Black Hand/White Hand

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
Was there any real difference between the agendas of the Black Hand and the White Hand? From what I've read, it seems the White Hand (formed 1912) was a sort of "reserve hand" in case anything bad happened to the Black Hand (formed 1911). The founders of each were all in the Narodna Odbrana and all were in on the liquidation of the Obrenovic dynasty.

When the Black Hand was liquidated in 1917 in Salonika, the White Hand stepped right in and continued to pull the strings from behind the curtains. Was Živkovic just a warmer, fuzzier version of Dimitrijevic? Was the White Hand more a creature of Alexander Karagorevic himself? That is, more "royalist" in sympathies?
 
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Belisarius

Forum Staff
Jun 2006
10,359
U.K.
Was there any real difference between the agendas of the Black Hand and the White Hand? From what I've read, it seems the White Hand (formed 1912) was a sort of "reserve hand" in case anything bad happened to the Black Hand (formed 1911). The founders of each were all in the Narodna Odbrana and all were in on the liquidation of the Obrenovic dynasty.

When the Black Hand was liquidated in 1917 in Salonika, the White Hand stepped right in and continued to pull the strings from behind the curtains. Was Živkovic just a warmer, fuzzier version of Dimitrijevic? Was the White Hand more a creature of Alexander Karagorevic himself? That is, more "royalist" in sympathies?
Not come across the White Hand before, can you elaborate further?
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
Not come across the White Hand before, can you elaborate further?
Not really much further. These "special action" groups don't leave very meticulous documentation behind. If you can find the 1940 edition of Gunther's Inside Europe, there might be some more information, but all I can lay my hands on just now is the 1939 edition (p 400ff) -

"General Peter Zivkovitch was a young man in 1903, a junior lieutenant in the royal guard. Mark that date. The year 1903 was the one in which, as mentioned above, King Alexander Obrenovitch and his wife Draga were murdered by officers who subsequently put Peter Karageorgevitch on the throne. The officer whose job it was to force open the palace gates was ever after nicknamed by his intimates 'Peter the Door.' His name was and is Peter Zivkovitch.

"Zivkovitch, the son of a blacksmith, was for many years a dominant factor in Jugoslav military life. For a long time he received only normal promotions, but his influence behind the scenes, as a survivor of the original murder gang, was great. In 1921, King Alexander (Karageorgevitch) appointed him commander of the palace guard, a sort of army within the army, eighteen thousand strong, which garrisons Belgrade. It seemed strange to some that an accessory to the murder of one king should be charged with the security of another. In 1929, when the King abolished democracy, he appointed Zivkovitch prime minister, which job the general held till 1932. Subsequently he was minister of war.

"After the 1903 murder the leading conspirator-officers formed the Ujedinjenje ili Smrt, which means Society of Union or Death. It's adventures in patriotic murder and terrorism caused, among other things, the Great War, since Princip, the Sarajevo assassin, was schooled by the Black Hand men. In Sarajevo today there is, incidentally, a public monument to Princip, who is a national hero to the Serbs, even though he indirectly cost the loss of twenty million lives. ...

"The Black Hand was broken up during the War. This was because some of the members were believed to have turned republican. They did not trust the young Alexander. Zivkovitch, however, gambled on Alexander, and formed, so far as is known, a sort of counter-movement to the Black Hand, called - without startling originality - the White Hand. The White Hand men were those who depended for their careers on the young King.

"Dimitrijevitch and the out-and-out Black Handers were eliminated by a conspiracy in which Zivkovitch, possibly with the knowledge of Alexander, played at least the role of winner. In 1917 Serbia seemed doomed. Wanting as good terms as possible, the Serbs destroyed the archives linking the Black Hand with the Sarajevo murder. It remained to put Dimitrijevitch out of the way, and direct witnesses to the preparations of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand would be silenced. With four fellows Dimitrijevitch was tried at Salonika, charged with an attempt on Alexander's life. The evidence was flimsy, but after a sensational trial the Black Handers were convicted, and Dimitrijevitch was put to death.

"This cleared the field for Zivkovitch. The White Hand took over from the Black.

"He forgot all about political terrorism and devoted himself to the interests of Alexander

"Zivkovitch's influence notably waned after the assassination of Alexander. In 1937 he left politics and was pensioned out of the army."

Gunther was not a scholar per se, but he is generally regarded has having been well-informed. I'm sure I don't know how Zivkovitch should have counseled Alexander. Here's an overview of the situation -

http://www.hungarian-history.hu/lib/eckh/eckh02.htm

Here's a clip of Alexander's assassination in Marseille in 1934 -

[ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfxL67Uqp6E[/ame]

I had just been thinking that the "White" in The White Hand might refer to the connection between royalty and the color white (as in the white cockade and so forth), instead of merely white as opposed to black.

All this might fall under the category of "too much information," but websites are all constructed of re-cycled electrons anyhow : ]