Tuesday, June 22, 2004

The Browning Pistol That Sent Civilization Back to the Stone Age

Pistol found that killed 8.5 million people


BERLIN -- The Browning pistol that killed Archduke Franz Ferdinand and sparked the crisis leading to World War I has been discovered gathering dust in a Jesuit community house in Austria.

The weapon is going on display in the Vienna Museum of Military History in time for the 90th anniversary of the assassination of the heir to the Austrian empire and his wife, Sophie. Gavrilo Princip, a student from Belgrade, fired seven shots as they were driven through Sarajevo on June 28, 1914.

The shooting led to World War I, which by one estimate resulted in 8.5 million deaths.

For decades the murder weapon, serial number 19074, was in the possession of a community of Jesuits in Styria, southern Austria. They inherited it from a close friend of the archduke and his wife.

A Jesuit priest, Anton Puntigam, gave the couple the last rites and later made public his intention of opening a museum in memory of the archduke. But the chaos of the war foiled his plans.

On the priest's death in 1926, the objects were offered to the archduke's family, which declined to take them. They remained out of sight until recent publicity about the 90th anniversary.

Read the Whole Story at the Chicago Sun-Times

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