#KU_WWI Sentiments: the Good, the Bad & the Retweeted

When it comes to using social media to explore historical topics, one is never quite sure how it’s going to turn out. The crowd sourcing aspect of Twitter is by nature unpredictable — and once it’s out on the internet, it’s out there for good.

It was just a few months ago that #KU_WWI staff sat down to talk about these issues. Our anxieties ranged from, “What if the technology doesn’t work?” to “What if we incite an international incident by inadvertently offending an eastern european country?” But our biggest concerns were, “Would anyone take notice?” and “Would they find it informative and useful?”

Rather than guess, we thought we’d just go ahead and ask.

Over the past few months we’ve been collecting your feedback into what we like to call, #Sentiments: The Good, The Bad & The Retweeted — thoughts and opinions from the twitterverse. And in this blog post, we thought we’d share a summary.

Read the complete archive of #KU_WWI Sentiments on Storify.

Almost from the beginning, the project had a faithful following who helped spread the word.

Your promotion caught the eye of local media and resulted in our first press coverage.

By the end of the project, we were featured on Kansas Public Radio’s KPR Presents, Channel6 News, and had been the subject of 18 online and print articles including in the Associated Press and The Washington Post.

The project reached a global audience who tweeted about #KU_WWI in multiple languages — Spanish, French, Bosnian, Serbian, Chinese, Russian and Czech.

As the LIVE Tweetenactment unfolded, quite a few of you stayed with us and watched as history happened as if LIVE on twitter.

That said, not everyone enjoyed the LIVE Tweetenactment. Negative feedback ranged from dubious to overtly offended by the project concept.

And a few good samaritans helped with grammar tips.

Some of your comments after the LIVE Tweetenactment were particularly poignant and insightful.

And by and large, your response to the #KU_WWI Twitter Project was overwhelmingly positive.

Preliminary reports indicate that the #KU_WWI Twitter Project had 456 contributors, generated 4,600 tweets, reached 623,900 unique twitter accounts, and created 3.4 million impressions throughout the entire twitterverse.

Thank you to everyone who made this project such a success!

The #KU_WWI Twitter Project is a collaboration among the Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies, the Ermal Garinger Academic Resource Center, European Studies Program, the departments of Germanic Languages & Literatures, History and Slavic Languages & Literatures, University Honors Program, Global Awareness Program, Hall Center for the Humanities, KU Libraries, KU Memorial Unions and Spencer Museum of Art. This project is also sponsored by the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City.

The University of Kansas Center for Russian, East European & Eurasian Studies is designated a Title VI National Resource Center for the study of Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia by the U.S. Department of Education.

This project is part of the University of Kansas centennial commemoration of World War I, coordinated by the European Studies Program. Learn more about participating units and upcoming programs at KUWWI.com.

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#KU_WWI #FirstWorldWarOrphans Tweetenactment

 

If Archduke Franz Ferdinand (@ArchdukeFranzi) and Duchess Sophie (@Duchess_Sophie) were the first casualties of World War I, then their three children were its first orphans. As a follow-up to the #KU_WWI LIVE Tweetenactment of the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, #FirstWorldWarOrphans features a collection of tweets from the perspectives of the Archduke’s daughter, Sophie Von Hohenberg (@Little_Zofie), and her tutor, Otto Lev Stanovsky (@Fr_Stanovsky), as they live through the aftermath of the assassination. The tweetenactment humanizes Archduke Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie as people and parents – through the eyes of their children we see their humanity rather than just their place in history.

Read the complete #FirstWorldWarOrphans Tweetenactment here.

#FirstWorldWarOrphans begins a couple of days before the June 28th assassination. It begins with the innocent perspective of a 12-year-old girl, the Archduke’s oldest child, Sophie Von Hohenberg, or as her family affectionately called her, Little Zophie.

 

Little Zophie’s tweets give us insight into the Archduke’s family life as well as highlight his passion for travel and hunting. By the time of his death, he had successfully hunted 274,889 animals and was widely considered one of the best shots in the empire.

