Wikimedia Commons / Library Of Congress

The Assassination That Sparked WWI, 100 Years Later

On June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo. The consequences of that killing would erupt into WWI.

By Matt Picht | June 27, 2014

​One hundred years ago, on June 28, 1914, a 19-year old Bosnian Serb named Gavrilo Princip shot and killed Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in the town of Sarajevo, in what would go down as one of history’s most infamous assassinations.

"Princip's two rounds of pistol fire would detonate millions of rounds of cannon fire from one end of Europe to the other. The assassination had changed a charmed world into a cursed one." (Via The Biography Channel)

Ferdinand's death prompted the Austrian Empire to declare war on Serbia, which unleashed a complex chain of alliances and declarations of war, setting off World War I and four years of bloody, horrific fighting.

Saturday marks the centennial of Ferdinand's assassination, and the world is commemorating the grim anniversary in several different ways. 

E.U. leaders gathered in Ypres Thursday, a Belgian town decimated by World War I, in a ceremony to remember the fallen. More than 16 million individuals are believed to have lost their lives in the fighting. (Via Channel 4)

Sarajevo itself is commemorating the centennial with a series of different events, which began June 22 when the city hosted a cycling grand prix. (Via  CTV)

And several news outlets, and at least one Twitter feed, are planning to live-blog the events of Ferdinand's assassination as though it was happening today. (Via BBC)

The occasion has also sparked several thoughtful articles musing over the spiraling consequences of Ferdinand's assassination. A Businessweek writer says "[The lessons] of World War I are clear: Keep local conflicts local; communicate; avoid escalation, even if that means letting down a putative ally."

But the lessons of the past aren't as settled in Princip's homeland, where the assassin's legacy is still hotly debated.

Sarajevo is now the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, a nation which split from Yugoslavia at the start of the Bosnian war in 1992. (Via ABC)

One Sarajevo resident told Newsweek Princip’s actions reflect Bosnia’s recent struggle for independence. "For me, he's a hero. That's what we learned at school, before the war. Princip was a freedom fighter. His country was under occupation."

But not all Bosnians view the assassin in such a positive light.

"The killing of the archduke and his wife was just a murder. A plain assassination." (Via Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty)

A local tour guide told a BBC reporter Princip's legacy is "absolutely political. The different communities here - Bosniak Muslim, Orthodox Serb and Catholic Croat - just don't agree on what to call what Princip did, 'heroism' or 'terrorism.'"

The issue is so divisive, The New York Times reports tensions flared up about Princip's legacy during a scholar's conference in Sarajevo about the causes of World War I. "Some Serb political leaders have accused the conference of bias … laying the blame for the war, which claimed 37 million lives, at their feet."

While Ferdinand was assassinated on June 28, World War I didn't officially start until one month later on July 28, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

Putin Obama handshakeWATCHLIST
Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla

Putin Says He And Obama Had A 'Constructive' Conversation On Syria

The four band members and their manager were killed in a car accident early Saturday morning.WATCHLIST
Facebook / Viola Beach

British Band Killed After Car Careens Off Of Bridge In Sweden

A Hellfire Missile mounted on an AH-64D Longbow Apache at Forward Operating Base Salerno, in the Khowst Province, Afghanistan.WATCHLIST
U.S. Department of Defense / Staff Sgt. Isaac Graham

Cuba Returns Hellfire Missile It Mistakenly Received From The US

Afghani FamilyWATCHLIST
U.S. Department of Defense

UN: Civilian Deaths And Injuries In Afghanistan Have Hit Record High

Egyptian doctors protest.WATCHLIST
Egyptian Medical Syndicate

Egypt's Doctors Protest Police Brutality, Could Go On Partial Strike

A mom breast-feeding at the Melbourne Zoo.WATCHLIST
Elizabeth Hunt Burrett

Breast-Feeding Mom Shares Moment With Orangutan At The Zoo

A group of cyclists travel through thick smog in China.WATCHLIST
Getty Images

Severe Air Pollution Might Have Killed Millions Worldwide

Dmitry MedvedevWATCHLIST
Getty Images / Lennart Preiss

Russian Prime Minister Claims We're Barreling Toward A 'New Cold War'

A person praying.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Chung Sung-Jun

Belief In A 'Punishing' God Might've Helped Societies Get Bigger

Bernhard Friess / CC BY ND 2.0

Is Valentine's Day Un-Islamic? This Pakistan District Says Maybe

Kim Jong-un emojiWATCHLIST
Kimunji / Ben Gillin

Will Kim Jong-un's Emoji Break The Internet Like Kim K.'s Did?

