Many stories were told about the man who is still being both admired and loathed across the former Yugoslavia, Gavrilo Princip. Some of them are even the conspiracy theories and it is known that everyone in the Balkans are prone to them. However, the life of his family after the assassination and the First World War in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia at the time is little less familiar.
The media came to possess a letter which testifies to a difficult position in which Gavrilo’s father, mother and brothers found themselves in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The letter written by Petar Princip, Gavrilo’s father, was addressed to the king of Yugoslavia Aleksandar I Karađorđević. In this letter, Petar Princip begs “his master” for help because he is left to the mercy of fate and his two sons, Gavrilo’s brothers, are not up to support their home and family!
Petar was a plain man, a villager, and after the end of the Second World War the family Princip was living in misery and barely surviving.
In the archives there is no written trace (document) that might indicate whether the king Aleksandar hearkened to the voice of the old and worn out Princip. It is only stated that Karađorđević acted pass the protocol, helping the Princip family and giving them certain means for living.
The sad and gruesome fate of the Princip family also befell Gavril’s mother Marija (called Nana), who outlived her son for full thirty years. In the Second World War, the Ustashas burned the house of the Princip family, slaughtered Gavril’s brother Nikola, the doctor, and the old Nana had to escape. She died in the bight between July 12 and 13, 1945 at the age of 87.
Gavrilo Princip was detained in a solitary confinement, where he slowly dies of hunger and illness, systematically beaten up, almost on a daily basis. “Specialty” of the prison was to torture Gavrilo Princip by placing him in a wooden barrel with many nails pounded in. then they would roll that barrel and the large nails would pound into Gavrilo’s wounded young body!
This is the content of the letter written by Petar Princip to the king Aleksandar I Karađorđević on February 28, 1992 in Sarajevo:
“To His Majesty King Alexander I Karađorđević
Lord, knowing your concern for the children of this country, and what I convinced myself of during the recent war years, I am free to refer my appeal to you.
My son Gavrilo Princip, as it is known, lost his life in 1914 liberating his troubled homeland from a tyrant.
I have one son now in the army where he serves his country, and the other one as a student working in a Belgrade jeweler shop.
Next to me, here I have two immature sons who are unable to provide for me, and in this old age I am left to the mercy of fate. Because of this I am forced to ask the lord for any kind of help which would enable me to survive under the difficult present circumstances.
Hoping that my appeal will be answered, I am left with nurturing the love for my master, his humble subject.”