 

Accurately illustrating the Archduke’s personality has been a challenge for #KU_WWI staff and tweetenactors. Publically he was known for being introverted and aloof, but more commonly he was described as brusque, arrogant, and even hot-tempered. He was also an avid art collector, had a sincere passion for architectural preservation, and traveled widely – even as far as America (King and Woolmans, The Assassination of the Archduke, pg 121-125). For the #KU_WWI Twitter Project we focused on the Archduke as a husband and father — while his public persona may remain controversial, there is little doubt as to his sincere adoration and devotion to his wife and children in his private life.

 

As stated in the #WhySarajevo and #All4USophie Tweetenactments Archduke Ferdinand’s marriage to Duchess Sophie was deemed morganatic, which meant that their children were barred from imperial succession. One of the benefits of this status was that they could raise their children however they saw fit, without the pressures and protocols of court. By all accounts, the couple were informal, loving and engaged – somewhat out of the norm for upper class Edwardian families in which nannies and private schools parented more than parents.

The tone of the tweetenactment changes abruptly when Zophie’s tutor, Otto Lev Stanovsky, receives a phone call informing him of the deaths of Archduke Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie in Sarajevo.

 

What follows over the next few days is an account of the children trying to fully understand the death of their parents and the horrible treatment they continued to receive from the imperial court.

 

Usually when an heir to a European monarchy dies, all the imperial houses of Europe go into official mourning and gather to attend the state funeral. For Archduke Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie, however, foreign representatives were not only not invited, but also actively turned back from the border (King and Woolmans, The Assassination of the Archduke, pg 224).

 

Otto Lev Stanovsky’s tweets specifically calls out Prince Alfred de Montenuovo, Lord Chamberlain, for the bizarre and bureaucratically petty funeral proceedings. Responsible for court protocol, Montenuovo had made a point of humiliating the morganatic couple in life and refused to let up after their death.

 

Originally, Montenouvo only made plans for the funeral and burial of Archduke Ferdinand, refusing to acknowledge Duchess Sophie even in death. But in his will, the Archduke had laid out his wishes to be interred with his wife at their family home in Artstetten, rather than in Vienna where they would have been surely separated by protocol.

The official, imperial funeral in Vienna continued to be problematic, however. When the bodies of the Archduke and his wife arrived in Vienna on July 2, 1914, the imperial family was ordered not to greet the train as was the usual custom. Even though the bodies could have been switched to more imperially appropriate, matching coffins, the bodies were kept in the original coffins provided in Sarajevo. Archduke Ferdinand’s was large and ornate, while Duchess Sophie’s was simple and modest. While finally being allowed to lay in state beside her husband only after multiple family members directly appealed to the emperor, Duchess Sophie’s coffin was kept 18 inches lower than the Archduke’s – a visual reminder of her unequal status. For imperial funerals, it was not uncommon for viewings to last several days. In the case of the Archduke and Duchess Sophie, viewing was kept to just 4 hours and tens of thousands of mourners were turned away (King and Woolmans, The Assassination of the Archduke, pg 227-228).

 

The couple’s three children were not allowed to attend the funeral in Vienna – as products of a morganatic marriage it was deemed inappropriate for them to mourn next to the imperial family (King and Woolmans, The Assassination of the Archduke, pg 230-231). It was only after all the official mourners had left, that the children were allowed into the chapel to pay their respects during which their daughter privately eulogized:

 

After the funeral, the couple were taken by carriage to a train. This procession was kept private, no bells tolled, and no military escort was provided.

 

Even though the Archduke was the Inspector General of the Austro-Hungarian army, Montenouvo denied military honors for the funeral proceedings because they were deemed unworthy of Duchess Sophie. A hundred aristocrats defied imperial protocol by spontaneously following behind the hearses to the train station – a public rebuke of the court’s treatment of the heir and his wife (King and Woolmans, The Assassination of the Archduke, pg 232).

The coffins were unceremoniously loaded onto the train to Artstetten – no mourning carriage was provided, they were placed in a freight car. Upon arrival to their home, the couple finally began to receive the mourning they deserved as family and staff gathered to greet the royal couple and grieve together in a private ceremony.

