Gavrilo Princip was a Bosnian Serb, one of the participants in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 1914. These notes, written by psychiatrist Dr Martin Pappenheim in the middle of the war, give some of the lesser-known details of Princip’s life. They shed new light on Princip’s personality.
After the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, Princip was put on trial in Sarajevo together with the other assassinators. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison on 28 October 1914. On 2 December he was transferred to the military prison in Terezin, where he was visited several times by Pappenheim. Gavrilo Princip died of tuberculosis in prison on 28 April 1918.
STENOGRAPHIC NOTES OF ASSISTANT PROFESSOR DR. MARTIN PAPPENHEIM ON FREQUENT TALKS WITH GAVRILO PRINCIP IN THE PERIOD FROM FEBRUARY TO JUNE 1916: ON HISTORY OF HIS LIFE, ON ASSASSINATION AND ON HIS POLITICAL AND SOCIAL IDEAS.
Princip Gavrilo, 19th February 1916, Prison
27th July 1894
From 5 December 1914 here. All the time solitary confinement. Three days ago shackles removed. Father a peasant, in business too. Father a calm man, doesn’t drink, father lives in Grahovo, Bosnia. No illnesses in the family. Five grades of school in Sarajevo, then three grades in Belgrade, no final examination. Was always healthy. Knew nothing of serious injuries until assassination. Then injuries on the head and everywhere. Then lost consciousness. Scarlet fever. No bedwetting. In gymnasium walked in sleep. Paced the room. Just for one year. Was woken up. In the third grade. Never lost consciousness. Always an excellent pupil up to fifth grade. Fell in love. Began to understand ideals, etc. Left school in Sarajevo in 1911. Then the nationalist demonstrations against Tisza. Was among pupils in front. Was treated badly by professors. Read a lot of anarchist, socialist, nationalist pamphlets, fiction and all. Bought books himself; didn’t talk of these things. Father not occupied with political matter. Seldom with other pupils, always alone. Always still, sentimental child. Always serious, with books, pictures, etc. As child not specially religious. Marked the year 1911 as critical. Went to Belgrade alone, spoke of it to none, father and brother didn’t want to send money. Promised to be good pupil. Then it was agreed he should stay in Belgrade.
Father 54, mother 45. Two brothers, one 26, one 18. Six more died, as children up to 10. He the fourth child. Brothers a pupil and a merchant. Brothers quite ordinary men. Love for girl remained, yet he never wrote to her. Said he met her in fourth grade; never kissed his ideal love; talked of it no more. Studied as private pupil. No friends; alone, always in libraries. Wanted to go to Balkan War, considered too weak. Spent several months each year at his brother’s near Sarajevo. Passed eighth grade examination not until May 1914. After assassination injuries on head and back and everywhere. Took potassium cyanide, but was weak and vomited.
In solitary confinement very bad, without books, nothing to read, no communication. Used to constant reading. Misses reading most down here. Sleeps at night four hours at most. Dreams a lot. Beautiful dreams. Of life, of love, nothing horrible. Thinks of all, especially of circumstances in fatherland. Heard something of war. Heard a tragic thing, that Serbia is no more. His life is hard anyway, Serbia is no more, my people will have a rough time. World War was inevitable, didn’t depend on that. He was an ideal man, wanted to avenge his people. The motives, revenge and love. All his youth in such a revolutionary mood. Talks of anarchist pamphlets that led him to assassination.
Thinks differently today, thinks social revolution is possible in entire Europe, things change. Doesn’t want to talk about it in front of the warden. Not ill-treated. All behave correctly. A month ago admitted to trying to commit suicide, wanted to hang himself with a towel. It was stupid to have hope. Have a wound on the chest and arm (fungus). A life like mine is impossible.
At that time, around noon, could not eat, was in a bad mood, suddenly the idea to hang himself. Would do it, had he a chance. Thinks of parents and all, hears nothing about them, confesses his longing. It exists in every man.