Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Eyewitness to the Assassination of Franz Ferdinand

Count Franz von Harrach (1870–1937), a chamberlain and adjutant to Franz Ferdinand,  rode on the running board of the royal car serving as a bodyguard for the archduke. His account begins immediately after Princip fires his two shots.

The Archduke and His Wife Leave City Hall
Count Harrach Rides the Running Board

As the car quickly reversed, a thin stream of blood spurted from His Highness's mouth onto my right check. As I was pulling out my handkerchief to wipe the blood away from his mouth, the Duchess cried out to him, 'In Heaven's name, what has happened to you?' At that she slid off the seat and lay on the floor of the car, with her face between his knees.

I had no idea that she too was hit and thought she had simply fainted with fright. Then I heard His Imperial Highness say, 'Sopherl, Sopherl, don't die. Stay alive for the children!'

At that, I seized the Archduke by the collar of his uniform, to stop his head dropping forward and asked him if he was in great pain. He answered me quite distinctly, 'It's nothing!' His face began to twist somewhat but he went on repeating, six or seven times, ever more faintly as he gradually lost consciousness, 'It's nothing!' Then, after a short pause, there was a violent choking sound caused by the bleeding. It was stopped as we reached the Konak."

Source: Eyewitness to History


  1. 'It's nothing!' People who know how to maintain a stiff upper lip in their very bones.

  2. appalling lack of security. v. Hoetzendorf and the Archduke detested one another for reasons both political and personal. Not to excuse the Serb state terrorists, but I wonder about this.