 

Specifically to keep other aristocrats in Vienna from attending these private ceremonies, Montenouvo ordered a longer than normal requiem at mass that Sunday, keeping them in church rather than allowing them to go to Arstetten. A few openly rebelled against this order, defied the court, and went to the funerals in Artstetten anyway. One of these was Franz Ferdinand’s exiled brother, who had also been striped of his titles and land for entering into a morganatic marriage (King and Woolmans, The Assassination of the Archduke, pg 237).

 

The couple were finally laid to rest in matching white tombs with the inscription, Joined in marriage, they were joined by the same fate.

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#KU_WWI Project staff would like to extend a big thank you to KU Slavic Department alumna Courtney Shipley for bringing these characters to life.

Click here to learn more about the #KU_WWI Twitter Project.

Click here to read about Duchess Sophie and the #KU_WWI Twitter Project in a She The People Washington Post blog by Diana Reese.

Deconstructing the #KU_WWI LIVE Tweetenactment

The #KU_WWI Twitter Project never intended on being a strictly historical representation or chronological timeline of the events that occurred in Sarajevo on 28 June 1914. Rather, it proposed a more creative approach – a human-focused interdisciplinary perspective that included history but also had geographical, literary, music and other social science and humanities elements both past and present. In other words, it was intended to be a social media performance piece that might inspire followers to learn more about World War I history.

But that doesn’t mean the project was entirely devoid of historical fact. In this blog post, we’ll deconstruct the #KU_WWI LIVE Tweetenactment and point out any interesting bits you might have missed on the day of the event.

The #KU_WWI LIVE Tweetenactment began at 9:30 am, 100 years to the minute (not accounting for the time difference) that Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie departed Hotel Bosna in Ilidze for their official visit to Sarajevo. The morning begins with reference to the previous mini tweetenactment #IheartBosnia that ends with an exchange in which the Archduke tries to cancel the next day’s visit and the Governor insists. This discussion between the Archduke and Governor Potiorek actually took place the night before the assassination when both were attending a celebratory dinner at Hotel Bosna.

 

The morning of the assassination, the conspirators did in fact meet in a back room of Vlasjić’s Pastry Shop. There they received their weapons, and then identified strategic positions along the Miljacka River using a map of the parade route that had been published in local newspapers. For weapons, Gavrilo Princip chose to take a gun, Nedeljko Čabrinović took a bomb, and Trifko Grabež chose both – as indicated in the Tweetenactment.

 

At Vlasjić’s Pastry Shop conspiracy organizer Danilo Ilić distributed cyanide capsules – rather than be apprehended, the assassins intended on taking their own lives. As audience members learned to great dramatic effect, the cyanide capsules were old and did not kill the assassins who swallowed them.

 

Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie were in the 3rd car in the motorcade. They rode in a Viennese Graf & Stift Bois de Boulogne open touring car that sported a yellow and black Hapsburg flag. A man named Leopold Loyka drove the car.

 

As the motorcade moved along the parade route, most of the assassins failed to act. There is still some controversy as to why – some may have had second thoughts, some might have froze – a few claimed during their trial that they were being watched too closely by police stationed in the crowd. Whatever the reason, in the end, only Nedeljko Čabrinović and Gavrilo Princip went through with the assassination plan.

 

The first assassination attempt on June 28th occurred when Nedeljko Čabrinović pulled out the bomb he’d received at Vlasjić’s Pastry Shop, struck its detonator cap against a lamppost, then hurled it at the Archduke.

 

Seeing the bomb, driver Leopold Loyka quickly accelerated and Archduke Franz Ferdinand raised his arm in an effort to protect Duchess Sophie. The bomb bounced off the back of their car and exploded under the car behind them. The passengers in the Archduke’s car were relatively unhurt – Duchess Sophie did receive some minor injuries.

 

The passengers of the 4th car as well as 20 spectators were injured by the explosion and taken to a local garrison hospital.

