June 27, 1914

Vélodrome d’Hiver, Johnson v. Moran

In Sarajevo itself, Princip drew on Ilic’s expertise in devising a surface of innocuous urban adolescence. Princip was a celibate, nonsmoking, nondrinking, murder-intoxicated teenager. He and his friends spent their evenings as normal youths who chased pleasure through the lovely summer nights. They hung about a wine shop popular with the lads and lasses in the street just renamed for Franz Ferdinand. Princip pretended to flirt with girls. For the first and last time in his life he drank Zilavka.

Princip had the plot poised, primed, and camouflagedwhen it was threatened once more, again by Ilia. Very early one morning he knocked on Princip’s door. The assassination, he breathed, must be postponed-word from the Black Hand in Belgrade, whose emissary he had just met in the nearby town of Bled. Princip said that he, as mission leader, had heard nothing. He demanded proof. Ilia said that written orders were too great a risk, but here was printed evidence of the reason behind the decision-and waved a Bosnian newspaper with reports of turmoil in Serbia between militants of the Black Hand stripe and supporters of the more moderate Prime Minister. Princip read the reports. He dropped the paper and said, “All the more reason to go forward with the plot.” The plot went forward.

Two days later Ilia waved newspapers with the bulletin that King Petar of Serbia had retired from active rule; his son Alexander was the Prince Regent. This, Ilia said, might change everything, including their business in Sarajevo. Princip answered that no order about any change had reached him; pistol practice as usual in Grabez’s meadow.

These words he said aloud. Silently he determined that when the time came, Ilk should not be entrusted with a weapon.

The time came. On the late afternoon of June 27, that rainy day before the Archduke’s visit, the bombs and pistols were distributed to all conspirators except Ilia. Princip instructed his team to hide the arms. They were to fool and josh the evening away at the usual wine shop-after all, it was Saturday night. But before sleep they were to spend some minutes always singly, one by one, never together-at the grave of a Black Hand martyr in Kosovo Cemetery. Here they were to meditate; to dedicate and to consecrate themselves for the grim service they would render to Serbia tomorrow.

And at the Kosovo Cemetery they all did just that-one by one, in the misty late-night hours of June 27, 1914.

Frederick Morton, Thunder at Twilight, ch 26

Gavrilo Princip's Browning FN 1910
Gavrilo Princip’s Browning FN 1910


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s