Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Most Evil Man in History: Dragutin Dimitrijević

The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was over 37 million. There were over 16 million deaths and 20 million wounded ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.

Dragutin Dimitrijević was born in Belgrade in 1876. At sixteen Dimitrijević went to the Belgrade Military Academy. A brilliant student, Dimitrijević was recruited into the General Staff of the Serbian Army immediately after his graduation.
Captain Dimitrijević and a group of junior officers planned the assassination of the autocratic and unpopular king of Serbia. On 11 June 1903, the group stormed the royal palace and killed both King Alexander and his wife Queen Draga. During the attack Dimitrijević was badly wounded, and, although he eventually recovered, the three bullets from the encounter were never removed from his body.
The Serbian parliament described Dimitrijević as "the saviour of the fatherland" and he was appointed Professor of Tactics at the Military Academy. He visited Germany and Russia where he studied the latest military ideas. During the Balkan Wars (1912–13), Dimitrijević's military planning helped the Serbian Army achieve several important victories.
 
Dragutin Dimitrijević Apis (right) and his associates.
Dimitrijević's main concern was what he viewed as the liberation of all South Slavs, especially Serbs, from Austria-Hungary. Although Serbia was already an independent country, many Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Vojvodina were still under Austro-Hungarian rule. Dimitrijević, who used the codename Apis, became leader of the secret Black Hand group. In 1911 Dimitrijević organised an attempt to assassinate Emperor Franz Josef. When this failed, Dimitrijević turned his attention to the heir to the throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Dimitrijević was concerned about Ferdinand's plans to grant concessions to the South Slavs, fearing that, if this happened, a unified Serbian state would be more difficult to achieve.
A Monument to Evil  Dragutin Dimitrijevć "Apis", Tomb in Memorial park of Zeitenlik, Thessaloniki.
When Dimitrijević heard that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was planning to visit Sarajevo in June 1914, he sent three members of the Young Bosnia group, Gavrilo Princip, Nedeljko Čabrinović, Trifko Grabež and four others from Serbia to assassinate him. At this time, Dimitrijević was Chief of Serbian Military Intelligence.
Unknown to Dimitrijević, major Vojislav Tankosić was informing Nikola Pašić, the prime minister of Serbia about the plot. Although Pašić supported the main objectives of the Black Hand group, he did not want the assassination to take place, as he feared it would lead to a war with Austria-Hungary. He therefore gave instructions for Gavrilo Princip, Nedeljko Čabrinović and Trifko Grabež to be arrested when they attempted to leave the country. However, his orders were not implemented, and the three men arrived in the Condominium of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where they joined forces with fellow conspirators, Muhamed Mehmedbašić, Danilo Ilić, Vaso Čubrilović, Cvjetko Popović, Miško Jovanović and Veljko Čubrilović.
After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June 1914, several Black Hand members, under interrogation by the Austrian authorities, claimed that three men from Serbia (Dimitrijević, Milan Ciganović, and Major Voja Tankosić) had organised the plot.
On July 23, 1914, the Austro-Hungarian government sent its July Ultimatum to the Serbian government with a lengthy list of ten different demands. In his response on July 25, 1914, Nikola Pašić, the Serbian prime minister, accepted all the points of the ultimatum except point #6, demanding Serbia to allow an Austrian delegation to participate in a criminal investigation against those participants in the conspiracy that were present in Serbia. Three days later the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia.
In 1916, Dimitrijević was promoted to colonel.[1]
Nikola Pašić decided to get rid of the most prominent members of the Black Hand movement, by then officially disbanded. Dimitrijević and several of his military colleagues were arrested and tried on false charges blaming them with attempted assassination of regent Aleksandar I Karadjordjevic. On May 23, 1917, following the so-called Salonika Trial, Dimitrijević was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. A month later, on June 24,1917 he was executed by firing squad.
In 1953, Dimitrijević and his co-defendants were all retried by the Supreme Court of Serbia and found not guilty, because there was no proof for their alleged participation in the assassination plot.

Wikipedia

Nicholas II, Czar of Russia, was executed along with his family by the Bolsheviks.  Nicholas was the instigator of the Hague Conventions, precursor of the Geneva Conventions.  Which established and outlawed war crimes, atrocities and crimes against humanity.

Dragutin Dimitrijević was guilty of lighting the fuse which ignited World War I.  A name which live in infamy. For some horrible reason even the assassin who brought this nightmare upon the world has been memorialized:

The house where Gavrilo Princip lived in Sarajevo was destroyed during World War I. After the war, it became a museum in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was conquered by Germany in 1941 and Sarajevo became part of Fascist Croatia. The Croatian Ustaše destroyed the house again. After the establishment of Communist Yugoslavia in 1944, the house of Gavrilo Princip became a museum again and there was another museum dedicated to him within the city of Sarajevo. During the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, the house of Gavrilo Princip was destroyed a third time by the government; no attempts to rebuild it have yet been announced. The Gavrilo Princip museum has been turned into a museum dedicated to Archduke Ferdinand and the Habsburg monarchy. Prior to the 1990s the site on the pavement on which Princip stood to fire the fatal shots was marked by embossed footprints. These were removed as a consequence of the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and the perception of Princip as having been a Serb nationalist. Later, a simple wooden memorial was placed near the site of the assassination with the words "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in Bosnian, Serbian and English. There is a plaque in front of the museum at the spot where Gavrilo Princip stood when he fired the shots.

