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  • ♪ ♪

  • [male narrator] All right, the stage is set.

  • Now let's put the players in their places.

  • The curtain opens on the back of a rundown cafe in Belgrade.

  • A young man comes in carrying a package

  • and takes a seat at a table with a handful of other young men huddled around.

  • They still to hush as he opens the package.

  • Inside is a single piece of paper, a newspaper clipping.

  • The one who brought the package bends over to stare at the page.

  • One of the other young men slide a candle across the table so he can better see.

  • Before him, circled in red, is the headline and it reads,

  • Archduke Franz Ferdinand to Visit Sarajevo.”

  • Now we skip ahead a few weeks, where outside the palace

  • a resplendently dressed man and woman

  • are getting in an open-top car, a hundred years ago this year.

  • He is dressed in bright, blazing blue.

  • His chest is full of medals.

  • On his head, a grand horse-hair cap.

  • She is wearing a flowing, white dress and laughing.

  • He helps her into the car.

  • This is Franz Ferdinand, the Archduke of Austria,

  • next in line for succession to the throne,

  • accompanied by his wife Sophie.

  • They've come to Sarajevo to watch military maneuvers.

  • But really, that's an excuse.

  • It's their anniversary.

  • They've come to get away from the stifling courts of Austria,

  • where the Archduke's marriage to Sophie

  • will never be accepted due to her low birth.

  • She was, after all, only a countess.

  • But things have been really tense in this part of the empire.

  • The Serbian agitators have been acting with increased boldness

  • to demand a Serbia free and independent from Austrian rule.

  • And this day of all days falls on the anniversary

  • of one of the greatest battles in Serbian history:

  • The Battle of Kosovo.

  • It's one of the great rallying points of the Serbian people,

  • a point of national pride.

  • To Serbian nationalists, this is one of their proudest days.

  • And for them, for the Archduke of Austria,

  • the symbol of their oppression, the embodiment foreign rule

  • to come here on that date was the greatest insult.

  • Now, perhaps the Archduke had chosen that day to show solidarity,

  • to ease tensions, to make the people of Serbia understand

  • that he cared about their traditions.

  • Maybe he simply didn't know that the day had any special importance,

  • and he was just there to get away.

  • But whatever the reason, he was ill-informed.

  • For on any other day, the events that are about to play out

  • may not have happened.

  • On any other day, this might have turned out simply to be your average parade,

  • an event which wouldn't even go down as a historical footnote

  • in a long and prosperous rule.

  • But something had to happen on this day.

  • It was two symbolic, too important, too grand of a story.

  • And so the first domino is placed in the mad and improbable events

  • of this 28th day of June, 1914.

  • So here now in the sleek black car,

  • the royal couple begins to process down the streets of Sarajevo,

  • flanked by five other cars filled with officials and guards.

  • It's a parade.

  • The streets are lined with onlookers.

  • The route has been published.

  • The world knows exactly where the Archduke is gonna be.

  • And those young men from that cafe in Belgrade are there in that crowd.

  • They are nationalists.

  • They're Patriots.

  • They're assassins and terrorists.

  • They call themselves Young Serbia

  • and are part of the much more ominously named Black Hand--

  • and they are angry.

  • Angry in the way that only young men can be,

  • and when I say young,

  • I mean that barely any of them had reached the age of twenty.

  • They had in them an anger born of ideals.

  • Or they had ideals to rationalize their anger.

  • A boldness born of a cause,

  • or a cause to justify the brash kind of risk-taking that truly borders madness.

  • But however you view them,

  • here they were hidden in the crowd,

  • intent on killing the Archduke.

  • One by one, the Archduke's car passes his would-be assassins.

  • Nothing happens.

  • No attempt on his life.

  • Two of his assassins ended up succumbing to fear

  • and couldn't go through with the deed.

  • One felt pity for his wife sitting in the car

  • and just couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger.

  • Another one had an equipment malfunction.

  • And so one by one,

  • Ferdinand passed them none the wiser,

  • smiling and waving to the crowd,

  • smiling and waving in an open-top car so the world could better see.

  • But at last, on the Cuprija Bridge,

  • an assassin finally steps forward and throws a bomb at the Archduke's car.

  • Seconds before it lands,

  • Ferdinand sees it and dives behind the door of the car

  • as the bomb passes over him and bounces into the street behind.

  • An explosion rips through the ground,

  • mangling the car following them

  • and leaving twenty people wounded and bleeding on the street.

  • The assassin leaps over the side of the bridge to make his escape,

  • but in the type of amateurish planning

  • that would be comical if the circumstances weren't so grave,

  • he fails to realize that the river below is only four inches deep,

  • and he hurts his leg in the fall.

  • In one last act of comic/tragic bravado,

  • the assassin swallows the cyanide pill he's been carrying,

  • a finalYou'll never take me alive!” gesture.

  • But alas, these young high school assassins

  • had bought their suicide pills on the cheap,

  • and this one was way past its shelf life.

  • So the young man just sits quietly vomiting into the river

  • while the police stroll down to take him very much alive.

  • The motorcade races back the way it came,

  • sirens screaming, and the city begins to lock down.

  • Another of the young men,

  • a 19-year-old named Gavrilo Princip,

  • watches the cars go by, heart sinking.

  • So it's done,” he thinks to himself.

  • It's off.

  • "The Archduke is alive.

  • The assassination has failed.”

  • He is pretty bummed out.

  • His hopes to be immortalized in the halls of Serbian heroes are dashed.

  • All his dreams of glory just shattered.

  • Overall, it's been a pretty lousy day.

  • So he goes off to pout, thinking,

  • Maybe a snack will make me feel better.”

  • This one young man's comfort snack may seem like a small thing,

  • but it's on the small things that history often turns.

  • Back at City Hall, the Archduke and the mayor are having words.

  • The mayor proposes that the Archduke and Duchess should continue on their trip,

  • but the Archduke thunders back something like

  • Are you crazy?

  • You'd have us visit museums while bombs explode on your street?”

  • And then, in a gesture of gallantry that you don't often see anymore,

  • he proposes instead that they immediately visit the hospital

  • where the wounded were taken after the attack.

  • So they don't hide him in a bunker or spirit him out of the country

  • with a small army of guards like we would do today.

  • Instead, they all pile out to the motorcade

  • and start off towards the hospital.

  • But nobody remembers to tell Franz Ferdinand's driver,

  • and I should mention that this is the Archduke's personal chauffeur.

  • This fellow came along with the Archduke for the trip,

  • but he's Austrian through and through.

  • This guy does not know his way around Sarajevo.

  • And so, as they're making their way through the city,

  • the Archduke's driver makes a wrong turn onto Franz Joseph Street,

  • a street named for the Archduke's father.

  • Meanwhile, our failed assassin Gavrilo Princip,

  • is sitting outside a deli eating his consolation snack

  • and starting to feel maybe a little better.

  • And maybe this will be his only chance, he thinks.

  • Maybe someday he'll have another shot at greatness.

  • I mean, it was a really bad day, but who knows,

  • it could still turn out okay.

  • They'd have to go into hiding for a while but--

  • Holy *beep* Is that the Archduke?

  • Yes, right there in front of him, in the same open-top car

  • was the Archduke and his wife.

  • The driver had taken a random wrong turn onto the street

  • where Gavrilo Princip was having a sandwich,

  • and their car had just stalled out trying to back up.

  • Three strides away.

  • Gavrilo can hear the Archduke and his wife talking from the car.

  • No words, just actions.

  • He stands up, he pulls out his pistol,

  • and he fires two shots that changed the world.

  • The Archduke looks over,