Sarajevo: the site of the origin of the First World War – and of the longest siege in modern history

One hundred years ago today, Gavrilo Princip, the Bosnian-Serb radical,  set in train a chain of events that led to the outbreak of the First World War when he assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo. The resultant global conflict killed at least 15 million people.

But, as this article explains, in Sarajevo itself, the memory of Princip elicits very different views: “For one half of the city, he was the national hero who fought against imperial oppression and fully deserves a new park in his name. For the other half,  he is a villain who killed a pregnant woman and brought a flourishing epoque to an end.”

We should also remember today the siege of Sarajevo which was the longest of a capital city in the history of modern warfare lasting from from 5 April 1992 to 29 February 1996 – a total of 1,335 days. The siege lasted three times longer than the siege of Stalingrad and a year longer than the siege of Leningrad in the Second World War.

In 2007, my sister and I visited Sarajevo and you can read my account of the trip here.


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