In May 1911, ten men in Serbia formed the Black Hand Secret Society. Early members included Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevic, the chief of the Intelligence Department of the Serbian General Staff, Major Voja Tankosic and Milan Ciganovic.
The main objective of the Black Hand was the creation, by means of violence, of a Greater Serbia. Its stated aim was: "To realize the national ideal, the unification of all Serbs. This organisation prefers terrorist action to cultural activities; it will therefore remain secret."
Dragutin Dimitrijevic, who used the codename, Apis, established himself as the leader of the Black Hand. In 1911 he sent a member to assassinate Emperor Franz Josef. When this failed, Dimitrijevic turned his attention to General Oskar Potiorek, Governor of the Austrian provinces of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Dimitrijevic recruited Muhamed Mehmedbasic to kill Potiorek with a poisoned dagger. However, Mehmedbasic returned to Belgrade after failing to carry out the task.
By 1914 there were around 2,500 members of the Black Hand. The group was mainly made up of junior army officers but also included lawyers, journalists and university professors. About 30 of these lived and worked in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
I, in joining the organisation "Union or Death", swear by the Sun that warms me, by the Earth that nourishes me, before God, by the blood of the ancestors, on my honour and on my life, that I will from this moment until my death be faithful to the laws of this organisation; and that I will always be ready to make any sacrifice for it.
I swear before God, on my honour and on my life, that I will take all the secrets of this organisation into my grave with me.
Article 1. For the purpose of realising the national ideals - the Unification of Serbdom - an organization is hereby created, whose members may be any Serbian irrespective of sex, religion, place or birth, as well as anybody else who will sincerely serve this idea.
Article 2. The organisation gives priority to the revolutionary struggle rather than relies on cultural striving, therefore its institution is an absolutely secret one for wider circles.
Article 3. The organization bears the name: "Ujedinjenje ili Smrt".
Article 4. In order to carry into effect its task the organization will do the following things:
(1) Following the character of its raison d etre it will exercise its influence over all the official factors in Serbia - which is the Piemont of Serbdom - as also over all the strata of the State and over the entire social life in it:
(2) It will carry out a revolutionary organisation in all the territories where Serbians are living:
(3) Beyond the frontiers, it will fight with all means against all enemies of this idea:
(4) It will maintain friendly relations with all the States, nations, organisations, and individual persons who sympathise with Serbia and the Serbian race:
(5) It will give every assistance to those nations and organisations who are fighting for their own national liberation and unification.
Article 5. The supreme authority is vested in the Supreme Central Directorate with its headquarters at Belgrade. Its duty will be to see that the resolutions are carried into effect.
Article 6. The number of members of the Supreme Central Directorate is unlimited - but in principle it should be kept as low as possible.
Article 7. The Supreme Central Directorate shall include, in addition to the members from the Kingdom of Serbia, one accredited delegate from each of the organisations of all the Serbian regions: (1) Bosnia and Herzegovina, (2) Montenegro, (3) Old Serbia and Macedonia, (4) Croatia, Slovenia and Symria (Srem), (5) Voyvodina, (6) Sea-coasts.