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The Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand


Archduke Franz Ferdinand


Lesson Plan

Grade Level:

9th grade students with special needs-adaptable for general classes


2 class periods of instruction, 2-3 class periods of student research and writing

Content Standard:

History: 20th Century Conflict: Analyze the causes and effects of WWI with emphasis on Nationalism.

Primary Sources:


This lesson will give students the details of Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s death and what an important role Nationalism played in this cause of WWI.


  1. Prior to the lesson, discuss Nationalism with the students and make sure they have an understanding of the strong feelings associated with it. I like to use Michigan/OSU or local school rivalries to try and get students to understand this concept.
  2. Give students a short background of the problems between Serbia, Austria-Hungary, and Bosnia. Have students take a few notes over this in order to keep things straight.
  3. Show students pictures of Gavril Princip (see below), Vaso Cubrilovic (pg. 5) and Franz Ferdinand and Sophie (pg. 11). Get their reactions to what they see in these pictures? What kind of people do they think they are?
  4. Show video of Franz Ferdinand and Sophie arriving at town hall. This film was taken on the day they died.
  5. Read the memoir of conspirator Vaso Cubrilovic, pages 3-11, in Intimate Voices as a class. (Some will probably want to read this aloud to their students, since their reading levels may stand in the way of them fully understanding the document on their own.)
  6. Point out instances of nationalism and how Cubrilovic discusses it.
  7. When completed reading, have students fill-out the Document Analysis Worksheet from the U.S. National Archives (change #6D from “United States” to World) 
  8. Discuss the worksheet with the class: participation and completion grade.
  9. Read students the Memoir of Count Franz von Harrach, then show the video of bodies arriving at the funeral. Get the students reaction to these and what they find interesting about them.
  10. Show students map of Franz Ferdinand’s route and where the assassins were located. Ask the question what if? Was WWI inevitable and something else would have sparked it?  PDF icon

Assessment and Rubric:

Students will use the knowledge gained from this lesson to create a newspaper article about the assissination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie.  See Assassination Newspaper Article handout.

Materials needed by teacher:

  • overhead
  • Intimate Voices 
  • Computer with projector
  • worksheets

Materials needed by students:

  • access to computer
  • something to write with
  • art supplies
Created by Molly Belcik, Mansfield Senior High School, Ohio.