I am sure most of you have heard the saying; a butterfly fluttering her wings in India can cause a hurricane in Canada….
It may not be literally true but it conveys a very deep meaning ….
Meaning that one small insignificant incidence in one place could cause major things to happen somewhere else…
It coveys that coincidence can sometimes change history…
Is it true….well….let’s check it out…join me in the journey of this discovery of coincidence which changed the world.
It was the summer of 1914. Balance of power in Europe was shaky at its best.
Archduke Ferdinand, crown prince, of Austria, was also the Inspector General of Austrio Hungarian Army. The army had decided to hold its military exercises in Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital. Archduke was invited. Serbian nationalists saw this as an insult to them – they wanted to strike back.
In the morning of June 28th Archduke and his wife travelled in an open car. Their motorcade was to take them thru the Serbian area but few proper safety precautions were taken. The security was so poor that their route was also made public to the people.
This was a great opportunity for the seven Bosnian Serbs with Ultra-nationalist called Black Hand to try and assassinate the Duke….they placed themselves along the way…they had strapped explosives to their bodies, carried loaded revolvers and were all equipped with cyanide so they could commit suicide rather than be caught.
As the motorcade rolled along the Appel Quay, a major street running through the centre of Sarajevo, a Bosnian Serb named Nedeljko Čabrinović threw a bomb toward the archduke’s car. The driver was alert and sharp, he quickly managed to accelerate out of the way, and the bomb hit the vehicle behind, injuring several people.
Instead of cancelling the program, Ferdinand decided to act brave and continued his day schedule. They reached the city hall, met people, Ferdinand gave his speech. After Franz Ferdinand made his speech and tended to some official business, he wanted to visit the injured adjutant in the hospital before leaving town.
For security reasons, it was decided that the motorcade should proceed out of the city via the Appel Quay, rather than take its planned route along Franz Joseph Street and into the narrow streets of Sarajevo’s bazaar district.
As chance could have it, the drivers of the cars were Czech and they were being given direction in German. Neither did they understand the instructions nor did anyone bothered to translate them.
As a result, the first car turned onto Franz Joseph Street, followed by the second car, carrying Franz Ferdinand. Amazingly, this wrong turn took them right to where Gavrilo Princip (another of the original party of seven) had stationed himself along the originally published route for the motorcade.
Ferdinand’s security, realising that the Drivers have taken a wrong turn, yelled at the driver that he had taken a wrong turn. The driver, shocked by the yelling, braked the car to a stop……right in front of Princip.
Princip, also confused and shocked by the ease of the opportunity, recovered quickly and fired…… two shots. The shots were perfect; Ferdinand was hit at a point-blank range above the heart, killing Ferdinand on the spot.
This assassination would provide the necessary spark and a nudge to an already fragile balance of power in Europe.
A month after Ferdinand’s death, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.
By 1914, the great powers of Europe were divided into two coalitions: the Triple Entente, consisting of France, Russia, and Britain; and the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. Russia felt it necessary to back Serbia and approved partial mobilisation after Austria-Hungary shelled the Serbian capital of Belgrade on 28 July. Full Russian mobilisation was announced on the evening of 30 July; the following day, Austria-Hungary and Germany did the same, while Germany demanded Russia demobilise within twelve hours. When Russia failed to comply, Germany declared war on Russia on 1 August in support of Austria-Hungary, the latter following suit on 6 August; France ordered full mobilisation in support of Russia on 2 August.
And the First World War was on….
It would take only a single crisis—the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, by a young Bosnian Serb nationalist in Sarajevo—to push the continent’s six major powers into World War I, which devastated the continent and killed some 17 million soldiers and civilians.
Read on….the story continues to become even more interesting….
As we all know that Germany lost the war eventually and that lead to the treaty of Versailles. A treaty in which Germany was humiliated, stripped of its economic abilities, its military was largely disbanded, it was forced to sign the Article 231, later became known as the War Guilt clause. The treaty required Germany to disarm, make ample territorial concessions, and pay reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente powers. In 1921 the total cost of these reparations was assessed at 132 billion gold marks, roughly equivalent to US$442 billion in 2020).
The German economy went almost bankrupt, the unemployment rate shot thru the roof, German Mark became almost a useless currency. In other words, the life of a German citizen became hell…
Result: Germans became more and more upset due to the series of humiliations being piled on them.
The country was ripe and desperate for a saviour….in walks Hitler….
People loved him; he made all the right promises in the right way….it felt that Germany will once again get what it deserves.
Soon, he was the Dictator of Germany…started what eventually became World War II.
When WW II ended, Europe got divided between Capitalists (led by the US) and Communist (led by USSR).
Cold war happened, leading to ever more dangerous weapons including Nuclear weapons being created, eventually leading to the collapse of USSR, causing the US to become the only Superpower. This allowed the US to start wars in the Arab region, leading to creating of Terror Organizations (that was the only way radical Islamists could retaliate), World Trade Centre and other acts of terror causing deaths of thousands of innocents all over the world including India.
USSR’s demise led to the rise of China and rest….as we say is history….
Now, let me do what is called a rapid flashback (used in movies quite often)….
If Ferdinand had not travelled in an unsecured car
…and the driver could speak German
…and he had not taken the wrong turn
…and the would-be assassin had not been exactly there at the exact same spot
…and he had missed the aim
…and Ferdinand had not been killed
…and the WW 1 had not started, and Germany was not humiliated thru treaty of Versailles
…and Hitler had not come to power
…and the WW2 had not happened
…and the world had not gotten divided into Capitalists and Communists
…and the cold war and making of dangerous weapons had not happened
…and the US had not become the only global superpower
…and the US had not tried to play dirty in the Arab world
…and Terror groups had not risen
…and terrorism had not engulfed the world
…and China had not become a rival to the US
….and, and and even more and…
WHAT WOULD THE WORLD HAVE LOOKED LIKE TODAY…..
I am sure I can’t give you a good answer to my own question, but I can tell you one thing for sure……
The world would have been very different from what it is now….geopolitical, economical and otherwise….
This is what I meant when I talked about the butterfly effect at the beginning of this article…
As they say, a butterfly fluttering her wings in India can cause a hurricane in Canada….
Meanwhile, please do like, comment, share and subscribe to my blog…
Signing off till next time…..Salute’