Intelligence collection is one factor that might have prevented the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. If the authorities learned of the assassins’ plot in advance, they could have made arrests before the plans were put in play. Instead, Serbian military intelligence officials were among the conspirators.
Improved security on the day of the archduke’s tour of Sarajevo might also have saved his life and that of his wife, as well as prevented other damage. Even after another car in the motorcade was bombed, the police allowed Ferdinand and his wife, Duchess Sophie, to resume riding, which put them in harm’s way.
At the time of the assassination in 1914, there were already alliances among European powers and the militant’s intended to attack other prominent figures. Given the volatile situation throughout Europe, including Russia, the escalation of international conflict was very likely. If a different incident had occurred elsewhere, it would just as likely have led to large-scale war.
The Black Hand, also called Unification or Death, and the Young Bosnia were two militant organizations involved in assassination planning. The groups supported separation from Austria-Hungary in favor of unified Yugoslavia and unified Serbia. Both organizations had been operating since the turn of the twentieth century and had engaged in other violent activities. The intelligence forces that monitored their activities failed to detect the specific plans to assassinate several different government officials.
On the day of Ferdinand’s visit, a motorcade took his car and several others on a tour with several preset stops. Ferdinand’s car proceeded to its next destination. Rather than cancel any further activities, the police allowed him to remain in public view and mistakenly sent him along the original, rather than the altered, route. These failures placed him in danger, and the assassin, Gavrilo Princip, took full advantage of these errors.
Franz Ferdinand was not the only possible target. If that plot had been foiled or he had lived, the militants would almost certainly have targeted another prominent elite. The underlying tensions among countries were at the boiling point. Alliance develop more than twenty years earlier were put to the test in responding to this event. Armed conflict between Germany and Russia was almost certain to increase as a response to any provocation.