Joined: Sep 2011
Who Really Murdered Archduke Ferdinand?
We know that Gavrilo Princip fired the shots heard ‘round the world.
We know that he and his two compatriots were armed, trained, supplied, and financed, by Malobabic, a top agent employed by Dragutin Dimitrijevic (Apis) who used Milan Ciganovic as his go-between.
We know that Apis was suddenly appointed to his high position after it became known that Ferdinand planned to visit Bosnia.
We know that Apis implicated the Russian Military Attache in Belgrade (Artamanov) in his written confession two days before his date with the firing squad. Take a look at the written confession submitted to the Serbian Officer’s Court at Salonika where he was imprisoned on charges of sedition:
“I enlisted Rade Malobabic. . . .to organize for me an intelligence network in Austria-Hungary. . . .in agreement with Artamanov, the Russian Military Attaché, who met personally with Rade in my presence. After Rade had begun work, believing that Austria was preparing for war with us, I thought that with the removal of the heir to the throne, Ferdinand, the military party and current he headed would lose strength, thus removing or at least delaying the danger of war somewhat. For that purpose I hired Malobabic to organize Ferdinand’s murder upon his arrival in Sarajevo. I decided on this definitely only after Artamanov had assured me that Russia would not leave us undefended if Austria attacked us.
Malobabic carried out my instructions, organized and carried through the assassination. Its chief participants were all in my service and received small honoraria which I sent them through Malobabic.”
Apis explained that “I received money for this from Artamanov (the Russian Military Attache in Belgrade) since the [Serbian] General Staff did not then have credit to conduct this intensified work.” For his part, Artamanov asserted that his business with Apis was strictly official and denied any part in the Sarajevo plot: “I met with Mr. Dimitrijevitch exclusively in his office at the General Staff.” Artamanov was in Switzerland on leave from June 19 until July 15, 1914, during which time he was replaced by Alexander Verkhovskii, later War Minister in Russia’s Provisional Government. The head of the Petrograd Archeological Institute, Trydar-Burzynski, would later recall that “The Sarajevo assassination was prepared with the support of the acting Russian Military Attaché in Belgrade, Captain Verkhovskii, a young man I had known for years and who told me sincerely the truth about the origins, preparation and execution of the plot.”
Apis’ confession, kept secret until 1953, sealed his fate. In addition to wishing to remove Apis as a political competitor, the Salonika regime was anxious to show the then-likely victors—Germany and Austria—that it had dealt summarily with the Sarajevo plotters. Apis understood this also. He wrote:
“I emphasized once to you that perhaps I erred in writing openly that I carried out the Sarajevo assassination. I would say now, on the basis of these hearings that this is the main reason why I will be killed.” Interior Minister Stojan Protich confirmed in 1922 that Apis’ confession eliminated any possibility of a reprieve: “As far as the late Dimitrijevitch (Apis) is concerned, the main thing is that he admitted to the court that it was he who had organized the Sarajevo assassination which gave Austria the excuse to declare war against us.”
Thus we see that the threads of the murder conspiracy reached into Belgrade and St. Petersburg. But did they reach even further?
On Monday, June 29th, the day after the assassination, Russian ambassador to France, Alexander Isvolsky, disappeared from the face of the earth. He magically re-appeared three weeks later on July 20th as part of Czar Nicholas’ welcoming group to greet Poincare and Viviani who had arrived on board the France for a three-day visit to Russia. Let’s take a look at this auspicious occasion.
The visit was first announced in a telegram sent by Russian Ambassador Isvolsky to Russian Foreign Minister Sasonov on January 6, 1914. It stated—among other things—that the French President had decided to visit Russia “at the first opportunity.” The telegram is puzzling on a number of counts.
First, no reason for the visit is given then or later. Second, Poincaré had already visited Russia less than two years earlier. On that occasion he had stated that with the signing of the Naval Convention (the primary reason for the visit), the rapprochement with England, and resolution of the problem of building strategic railroads, all outstanding problems had been resolved and the Franco-Russian Alliance was now complete and secure.
Thus, apart from the fact that protocol demanded that it was now Russia’s turn to visit, the mysterious telegram with its too casual reference to a Presidential visit makes no apparent sense
On January 6,  Isvolsky sends his telegram. Even though the phrase “at the first opportunity” suggests a certain degree of urgency, the telegram makes no mention of any reason or timing for the visit. There is no planning or preparation for the rest of January, neither February nor March, ditto April, May, and most of June. On June 28th the Archduke is murdered and one day later, Isvolsky secretly leaves for St. Petersburg and Poincaré with a full retinue follows Isvolsky on July 15, a mere two weeks after the assassination! The visit itself, first announced on January 6—it bears repeating—is concerned mainly with the aftermath of the Sarajevo crime! I have searched two Poincare biographies (Raymond Poincare by J.F.V. Keiger, and Raymond Poincare and the French Presidency by Gordon Wright) for any evidence of outstanding issues between France and Russia that might have required a face-to-face meeting. There were none. So if the only reason for the meeting was the Sarajevo assassination, how is it possible that it was announced on January 6th – almost six months before the event?
Poincare counseled Russia to be “firm” and to act with “dignity” knowing that Russian intervention in the Austro-Serb dispute could lead to a European war. The militant tenor and atmosphere of the three-day visit [July 20-23] is perfectly summed up by Palelogue’s diary entry describing Anastasia Romanov, the politically active wife of the Russian Commander-in-Chief:
Anastasia cried enthusiastically, “do you know we are passing through historic days, blessed days . . . at tomorrow’s review, bands will play nothing but Marche Lorraine and Sambre et Meuse . . . I have had a letter from my father [the King of Montenegro] today, in a code we agreed on; he tells me we shall have war before the month is out . . . what a hero my father! He is worthy of the Iliad. Stop a minute; look at this little box-it never leaves me. It has Lorraine soil in it. Lorraine soil, which I brought over the border when I was in France two years ago with my husband. And now look at this table of honor! It is entirely decorated with thistles. I would not have any other flowers put on it. Now then! They are from Lorraine! Melitza, go on telling the ambassador all today means to us while I go and receive the Czar.”
After dinner I was sitting next to the Grand Duchess Anastasia and the dithyrambics continued, mixed with prophecies: “war is going to break out . . . there will be nothing of Austria left . . . you will get Alsace-Lorraine back . . . our armies will meet in Berlin. Germany will be annihilated . . .”
Then, suddenly—“I must control myself, the Czar is looking at me.”
Hold your horses, conspiracy theorists. There is more.
Apis’ confession confirms Russian complicity, but did Russia actually initiate the murder plot?
Consider the following from the minutes of the Special Conference of February 8, 1914, on which Czar Nicholas had penciled “I entirely approve of the resolutions of the Conference.”
The minutes relate that “account must be taken of the possibility of the occurrence, perhaps even in the immediate future, of events which might radically alter the international situation of the Straits of Constantinople, and that it is therefore necessary to proceed without delay, in collaboration with the appropriate departments, to the preparation of a programme, elaborated in every direction, which should aim at the assurance of a solution in our favor of the historic question of the Straits.”
The Conference discussed in minute detail the number and type of troops, ships, equipment, and tactics which would be employed in case of “the occurrence, perhaps even in the immediate future, of events. . .” that would permit a thrust towards the Straits.
What “events” were they anticipating? This is of course speculation, but it was well-known in 1914 that further antagonism between Austria and Serbia could lead to a European war given Russian intervention. (“some d*mned foolish thing in the Balkans . . . “) The Sarajevo assassination was the most fateful in the history of the world and it deserves further investigation.
Be the detective.