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On the 100th year anniversary of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Austrian television showed a dramatization of that event as told through the eyes of a government investigator. Available in America as Sarajevo, the original German title is Das Attentat – Sarajevo 1914.

The piece is filmed well, with nice period scenery, costumes, and firearms. A scene nears the end shows some beautiful period wargaming, with big painted blocks and arrows on a large map of Serbia.

The story itself mixes some interesting historical facts with pure, speculative fiction. It is a fact that the assassins appeared to have missed their mark. The initial attack, with a bomb, resulted in only minor injuries and the royal couple was taken to safety. The shooter only succeeded because a) the crown prince went back out on roughly the original route b) got lost along the way and c) stopped his car within a few feet of his ultimate assassin. It’s a series of errors that seems almost impossible.

In this version of the story, it is the “powers that be” that are behind the assassination of the Archduke. They simultaneously provoke an excuse to attack Serbia (itself having factual basis enough) and eliminate a moderate voice in the future ruling of the empire (sounds made up.) An investigator is assigned to get to the “truth” behind the assassination, with the expectation that all fingers will point to the Serbian government. When the investigator begins to see signs of the conspiracy, we come to see that all along he has been a tool in the plot to launch a war.

If viewed as pure fiction, I found it to be an entertaining tale of intrigue. If you begin to ascribe modern political meaning to the story, it might leave a bad taste behind. To be generous, a version of the story that portrays the Serbs as the victim may just be a revisionist counterpoint to several decades of the Serbs being Europe’s villain. At its worst, it seems to be trying to conflate the Nazi’s, the Austrian Empire, the Kaiser’s Germany, as all versions of the same evil confounding the good struggle of the workers to be free of their capitalist oppressors.

I stuck with the pure fiction, and just enjoyed the tale.

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