Primary Documents - Austrian Report on Archduke's Assassination in June 1914

Gavrilo Princip Reproduced below is the official Austrian report established to investigate the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914.

Seizing the opportunity presented by Ferdinand's assassination (who in any event had not been viewed with any great favour, either by the Emperor Franz Josef or by his government), the Austro-Hungarian government decided to settle a long-standing score with near-neighbour Serbia.  The official report was therefore accordingly slanted to throw most suspicion upon the involvement of the Serbian government.

Austria-Hungary's ultimate response - its ultimatum of 23 July - comprised a lengthy list of demands made upon the Serbian government.

The Official Austrian Report

Record of the District Court at Serajevo, touching the proceedings there instituted against Gavrilo Princip and confederates on account of the crime of assassination perpetrated on June 28, 1914, on His Imperial and Royal Highness the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Este and Her Highness the Duchess Sophie of Hohenberg.

Gavrilo Princip, Nedeljko Cabrinovic, Trifko Grabez, Vaso Cubrilovic and Cetres Popovic confess that in common with the fugitive Mehemed Mehmedbasic they contrived a plot for the murder of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and, armed with bombs and in the case of some of them with Browning pistols, laid wait for him on June 28, 1914, on his progress through Serajevo for the purpose of carrying out the planned attack.

Nedeljko Cabrinovic confesses that he was the first of the conspirators to hurl a bomb against the Archduke's carriage, which missed its mark and which on exploding injured only the occupants of the carriage following the Archducal motor car.

Gavrilo Princip confesses that he fired two shots from a Browning pistol against the Archducal motor car, by which the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the Duchess Sophie of Hohenberg received fatal wounds.

Both perpetrators confess that the act was done with intent to murder.

These confessions have been fully verified by means of the investigations which have taken place, and it is established that the deceased Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the deceased Duchess Sophie of Hohenberg died as a result of the revolver shots fired at them by Gavrilo Princip.

The accused have made the following declarations, which are essentially consistent, before the examining magistrate:-

In April, 1914, Princip, during his stay at Belgrade, where he associated with a number of Serbian students in the cafes of the town, conceived the plan for the execution of an attempt on the life of the late Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  He communicated this intention to his acquaintance, Cabrinovic, who also was in Belgrade at the time.  The latter had already conceived a similar idea and was ready at once to participate in the attempt.

The execution of an attempt on the Archduke's life was a frequent topic of conversation in the circle in which Princip and Cabrinovic moved, because the Archduke was considered to be a dangerous enemy of the Serbian people.

Princip and Cabrinovic desired at first to procure the bombs and weapons necessary for the execution of the deed from the Serbian Major Milan Pribicevic or from the Narodna Odbrana, (see Note 1) as they themselves did not possess the means for their purchase.  As, however, Major Pribicevic and the authoritative member of the said association, Zivojin Dacic, were absent from Belgrade at that time, they decided to try to obtain the weapons from their acquaintance Milan Ciganovic, who had formerly been a Komitadji and was at that time in the employment of the State railways.

Princip, through the instrumentality of an intimate friend of Ciganovic, now got into communication with the latter.  Thereupon Ciganovic called on Princip and discussed the planned attempt with him.  He entirely approved it, and thereupon declared that he would like to consider further whether he should provide the weapons for the attempt. Cabrinovic also talked with Ciganovic on the subject of the weapons.

At Easter Princip took Trifko Grabez, who also was in Belgrade, into his confidence.  The latter is also shown by his own confession to have declared himself ready to take part in the attempt.

In the following weeks Princip had repeated conversations with Ciganovic about the execution of the attempt.  Meanwhile Ciganovic had reached an understanding on the subject of the planned attack with the Serbian Major Voja Tankosic, who was a close friend of his and who then placed at his disposal for this object the Browning pistols.

Grabez confesses in conformity with the depositions of Princip and Cabrinovic that on the 24th of May he, accompanied by Ciganovic, visited Major Tankosic at the latter's request at his rooms.  He says that after he had been introduced Tankosic said to him: "Are you the man?  Are you determined?"  Whereupon Grabez answered: "I am."

Tankosic next asked: "Do you know how to shoot with a revolver?" and when Grabez answered in the negative Tankosic said to Ciganovic: "I will give you a revolver, go and teach them how to shoot."

