Sarajevski atentat (The Day that Shook the World) (1975)




Director:     Veljko Bulajic.

Starring:      Christopher Plummer (Archduke Ferdinand),  Florinda Bolkan (Sophie),  Maximilian Schell (Djuro Sarac),  Irfan Mensur (Gavrilo Princip),  Rados Bajic (Nedeljko Cabrinovic),  Ivan Vyskocil (Muhamed Mehmedbasic),  Libuse Safrnkov (Jelena),  Otomar Korbelr (Emperor Franz Joseph),  Wilhelm Koch-Hooge (Franz Conrad),  Jir Hol (Merizzi),  Nelly Gaierov (Countess Langus),  Jir Kodet (Morsley).

events leading up to the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand


Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

Three young radical men practice shooting at a man's photograph while on the move under the watchful eye of an older fellow, named Djuro Sarac.  They also throw a small bomb to test it. 

The Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, other men and two women are out shooting pheasants and pigeons and hunting deer and wild boar. 

"1914 Europe was dominated by five countries:  Great Britain, France, the German Empire, Russia and Austria-Hungary.  Bosnia was a province of Austria-Hungary recently annexed from Turkey.  Adjoining Bosnia was the independent kingdom of Serbia whose capital was Belgrade.  Franz Joseph has been emperor of Austria-Hungary for 66 years.  His successor to be was his nephew the Archduke Franz Ferdinand."

Vienna, Austria.  An adviser, Baron Conrad, reads a proposal to the Emperor.  The Austrians complain that the kingdom of Serbia has been sponsoring different kinds of action against Austria-Hungary.  In particular, they have done a great deal of harm in the Province of Bosnia.  They have been sponsoring all kinds of terrorist activities.  Therefore, Austria-Hungary may launch an attack on Serbia.  The Emperor rejects this old proposal from his adviser, because it would bring Russia to the defense of Serbia.  And that would set-off a nasty chain reaction where the major powers would all be involved in the conflict.   

Franz Joseph tells his adviser that he doesn't like the idea of his nephew being the one who succeeds him.  The nephew is waiting for the Emperor.  Franz Joseph tells him that he hears that his nephew is not in good health and cannot attend the military maneuvers is Sarajevo, Bosnia.  The Archduke says that Sarajevo can be very hot and he is especially sensitive to hot temperatures.  The real problem is the old division between Emperor and Archduke over his wife Sophia.  The Emperor had opposed the marriage.  The Archduke says he will go to Sarajevo if his wife can accompany him.  The Emperor now gets very angry over this issue.  He says that the Archduke tries to elevate his wife above her appropriate status.  So the Archduke can go or not go to Bosnia, but if his wife goes, it is only as his wife, and she will not share in any honors that might be bestowed on the Archduke.   

The three young radicals room together.  Soon their mentor comes into their room.  He has brought pistols and small bombs with him for the guys.  The big problem, he says, is getting across the border.  They have to hide their weapons very carefully.  He shows them the way to hide the weapons.  Then he goes over their journey to Sarajevo.  They will go by boat from Belgrade to the area around Sebec  Then by train to Svornik.  There they will meet the Captain and he will get them across the border.  His other advise is that they not talk too much and no wine or women. 

The Archduke is mad at his uncle and tells his wife this.   He says he makes an issue of it because:  "He (the Emperor) is always trying to humiliate you."  His wife, however, says that she will go under the conditions specified by the Emperor.  The Archduke still says no. 

The three guys are ready to leave.  Before they go, they shout among other things:  "Death to the Austria-Hungarian Empire!"  The fellows get on the boat and head out.  They wave goodbye to their mentor as if they were going on holiday. 

Back on land the three fellows go to a restaurant.  Nedeljko Cabrinovic immediately starts breaking the rules.  He drinks wine, flirts with the waitress and says they are on their way to kill Ferdinand in Sarajevo.  The other two fellows are shocked at him.  Nedeljko says it was only a joke. Another fellow, Gavrilo Princip, says:  "What kind of an idiot are you?"   He says Nedeljko is irresponsible, a blabbermouth and a danger to all of them.  So, he tells Nedeljko that he is not crossing the border with him and Trifun Grabez.  Princip takes Nedeljko's weapons from him and says that Nedeljko will cross the border by himself.  He is to wait for them in Tuzla.  Now the seriousness of the situation comes to Nedeljko.  Across the river, Serbian and Bosnian musical bands compete with each other to be the loudest band.

