The killing of King Alexander of Yugoslavia part 1 of 3
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Uploaded on Jul 16, 2011
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Alexander Karađorđević was born in Principality of Montenegro in December 1888. His father was King Peter I of Serbia and his mother the former Princess Zorka of Montenegro, a daughter of King Nicholas of Montenegro. In Belgrade on 8 June 1922 he married HRH Princess Maria of Romania, who was a daughter of King Ferdinand of Romania. They had three sons: Crown Prince Peter, and Princes Tomislav and Andrej.
On 1 December 1918, in a prearranged set piece, Alexander, as Regent, received a delegation of the People's Council of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, an address was read out by one of the delegation, and Alexander made an address in acceptance. This was considered to be the birth of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
In 1921, on the death of his father, Alexander inherited the throne of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which from its inception was colloquially known both in the Kingdom and the rest of Europe alike as Yugoslavia.
On 6 January 1929, in response to the political crisis triggered by the murder of Stjepan Radić, King Alexander abolished the Constitution, prorogued the Parliament and introduced a personal dictatorship (the so-called "January 6th Dictatorship", Šestojanuarska diktatura). He also changed the name of the country to Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
In 1931, Alexander decreed a new Constitution which transferred executive power to the King. Elections were to be by universal male suffrage. The provision for a secret ballot was dropped and pressure on public employees to vote for the governing party was to be a feature of all elections held under Alexander's constitution. Furthermore, the King would appoint half the upper house directly, and legislation could become law with the approval of one of the houses alone if it were also approved by the King.
On account of the deaths of three members of his family on a Tuesday, Alexander refused to undertake any public functions on that day. On Tuesday 9 October 1934, however, he had no choice, as he was arriving in Marseilles to start a state visit to the Third French Republic, to strengthen the two countries' alliance in the Little Entente. While Alexander was being driven in a car through the streets along with French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou, a gunman, Vlado Chernozemski, stepped from the street and shot the King and the chauffeur. Barthou was accidentally shot by a French policeman and died later.
It was one of the first assassinations captured on film; the shooting occurred straight in front of the cameraman, who was only feet away at the time. The cameraman captured not merely the assassination but the immediate aftermath; the body of the chauffeur (who had been killed instantly) became jammed against the brakes of the car, allowing the cameraman to continue filming from within inches of the King for a number of minutes afterwards.
The assassin, Vlado Chernozemski, was a Bulgarian, member of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) and an experienced marksman. Immediately after assassinating King Alexander, he was cut down by the sword of a mounted French policeman, and then beaten by the crowd. By the time he was removed from the scene, he was already dead. The IMRO was a political organization that fought for secession of Vardar Macedonia from Yugoslavia. The leader of the organization in that time was Ivan (Vancho) Mihailov. [According to the UKTV History program Infamous Assassinations-King Alexander, IMRO worked in alliance with the Croatian Ustaše group led by Ante Pavelić, under the secret sponsorship of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
King Alexander I was buried in the Memorial Church of St. George, which had been built by his father. The Holy See gave special permission to bishops Aloysius Stepinac, Antun Akšamović, Dionisije Njaradi and Gregorij Rožman to attend the funeral in an Orthodox church. As his son Peter II was still a minor, Alexander's first cousin Prince Pavle Karadjordjevic took the regency of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.
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