Vaso Cubrilovic

Vaso Cubrilovic

Vaso Cubrilovic was born in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1897. He was a student in Sarajevo when Danilo Ilic recruited him and his friend, Cvijetko Popovic, to help assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand. His brother, Veljko Cubrilovic, was also involved in the plot.

On Sunday, 28th June, 1914, Franz Ferdinand and Sophie von Chotkovato were assassinated by Gavrilo Princip. Princip and Nedjelko Cabrinovic were captured and interogated by the police. They eventually gave the names of their fellow conspirators. Muhamed Mehmedbasic managed to escape to Serbia but Vaso, Danilo Ilic, Veljko Cubrilovic, Cvijetko Popovic and Misko Jovanovic were arrested and charged with treason and murder.

Eight of the men charged with treason and the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand were found guilty. Under Austro-Hungarian law, capital punishment could not be imposed on someone who was under the age of twenty when they had committed the crime. Nedjelko Cabrinovic, Gavrilo Princip and Trifko Grabez therefore received the maximum penalty of twenty years. Vaso got 16 years and Cvijetko Popovic 13 years. Misko Jovanovic, Danilo Ilic and Veljko Cubrilovic, who helped the assassins kill the royal couple, were executed on 3rd February, 1915.

Vaso was released when the Allies defeated the Central Powers in November 1918. He became a teacher in Sarajevo and went on to become a university professor in Belgrade. After the Second World War, Vaso served as Minister of Forests in Yugoslavia's government.

Primary Sources

(1) Veljko Cubrilovic, statement in court (October, 1914)

I am an opponent of assassinations and revolutions for the traces they leave behind are too bloody. That is the case here. I believe in the evolution of the spirit, of ideas; I rely on progress, not on action.

(2) Dr. Rudolf Zistler defended Veljko Cubrilovic at his trial (October, 1914)

We must not lose sight of the fact that this is a historic trial; that the eyes of the whole world look on this illustrious court today; and that the world waits curiously for the sentence that will be pronounced in this hall of judgment.

Future generations and historians will speak of this trial. For this reason, the sentences must not be brutal; they must be just and endure as a bright page in the annals of criminal jurisprudence, before the tribunal of civilization, and of posterity.