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Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Gavrillo Who?

I'm now burning the midnight oil and eating up the sunlight as I work on finishing the first draft of my non fiction work, Cardiff During the Great War which will be published later this year by Sword and Pen Books.

Prior to starting this work my knowledge of the Great War, the conflict that stretched from 1914 - 1918, was pretty good but what continues to really strike me as I get deeper and deeper into my research is the little that I really knew. Just this last week I've been tracing the lives of a group of Belgian refugees who made their homes in Cardiff and the Valleys for the war years.

I've also come to the conclusion that if there was one man who shaped the last century more than any other then it was Gavrillo Princip, and yet his name remains unknown to most people. It was Princip who on an eventful June day in 1914 assassinated  the Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his young wife, an event that kicked off the global conflict that we know now as The First World War. Without Princip there would have been no first world war and thus no second. Those shots fired all the years ago in Bosnia and still be heard today - the echos have sounded down through decades and now almost a century later still ring out. He killed two people - the archduke and his wife and yet was in some way responsible for the death of millions since.

Hitler during his service in The Great War

Adolf Hitler was wounded during the First World War and seethed for many years afterwards because he felt the German rulers had sold his people out by surrendering in 1918. In 1919 he joined the German Workers Party and it was from this start that he would eventually rule all of Germany and send the country, and the world,  into another global conflict. Hitler's politics were formed because of the first world war, a war that started because of that assassination on that June day almost a hundred years ago.

The assassination was a momentous moment in history and yet if you ask most people to name a famous assassin then the chances are that they would say Lee Harvey Oswald, and he may not have even done it, while Gavrillo Princip remains unknown by most people - many of us would have to Google him when asked who he was. I must confess that the name wasn't familiar to me until I started my research.

No doubt I'll be posting more on this subject as my book nears completion - I've managed to collect together a mass of humorous stories from the period and these are particularly heartwarming and reflect the true character of the human spirit - for even in such catastrophic times people can still manage a smile when their hearts are being broken on a daily basis.

1 comment:

Neil Waring said...

AS a retired history teacher - you have warmed my heart. The spark that lead to the war.