OU blog

Personal Blogs

Design Museum

Love and hate and the origins of the First World War

Visible to anyone in the world
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'.

Permalink
Share post
Design Museum

Surgeon Soldier in Iraq – Part 2: Exsanguinating Hemorrhage

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 30 Dec 2012, 12:50

Jugular%25252520Vein%252525202.JPG

My lines of enquiry can take me in some peculiar places.

All I wanted to do was write a 60 second piece on the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on the streets of Sarajevo on the morning of Sunday 28th June 1914. (Around 300 words to read, 260 or so out loud for video, even less with pauses)

Not a simple issue, and after a day of reading and several thousand words and enough for a 20 minute documentary I conclude that the story has to begin centuries before with the conquest of the Balkans by the Ottoman Empire ... then first ideas for a Greater Serbian State free not just of the Ottoman Empire, but also of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from around 1901.

There were seven assassins on the street - trained, armed with revolvers and hand-thrown bombs ready to act. It was well organised, the target agreed many months before, the nationalist group behind it already with a successful regicide on its books.

Had the Archduke listened to advice he would not have been in Sarajevo and he most certainly would not have returned to the streets after the first failed attempt on his life when a bomb was thrown at this car but ended up under the vehicle behind seriously wounded several and injuring many more.

The vital thing for all students to understand is that treaties, the Great Powers taking sides, and agitations of many kinds had the players on the field eager to get started. When you've got a fight brewing in the playground and the kids, teachers and authorities are all shouting 'Fight! Fight! Fight!' that is what will happen. The assassination by a lone killer of the leader of the French Socialist Party Jean Jaures, who was determined to find a peaceful solution in late July 1914 indicated the mood - the assassin was considered heroic.

I've been through the sixty minutes that take the 19 year old Gavrilo Princip from one side of the Quay Appel at around 10.15 am as the entoruage pass to the opposite side of the Street and the Rue Frans Joseph where he is standing with a revolver by the side of the road when the entourage returns stops in front of him and starts to reverse putting the assassin less that 5ft away from the Archduke and Duchess at around 10.50 am. Princip is a good shot, he's been practising for months. He shot twice - once at the Archduke, then at the Duchess. The first bullet entered the Archduke's neck. piercing the external jugular and lodging itself in his spine. At this short range it suggests that the bullet 'mushroomed' on impact, otherwise it would surely have penetrated the rear seat of the vehicle. The second bullet entered the Duchess's abdomen.

Curious to see it all in my mind's eye I Google away and have ample to read on gunshots to the neck - including medical and surgical papers I can read through the OU Library. A hundred years on a surgeon on hand and a dash to the hospital and the Archduke may have survived - though damage to his spine would have left him a quadriplegic. 65-60% fatality even today. Also a 30% chance of brain damage. Ligation of the vein. Count Harrac was at the Archduke's side put a handkerchief against the wound, what he needed to do was reach in and grip either side of the severed vein.

To save the Duchess it sounds as if a laparotomy would have been required urgently using procedures to control the damage done to the abdomen - such surgery only started to become common place in the 1950s. An 'abbreviated laparotomy with physiologic resuscitation in the intensive care unit and staged abdominal reconstruction' would have done the job - indeed I've just read about people with multiple shots across the abdomen from a machine gun who survive - in 2011. So fly in the air ambulance time machine and bring her out ... or just get there a few moments earlier and stop the whole shenanigans.

This below, for a contemporary take on field surgery in a war zone is a gripping, heartwarming, informed read. I guess after 6 weeks in somewhere like Iraq an US surgeon is ready for Chicago or the Comptons, Los Angeles.

Surgeon Soldier in Iraq – Part 2: Exsanguinating Hemorrhage

 

Permalink
Share post

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 5325954