After tossing the bomb, Nedeljko Čabrinović swallowed his cyanide capsule and shouted, “I am a Serbian hero” before leaping into the Miljacka River – which, because it was Bosnia in June, was only a few inches deep. He was quickly apprehended by police and taken away.

 

The motorcade sped down the Appel Quay to city hall. Many of those waiting for the Archduke to arrive at city hall, including the mayor, thought the loud noise they had just heard was from a car backfiring or a cannon salute – many had no idea about the assassination attempt. Entirely unaware, the mayor launched into his prepared speech:

 

It is true that the mayor’s speech was interrupted by Archduke Ferdinand who exclaimed:

 

And the awkward moment in which the flustered mayor continued to read his prepared speech to which Archduke Ferdinand replied by reading from the pages of his own prepared remarks visibly splattered with the blood of his aide is also a matter of historical fact.

 

After the visit at city hall, it was agreed that instead of continuing with the official itinerary, the Archduke should visit those wounded by the earlier assassination attempt. Ironically, the person in charge of telling the driver of Archduke Ferdinand’s car about the change in destination was one of those injured in the bombing, and was therefore at the hospital unable to perform his duties.

 

Gavrilo Princip, the only assassin still committed to seeing the plot through, had wandered down Appel Quay to the corner of Franz Josef Strasse and was loitering in front of Schiller’s Delicatessen. During his trial he confessed he was just wasting time after a long and disappointing day. He was sure that the motorcade would change the planned route, and was stunned when it continued along its original path and passed right in front of him.

 

There is some controversy as to whether Archduke Ferdinand’s car stopped in front of Gavrilo Princip or actually backed up to him (did the car have a reverse gear?) – regardless, the assassin found himself less than 5 ft from his marks. It is said that upon seeing Duchess Sophie, Gavrilo Princip hesitated for several seconds before discharging his weapon. At his trial, he insisted that her death was an accident and while his accounts deferred, at one point said he was so excited he could not recall how many times he fired the gun or even where he aimed.

For the assassination, lyrics from the band Franz Ferdinand’s song, “All For You, Sofia” were used to illustrate the shooting. The juxtaposition highlights Gavrilo Princip’s youth – he was only 19-years-old at the time of the assassination and had he been alive today, might very well have liked this popular indie rock band. Using the modern day band’s lyrics in this context also educates fans that might not have fully understood the song’s historical context.

 

The shots fired by Gavrilo Princip struck both Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie. Duchess Sophie, turning to her husband and seeing blood on his face, cried out her final words:

 

Seeing his beloved wife slump down in her seat, Archduke Franz Ferdinand whispered his final words to her:

 

The Storify for the LIVE Tweetenactment concludes with the deaths of Archduke Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie. For an epilogue, the Tweetenactment features eleven graphic representations of the assassination in what we call #AssassinationReimagined. This was followed by eleven newspaper headlines in different languages. Both illustrate how the world learned about the fateful events in Sarajevo that would eventually lead to global conflict.

 

In the epilogue, the number eleven was specifically chosen for its symbolic significance in WWI history. Last rites were said over the bodies of Archduke Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie at 11pm. The license plate of the car they were riding in when they died was “AIII 118” which some claim eerily prophesizes 11/11/18, the date of the WWI armistice at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day on the eleventh month in 1918.

While this concluded the LIVE portion of the #KU_WWI Twitter Project, the tweets didn’t stop there. Over the next few days we will release the Storifies for what happened in Sarajevo following the assassination, how the world found out and reacted, what happened to Archduke Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie’s children, and the literary interpretation of these events.

Click here to learn more about the #KU_WWI Twitter Project. Click here to read more about the characters.

Sources:

Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914, (New York: Harper Collins, 2012).
Greg King and Sue Woolmans, The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance that Changed the World, (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2013).
John Keegan, The First World War, ( New York: Vintage Books, 1998).
Max Hastings, Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War, ( New York: Knopf, 2013).
Sean McMeekin, July 1914: Countdown to War, (New York: Basic Books, 2013).