Edgar Latulip's Missing Person PageWATCHLIST
North American Missing Persons Network

Missing Canadian Man Remembers His Identity After 30 Years

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) listens to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a press conference following a meeting of the International Syrian Support Group.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Alexandra Beier

World Powers Try To Work Out Pause In Syrian Fighting

A mock-up picture of what the Titanic II will look like.WATCHLIST
Blue Star Line

If You Like Semi-Morbid Vacations, The Titanic II Is For You

Asian Elephant in IndiaWATCHLIST
Thangaraj Kumaravel / CC BY 2.0

Why Are Elephants Wandering Into Indian Towns?

Getty Images / Christopher Furlong

Reports Claim Catholic Bishops Aren't Required To Report Sexual Abuse

Two clowns in Lebanon next to a pile of trash.WATCHLIST
Clown Me In

Valentine's Day Is Such Garbage In Lebanon

Artist rendering of newly researched galaxies.WATCHLIST
International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research

Hundreds Of Galaxies Were Hiding Behind The Milky Way

Medical MarijuanaWATCHLIST
Getty Images / David McNew

Medical Marijuana Might Be Legalized In Australia Really Soon

A church aid organizer packs $65 billion Zimbabwean dollars (just over $2,000 USD) into a briefcase March 21, 2008 in Bulawayo, ZimbabweWATCHLIST
Getty Images / John Moore

Severe Drought Has Zimbabwe Seeking $1.6B To Feed Millions

BBC presenter Jason Mohammed poses on the red carpet at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award at Odyssey Arena on December 20, 2015 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Carrie Davenport

That Awkward Moment When A Mugshot Looks Just Like The Reporter

Police received a call about a man acting suspiciously early Tuesday morning. When they arrived, the found a man in his 40s on fire.WATCHLIST
longplay / CC BY 2.0

Man Dies After Setting Himself On Fire In Front Of Kensington Palace

Rescue workers stand near the wreckage of two trains that collided head-on several hours before in Bavaria on February 9, 2016 near Bad Aibling, Germany.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Alexander Hassenstein

Head-On Train Collision Kills At Least 9 In Southern Germany

Former president Felipe Calderon speaks at a summit.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Leigh Vogel

Former President Says Mexico Won't Pay For Trump's 'Stupid' Wall

A little girl poses for a photograph next to a stranded sperm whaleWATCHLIST
Getty Images / Ben Pruchnie

Scientists Offer Theory As To What Killed 30 Sperm Whales

A rare albino green sea turtle leaves its nest.WATCHLIST
Facebook / Coolum District Coast Care Group

Surprise! This Baby Green Turtle Isn't Green At All

A zoo warden protects visitors from an employee dressed as an escaped mock gorilla during a training exercise at Ueno Zoo February 21, 2006 in Tokyo, Japan.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Christopher Jue

Tokyo Zoo Simulates Animal Escapes ... With Costumed Humans

Prince Charles holds a bald eagle.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Chris Jackson

British Police Are Thinking Of Using Eagles As Drone Hunters

eople watch a television screen showing a breaking news on North Korea's long-range rocket launch at Seoul Station on February 7, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea.WATCHLIST
Getty Images / Han Myung-Gu

North Korea Rocket Launch Sparks Concerns Over Missile Testing

Syrian refugees at Turkish borderWATCHLIST
Getty Images / Chris McGrath

Violence Forces Thousands Of Syrian Refugees Toward Turkish Border