Cabrinovic, Nedjelko. (1895 -1916) One of the seven young men involved in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Cabrinovic, (pronounced, Chabrinovitch) was the son of an Austrian police spy. Young Cabrinovic led an unsettled and, at times, stormy life. He was not a very good student. At fourteen, he father made him quit school and seek a trade. Nedjelko was not a particularly good employee either. He held several jobs -- apprentice plumber, carpenter and typesetter. He was a quarrelsome employee. His health was poor, so he made his way to Belgrade where he found work in an anarchist print shop.
When his health improved, Cabrinovic returned to Sarajevo. He took a leading role in a typesetters strike in 1912 and got himself banished from Sarajevo. His health failing again, and again out of money, he returned to Belgrade.

Cabrinovic was at times a socialist, at other times an anarchist, and at still other times, a nationalist. His idealism and zeal remained strong, but quite unfocused. While frequenting the subversive coffee shop scene in Belgrade, he was recruited by a Major Tankosic to take part in a plot to kill Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir-apparent to the Austrian throne. To this end, he and two other Bosnian-Serbs (Princip and Grabez) were trained in bomb throwing and marksmanship at a base in Serbia. (See the Sarajevo article for a fuller description of the assassination.) The three were smuggled across the border, back into Bosnia, to meet Franz Ferdinand when he visited Sarajevo in late June, 1914.

On the fateful morning of June 28th, Cabrinovic was stationed in the crowds that lined the wide avenue -- Appel Quay. He threw his bomb, but failed to kill the Archduke. Cabrinovic then swallowed his poison and jumped over the stone retaining wall, into the River Miljacka. The poison was old, however, and only made him vomit. The river was only a few inches deep. He was taken into custody.

Princip, Cabrinovic and many others stood trial in October, 1914 for their crime. His statements gave motives that varied -- wanting to appear as heros, revenge for Bosnian poverty, being a martyr to the cause of Greater Serbia, etc. "...we wanted to do good..."
Unlike Princip, Cabrinovic expressed tearful remorse for his acts. The humanity of his victim apparently never broke through the youthful wall of idealism until he heard Franz Ferdinand's words to his dying wife read in the court. "We have profound regrets...we did not know that the late Franz Ferdinand was a father."

Cabrinovic was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He died in January of 1916 of tuberculosis.


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Related Articles in World War I Document Archive

The Black Hand
Constitution of the Black Hand
Sarajevo, June 28, 1914
Biography of Colonel Dimitrijvic, the mastermind.
Biography of Franz Ferdinand, the slain Archduke.
Biography of Sophie, Franz Ferdinand's wife.
Biography of Princip, the gunman.
Biography of Grabez, the third Belgrade man.