Nikola Pasic | 29 Jun 1914

In Sarajevo, the investigation into the assassination and the anti-Serb rioting both continue.

Anti-Serb riots

The anti-Serb riots reach their peak today; they’re of such violence and breadth that they’re sometimes described as a pogrom. Large mobs of Bosniaks and Croats begin gathering early in the morning. By the evening, houses have been attacked, shops have been looted, and Serbs all over the city are desperately trying to keep a low profile. There are similar events in other areas of Bosnia that will take some time to burn themselves out.

Tonight, General Potiorek declares a state of siege in Sarajevo. By the time that Franz Ferdinand’s body is leaving the city, the authorities will be starting to take charge of the situation once more. To say the very least, their relative inactivity has been somewhat suspicious.

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Cabrinovic talks

Under further interrogation, the failed assassin Nedeljko Cabrinovic changes his story. Yesterday he claimed that he was working alone and had no knowledge of Gavrilo Princip. Today he admits that he was working with Princip, and now says that both of them planned the crime together in Belgrade. He also names Milan Ciganovic as the man in Serbia who had supplied their weapons.

This is the first important step in the investigation. At the same time, the police are investigating Cabrinovic and Princip’s known associates, being rather liberal in who they arrest during the process. They’re understandably reluctant to immediately believe their prisoners’ story, and it’s well worth giving things a damn good shake to see if anything falls out.

Nikola Pasic

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Serbia does something very odd, according to an Austro-Hungarian diplomatic report. In front of a large and influential audience, he has apparently made comments to the effect that if Austria-Hungary attempts to exploit the assassination for political purposes, Serbs will not hesitate to defend themselves. (Whether or not he actually said that is irrelevant; what’s important is that there’s a diplomatic report heading back to Vienna saying that he did.)

It’s worth stopping and taking a brief look at Nikola Pasic. The recent political history of Serbia begins in 1903, with the assassination of King Alexander I by a conspiracy of military officers. The new King, Peter I, implemented democratic reforms and reigned as a constitutional monarch. Very soon thereafter, Pasic’s Radical party won a majority and he began to govern. In a similar fashion to Giovanni Giolotti in Italy, Pasic hasn’t been Prime Minister for that entire time. He’s broken up his stints of direct power with cabinets headed by others, but Pasic has been mostly pulling the strings all the while.

He does, however, have one rather large headache. The network of conspirators did not simply melt away after the assassination. They continued espousing hard-line nationalist views, dreaming of a “Greater Serbia” to unite all Serbs in a single state. (Most of them live in Austria-Hungary, and often other ethnicities such as Bosniaks, Croats, and Slovenes are counted Serbs) They’ve continued giving each other a leg up and enlarging their network over the last ten years. And the assassins’ leader, Dragutin Dimitrijevic (usually known as “Apis”), has become a hero of the recent Balkan Wars and is the chief of military intelligence.

They’ve formed themselves into an effective shadow power bloc. They quickly became far too well entrenched to get rid of more than a few of them. And Pasic also fundamentally believes in Greater Serbia. None of this has made him particularly inclined to challenge them too strongly, as long as they’re inside the tent pissing out. Unfortunately, this time they might just have pissed onto an electrified fence.

Vienna

Reports continue to arrive in Vienna. There’s a common theme developing. Very few people are buying that the assassination was the work of a couple of lone nutters. The Austro-Hungarian government is relatively well-informed on Apis, his sympathisers, and the existence of shadow power network (if not the precise details of how it works). Many believe that Pasic views the extremists in his country as useful idiots, who can be used to do things that Pasic himself would never dare order, while also affording him plausible deniability…

Actions in Progress

Riots in Sarajevo

Further Reading

I have a Twitter account, @makersley, which you can follow to be notified of updates and get all my retweets of weird and wonderful First World War things. If you prefer Tumblr, I’m also on Tumblr.

The Daily Telegraph is republishing its archives from the war day-by-day. Worth a look. I’m reading the paper every day, and it’s where the content for Our Advertising Feature comes from.

(If you find the olde-tyme style difficult to get along with, have a look at this reading guide.)

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