World War I Photos – exactly 100 years after the shots that started it
Today, June 28th 2014, is the 100th anniversary of the shots that triggered World War I – the assassination of archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Since this site is about political art, we’ll bring you photography from World War I.
But before you scroll down, some info: Living in Sarajevo makes you understand the connections between time and space, ideas and actions – because centuries of history are weaved together on the city’s streets, hills and bridges.
The street corner where Franz Ferdinand was killed has gone through many changes over the last century. First there was a big monument to the Archduke and his wife, then it was taken down and replaced by a celebration of his assassin, Gavrilo Princip.
In 1941, while Sarajevo was occupied by Nazis, German soldiers removed the memorial plaque to Gavrilo Princip and sent it to Hitler as a birthday present.
In communist Yugoslavia, the assassin’s footprints were carved into the street, next to a rebuilt memorial plaque that stated: “From this place on June 28th 1914, Gavrilo Princip expressed the people’s protest against tyranny and expressed the yearning for freedom our people have had for centuries”
Tragically, World War I wasn’t the last war triggered by Serb nationalists killing people on a Sarajevo bridge – the killings of Bosnian anti-war protesters in 1992 marked the beginning of the Siege of Sarajevo, the longest siege in modern history. After Sarajevo suffered through the last bloody war and Bosnia gained its independence, Gavrilo Princip’s footsteps were destroyed and the memorial text was replaced with dry facts: “From this place on June 28th 1914, Gavrilo Princip assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sofia.”
Gavrilo Princip remains controversial and mysterious: some see him as a hero, others as a terrorist. It’s clear that the Austro-Hungarian empire was a foreign occupying force and that the Archduke was not a good guy. But, Gavrilo Princip’s links to Serb nationalists make him questionable too, because that ideology caused so many wars and deaths. Hopefully historians will research his motivation better.
Now let’s get to the photography: