Europe marks an­niver­sary of shot that sparked WWI

Taranaki Daily News - - World -

Sara­jevo – Artists and diplo­mats de­clared a new century of peace and unity in Europe yes­ter­day in the city where the first two shots of World War I were fired ex­actly 100 years ago.

On June 28, 1914, the Aus­troHun­gar­ian crown prince Franz Fer­di­nand was as­sas­si­nated in Sara­jevo, where he had come to in­spect his oc­cu­py­ing troops in the em­pire’s east­ern prov­ince.

The shots fired by Serb teenager Gavrilo Prin­cip sparked the Great War, which was fol­lowed decades later by a sec­ond world con­flict.

To­gether the two wars cost some 80 mil­lion Euro­pean their lives, ended four em­pires – in­clud­ing the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­ian em­pire – and changed the world for­ever.

Vis­it­ing the as­sas­si­na­tion site, Sara­je­van Davud Ba­jramovic, 67, said that in or­der to hold a sec­ond of si­lence for ev­ery per­son killed just dur­ing WWI in Europe, ‘‘we would have to stand silently for two years.’’

A century later, Sara­je­vans again crowded the same street along the river where Prin­cip fired his shots.

And the Aus­tri­ans were also back, but this time with mu­sic in­stead of mil­i­tary: the Vi­enna Phil­har­monic Orches­tra was sched­uled to per­form works of Euro­pean com­posers re­flect­ing the century’s cat­a­strophic events and con­clude with a sym­bol of unity in Europe — the joint Euro­pean hymn, Beethoven’s Ode of Joy.

The orches­tra wanted to pay trib­ute to the his­tory of Sara­jevo, where reli­gions meet, said the first violinist, Cle­mens Hell­berg.

Aus­trian Pres­i­dent Heinz Fischer said Euro­peans ‘‘have learnt that no prob­lem can be solved by war.’’

The con­ti­nent’s vi­o­lent century started in Sara­jevo and ended in Sara­jevo with the 1992-95 war that took 100,000 Bos­nian lives.

‘‘If any­thing good can be found in this re­peat­ing evil, it is more wis­dom and readi­ness to build peace and achieve peace af­ter a century of wars,’’ said Bos­nia’s pres­i­dent, Bakir Izetbe­govic.

The splurge of cen­ten­nial con­certs, speeches, lec­tures and ex­hi­bi­tions were mostly fo­cused on cre­at­ing last­ing peace and pro­mot­ing unity in a coun­try that is still strug­gling with sim­i­lar di­vi­sions as it did 100 years ago. The rift was man­i­fested by the Serbs mark­ing the cen­ten­nial by them­selves in the part of Bos­nia they con­trol, where a per­for­mance re-en­acted the as­sas­si­na­tion.

For the Serbs, Prin­cip was a hero who saw Bos­nia as part of the Serb na­tional ter­ri­tory at a time when the coun­try was part of the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­ian Em­pire.

Bobby Wo­mack: An in­com­pa­ra­ble voice that few could match.

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