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Dragutin Dimitrijević Apis
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Dragutin Dimitrijević (Serbian Cyrillic: Драгутин Димитријевић Апис) (also known as "The Bee", "Colonel Apis", "No. 6" or, most commonly, "Apis") (August 17, 1876 – 11, 24 or June 27, 1917) was a Serbian soldier and nationalist leader of the Black Hand group which assassinated Serbian King Aleksandar Obrenović in 1903 and Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria in 1914. The latter triggered the outbreak of World War I.
Dragutin Dimitrijević was born in Serbia in 1876. At sixteen Dimitrijević went to the Belgrade Military Academy. A brilliant student, Dimitrijević graduated from the academy with such a good record he was immediately recruited into the General Staff of the Serbian Army. An ardent nationalist, he decided to become a specialist in terrorism.
Captain Dimitrijević and a group of junior officers planned the assassination of the autocratic and unpopular king of Serbia. On 11 June 1903, the group stormed the royal palace and killed both King Alexander and his wife Queen Draga. During the attack Dimitrijević was badly wounded and although he eventually recovered, the three bullets from the encounter were never removed from his body.
The Serbian parliament described Dimitrijević as "the saviour of the fatherland" and he was appointed Professor of Tactics at the Military Academy. He visited Germany and Russia where he studied the latest military ideas. During the Balkan Wars (1912-13), Dimitrijević’s military planning helped the Serbian Army to achieve several important victories.
Dimitrijević’s main concern was the liberation of Serbia from Austro-Hungary. Dimitrijević, who used the codename Apis, became leader of the secret Black Hand group. In 1911 Dimitrijević organised an attempt to assassinate Emperor Franz Josef. When this failed, Dimitrijević turned his attention to the heir to the throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Dimitrijević was concerned about Ferdinand’s plans to grant concessions to the South Slavs, fearing that, if this happened, an independent Serbian state would be more difficult to achieve.
When Dimitrijević heard that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was planning to visit Sarajevo in June 1914, he sent three members of the Black Hand group, Gavrilo Princip, Nedeljko Čabrinović and Trifko Grabež from Serbia to assassinate him.
Unknown to Dimitrijević, Major Voja Tankosić was informing Nikola Pašić, the prime minister of Serbia about the plot. Although Pašić supported the main objectives of the Black Hand group, he did not want the assassination to take place as he feared it would lead to a war with Austro-Hungaria. He therefore gave instructions for Gavrilo Princip, Nedjelko Čabrinović and Trifko Grabež to be arrested when they attempted to leave the country. However, his orders were not implemented and the three men arrived in Bosnia-Herzegovina where they joined forces with fellow conspirators, Muhamed Mehmedbašić, Danilo Ilić, Vaso Čubrilović, Cvijetko Popović, Miško Jovanović and Veljko Čubrilović.
After Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated on June 28, 1914, several members of the Black Hand group under interrogation by the Austrian authorities claimed that three men from Serbia (Dimitrijević, Milan Ciganović, and Major Voja Tankosić) had organised the plot. On July 25, 1914, the Austro-Hungarian government demanded that the Serbian government arrest the men and send them to face trial in Vienna.
On July 25, 1914, Nikola Pašić, the prime minister of Serbia, told the Austro-Hungarian government that he was unable to hand over these three men as it "would be a violation of Serbia’s Constitution and criminal in law". Three days later the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia.
Nikola Pašić, out of fear for possible cooperation between Serbian opposition that was pan-Serbian not pro-Yugoslav and Dimitijevic’s military supporters decided to get rid of the most prominent members of the Black Hand movement, by then officially disbanded. Dimitrijević and several of his military colleagues were arrested. On May 23, 1917, Dimitrijević was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. A month later, on June 11, 24 or 27, he was executed by firing squad.
- David MacKenzie: Apis: the congenial conspirator. The life of Colonel Dragutin T. Dimitrijevic. Columbia University Press, New York 1989. ISBN 0-88033-162-3
- Milan Živanović: Solunski proces 1917. Savremena administracija, Beograd 1955.
Valentin Pikul: "To Have Honor" In this book the main character was friends with Apis and helped in the murder of Aleksandar Obrenović and his wife in 1903.
Subject: ApisGroup Novosti
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