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Love and hate and the origins of the First World War

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Friday, 4 Jan 2013, 18:21

I am close to my THIRD YEAR blogging here. Just the most amazing and crazy journey which, if I remember at one stage had me click on a link at the bottom 'jobs' and end up at the Open University itself. I felt rather like a priest visiting the Vatican ... then decided that being away from home all week made me too miserable. Anyway, I particularly enjoy following the Creative Writing Course as so many students post here. I've had my moments of writing fiction ... and scored one minor hit writing, then directing a short film that was bought by Channel 4. No, it clearly didn't spell the beginnign of a new career. But I so still hanker after constructing a long form story - a novel or screenplay. No amount of writing will get you there, you have to read a lot AND take advice.

This is a self-imposed exercise, finding a story for every day of the duration of the First World War - thats 1568 posts to a blog. This story related to 28th June which triggered it all. Like someone fickling the first domino in a domino cascade .... the world came tumbling down, indeed the second world war and the Balkans conflict are all part of the same mess, indeed the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and nationalism in the Middle East probably transcends all of this too.

I should keep on writing - call it 'The 100 Years War' 1914 to 2014.

You are one of the wealthiest and privileged men in the world and likely, by all accounts, to be one of the most powerful men too some day soon, but you are deeply unhappy and married as protocol requires to another European royal.

You are Crown Prince Rudolph of the Austro-Hungarian Empire - wanting for nothing and everything. Your are also crushingly unhappy - the privilege a burden.

Then you fall in love and like royals before you the woman becomes your mistress - two years of bliss are doomed when your father the Emperor demands that it ends. Rather than give each other up you commit suicide, shooting first your 17 year old mistress, then turning the gun on yourself.

Love for a girl and hate for the Empire could only be resolved through violence. The year is 1889.

Some two decades later your nephew, the heir presumptive since your own death, appears to have it all - a compromise had been found when he refused to give up the woman he wished to marry in 1890. Archduke Franz Ferdinand, stunningly wealthy, happily married to the Countess Sophie Chotek - the woman he loves, with three healthy children, and trained up through his military career to rule would expect to become the next emperor soon - his grandfather the Emperor Franz Josef is now in his 80s.

Then, on the morning of Sunday 28th June 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand's misplaced 'love' for his subjects and his unquestioning love for his wife puts them both in an open top tourer on a formal visit to the Austro-Hungarian provincial capital of Sarajevo.

Hate looms in the form of the 19 year old Gravilo Princip, a Serbian nationalist, desperately poor, principled, prepared and determined. Under instructions and guidance from the leaders of the radical Serbian terrorist group 'The Black Hand' he finds himself positioned on the route the Archduke will take back and forth through Sarajevo with six others - armed and eager to kill.

In their different ways both Franz Ferdinand and Gravilo Princip disliked what the Austro-Hungarian Empire represented and how it behaved - both had ideas of how the problem could be fixed - Franz through compromise and accommodation - he tabled a federation of Austro-Hungarian states in 1906 -while both Count Rudolph at one end of the scale and Princip at the other, both felt that two bullets from a revolver were the pill that wold fix everything when others controlled your life in a way that you found intolerable.

Two world wars later, nearly 50 million dead and conflict only recently resolved in the Balkans and if there is a one word lesson to take from the 20th century it is 'Diplomacy'.

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