The two fellows, Princip and Trifun, get out of the small boat they are in and follow a guide through marshes and ponds.  Then in a thunder storm a guide takes them over the mountains.  Once over they take a ride in a farm cart.  They are stopped by the police and the two fellows make a run for it.  They jump into a house with an open door and close the door behind them.  The police go right past them.  The guys run for it. 

In Tuzla they give their weapons off to the man who was supposed to take them to Sarajevo, but says it's too dangerous for him.  They say they will send someone back for the weapons when they reach Sarajevo. 

In Tuzla Nedeljko meets up with his two comrades, who are not all that happy to see him.  The fellow flirts with a pretty blonde woman.  On the train he sings a song to the blonde. Nedeljko gets a bit scared when a man comes into the train car and starts checking papers.  The official checks the papers of Princip and Trifun and believes the two guys are the guys the police are looking for.  Nedeljko tells the blonde that a life is at stake and would she help him?  He explains to her what she is to do.

So the blonde gets out of her seat, goes over to Princip, pulls him to a standing position and slaps his face saying that this fellow made so many promises to her but has not kept any of them and she wants the official to arrest him.  The papers checker says that this matter is not his department, concludes that these two guys can't be the fugitives and moves on. 

Ferdinand and Sophie come into the room where the children are being taught by their teacher.  They tell the tutor that they just wanted to say goodbye to the children.  They get into the back seat of an automobile and away they go. 

Sarajevo, Bosnia.  The three fellows get off the train.  Nedeljko has to say goodbye to the blonde.  Princip goes with contact man Danilo Ilic, who says he has invited three other fellows to join them in the project.  The contact says he wonders if this project is worth going through with.  Princip is shocked and tells the contact that the assassination will be the start of a revolution and they will get freedom for Bosnia. 

It's quite the journey for the Archduke and his wife.  They travel separately.  The Archduke goes through Vienna, Budapest, Trieste and Mostar before arriving in Sarajevo.   There he is reunited with his wife.  The couple go into a hotel.  Sophie seems to have a premonition that something bad might happen in Sarajevo.  She suggests they stay in the hotel, but her husband says they should go out and see the sights of Sarajevo. 

The route the Archduke will be traveling is put up right on posters being pasted to the walls of buildings. Princip's girlfriend Jelena sees Princip in a cafe.  Princip sees her too and the guys have to leave quickly.  The girl opens the door and looks out onto the street as the group goes around the corner.  She goes back to the one Muslim fellow still seated at the cafe table, Muhamed.  She asks the fellow, who she seems to know, if her boyfriend was deliberately trying to avoid her?  And when de he get here?  The fellow tells her that the whole group Princip is with is in danger.  They are in Bosnia illegally.  She tells the fellow that he must tell her everything.

The Archduke and his wife go shopping in Sarajevo.  They stop at a rug shop and go in as a big crowd forms outside.  The blonde from the train is in the crowd.  Sophie picks out a rug.  The three would-be assassins and their Muslim friend are attracted to all the noise and they see the Archduke and the Archduchess up close.  After the four leave, Nedeljko is angry with the guys because the weapons are not here with them.  He says they could have killed the couple just then. 

Djuro Sarac comes into his apartment where he is grabbed by two men.  Djuro pulls out his pistol and the guy nearest him tells him to relax, the office wants him.  The mentor also notices that there is someone behind him.  He looks and it is a man carrying a rifle with a bayonet on it.  Djuro gives his pistol up and goes with the men.

Djuro is asked to stop the assassination project, but Djuro asks why should he stop it?  He has fought against Austria all his life.  The general says that the prime minister of Serbia doesn't want to be dragged into a war because of Djuro's project.  Djuro says he and the guys don't want a war.  It's Austria-Hungary who wants the war.  That's why the guys want to kill the Archduke.  The general tells Djuro that an assassination would give Austria-Hungary a good excuse to start a war which Serbia is not prepared for.  Djuro refuses to go to Sarajevo, saying he doesn't see any need for it. 

The military maneuvers are in process.  The cannon fire makes a great deal of noise.  Military officers and the Archduke are there to watch the maneuvers.  The archduke says:  "Excellent!  Excellent!"  Baron Conrad says they could go into Serbia very easily, but the Archduke says that Russia would enter the war. 

