Thursday, 26 June 2014

All that remains is ... a little hole in a road?

Let's freeze time again: a Sarajevo policeman has placed a board over a little hole in the road, and his foot is firmly placed on the board. The message to onlookers milling around nearby is, "Move along, now. There's nothing to see."

But there is something to see.

That hole has been made minutes before by a bomb thrown at Archduke Franz Ferdinand's car by a man with a cause. The bomb-thrower has links to a terrorist group called the "Black Hand." The organization is opposed to the inclusion of certain south Slavic provinces in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It wants Bosnia-Herzegovina to become part of a greater Slavic state. It wants "freedom" for Bosnian Serbs!
Arcane stuff.

Perhaps, but this sort of consideration is usually enough to inflame the passions of foolish young idealists who are convinced that the "oppression" of some group or other must end now. Others in the group are, of course, simply misfits with violent urges who are looking to commit barbarous acts under a cloak of political respectability. All are street-level members prepared, for whatever reason, to do the bidding of their leaders. There are half a dozen members of the Black Hand in Sarajevo. Enough to cause a war? Well, maybe.
Noble Readers will observe how a hundred years passes and nothing changes except the labels? Well, there it is ...

As for the Austrian archduke and his wife, they are on an official visit. Figureheads must be seen to be figureheads. And so the show must go on. 

The bomb is not very powerful. And it is poorly aimed.  No one in the archduke's car is killed, or even injured, and the official visit does go on. Flustered by the attempt on the archduke's life, his advisors alter the route, but the driver becomes confused and misses his junction. He tries to turn the car around, and that provides a second killing opportunity.

This time the would-be killer has in his pocket a Belgian-made FN Model 1910 automatic pistol, designed by the American gunsmith, John Browning. The magazine holds six rounds. Only two of them will be necessary to spark the deadliest war to date.

The Deadly Playground, 1914 is out now.  Why not click on this link and get yourself a copy?

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