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The Macksey Journal

Abstract

Although the guns have long since fallen silent in Europe, historical debate continues over the true origins of the spark that sent Europe to war in 1914: the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Despite the popular conception of the assassination as having been devised by the Serbian secret organization Ujedinjenje ili smrt (Unification or Death-better known as the Black Hand) and its leader Dragutin Dimitrijevic (or Apis), the historical field has not actually decisively resolved the exact origin of the plot. Literature regarding the origin is primarily divided into two broad camps: one in which the plot was conceived in Bosnia by the Young Bosnia movement and simply received assistance from actors (with how much assistance and which actors also undecided) within Serbia and another according to which the plot was a Serbian creation from the beginning. The publishing of two major works in the last 10 years that essentially reached diametrically opposite conclusions about this issue (Christopher Clark’s Sleepwalkers and John Zametica’s Folly and Malice) exhibits the ongoing nature of this dispute. This historiography will track the emergence of these two strains of historical thought in the immediate aftermath of World War I (with developments in Serbian domestic politics exacerbating the bifurcation) and how they developed over the next century. It highlights the difficulty historians face in unravelling complex and murky events in an environment where the reliability of primary sources is frequently suspect and contradictions are common.

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