Tuesday, July 10

If Only Franz Had a Garmin

Image = GCS History.org
By Art Cashin

On this day (-12) in 1914, a wrong turn changed the course of history.  Of course, things were different then, at that time, there was nationalism afoot in Europe.  

The big flash-point of nationalism was in what we used to call Yugoslavia. Part of Serbia had been annexed by Bosnia (if you slept through sixth grade, that was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire - but save those old geography books it looks like it may be coming back). 

Anyway, the crown prince, Franz Ferdinand, thought it would be good to have a member of the Royal Family show up in the region.  So with his wife, Sophie, he drove with his staff to a place called Sarajevo, the local Gotham. The townsfolk turned out in force.  There was bunting, bands, beer and assassins, (a total of six of them).  The party pulled onto Appel Quay, a wide road along the river, heading for the celebration in the main square. 

Suddenly one of the assassins hurled a short-fuse bomb into the open touring car.  The Archduke (as he was known to his friends) mumbled something like, "this is stupid."  Then he picked up the bomb and flung it over his shoulder. It exploded in the street and injured several bystanders.  Four other assassins took this as a bad omen, ditched their guns and headed for the Brauhaus.  

The Archduke halted, checked on the victims and proceeded to the ceremony.  (For you trivia buffs, the touring car was a "Graf und Sift"....which became jinxed and went out of production.) During the speeches, he got antsy but the Mayor reassured him, "It is over!  Surely we have only one murderer in Sarajevo."  

Nevertheless, the police decided to change the plan and send them back the way they came instead of parading down Franz Josef Strasse (the main drag). However, the security guys forgot to tell the guy in the lead car.  He turned onto Franz Josef Strasse and the Archduke's car followed him.  Irate police halted the parade and ordered the Archduke's car to back up into the intersection. More amazed than the police was a nineteen year-old guy named Gavrilo Princip (the sixth assassin) who had been standing in the sun on F.J. Strasse just in case the first five guys missed. 

As the cops tried to unravel the gridlock, they let Princip through.  He promptly shot the Archduke and Sophie. Within 48 hours, World War I was on the way. 

But relax; there is a New World Order today.  Never again would disputes between ethic groups draw the rest of the world into a conflict....right?.....right?

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

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