With the map provided by the newspaper, the fellows decide where the assassins should be placed.  Danilo says that Mehmedbasic is to be here, Nedeljko here near the river, Trifun will be here and Princip will be at the Lateiner Bridge.  Nedjelko wants to know who the other guys involved in the project will be.  The overall planner Danilo Ilic says it's not necessary for them to know this.  A lady comes down to tell Danilo that he has a very well dressed visitor.  It's Djuro.  He says he has bad news for them.   The top man called him in personally and the deal is off.  They know everything.  Princip says it's our decision.  But Djuro says the Serbian government knows all about their group and the plot.  Too many lives are at risk.  Danilo agrees with Djuro.  Princip tells the group that they can decide for themselves, but "Come tomorrow, I'm going to kill Ferdinand."  He leaves.  Djuro chases after him, but he is gone.  Djuro tells all the guys to go out and look for Princip.  They must stop him. 

Djuro sees Princip and Princip see Djuro.  They both start running.  Djuro is stopped by the police, but he runs away.  He is caught and taken down to the ground. 

Ferdinand and Sophie attend a fancy dinner at which he makes a little speech.  He says he will write to his uncle that the military maneuvers went excellently. 

Djuro is tortured to get information out of him.  He is slashed with a whip over his mid-section and back.  The interrogator says that there is not a man in the world that can't be broken.  He wants to know who he is and who are his comrades.  Djuro just spits in the man's face.  So he is taken back to be tortured. 

Jelena finds Princip. She says she knows he is in hiding.  A couple of policemen start walking through the area and Princip and Jelena have to take off.  The authorities put needles under the fingernails of Djuro. Jelena and Princip are together in bed.  She complains that he never even sent her a letter.  He says it was too dangerous.  The interrogator demands the names of those involved with Djuro.  It looks, however, like Djuro is dead.

The guys can't find Princip.  So the four others agree that they will carry out the plan.  They say it wouldn't be fair to let Princip do it all by himself. 

Jelena begs Princip not to do it, but he says he must do it.  He tells her to keep away from the Appel Quay today.  Nedjelko has himself photographed for the occasion. 

From the hotel a procession of four cars takes off.  Sophia and Ferdinand are in the second car.  Danilo gives Princip a packet of cyanide to take after the assassination attempt.  The cars come rolling down the street with the crowd waving and cheering.  Mehmed with a crowd is pushed back away from the cars.  The cars go past another assassin without event.  Then Nedeljko prepares his bomb and throws it at the second car.  Ferdinand catches the bomb in the air and throws it to the middle of the street.  The bomb explodes in front of the third car.  Quite a few people are hurt in the third car. 

The second car pulls away now.  Princip runs along with the car but it goes past him.  Nedjeljko jumps in the river to get away but there are police on both sides of the river now.  He rips his cyanide packet open, but most of it spills out.  He takes what's left down his throat.  He is then caught by the police.  Princip tells Trifun kill Nedeljko but he says he can't. 

Ferdinand and Sophie arrive at their destination.  Ferdinand says to the Mayor of Sarajevo that "they" threw bombs at them.  "It's outrageous!"  Then he lets the mayor go on with the ceremony.

Jelena comes up to the Trifun and asks what happened?   She asks was it Princip?  No, it was Nedjeljko.  She hurries on to find Princip. Sophie balls out the Governor of Bosnia.  He assures Her Highness that it won't happen again.  Sophie says thank you, but adds:  ". . . I am not convinced."

Now the car with the royal couple leaves.  The driver makes a wrong turn.  Now he has to back the car up.  Sophie sees the assassin coming at them, but she can't prevent it from happening.  Princip shoots Ferdinand and then Sophie.  Princip gets beaten.  He tries to take the cyanide but he drops it while being hit repeatedly.  Jelena sees this and yells for Princip, but she can't do anything.  Danilo takes her away from the area. 

"Franz Ferdinand and Sophie died that day June 28, 1914." 

Daniel Ilic  --  death by hanging.

Trifko Grabez  --  died in prison.

Misko Jovanovic -- death by hanging.

Jackov Milovic  --  death by hanging.

Mehmed Mehmedbasic  --  escaped to Montenegro.

Veljko Cubrilovic  -- death by hanging. 

Nedjeljko Cabrinovic  --  died in prison. 

Gavrilo Princip  -- saved from hanging by his young age; died in prison.

"Austria declared war on Serbia.  Russia came to Serbia's aid.  Germany declared war on Russia. France stood by its alliance with Russia.  England stood by its alliance with France.  The USA came in on the side of England.  It was the end of Russian Tsarism and the Austria-Hungary Empire."  It was also the end of the Ottoman Empire and the German Empire of the Kaisers. 


