From: "Ted Rawes"
Subject: Brief Notes on a Book
"The Road to Sarajevo" by Vladimir Dedijer. Published London 1967 by Macgibbon & Kee.
I thought that 500 pages written by someone with access to the old Serbian files and who knew his way around might yield something of interest but was largely disappointed. The few points worth noting follow.
Franz Ferdinand was not serious about "trialism" ie a Slav entity on the same footing as the German and Magyar units within the Hapsburg Empire. He intended only to use it as a threat to end the Hungarian Ausgleich aided by the introduction of universal suffrage in Hungary to break the power of the Magyar landowners. What he really intended to do was to bring back a "Gesamtmonarchie" ie as it was pre 1867. He had no understanding of the need for land reform in Bosnia-Hercegovina or of the condition of the peasantry. He was also deeply Roman Catholic and anti-semitic and so was thoroughly disliked with enemies on all sides. (Yet Gavrilo Princip and several of the other conspirators, being of peasant stock, were educated largely on scholarships so was it really so bad? .)
Dedijer describes in exhaustive detail how Austrian neglect of Bosnia led to the rise of revolutionary youth groups and how they began to move towards assassination as the only way forward. His description of the development of the conspiracy and its practical implementation maintains that it went ahead in spite of the attempts by the Serbian government to stop it and that, for the most part, it was assisted by only very junior Serbian officials. The exception is the Black Hand and its principal figure, Apis (the Serbian Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevic) but even he tried to prevent the plot going ahead. The plot itself was amateurish in the extreme and succeeded only by sheer luck.
Although he nowhere says so explicitly, nothing in his book puts real blame on the Serbian government. The conspirators were moved mainly by Yugoslav nationalism rather than enthusiasm for Serbia as such and Apis and his associates were opposed to the civil government of Serbia, having tried and failed a few weeks before to induce the Serbian Army to revolt. However, he could find no real evidence of any warnings to Austria perhaps because they seemed to have assumed that security in Sarajevo would be as tight as in 1911 when Franz Ferdinand was last there.
The only element which raises some doubts concerns the weapons used. The Austrian accounts speak of Browning revolvers but Apis maintained that the four he supplied were branded "Nagan" (is there not a Russian pistol - the "Nagant"?). Unfortunately the author did not either notice or resolve this discrepancy.
Dedijer felt then, probably rightly, that the whole affair was much simpler than it was afterwards made out to be. A backward, neglected province, with a long history of violence, was bound to breed romantic, half educated young men and it was simply bad luck for everyone that they managed to kill the heir to the throne.