Kent Life During the Great War => Life => Topic started by: peterchall on June 28, 2014, 10:31:55

Title: It Began Today
Post by: peterchall on June 28, 2014, 10:31:55
Commemorations are centred on Britain’s entry into WW1 on 4th August 1914, but today is the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. While not universally recognised as such at the time, it was the event that eventually set the tinder-box of Europe alight and sets the background to our threads on the ‘Great War’.
Title: Re: It Began Today
Post by: Bilgerat on June 28, 2014, 13:11:10
The murders of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, the Duchess of Hohenberg were actually the second attempt on their lives that day. In the first attempt, a grenade was thrown at their car, which exploded behind the vehicle and injured the occupants of the following vehicle. They were on their way to the hospital to visit those injured in the first attack when they were shot, Sophie in the abdomen and Franz Ferdinand in the neck, at point blank range by Gavrilo Princip, aged 19 at the time. He was a member of a group of assassins assembled by the Black Hand of Serbia, a secret military society dedicated to the creation of a greater Serbia by violence if necessary.

Both victims died at the scene. Princip attempted suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule, but the poison was too weak and merely made him vomit it back up and he was arrested. Because at the time of the murders, Princip was too young to receive the death sentence, he was instead sentenced to life in prison. He died in prison on 28th April 1918 from TB, his body so wracked by malnutrition and disease that by the time he died, he weighed a mere 88lb.

There was a set of footprints embossed in stone on the spot where the Princip stood when he shot the royal couple, but it was destroyed during the 1990's civil war.
Title: Re: It Began Today
Post by: peterchall on June 30, 2014, 12:57:54
The international events between 28th June 1914 and Britain’s entry to the war on 4th August probably passed almost unnoticed by the general public, who would have been informed only by newspapers.

For those interested there was the matter of Home Rule for Ireland. Closer to home the Suffragette movement was in full-swing, although seems to have been losing support due to its irresponsible and sometimes violent acts. There was widespread industrial strife, with the miners, railwaymen and dockers forming a powerful alliance. Menial shop work and domestic service was the lot of most working class women. For workers in general pay was low, working hours were long and, in 1914, prices were rising faster than wages, so that living standards were falling. On the other hand there was some alleviation due to the recent (1911) introduction of National Insurance to provide sickness and unemployment benefits, Old Age Pensions and a rudimentary health service.

The main Medway Towns employer was the dockyard, Aveling & Porter (my maternal grandfather’s employer) was doing well, and the Short Brother’s factory at Rochester was under construction.

By today’s standards life was hard but probably accepted as the norm. From what I can remember of my parent’s and grandparent’s stories in my childhood days, they seemed reasonably satisfied with their lot. But I’m sure my maternal grandfather would have supported any worker’s rights movement.

On a lighter note Charlie Chaplin made his silent-film debut with ‘Making a Living’, ‘Pygmalion’ opened in a London theatre, and the book ‘Tarzan of the Apes’ was published. For the working classes the main entertainment was the music hall and the pub, the hours of which were unregulated.

By all accounts nationalism was predominant with, in the UK, special pride in the navy and concern about the challenge posed by Germany’s expansion of her navy. But to most people that assassination in Sarajevo would have meant nothing of consequence and even the government was divided over whether we should get involved in the ensuing events.
Title: Re: It Began Today
Post by: Oldbob on July 24, 2017, 17:51:24
The uniform worn by Archduke Franz Ferdinand at the time of his assassination and the Imperial car in which he was being driven, are on display in the Austrian Military Museum. In Vienna.