Sarajevo, 28 June 1914; the shot heard round the world fired by Gavrilo Princip killed Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and set off the events that led to world war and the end of an era.
In the first half of 1914 my maternal grandfather Lieutenant Pat Somerville was in the fledgling nation of Albania as part of an international commission to oversee the birth of the newly independent nation. Albania then as now was a turbulent part of Europe and Somerville would find himself back there after the war – and 18 million dead later. He bought the post card above and stuck it in his album.
In 1993 I visited the saddest place I have ever seen, the WW II children’s concentration camp at Terezin in the Czech Republic. Nearby is the fortress which was used as a prison in both wars. Here I chanced upon the cell that Princip was held in until his death in 1918. He died of TB. I remember being surprised that there was a memorial to him with flowers placed by the Serbs. But of course at that time another war was raging in Bosnia – to the Serbs he was a hero, to the Bosnian Muslims he was an assassin.
In the Europe of 1914 one could travel everywhere without a passport and use the same currency everywhere, gold. Despite Maastricht, Schengen and the Euro we are not back where we started and possibly never shall be.