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news 28 Jun 14

Bosnia Marks Centenary of Sarajevo Assassination

Bosnia will host a range of events to mark the centenary of the 1914 assassination that helped to trigger World War I, but Serbs will hold their own rival commemorations.

Elvira M. Jukic
  Replica of the Franz Ferdinand car from 1914 / Photo AP

Bosnia on Saturday is staging a range of cultural events to mark the centenary of the killing of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by Bosnian Serb revolutionary Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914, although Serb politicians are staging parallel commorations.

The central event in Sarajevo is a concert by the Vienna Philharmonic in the recently re-opened Vijecnica, the historic City Hall, which was recently refurbished after being shelled in the 1990s war.

Among several exhibitions in the Bosnian capital to mark the centenary, one of the displays, ‘Assassination in Sarajevo’, will be on show for the day in front of the main cathedral in the city’s central pedestrian area, featuring photographs that document Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie’s visit to the city on the day that they were murdered.

  Statue of Gavrilo Princip in East Sarajevo / Photo AP

Bosnian Serb political leaders unveiled a new statue of Gavrilo Princip, in the city of East Sarajevo. The new life-size statue of Princip stands in the centre of East Sarajevo, a city in Bosnia’s Serb-led entity Republika Srpska, adjacent to the capital.

Meanwhile in Andricgrad, the mini-town created by film-maker Emir Kusturica in Visegrad in eastern Bosnia, Serb political leaders from both Bosnia and Serbia will hold a rival set of events including the unveiling of a mosaic celebrating Princip, who the organisers describe as a hero. 

In the town of Grahovo in north-west Bosnia, Princip’s birthplace, the Serb authorities are opening his reconstructed family house, after a new statue of the assassin was unveiled in East Sarajevo on Friday. 

  Statue and an actor playing Gavrilo Princip / Photo AP

While many Serbs see Princip as a hero, many Croats consider him a terrorist, and schools in former Yugoslav countries teach different histories about the causes of the 1914-18 war, reflecting more recent conflicts in the region, as a recent BIRN investigation showed.

A theatre play, ‘The Hotel Europe’, written by Bernard Henri-Levy, also premiered in Sarajevo on Friday, telling the story of Europe’s relations with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Henri-Levy has said that writing the play was his way of paying off the debt to Bosnia, which had taught everyone the lesson of courage.

"Our aim here with this play is not only to give a play, it is to try to use this play in order to help to change something in the terrible situation which Bosnia is still living," Henri-Levy told Radio Liberty's Balkan service.


Replica of the Archduke car in front of the Museum of Sarajevo / Photo AP

Tourists gathered around the Museum of Sarajevo which is marking the WWI centenary / Photo BIRN

Exhibition showing photos and text on the start of the WWI and the Sarajevo assassination / Photo BIRN

Exhibition down the alley of Obala Maka Dizdara in Sarajevo entitled Meaking Peace / Photo BIRN

A large mosaic showing Gavrilo Princip in Andricgrad, Visegrad, on St Vitus Day / Photo AP

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