Forgotten Names Recalled: The Singapore Cenotaph Project

28/06/14

Today marks the centenary of the 'Dreadful Outrage' that would plunge the world in four-and-a-half years of conflict and enormous suffering.

In Singapore, because of distance and time differences, the news did not appear until Monday, 29 June 1914. Under the title 'Dreadful Outrage' the Straits Times reported:
   
Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his morganatic wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, on the day they died.
Photograph courtesy of the Imperial War Museum

What followed was the Reuter's news telegram dated 28 June 1914 then Der Ostasiatische Lloyd Telegram from Berlin, also dated 28 June 1914.  The latter gave the details:
 
 
A boy from the Grammar School, aged about seventeen, named Printisch, apparently a Servian, rushed up to the carriage and fired at the occupants with a Browning pistol. He first shot the Archduke through the head and then the Archduchess through the body, both shots proving fatal. The victims expried on the way back to Konak.

In fact his name was Princip and he was 19 years, 11 months and 3 days old. Those 27 days saved him from the death penalty. Pity he inflicted so much death on the rest of the world.

There is nothing glorious in shooting an unarmed man in the head and a pregnant woman in the body. Germany wanted a war, it would have come at some point,  but this young idiot did nothing more than provide an excuse for bad men to bring mayhem. He was a mislead fool, like many before and since, who think a gun will solve a problem and a protest has no consequences beyond satisfying their own manic delusions of righteousness.

Oppression is a terrible thing to live under, but he had no right to choose on behalf of his people, only himself. He'd have been better throwing himself under the wheels of the car to make his protest. Others, though abhorring their imperial masters, preferred life to death. He denied them their freedom to choose.

Have we seen any parallels in the world since 1914? Yes. Do we see them today? Yes. Will there be another 'Great War'? Probably. Each new generation has to learn from its own mistakes. His generation paid a dreadful price for his cowardly act. Misled young fools of today have the power to do the same.
                                                                                                                                                                                    
 
Rosemary Lim