One of the most evil acts in the mankind is not something to celebrate, shame on anyone who so chooses.

13 comments:

Dmitryi Yeremin said...

I am sorry to say, but your essay borders on naivite and ignorance of a fifth grader, who can place the start of one of the most devastating wars in recent history onto the shoulders of one man. Yes, Col. Dimitrijevic was a very complicated man, but he was fighting for the freedom of his people, Serbs and slavics in general. I am not planning to go into lengthy discussions of all different precursors and factors which have predicted the imminence of this tragic war, some going as far back as early 1870's with unification of Germany and Bismark's realpolitik. I would appreciate that before labeling someone as the most evil person in history, you would please brush up on the history of Europe from 1860's leading all the way up to July Crisis - as there is a wealth of information on this topic, from leading scholars throughout the century, otherwise, per your train of thought, we can designate likes of George Washington, Robert E. Lee, and Abraham Lincoln as the most evil people of, say, American history. Colonel Dimitrijevic has done not much more but to light one of many fuses that were already litten across the Europe, from Britain to Germany, from France to Austria. His only misfortune was, that his fuse burned through faster than the others.

Joe said...

Well said Dmitryi.

Una said...

Thank you Dmitryi! I am Apis1s grand gran daughter, and as the most of the Serbs, I am sick and tired of this misinterpretation of history and western ignorance. Thanks once again!

Anonymous said...

Tekst koji je napisan je toliko konfuzan,nabijen sa istorijskim faktima da na kraju ne znamo sta je istina a sta imaginacija !Proverite svoje informacije ko je ko u prici!Ispada da svako tumaci na svoj nacin, Dimitrijevic je BIO i OSTACE heroj u srpskoj istoriju!

Steven Ramirez said...

Amazing. . .100 years later and Serbs still do not take responsibility for the assassination that started it all. World War I was not inevitable folks anymore than nuclear holocaust was inevitable in October 1962. The world spins from crisis to crisis. Managing the crises takes men of courage, restraint, principle and brilliance.

The assassination of Franz Ferdinand evinced none of this by any involved--that is why the conspiracy of Apis triggered worldwide conflagration.

Serbia should have arrested the assassins and handed them over to the Austrians in accordance with law.

Maya said...

Dear Steven, go back and read history again. Serbia did handed it to Austria and Princip was convicted to death and killed in Terezin, former Austrian-Hungarian Empire,today Czech Republic territory.
I am impressed with amount of ignorance in this text and yours. Other question for you, if Austria attacked Serbia (for killing Ferdinand) why would in the Earth they have attacked France and Russia. The truth is Austrians wanted the war, not against the small Serbia, but against France and Russia way more powerful and rich countries.
Amazing...100 years later west still does not want to admit that almost all wars are consequences of its greedy and desire to have colonies.
Take care and do not judge to any nation not knowing their history and legacy.Come to Serbia, live with us, learn about us and than say something. The same advice I would give to the author of this very very stupid article.

Russell Rooster said...

Oh okay. You use Wikipedia as a source and then draw a conclusion that this guy was the most evil man in history?1
Oh yes, I really think he was a genocidal maniac like Hitler and the Nazis (en sarc).

You could at least try reading Wikipedia pages from a language other than English (where it can be edited by any dumb American) let alone use sources that aren't Wikipedia and might have a shred of reliability and credibility.

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. The Serbs had suffered for centuries under Habsburg and Ottoman rulers, so do try and think through motives through those eyes. And have you ever read a biography that described his personality and character?
The accounts I read about him were that he was very intelligent, articulate, charismatic and good-humoured. Ever thought that he may have been doing what he sensed was his duty for the greater good?

Russell Rooster said...

Oh and Steven Ramirez needs to get a clue!

The Serbian government offered complete cooperation with the Austro-Hungarian empire. They got no response.
Instead they were presented with 14 demands that were designed to be impossible and rejected. Yet Serbia agreed to all but one (where they gave up sovereignty).

The Austrians, not the Serbians, began the war. Even if the nation of Serbia were much responsible for the assassination (which is a long stretch), there was still no justification for war.

Britain didn't declare war on Ireland when the IRA murdered Mountbatten, so how was Austria justified in declaring war against Serbia?

Brian Keith O'Hara said...

We aren't talking about the Serbian government. We are talking an intelligence officer, who took it upon himself to overthrow his King, to whom he had sworn loyalty, for his own ends, through an organization that he created, The Black Hand. In to the powder keg that was pre-World War I Europe, introduce a man who cares about no one and nothing beyond what he wants. The world had been teetering on the brink of a great war since the beginning of the Balkan Wars, because Europe's Leaders feared the consequences of such a war. Into that morass steps Apis, who was never troubled by the millions of dead. If you have a heart and conscience, he is no hero, even if you are Pro-Serbia. While the others may have done stupid things, it was his lack of humanity, which led him to light the explosion which wiped out a generation. Without him there would never have been a Stalin or a Hitler. Evil only leads to further evil. To me, there was no great war. It is a tale of stupidity, arrogance and selfishness. And it all started with Apis.

