On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie visited Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. The couple had no inkling about the complicated relations between Bosnia and Serbia nor the conspiracy of assassination. Indeed, they had been given the intelligence but refused to believe simply because the “people were nice to them.” The couple walked about the traditional market without bodyguards, and they were convinced that such hospitality would continue in Sarajevo.
In the very first murder attempt, however, the bomb meant to kill the archduke and his wife flew over the car the couple was in, so it exploded near the car right behind them thanks to the driver who spotted the explosive and sped off to ditch it. People were injured. The archduke was shocked and horrified, but he decided to rise to the occasion with courage. He changed the schedule and visited the injured instead. Inspired by his courage, Sophie insisted that she should join him.
The security for the couple that day was historically porous. The series of security ball-droppings gave the impression that every single of them near the couple must have been involved in the murderous plot. In the end, the archduke’s car pulled up in front of Gavrilo Princip, a skinny, emaciated young man who was also the best sniper of the times and a true killer. He fired just two shots, with one severing the archduke’s vein in the neck and the other cutting off Sophie’s stomach artery.
Beyond the killers’ wildest imagination, this simple incident eventually led to the outbreak of World War I that claimed more than 10 million lives across the European continent. Ironically, Serbia was excluded from this first world war. And the regional tensions across Serbia, Bosnia, and Kosovo imploded in the form of civil wars at the end of the 20th century after 100 years of festering. Is human really a wise creature? Do we learn our lessons from history? Can we rely on higher education to find the answer to our questions? The shot in Sarajevo says the answer is no. They are little more than our feeble struggle to fight the torrent that is about to wipe out our society.