Nikolay STARIKOV (Russia)
To properly evaluate who would benefit from Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination, just look at the results of the First World War. It destroyed Great Britain’s two chief competitors – Russia and Germany. Convinced that Russia was not crushed during the Russo-Japanese War and the carefully planned revolution, London began to prepare a new, much more ambitious project, whose goals were impressive and grandiose. Metal can only be melted at very high temperatures. Likewise, the political map of the time could only be manipulated by a large European war. Only in its flames could the borders of countries and even peoples be changed beyond recognition. To annihilate Russia, the British needed not just a war – a WORLD war would be needed to be able to destroy the hated Russian government. To take down Germany, where there was not an inkling of revolutionary spirit, a war of unprecedented strength would be necessary. Only a total catastrophe could spur the German burghers to despise their beloved kaiser.
The primary goal of the English plan was the destruction of Russia, next in line – Germany. For our age-old enemy, England, the policy was built around one main objective – to prevent the creation of a strong continental power, or, worse still, a strong bloc of powers. A Russo-German Union – that was the English’ worst nightmare. To this end, the main political task of the British became gradually divided into two sequential tasks: to prevent the a Russo-German alliance and force them into mortal combat against one another. But it wouldn’t be so easy. In the early 20th century, there was no dispute between Russia and Germany that could have created grounds for conflict. The two countries were run by royal cousins – Nicholas and Wilhelm, who maintained a good relationship with one another. So why would they suddenly start to fight? For those of us born in the late 20th century – it was Germany, the arrogant aggressor who twice in 100 years brought Russia to the brink of death. The perspective of a Russian before the First World War would be totally different, however. Germany for their country was a traditionally friendly regime with whom Russia had not fought since the Napoleonic Wars exactly 100 years earlier. A significant event would be needed, some sort of circumstance that would allow both countries to forget their long friendship. Therefore, provoking a Russo-German conflict became the main focus of British policy. France had also long sought out this result as a part of its own foreign policy. France could only reclaim Alsace and Lorraine through war, and France could not single-handedly defeat Germany on its own. Who else could fight for the “noble cause” of returning French territory to the bosom of the motherland then crumble and fall to pieces? Russia, of course!
The murder of the Austrian heir was only the final link, the last brick in the plans to incite world conflagration. The work was colossal and meticulous; beginning soon after the Russo-Turkish war, it took nearly ten years. The opponents needed to be set, and then the preparations came to a logical end – lighting the fuse of a future war, a truly WORLD war. And what a more ideal place to begin than the Balkans, with its century-old interplay of political intrigue, conspiracies and war? The death of the ill-fated archduke would be the event that would provoke a war. And it did – scarcely more than a month after Gavrilo Princip fired his shots, Germany declared war on Russia!
It came full circle: England entered into an alliance with Russia in order to prevent our rapprochement with Germany, to organize a terrible war, and destroy the two rivals!
It was the British (and French) secret services who were behind the assassination of Franz Ferdinand:
— It was in Britain’s interest that from a quick investigation into the killing, a clear trail of evidence back to Serbia would emerge;
— It was in Britain’s interest to foment conflict between the Serbians and the Austrians;
— It was in Britain’s interest that Russia (Serbia’s ally) and Germany (Austria-Hungary’s ally) go to war.
According to the British plan, as a result of the war and the outbreak of revolution, Russia was supposed to lose all of its national borders and become a weak republic and end up in complete financial dependence on its “benefactors.” The same sad fate awaited Germany. Gavril Princip’s fatal shot was the opening signal for all these misfortunes …
However, another problem arose during the preparation of the Russo-German confrontation. The Tsarist government still soberly judged its own armed forces and never in its right mind thought it would be mixed up in a war with Germany and its ally Austria-Hungary, i.e. with two superpowers at the same time!
Consequently, in order to implicate Russia in the horrific war, it would need to be persuaded that it had “loyal allies” that would not leave the Tsar in a pinch. It was the same scenario that pulled us into war with Japan but on a larger scale – reassure the Tsarist government and leave it alone with the enemy at the time of real danger. The pre-war events began to develop into this precise scenario. England – our most implacable enemy, drastically changed its position and became our “ally.” At the Anglo-Russian Conventon of 1907, St. Petersburg actually joined the English-French “Entente” alliance (taking its name from the French Entente Cordiale or Cordial Understanding). The Sons of Albion, who had so often made Russian diplomats’ blood boil, who had provoked so many wars to weaken our country became our “ally.” One should have treaded very carefully. However, Nicholas II believed and paid dearly for it, becoming an obedient tool in the hands of his nation’s enemies who came disguised as friends.
England gathered all of its strength to prepare and nurture the future conflict. And behind it loomed the silhouette of another future “ally.” The U.S., having generously funded the Japanese aggression and Russian revolution was not resting on its laurels and was quitely coming onto the scene as well. With America’s arrival, the whole world balance of power would radically change. Earlier it had been the British dog wagging his American Tail, now the tail was beginning to wag the dog.