Anonymous said...

I think that your thesis is mostly true, Brian Keith O'Hara. Perhaps Apis was not the most evil man in history, but he was one of the most evil ones. What is most ridicilous, many Serbs are celebrating him as a hero and a great patriot. An officer who has sworn to obey his King, then betrays his King, kills him and his wife and he's still considered to be great patriot? There are many of such examples of weirdness in Serbian psychology. Serbians always preferred the ruthless, violent people as their leaders, like Knjaz (Prince) Mihajlo Obrenovic, who came to power by organising assassination of Karadjordje (Black George), popular leader who led the uprising against Ottoman rule. Another example was Slobodan Milosevic, the ruthless nationalistic leader who destroyed federal Yugoslavia and started a war to create Greater Serbia, causing the death of 80000 people in Bosnia, 21000 in Croatia. Serbian territory has always been the fertile ground for extreme ideas, or better said, extreme actions without much thinking where these actions might lead them. For example, claims that Apis organised the assassination in order to liberate the Serbs from Austro-Hungarian rule, were only cheap excuse, because the Serbs were the minority of population in Croatia and Bosnia. Why the Croats and Bosnians didn't start uprising? I believe that Croats and Bosnians preferred evolution rather than revolution, knowing that revolution might cause heavy bloodshed. On the other hand, Apis seemed to be intelligent man, so why he ignorred the risk, that the assassination might lead to war which might devastate Serbia? He was a fanatic, and I believe that he was encouraged by Russia, the empire which has been humiliated in Crimea war and wanted revenge against Western powers. Also, Russia wanted expansion to South-East of Europe, to reach the warm waters of Mediteranian. There is another analogy: Just short time before Milosevic started devastating wars to submit his neighbours to his will, he sent the Chief of Serbian General Staff to Moscow to consult the Russians. I think that Russians gave them green light to start the war, promising military, economic and diplomatic support. When Serbia started the war, they were submitted under international sanctions. But, in spite of the sanctions, they were supplied with fuel, weaponry, ammunition, through many smuggling routes. In 1999, during NATO intervention, Serbian air defense shot down American stealth plane F117, only one shot down in history. Was it sheer luck? No, I think they were supplied by Russian highly advanced surface-to-air missiles. Recently, we have witnessed Russian aggression against Ukraine, proving again that Russian expansionism is not only theory, but fact. Now, all they need to start large international conflict is to find more people like Apis, to help them with their insane plans.

Anonymous said...

This entire essay demonstrates not stupidity, as so many have been quick to claim, but rather a misunderstanding of the causes of World War One. The war should not be viewed as some sort of conspiracy or chain of deliberate events. It was a collective blunder by all the major European powers who failed to see the consequences of their seemingly negligible actions. When Dragutin planned the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, he could not possibly see a global conflict as the end result. He only imagined inciting a limited conflict with Austria-Hungary in which Serbia could gain territory. When Austria gave their ultimatum, they too were unaware. They only envisioned crippling a rising power that they saw as a threat to their state. The first world war began with the european powers blindly stumbling towards disaster as a chain of unforeseeable events progressed.

And also, Apis' coup in 1913, while not necessarily peaceful, was a necessity in undermining the authoritarian Oblevic dynasty.

Brian Keith O'Hara said...

I can remember seeing a cartoon from the 1880's, which showed Europe as powder keg, with the Balkans as a lit fuse. Some people got it even then.
I think I was 10 when I saw it.
I did research and learned about the Balkan Wars, the Ottoman Turks and Nicholas II's efforts to create the Hague Convention. Everyone knew these were dangerous times that they lived in, in response, everyone was maneuvering to create alliances, not to start a war, but to force their opponents to consider the scale of the carnage which would follow, so that no one sought to unleash the "dogs of war" because, in light of the horrendous slaughter of the American Civil War, no one knew for sure what the outcome would be.
Basically, you can use the poker analogy, everyone kept raising the stakes, hoping to keep everyone in the game(no one could afford to fold), but no one checks either.
But those who were intelligent enough, like Apis, they knew. I'm convinced that he knew exactly what he was doing and he knew exactly what the consequences were. All you have to do is read Nicholas II and his uncle Nicholas Nicholaevitch. They were horrified at the position Apis and Serbia had put them. The Tsar made a personal plea to the Kaiser, to stop the insanity. Of course, no one listened.
Apis acted entirely in Serbia's interest, the rest of the world be damned. And that is exactly what he accomplished.
The objection to his massacre of the Royal family has always been how bloody and vicious it was. He had sworn an oath to defend and protect the royal family. He broke that oath, acting like Bolsheviks would only a few years later. You could argue, if he had the support of the people, that sending them into exile, would give him what he wanted, an aggressive Serbian Government and King, but break his oath, exile would be offering protection to his King.

kulmthestatusquo said...

Servia's capital Belgrade should have received a nuclear bomb on 1999 so all these Serb apologists would stay silent forever. Clinton was a coward.