Sunday 25 February 2018

Ivana Bacik's family link to Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Sarajevo assassination which sparked WWI

Ivana Bacik and Nessa Childers
A couple walk past a poster of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, in the Bosnian town of Visegrad (AP)
Actors dressed as Archduke Franz Ferdinand (L) and Countess Sophie Chotek take part in a performance in the town of Visegrad. Sarajevo marked 100 years on Saturday since the murder of an Austrian prince lit the fuse for World War One
Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic talks during the opening of Andricgrad village in Visegrad. Sarajevo marked the centennial on Saturday of Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand's murder that lit the fuse for World War One, offering a message of unity to a divided country and a continent tested by deep social and economic strife. Photo credit: REUTERS/Antonio Bronic
Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic (front C) talks during the opening of Andricgrad village in Visegrad
People put up a poster of Gavrilo Princip, the 19-year-old Bosnian Serb who gunned down Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 and lit the fuse for World War One, in Bosansko Grahovo, next to Princip's birth village in Obljaj. Bosnian Serbs will open the birth house of Gavrilo Princip in Obljaj on Saturday in honour of Princip, on the centenary of the assassination. Serbs see Princip as a heroic fighter for the freedom of all southern Slavs from centuries of imperial occupation over the Balkans while to others, he was a nationalist terrorist whose gunshot heralded four years of slaughter and suffering, as more than 10 million soldiers died and empires crumbled. Photo credit: REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic

Alan O’Keeffe

Centenary events marking the famous assassination in Sarajevo that started the First World War have stirred family memories for Dublin senator Ivana Bacik.

The Senator's great-grandfather was a top official assisting Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, during their fateful visit to the city.

"It came down as a bit of a family legend. I remember my grandmother speaking about it," said Senator Bacik (46).

Dr Jindrich 'Henry' Starch, the father of Senator Bacik's paternal grandmother Edith, had been travelling in the car directly behind the doomed couple's car in a cavalcade shortly before their assassination.


The Archduke and his wife were shot dead in their car by a 19-year-old Serbian nationalist. The Archduke was the heir to the throne of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and its ultimatum against Serbia triggered the start of World War One.

Events on Saturday in Sarajevo marked the 100th anniversary of the shooting of the royal couple on June 28, 1914. Dr Starch, a senior Czech official for the Austria-Hungarian Empire in Bosnia, was appointed as aide-de-camp to the duchess for the couple's visit.

Senator Bacik said: "The story has remained in our family through the years. I remember my grandmother Edith telling me the family stories and she was inclined to make light of it."

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