Gavrilo Princip was unintentionally one of the most influential and notorious people of the last century, and he achieved this dubious infamy quite young. The discontented Bosnian-Serb student was just nineteen when he fatally shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo and set the continent on course towards a world war, end of three powerful empires and inevitably towards the horrors the Nazis unleashed.
Yet, after two failed attempts on the Archduke’s life earlier that day, Princip’s success was an unlucky coincidence at best, very much like Franz Ferdinand’s visit to the city on Vidov Dan, the anniversary of the Serbs’ defeat at the Turkish hands in Kosovo in 1389. Dissolute Princip was at a sandwich shop when the Archduke’s car made a wrong turn into the Plaza and was making a slow backing.
After shooting Franz Ferdinand and his consort Duchess Sophie, Princip — whose political goal was to cleave away Serbia from Austria-Hungary and to create an united pan-slavic country — tried to kill himself. A man behind him saw what he was doing, and seized Princip’s right arm. A couple of policeman joined the struggle and Princip was arrested.