An assassin divides his native Bosnia 100 years on

Tue Mar 11, 2014 7:24am EDT
 
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By Matt Robinson and Daria Sito-Sucic

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - The woman paused before a photograph of a young man with dark eyes and a tightly trimmed moustache.

"That's that Serb terrorist those Chetniks (Serb nationalists) are praising," she said to a journalist inspecting the image. "He started that war. They started all the wars."

Gavrilo Princip stared down from the outer wall of a museum at the riverside spot in Sarajevo where on a summer's morning in 1914 he opened fire on the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.

The killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, lit the fuse for World War One, turning out the lights on an age of European peace and progress.

Empires crumbled and more than 10 million soldiers died. The world order was rewritten. Yet 100 years on, in Princip's native Bosnia, time, in many ways, has stood still.

A hero to some, a harbinger of destruction to others, the assassin is being fought over anew as Sarajevo prepares to mark the June 28 centenary of his act.

Two rival sets of events are being planned, and accusations of 'revisionism' are flying at a time of renewed Cold War-style tensions between East and West.

The row goes to the heart of Bosnia today, a country still affected by big-power divisions and still arguing about the past, divided by the present and uncertain about the future.   Continued...

 
A worker walks near World War I portraits at the Franz Ferdinand hostel in Sarajevo, January 29, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic