Europe marks anniversary of shot that sparked WWI
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.