The spark that ignited this terrible war was the murder in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary. Nedjelko Chabrinovitch was one of the Archduke’s killers. Gavrilo Princip fired the fatal shot but Chabrinovitch made the first attempt to kill the Franz Ferdinand, throwing a bomb at his car, injuring some of his party and a number of onlookers.
Chabrinovitch considered his actions heroic and driven by noble sentiments. Yet he also expressed a degree of remorse and sympathy for the orphaned children of Franz Ferdinand (their mother was also shot dead by Princip). Subsequently two of the Archduke’s three children wrote to Chabrinovitch, forgiving him for his part in the murder of their parents, thought the youngest declined to sign the letter.
Chabrinovitch’s youth saved him from the death penalty; an Austro-Hungarian court gave him a twenty year prison sentence. But Chabrinovitch knew he was unlikely to ever live again as a free man, as he was already suffering from consumption when he tried to kill Franz Ferdinand. Today he finally succumbs to the disease, his death no doubt hastened by the conditions of his imprisonment.
Nedjelko Chabrinovitch (Wackulus)
Franz Ferdinand and his family in happier times (The Bexley Times)