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Young Bosnia

Arrest of members of the "Young Bosnia" movement

The assassination if the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo by the Bosnian Serb student Gavrilo Princip changed the course of world history. And yet, as Donia writes it "had local roots in nationalist students movements that flourished in Sarajevo after 1910."

Like similar movements in colonial societies, Sarajevo's student movements arose in schools the government had built to promote secular education....Many were passionately preoccupied with ideologies of the time, drinking deeply at the well of ideologies such as romantic nationalism, racism, anarchism, communism, socialism, and nihilism. The obsession with ideology led many to conclude that their convictions demanded individual action. In their world, theory demanded practice. The engaged student radicals of the time practiced the "propaganda of the deed", an apt phrase the Habsburg prosecutors used at the assassins' trial in October 1914.


....After the assassination, Bosnian students movements of the early twentieth century became labeled as "Young Bosnia." It is something of a misnomer. No single organization carried the name Young Bosnia, and the term was rarely used by contemporaries. The pre-war Bosnian student movements were diverse, amorphous, and transient. Their participants embraced no common ideology, had no unified view of appropriate strategy or tactics, and did not coalesce into a united organization....Despite their lack of ideological cohesion, most Bosnian students professed devotion to some form of Yugoslavism, the belief that Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes should unite and form their own South Slav state. That ideology was inherently revolutionary to Habsburg officials, for its implementation would dictate realigning state boundaries and an end to the monarchy's existing political arrangements...Serb and Croat societies disagreed fundamentally on its meaning. Croat students, acting under the aegis of student groups in Zagreb, formed societies that looked to Croatia as the center of a future South Slav polity. Serb students formed organizations devoted to the idea that a future Yugoslavia would be an extension of the Serbian kingdom. Not until after Serbian victories in the two Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913 did Serb youth come to believe that the pendulum was swinging in favor of a Serbia-centered variant of Yugoslavism.


Sarajevo: A Biography. 2005. Robert Donia [C. Hurst & Co]

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