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A mildly strange day

Samizdata’s World War 1 correspondent Patrick Crozier and I are presently in Sarajevo,  on the hundredth anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which triggered World War 1. It has been a slightly peculiar occasion, as nobody – local, or visiting – seems to be quite clear about what exactly is the correct way to commemorate such an event. There are musical events, art exhibitions (mostly only tangentially related to the occasion), conferences, and a vast number of television crews from all around the world looking for people to interview and things to film other than one another, mostly without great success. It has been, a long, hot day, and the journey into Sarajevo from Belgrade (that we made yesterday evening) is a long and tiring one through steep mountain roads, and I lack the strength to write at length now, alas.

However, whatever the correct way of commemorating an event such as this is, my guess is that it does not involve dressing up as the Archduke and/or his wife Sophie and sitting in a similar open car to the one they were riding in when they were murdered on the exact same spot exactly one hundred years earlier.

It was, however, possible to to that in Sarajevo today.

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13 comments to A mildly strange day

  • However, whatever the correct way of commemorating an event such as this is, my guess is that it does not involve dressing up as the Archduke and/or his wife Sophie and sitting in a similar open car to the one they were riding in when they were murdered on the exact same spot exactly one hundred years earlier.

    The correct way does not involve using any taxpayer moneys. Somehow, I have a feeling that this was not commemorated correctly.

    As for a replica car on the spot where they were killed, with people dressed as the victims, why not? Pretty much nobody alive today knew the victims personally, and we’re getting to the point where the children of people who knew them personally are dying off.

  • The correct way does not involve using any taxpayer moneys.

    A necessary but not sufficient condition.

    Funny, I’ve no objection to re-enacting battles but re-enacting murders strikes me as tasteless.

  • S

    Yes, it was all rather odd. Did you see the guys wearing Gavrilo Princip masks, holding up banners with slogans protesting against (amongst other things) the EU, the IMF, and capitalism in general? They were floating around towards the end of the day; I saw them near the town hall after the concert thing ended.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    In keeping with the spirit of 1914, how about a giddy celebration: “A war, hooray!” to be replaced with grimness next year on the centenary of Verdun.

  • Regional

    A parade of EU Elite and the people watching brown eye them.

  • Michael Jennings

    No, I missed the guys in the Princip masks. I think we may have wandered off to watch the Brazil match at that point. (There is a display of posters and photographs next to the river near the Academy of Fine Arts that appears to be arguing that the solution to all the world’s problems is to abolish capitalism, however). At present there is a rock opera with a cast of thousands and a spectacular light show and a number of giant video screens being performed on the Latin Bridge. I think the music is quite good, but I do see why operas are traditionally performed in opera houses rather than on bridges.

    There’s just been a lot of fairly weird stuff going on all day, and there has been no way for any one person to catch all of it. I am glad that I came, actually, even though I am not quite sure exactly why I came, even.

  • mojo

    Franz woulda been fine if he’d kept moving. I guess they didn’t teach Grand Dukes tactics, huh?

  • andyinsdca

    For my fellow WW1 nuts, I cannot recommend enough the Michelin Guides to the battlefields. They’re on EBay all the time, in French and English. They have maps and before & after pics, driving guides and whatnot.

  • Laird

    That’s a rather poor replica of the automobile in which the Archduke was riding. Here’s the original.

  • I think the music is quite good, but I do see why operas are traditionally performed in opera houses rather than on bridges.

    I thought you were going to say ‘but I do see why capitalism is a terrible thing indeed’.

  • AndrewZ

    Recent historical events inspire an emotional reaction. People who were old enough to be aware of what was going on at the time will remember their own experiences. Those who were not will hear about it from older relatives and will still feel some personal connection to it. We know what we feel about a recent event and we know how it affected us, so we know how to commemorate it. Once an event passes beyond living memory we lose that sense of personal connection and with it any certainty about what it really meant. Distant historical events may still be commemorated, but they are marked in ways that serve modern purposes such as promoting a national identity or making money from tourists. The meanings attached to the event may bear no relation to the historical reality. The outbreak of the Great War is now in the twilight of living memory. We still feel the weight of its significance commanding us to mark the day, but the few frayed strands of personal connection that still remain no longer bind us to any certain meaning.

  • Michael Jennings (London)

    The place being Sarajevo complicates the matter, though. Sarajevo has far too much much more recent history, and that recent history is not entirely unrelated to WWI. There are still people trying to make political points. (I believe that a statue of Gavrilo Princip was erected in a new park in (Serbian) East Sarajevo yesterday. This is not how the (mostly Bosnian muslim) people in the historic city feel about him.

  • For my fellow WW1 nuts, I cannot recommend enough the Michelin Guides to the battlefields. They’re on EBay all the time, in French and English. They have maps and before & after pics, driving guides and whatnot.

    Good man!

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