But perhaps those who concocted the First World War simply failed to understand what the fruit of their labors would be? Why did our “allies” charge so boldly into this conflict? The answer is simple: Not one democratic state was destroyed by World War I. By their nature, states with democratic systems have a more stable structure than monarchies. In a time of global cataclysm a new party comes to power, another government or a new leader, but never a revolution or a major social explosion. Monarchies do not have such a beautiful lightning rod of popular discontent – a simple change of political furniture. No matter what leaders the tsar or kaiser changes in a time of war, he is still responsible for the country. And the hate will lay at the feet of not just an individual – but at the monarchy itself. Changing the tsar is much more difficult than replacing the prime minister. Therefore, because a monarchy cannot change its head of state, the people will rise to change the very form of government. And revolution in a time of war will inevitably lead to defeat.
It was this striking stability of democratic rule during various crises that gave these governments the organizational resolve to stir a global conflict to destroy their monarchical competitors. For this reason, Britain, France and the United States dove headfirst into the confrontation and set it into motion with all of their strength. Just look at the result of WWI: the U.S. lost nothing and made stacks of money through military contracts, growing stronger and stronger. England destroyed its dangerous rivals Russia and Germany and came out of the war slightly weakened. All the same, compared to all the other warring nations, it emerged as an oasis of prosperity. France ended up the worst off among the warmongers. The war ravaged its territory causing great human and economic losses. And yet the French still reached their goal – a reversal of the Franco-Prussian War and the return of the lost provinces! Paris’ nemesis, Germany, lied defeated in the dust and the French army’s heavy losses were nothing more than the cost of removing a dangerous neighbor.
The truth about the Sarajevo assassination team was already known. In each play, every actor has a well defined role: entering the stage, saying his lines and making his gestures. Then the time comes for him to go behind the curtain. And as such, the key witnesses and players in the drama of Franz Ferdinand’s murder all passed into oblivion. Nedeljko Gabrynowicz was the first to leave this world. Gavril Pinciple quietly followed him on May 1, 1918, succumbing to tuburculosis in prison like his cohort. They had completed their roles as the young terrorists in two ways: killing the archduke and putting the Austrians on the “right” track. They played according to the script prepared by the military and political organizers of the assassination. Colonel Apis Dmitrievich, the head of the organization of the Serbian nationalists, “the Black Hand,” was fighting honorably on the front of the war they had provoked four years earlier when he was suddenly arrested on the orders of his own government. The important organizer of backstage affairs was now an unnecessary witness: the military court-martialed the intelligence chief of the Serbian general staff, and, without delay, sentenced him to the firing squad.
The “political” organizer of the Sarajevo assassination, Vladimir Gachinovich, also died under mysterious circumstances. He was simultaneously a member of all three organizations suspected of the crime: Young Bosnia, Civil Defense, and Black Hand. He was also the chief ideologist and most influential member of Mlada Bosna, which carried out the terrorist act. It was Gachinovich who gave his contacts in these organizations to Russian revolutionaries, who in turn used them to sieze the opportunity to mount a revolution. Among his friends were socialist Natanson, and social-democrats Martov, Lunacharsky, Radek and Trotsky. The latter even eulogized him after his death, for in August 1917, the strapping young Vladimir Gachinovich suddenly fell ill. It was such an incomprehensible and mysterious disease that Swiss doctors twice (!) operated on him finding nothing. But, later that month Gachinovich died …
The first bullet hit the archduchess in the chest. She only had time to sigh and instantly fell back in her seat.
“The dress … the dress …” she murmured, watching the red stain spread across the white silk.
But it was not her blood. The second bullet lodged in the spine of her husband, passing through the collar of his uniform, hitting an artery in his neck. The heir to the Austrian throne, clutched his neck, but blood continued to spurt through his fingers, soaking his wife’s snow-white dress and his smart blue uniform in seconds.
“Sophie, Sophie, don’t die! Stay alive for our children!” gurgled Franz Ferdinand, turning to his wife.
She was already unable to hear his words, having died almost instantly. At the moment a new portion of his blood was pouring over the covering hands of General Potiorek, who was trying to help the archduke. The heir’s entourage ran to car.
“His neck, hold his neck!” someone shouted hysterically. Nearby a photographer snapped away, having captured nearly every moment of the shooting.
Someone’s fingers pushed in to try and close Franz Ferdinand’s wound, but the blood continued to pour like a river. Closing the carotid artery, even in a calm environemnt is not easy task, but the collar of his uniform was also getting in the way. The archduke did up his uniform very tightly, and with his usual humor had joked in the past, “the tailor has to sew the clothes directly on, otherwise buttons will fly.” Now, on this fateful day his aides desperately tried to undo the stained blue uniform to stop the bleeding. No one had scissors.
General Potiorek came to his senses first.
“To the hospital, fast!” he bellowed at the driver, pulling him out of his shock. The car lurched into motion. In the back seat, Franz Ferdinand was dying in the arms of two aides who struggled in vain to put pressure on the wound. The archduke continued breathing for another 15 minutes after losing consciousness. He then died in the car next to his wife, whose white dress was soaked in the blood of both spouses.
One month later, that blood would fill all of Europe …
Translation by ORIENTAL REVIEW