The death of Gavrilo Princip

No single event was responsible for the outbreak of war in 1914. Neither was one person responsible, although Gavrilo Princip - who died on this day in 1918 - will forever be known in the popular imagination as the man who fired the first shot.

Even that first, fateful shot so nearly missed its target. Earlier in the day two of the would-be assassins had failed to shoot; a third had thrown a bomb into the Archduke's car but it had bounced off before exploding and injuring other members of the motorcade.

The Archduke was returning from the Sarajevo Town Hall later the same day to visit those who had been injured in the blast when his driver took a wrong turn - stopping at precisely the point where Princip had been waiting, considering his options.

Three years and ten months later, Princip - having been spared the death penalty on account of his youth - died in the Theresienstadt fortress in Bohemia, after many years of ill health.

The Imperial rule he and had conspired to overthrow was to last only a little over six more months.


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