the Finance Minister in on the initial planning of Ferdinand’s trip, and therefore he would not pass on the information. He thought if anything did happen, the general would be blamed.
The petty bickering was not limited to the Austrian officials. There were riffs between the Serbian Prime Minister and the leader of the Black Hand. Both men tried to prevent the plan from going forward. Apis – leader of the Black Hand, sent one of his trusted cohorts to Bosnia to meet with the man in charge of Princip’s group. The currier informed him that the plan had been called off and in turn he was to order Princip to stand down – which Princip ignored.
To intensify the mystery of who was behind the plot, the Serbian Prime Minister, Pasic, had received an anonymous letter a few days before the assassination. The letter stated that the Austrian government may have Ferdinand killed during the military maneuvers so his death could be blamed on Serbia, which would offer an excuse for Austria to attack Serbia without condemnation from other countries.
So why was Franz Ferdinand killed?
One reason was he was at the right place at the right time for a group of Serbian nationalist to send a firm message to Austria by killing their heir apparent.
Or, the assassination may have been designed by Ferdinand’s uncle, Emperor Fritz Joseph, to prevent Ferdinand from succeeding him.
Who killed the Archduke?
The answer is obvious, it was Princip. But was he a pawn in a political game of chess? After all, could an untrained Serbian college student be capable of planning such a complicated plot? It is clear that there were several supporting actors whose own agendas contributed to the end result. However, did any of those involved think that the Archduke’s death would start a world war?’
Next: Opportunity knocks