Hereupon Ciganovic conducted Princip and Grabez to the military rifle range at Topcider and instructed them in a wood adjoining the range in shooting with a Browning pistol at a target.  Princip proved himself the better shot of the two.  Ciganovic also familiarized Princip, Grabez and Cabrinovic with the use of bombs which were given them.

On the 27th of May, 1914, Ciganovic handed over to Princip, Cabrinovic and Grabez, as their confessions agree in stating, six bombs, four Browning revolvers and a sufficient quantity of ammunition as well as a glass tube of cyanide of potassium with which to poison themselves after the accomplishment of the deed in order that the secret might be kept.  Moreover, Ciganovic gave them some money.

Princip had previously informed Danilo Ilic, at Easter, of his plan of assassination.  He now begged the latter on his return to Serajevo to enlist certain additional persons, in order to ensure the success of the attempt. Hereupon Ilic according to his confession enlisted Jaso Cubrilovic, Cetro Popovic and Mehemed Mehmedbasic in the plot.

Only one of the bombs was made use of in the execution of the attempt.  The remaining five bombs came later into the possession of the police at Serajevo.

In the opinion of the judicial experts these bombs are Serbian hand-grenades which were factory-made and intended for military purposes.  They are identical with the 21 bombs which were found in the Save at Brcko in the year 1913 and which were partly in their original packing, which proved without a doubt that they came from the Serbian arsenal of Kragujevatz.

It is thus proved that the grenades which were used in the attempt against the Archduke Franz Ferdinand also came from the stores of the Army Depot at Kragujevatz.  Grabez quite spontaneously calls the grenades which were handed over to him and his accomplices "Kragujevatz bombs."

It is clear how far the criminal agitation of the Narodna Odbrana and those who shared in its views, has of late been primarily directed against the person of the hereditary Archduke.  From these facts, the conclusion may be drawn that the Narodna Odbrana, as well as the associations hostile to the Monarchy in Serbia, which were grouped round it, recently decided that the hour had struck to translate theory into practice.

It is noteworthy, however, that the Narodna limits itself in this way to inciting, and where the incitement has fallen on fertile soil to providing means of material assistance for the realization of its plans, but that it has confided the only dangerous part of this propaganda of action to the youth of the Monarchy, which it has excited and corrupted, and which alone has to bear the burden of this miserable "heroism."

All the characteristics of this procedure are found in the history and origin of the profoundly regrettable outrage of the 28th of June.

Princip and Grabez are characteristic examples of young men who have been poisoned from their school days by the doctrines of the Narodna Odbrana.

At Belgrade, where he frequented the society of students imbued with these ideas, Princip busied himself with criminal plans against the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, against whom the hatred of the Serbian element hostile to the Monarchy was particularly acute on the occasion of his tour in the annexed territories.

He was joined by Cabrinovic, who moved in the same circles, and whose shifting and radically revolutionary views, as he himself admits, as well as the influence of his surroundings in Belgrade and the reading of the Serbian papers, inspired him with the same sense of hostility to the Monarchy, and brought him into the propaganda of action.

Thanks to the state of mind in which he already was, Grabez succumbed very quickly to this milieu, which he now entered.  But however far this plot may have prospered, and however determined the conspirators may have been to carry out the attempt, it would never have been effected, if people had not been found, as in the case of Jukic, to provide the accomplices with means of committing their crime. For, as Princip and Cabrinovic have expressly admitted, they lacked the necessary arms, as well as the money to purchase them.

It is interesting to see where the accomplices tried to procure their arms.  Milan Pribicevic and Zivojin Dacic, the two principal men in the Narodna Odbrana, were the first accomplices thought of as a sure source of help in their need, doubtless because it had already become a tradition amongst those ready to commit crimes that they could obtain instruments for murder from these representatives of the Narodna Odbrana.

The accidental circumstance that these two men were not at Belgrade at the critical moment doubtless balked this plan.  However, Princip and Cabrinovic were not at a loss in finding other help, that of Milan Ciganovic, an exkomitadji, and now a railway official at Belgrade, and at the same time an active member of the Narodna Odbrana, who, in 1909, first appeared as a pupil at the school at Cuprija.  Princip and Cabrinovic were not deceived in their expectations, as they at once received the necessary help from Ciganovic.

(Note 1) The chief Serbian society devoted to the cause of freedom for the Slavs in every land.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. I, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

"Boche" was a disparaging term used to describe anything German.

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