The Nation says the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand could have serious political consequences. The writer got that right.
There are undoubtedly serious political implications in the assassination of Francis Ferdinand, which occurred on Sunday in the capital of Bosnia, but it is the personal aspect of the tragedy which first makes appeal. This new blow to the aged Emperor, whose life was thought a few weeks ago to be nearing its end; evokes world-wide expressions of sympathy for a ruler whose long reign has brought him almost unprecedented personal bereavements. The murdered Crown Prince had for some time past been active in the work of government. He was in this way visibly in preparation for his accession to the throne; and also had the motive of relieving Francis Joseph of some of the cares of state. Ferdinand was of strong and energetic nature, and Austria had looked forward to his becoming Emperor, confident that the transition would be made without shock, and that the administration of affairs would be in able hands. That outlook is now changed. The new heir apparent is a young and untried archduke, Charles Francis, who is said, however, to be democratic in bearing and popular. The old Emperor will doubtless make an effort to keep the reins in his hands as long and as firmly as possible, but it is evident that Austria will have to face trials of a sort to test her strength and her international policy.
For the causes of the assassins’ mad determination can by no means be ignored.
They were not of the ordinary ‘crank” class, these boyish murderers, but felt themselves the instruments of their country’s vengeance. Whether Servians or Bosnians, they had been bred to think of Austria as a national enemy and oppressor. Friction between the Austrian authorities and the Bosnians had been for some time severe. Only a little while ago the Government was confronted with a strike of the Serb students at Mostar in Herzegovina. Their complaint was that a Government professor had made violent attacks upon the Servians. These students were expelled; but thereupon their fellows throughout the two provinces struck in sympathy, and all the efforts of the Government had not, at last accounts, been able to make them return to their schools. From this clash alone, it is possible, the impulse to Sunday’s tragedy may have been derived. All accounts agree that the relations have been bad between the Austrians and the inhabitants of the two provinces of which Austria undertook the protectorate under the Treaty of Berlin, and which she later coolly annexed, despite warm protests from Great Britain. It is now evident that she annexed not only territory, but race hatred and a lurking spirit of assassination.