Pretty good movie.  It drags a little, but it's not that bad.  It's always interesting to learn all the details of the assassination of an important person.  I didn't realize that there were so many people involved in the plot.  I had heard about Princip, but not the many others.  Florinda Bolkan (as Sophie) was good in her part and what a pretty face she has. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:


1878 under the Treaty of Berlin, Austria-Hungary receives the okay to occupy and administer the Ottoman provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Ottoman Empire retains official sovereignty. The same treat has the Great Power recognize the Kingdom of Serbia.

1903 Serbian military officers led by Dragutin Dimitrijevićc storm the Serbian Royal Palace and kill King Alexander Obrenovićc and his wife Queen Draga. Peter I of the House of Karađdorđdevićc becomes the new king.

1906 a Customs dispute with Austria-Hungary begins (commonly referred to as the "Pig War").

1908-1909 the Bosnian crisis. Serbia protests Austria-Hungary's annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

1910-1914 lone assassins (mostly Serbian citizens of Austria-Hungary) try a series of unsuccessful assassination attempts in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina against Austro-Hungarian officials. ( The assassins receive sporadic support from Serbia.)

1910 (June 15) Bogdan erajićc attempts to kill the Governor of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but fails. He kills himself. He becomes an inspiration for future assassins.

1912-1913 two Balkan Wars of 19121913 where Serbia conquers Macedonia and Kosovo from the Ottoman Empire.

1913 Emperor Franz Joseph tells his nephew Franz Ferdinand to observe the military maneuvers in Bosnia scheduled for June 1914. His wife Sophie comes with him out of fear for Ferdinands safety. Sophie is treated as a commoner at the Austrian court because she is a Czech countess. The Emperor Franz Joseph consented to their marriage only after the couple agreed that their descendants would never ascend the throne.

Poor Sophie could never share her husbands splendors or even sit by his side at any public occasion. But Sophie could go as Ferdinands wife when Ferdinand acted in a military capacity. Thats why he agrees to inspect the army in Bosnia so his wife can go with him and they can go places side by side.

Franz Ferdinand wanted to combine the Slavic lands in Austro-Hungary into a third crown. This made Franz a enemy of the radical separatists.

1913-1914 Danilo Ilićc, a Bosnian Orthodox Serb had been a school teacher and a bank worker. But in this period he lives with and off of his mother. Ilićc is the leader of the Serbian-irredentist "Black Hand" terrorist cell in Sarajevo.

1913 (late) Danilo Ilićc comes to the Serbian listening post at Uice to speak to the officer in charge, the future Serbian Colonel C. A. Popovićc of the "Black Hand". Ilićc wants direct action against Austria-Hungary.

Popovićc sends Danilo Ilićc to Belgrade where he talks with Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevićc (aka Apis).Apis and his fellow military conspirators come to dominate the "Black Hand".

1914 (January) Serbian Major Vojislav Tankosićc calls for a Serbian irredentist planning meeting in Toulouse, France. One of the attendee is Muslim carpenter Mehmed Mehmedbaićc. Mehmed is anxious to take action against the Austrians. He is sent to assassinate the Governor of Bosnia, Oskar Potiorek.

1914 (March 26) Ilićc summons Mehmed to Mostar to tell him that Belgrade had scrapped the assassination attempt. Now they switch to assassinating Franz Ferdinand. (The order comes from Apis.)

1914 (April) Ilićc recruits Serbian youths Vaso ČCubrilovićc and Cvjetko Popovićc.

1914 (later in April) three young Austro-Hungarian Bosnian Serbs, living in Belgrade Gavrilo Princip, Trifun Grabe and Nedjelko ČCabrinovićc let it be done that they are willing and eager to participate in an assassination. They speak to Milan Ciganovićc and through him Major Tankosićc. The young men agree to transport arms to Sarajevo and participate in the assassination of Franz Ferdinand

There is a delay in the assassination plans because the Emperor is sick and thus Ferdinand will not be going to Bosnia. The delay ends when the Emperor recovers his health.

1914 (May 26) the weapons arrive. The assassins get six hand grenades, four Browning automatic pistols and ammunition and money.  They learn about a secret tunnel used to infiltrate agents and arms into Austria-Hungary.

1914 (May 28) Princip, Grabe, and ČCabrinovićc leave Belgrade by boat. They travel along the Sava River to abac where Captain Popovićc of the Serbian Border Guard provided them with a letter to Serbian Captain Prvanovićc. He also gives the young men the names of three customs officials whose identities they could assume.

