Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The linchpin of 20th Century history

Here's another Paul Harvey-ish "The Rest of The Story" (stay with me here):

Those of us who stayed awake in history class already know the story of how this meek looking Serb...

 ...Gavrilo Princip, assassinated the heir to the Austo-Hungarian throne, Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, Sophia 100 years ago in Sarajevo. 

 The last photo taken of Ferdinand and Sophia before they were killed moments later.

This led to war between Austro-Hungary and Serbia, which also brought in Germany, England, France, Russia, the US, The Ottoman Empire (Turkey) and others to what we know today as...

...World War I.

Because of Russia's disastrous showing under the corrupt Czar Nicholas his people revolted, eventually leading to the rise of....

...Vladimir Lenin and his Bolsheviks/Communists.

After The Great War the victorious Allies put in place very harsh terms on the vanquished which brought great misery to average Germans, eventually leading to the rise of....

...Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party and World War II.

The new Post War League of Nations gave administration of the Mid East to France and Britain, who set up the boundaries of many of the present day countries there.

The newspapers still remind us every day how well THAT worked out! 

And of course Lenin's legacy brought us the Cold War...

 ...which lasted until the end of 1991.

All things considered, it was a pretty crappy century.

Now for The Rest Of The Story:  How exactly did Princip come to assassinate the Archduke and his wife?  He had fashioned a crude bomb which he dropped from a bridge onto the Archduke's automobile, but it bounced off the car's folded-back canvas top and exploded without causing injury to the Royals. 

To avoid capture Princip ducked into a nearby business to hide.  The Archduke insisted on completing his ceremonial rounds in Sarajevo so he set out again, but his driver MADE A WRONG TURN which took them right by the shop where Princip was hiding.

Seeing his opportunity, Princip came out and fired 2 shots at Ferdinand and Sophia, killing them both.  Many would argue that that wrong turn set off the chain of events that defined the 20th Century.

Without that wrong turn there might not have been an assassination, WWI, Lenin's revolution, Hitler's WWII, the Cold War, or the current Mid East debacle. 

It goes to show the tiniest things can have the most profound effects on history.



  1. Thank you for the "wrong turn" information, I somehow missed that in class or on the History Channel!

  2. I think the counter argument would be that a major war in Europe was inevitable. If not that incident then something else would have set it off.

  3. Ah, the butterfly in China and the hurricane in Bermuda, or perhaps unintended consequences thing. I've read a few 'alternative' history novels, the Redemption of Christopher Columbus: Pastwatch" by Orson Scott Card hypothesizes Columbus' ships being wrecked, him becoming sympathetic to the native culture, the rise of Central and South America, etc.

  4. I did manage to stay awake in history class but I never heard about this wrong turn of the car and the bomb that didn't work. Very interesting.

  5. Enjoyed the post. Very entertaining.

  6. Interesting background on that assassination - I did not know about the bomb and the wrong turn of the car.

    I'm fascinated by those little, tiny incidences that somehow seem to determine which path in life we will take. For example, if I hadn't walked into this one bar with a bunch of my friends where I met my ex-husband, would I be a German Hausfrau now?

    The movie "Sliding Doors" with Gwyneth Paltrow deals with this's a cute chick flick, nothing remotely as serious as the start of World War 1, but it's interesting to watch the "what if..."

  7. Very interesting and OMG, stop the presses, I actually agree with Pat D. on something!

    Does anyone else think that assassin dude looks like a young Marlin Brando?

  8. LOL at Joe. I hadn't heart this story before either - interesting!

  9. Nice view of the last century. Enjoyed it.