Revelry in Sarajevo, Where Shots Started a World War

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tags: World War I



SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina — The Austrian colonel, in the field-green uniform worn for formal occasions, was not amused, and had no hesitation in saying so.

“It’s not right,” Col. Erwin Fitz said. “It’s a circus.”

The 59-year-old officer, an army historian, had come to pay his respects on Saturday at the Sarajevo street corner where Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated on June 28, 1914, providing the impetus for the collapse of the fragile European order of the time and the outbreak of World War I.

What unsettled the colonel were shenanigans, deeply disrespectful as he saw it, involving a lineup of joyful, laughing people clambering into the back seat of a mock-up of the open-topped car in which the aristocrats died. The car, built from an old Land Rover by a Sarajevo motoring enthusiast and his 15-year-old son, was part of the carnival that some in Bosnia’s capital made of the centenary on a blazing hot Saturday similar to the day of the assassinations.




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