To mark 100 years today since the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinaz of Austria and his wife Sophie, here’s a chapter from my unpublished WW1 novel, Shot: a great war story, that among other things retells the events of that day.
June 28, 1914
‘One comes here for a visit and is received with bombs…. It is outrageous!’
Franz had never felt so furious. How could this be, how could they let this happen? To think that his life and that of his Sophie had been in mortal danger from the actions of some fool in the crowd.
He saw again the slow loop of the explosive as it headed towards them, first bouncing off the bonnet of the car, before he had instinctively swatted at it, knocking it away. Then only to learn that Eric and the Count had been badly wounded in the car behind. And now this simpleton of a mayor is intent on giving a welcoming as if nothing has happened.
The scorn of his uncle and the Imperial court over this debacle would be insufferable, Franz thought, when he felt Sophie take his hand. She was standing by his side at the top of the town hall steps, where they were supposed to be basking in the warmth of an official welcome and the appreciation of the people, and where a stunned mayor stood fingering his notes.
What point is there after what has happened? Franz thought. Someone has tried to kill us! The realisation of how naïve he had been, how unrealistic, began to dawn on him. He turned to Sophie, feeling her trembling, seeing her lip quiver, and reached to wipe a tear, then noticing a slight graze on her cheek.
‘Sophel, oh my dear wife, I see you have been injured in the blast. My God, how close we have come to tragedy!’
She flinched from his touch, produced a handkerchief from her sleeve and dabbed at the graze.
‘I am all right, Franz, do not fuss. We must not be overcome by this. Look, the people do really love you,’ Sophie said, whispering in his ear. Continue reading