Who's Who - Dragutin Dimitrijevic

Photograph of Dragutin Dimitrijevic A founder member and leader of the Serbian Black Hand secret society, Dragutin Dimitrijevic (1877-1917), also known as 'Apis' (assigned to him as a youth on account of his energy: 'bee'), organised the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand which took place in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914.

An ardent nationalist - the English translation of the Black Hand society was 'Union or Death' (Ujedinjenje ili Smrt) - Dimitrijevic dedicated his life to the Greater Serbia cause, even while he served within the Serbian military as chief of the intelligence department.

Having first studied at Serbia's military academy Dimitrijevic was deemed sufficiently promising that he was promptly assigned to the General Staff.

Aside from the murder of Ferdinand, Dimitrijevic played a part in the assassination of Serbian King Alexander on 10 June 1903 (two years after another failed attempt), which ended the Obrenovic dynasty and brought Peter Karadjordjevic to the throne as King Peter I.  Dimitrijevic himself was shot three times during the assassination (although the shots were never recovered from his body).

Something of a professional terrorist, many of his intrigues never came to fruition (including an attempt in 1911 upon the life of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, Franz Josef), although his high profile successes with Alexander and Ferdinand ensured him of a certain fame.  Dimitrijevic however was careful not to form one of the conspirators who actually travelled to Sarajevo to murder Ferdinand: Gavrilo Princip actually fired the shots that killed the Austro-Hungarian heir.

Despite the gratitude owed to Dimitrijevic by the Karadjordjevic family - he was referred to as "the saviour of the fatherland" following the 1903 success - in 1917 King Peter's regent, Alexander, determined to suppress the Black Hand movement, for no particular known reason.  However it has been speculated that the Prince Regent and Prime Minister Pasic were considering negotiating a separate peace with Austria-Hungary and were fearful of Black Hand reprisals.

Following the crackdown Dimitrijevic was arrested, tried on 23 May 1917 - the outcome was predetermined - and shot at sunrise on 24 June 1917; it required some 20 shots before Dimitrijevic was confirmed dead.

Shrapnel comprised steel balls ejected from shells upon detonation.

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