June 28, 2005

Today in Automotive History

1914 Wrong Turn

Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia, while riding in an Austro-Daimler that was chauffeured by Otto Merz, a Mercedes team driver. The assassination resulted in the outbreak of World War I.

The archduke and his wife, Sophie, rode into Sarajevo in a motorcade consisting of four cars; the royals occupied the second. On the way to the City Hall as they crossed the Milijacka River at Cumuria Bridge, Serbian nationalist Nedjelko Cabrinovic threw a bomb at the Daimler carrying the archduke and his wife. Franz Ferdinand managed to deflect the bomb onto the street. About a dozen people, including Sophie, who was hit in the face with shrapnel, suffered injuries, but no one was killed. The assassin swallowed a cyanide pill and jumped off the bridge. Unfortunately, he coughed up the pill and landed in only a foot of water. He was taken into custody.

The first two cars of the motorcade continued on their way to the Sarajevo City Hall. Upon his arrival at the welcome ceremony, Franz Ferdinand interrupted the mayor's speech, seizing him by the arm and crying, "One comes here to visit and is received with bombs. Mr. Mayor, what do you say?"

He later calmed down and finished his own speech with a reaffirming pledge of his regard for the people of Sarajevo. After the speech, Franz Ferdinand ordered his chauffeur to carry him to the hospital to visit the victims of the bomb; Sophie accompanied him. Their driver took a wrong turn after crossing the Imperial Bridge and the car ended up on a street named after Franz Ferdinand's father, Franz Josef. Noticing his mistake, the driver applied the brakes and the car came to a halt a foot short of another Serbian nationalist, Gavrilo Princip.

Princip fired his pistol into the car, striking the archduke in the neck and his wife in the stomach. In shock and unaware that she had been wounded, Sophie cried to her husband, "For heaven's sake, what's happened to you?" Franz Ferdinand keeled over whispering "Es ist nichts, Es ist nichts..." A lengthy investigation into the conspiracy failed to prove any complicity in the plot on the part of the Serbian government. Nevertheless, the Austrians sent their army into Serbia and World War I was born.

Posted by Quality Weenie at June 28, 2005 08:17 AM

You left off on how he made a comeback in 2004 with the hit "Take me out". Oh wait, no that was a band named after him... sorry. :)

Posted by: Contagion at June 29, 2005 08:40 AM