28/6/1914 Europe Reacts

Wilhelm II, Germany’s Kaiser, is taking part in a regatta at Kiel when he learns of Franz Ferdinand’s murder. The two men had been close. The Kaiser is shaken by the news.

The assassination of Franz Ferdinand has no immediate impact in France. That country is pre-occupied by the murder trial of Henriette Caillaux, who has shot and killed the editor of Le Figaro, which had been printing scurrilous articles about her and her politician husband.

In Britain also the Archduke’s assassination excites relatively little attention. Sarajevo is too far away to seem like something happening there is of any great import. Labour unrest, the agitation for women’s suffrage and the ongoing Home Rule crisis in Ireland loom larger in the national consciousness.

But in Serbia, Franz Ferdinand’s murder is a big event. The 28th of June is the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo in 1389. Although this was a great defeat for the Serbs, the battle is celebrated because a Serbian knight managed to kill the Turkish Sultan. Now many in Serbia see the murder of Franz Ferdinand as the death of another of their national enemies. This for them is an excuse for further celebration. There is a certain irony here, as Franz Ferdinand had always been a staunch opponent of war against Serbia.

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