1914 (May 29) the three young men reach Loznica. Here Princip and Grabe fall out with ČCabrinovićc over the latters repeated violations of operational security. The fellow has to give up his weapon, go alone to Zvornik, cross over there and link back up with his partners in Tuzla.

1914 (May 30) Sergeant Budivoj Grbićc leads Princip and Grabe by foot to Isakovićcs Island in the middle of the Drina River separating Serbia from Bosnia.

1914 (May 31) the men arrive on the island. Grbićc passes the terrorists and their weapons to the agents of the Serbian Narodna Odbrana for transport into Bosnia and from safe-house to safe-house.

1914 (June 1) Princip and Grabe cross into Austria-Hungary in the night.

1914 (June 3) the two men arrive in Tuzla. They leave their weapons with Miko Jovanovićc and rejoin Čcabrinovićc. The news of their progress is given to Serbian Caretaker Prime Minister Nikola Paićc.

Čcabrinovićc meets Sarajevo Detective Ivan Vila, a friend of his policeman father, are on the same train to Sarajevo. ČCabrinovićc finds out the date set for the arrival of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, June 28.

1914 (June 4) the three men arrive in Sarajevo and the three go their separate ways. Princip visits his family and returns to stay with Ilićc at his mothers house. Grabe visits his family in Pale. ČCabrinovićc stays at his father's house in Sarajevo.

1914 (June 14) Ilićc goes to Tuzla to bring the weapons back to Sarajevo.

1914 (June 15) Ilićc returns to Sarajevo and hides the weapons in his mother's house.

1914 (June 17) Ilićc travels to and back from Brod. He says he was trying to stop the assassination. Djuro Ŝsarac had instructions to cancel the assassination and then later Rade Malobabićc had instruction to reauthorize the assassination.

1914 (June 27) Ilićc hands out the weapons. On the same time and for the first time Ilićc introduces Mehmedbaićc to Princip in a Sarejevo caf.

1914 (June 28) Ilićc positions a total of six assassins along the motorcade route.

1914 (June 28) Franz Ferdinand and his party proceede by train from Ilida Spa to Sarajevo. Governor Oskar Potiorek meets the party at Sarajevo station. The third car in the motorcade a will carry Franz Ferdinand, Sophie, Governor Potiorek and Lieutenant Colonel Count Franz von Harrach. The motorcade stops for a brief inspection of a military barracks.

The motorcade leaves for the Town Hall via Appel Quay. It passes the first assassin, Mehmedbaićc. The Muslim fails to act (because he says a policeman was right behind him).

The motorcade passes by Vaso Čcubrilovićc, who fails to act.

At 10:10 a.m., the motorcade reaches Nedeljko ČCabrinovićc on the opposite side of the street near the Miljacka River. He throws his bomb which bounces off the cars folded back convertible cover into the street. The bomb actually explodes underneath the fourth car in the motorcade. The bomb wounds a total of 20 people.

ČCabrinovićc swallows his cyanide pill and jumped into the Miljacka River. But the cyanide had passed its due date and only causes the assassin to vomit. The police drag him out of the river and he is severely beaten by the crowd.

The motorcades speeds on to Town Hall. The next assassins in line, Cvjetko Popovićc, Gavrilo Princip and Trifun Grabe all fail to act as the motorcade zooms past them at a high speed. (Some say its because the assassins thought the Archduke had already been killed.)

At Town Hall Ferdinand yells at the Mayor of Sarajevo: "Mr. Mayor, I came here on a visit and I get bombs thrown at me. It is outrageous." He calms down and later delivers his speech.

Franz Ferdinand and Sophie decide they want to visit the wounded people from the bombing at the hospital.

At 10:45am, Franz Ferdinand and Sophie rejoin the motorcade and, once again, they are in the third car.

Princip went into Schillers Delicatessen after learning that the assassination had failed. He comes out of the shop and sees the car containing the royal couple reversing after having taken a wrong turn. The driver, Leopold Lojka, had not been told of the change in plan and had just followed the first two cars.

Princip rushes over and fires two shots from close range hitting the Archduke in the jugular vein and then the Duchess in the abdominal area. Princip is arrested. Later Princip says that he tried to kill Governor Potiorek not Sophie.

Both victims remain seated upright, but Sophie is dead on arrival at the Governor's residence where she and Ferdinand were to receive medical treatment. Franz Ferdinand dies 10 minutes later.

All of the assassins are eventually caught.

Because of his young age, 19, Gavrilo Princip escapes the death penalty.  He died in prison of tuberculosis a little more than three years later. 


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