Skip to main content

Statue of assassin who unleashed WW I unveiled in Sarajevo

By Ralph Ellis, CNN
updated 3:32 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
  • Gavrilo Princip fired the shots on June 28, 1914
  • He fatally shot Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife
  • The assassination is considered the start of World War I

(CNN) -- One hundred years after firing the shot that set off World War I, Gavrilo Princip was toasted by some Saturday in Sarajevo -- whether they wore T-shirts emblazoned with his face or admired a statue recently unveiled in his honor.

Today, opinions on Princip are mixed. Some in Bosnia-Herzegovina -- of which Sarajevo is the capital -- think he was a terrorist, reported CNN affiliate N1. But there are also a number of Bosnian Serbs who view him as a hero, N1 reported.

Who was Archduke Ferdinand's Assassin?
The signature that led to millions of deaths
Three unexpected things from WWI

7 things you didn't know about Gavrilo Princip

The former viewpoint was on display in Friday's unveiling of a statue of Princip in Sarajevo. Media footage showed officials clapping as others looked on to catch a glimpse of the life-sized portrayal.

The unveiling of the statue was one of many events, including concerts and symposiums, Sarajevo is holding this weekend to mark the start of World War I.

Princip was 19 years old June 28, 1914, when he assassinated Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophia, as the couple rode in an automobile through the streets.

"The shooting acted as a trigger, metastasizing from a Balkan street corner into a continental crisis by releasing pent-up tension between rival blocs of Great European Powers: the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany on one side and France, Russia and Great Britain on the other," Tim Butcher, author of "The Trigger: Hunting the Assassin who Brought the World to War," wrote in an op-ed piece for

Millions were killed in the conflict that changed the political landscape of Europe

The 'bionic men' of World War I

How World War I gave us 'cooties'

Part of complete coverage on
World War I
updated 10:00 AM EDT, Fri June 27, 2014
On June 28, 1914 a European nobleman was assassinated, sparking WWI. Is there a new shift in global power that could lead to another conflict?
updated 7:31 AM EST, Tue November 11, 2014
The experiences of the years 1914-1918 in fact enshrined the notions that language cannot adequately express the experience of combat, that the veteran will often remain silent about war.
updated 5:27 PM EST, Tue November 11, 2014
A volunteer works on the 'Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red' installation by ceramic artist Paul Cummins and theatre stage designer Tom Piper at the Tower of London.
Thousands of visitors crowd onto the paths circling the Tower of London to catch a glimpse of the extraordinary "sea" of crimson filling the castle's moat below.
updated 11:15 AM EDT, Sun June 29, 2014
Gavrilo Princip fired the shot that started World War I. What do we know about history's greatest teenage troublemaker?
updated 4:47 PM EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
Paul Schulte says World War I ushered in an era of chemical weapons use that lingers, lethally, into the present day.
updated 3:09 PM EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
Chemical weapons inflicted some 1 million casualties in the Great War and 90,000 were killed. A look at the use of chemical warfare
updated 6:01 PM EDT, Wed July 2, 2014
Belinda Davis says "total war" plunged millions of women across the globe into "men's jobs" even as they kept home and hearth running under huge privation. The legacy of that moment endures today.
updated 10:24 AM EDT, Wed July 2, 2014
With the men away in battle during World War I, women took on extraordinary roles, whether it was on the front lines or at home in factories and farms. A look at their lives.
updated 1:56 PM EDT, Sun June 15, 2014
It began 100 years ago, but World War I is no remote event. Its carnage and tumult changed our world, shifting borders, upending culture, home life, language and spurring a raft of innovation, says Ruth Ben-Ghiat
updated 9:29 PM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
Learn why gas masks, aircraft carriers and prosthetics have their roots in WWI.
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
Although it seems like ancient history, World War I changed the world forever. Look back at some of the war's key events.
In an era when the telephone was not widely used, soldiers turned to picture postcards, then in their heyday, to send word home to loved ones.
updated 3:48 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
Jonathan Lighter says when World War I was over, the English language had hundreds of new words. They're still with us today
updated 10:07 AM EDT, Fri June 27, 2014
The vast numbers of veterans left mutilated in World War I led to major improvements in the technology of prosthetic limbs.
updated 8:28 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
The injuries endured by soldiers in World War One challenged the ingenuity of prosthesis designers. Look back at some of their innovations