Black Hand

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Black Hand
Black hand logo.jpeg
Full Name: Unification or Death
Alias: Black Hand (name from 1901-1911)
Origin: Serbia
Foundation: August 1901
Commanders: Dragutin Dimitrijević
Goals: Unification of South Slavic States (failed)
Crimes: Mass murder
War crimes
Type of Villain: Military Leaders

The Black Hand, otherwise known as Unification or Death, was a secret military society that was originally formed in 1901 in Serbia. The primary purpose for the group's existence was to advocate for the unification of South Slavic states.

The group is best known for their involvement in the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914, an event that would ultimately lead to the beginning of World War I.

The group was also involved in the May Coup, wherein King Alexander Obrenović of Serbia was assassinated.


In August of 1901, Serbian colonel Dragutin Dimitrijević and several military officers formed a group that would later become known as the Black Hand, and held their first meeting on September 6, 1901. From here, they planned the May Coup, and carried it out on the night on June 10, 1903 (May 29 in Old Style).

May Coup

The May Coup involved the assassinations of King Alexander Obrenović, his wife Draginja Obrenović, and three other high-ranking officials. In the end, the coup lead to power being transferred to the Karađorđević dynasty, and the Black Hand gained significant power in the Kingdom of Serbia.

The group officially gained the name Unification or Death on May 9, 1911, and over the next few years, the group would attain the membership of hundreds.

Assassination of Franz Ferdinand

In 1914, Dimitrijević recruited six people to take out Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary.

On June 28, 1914, the six assassins were present at a scheduled motorcade for Archduke Franz Ferdinand. One of the assassins, 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip, would eventually be the one to succeed in assassinating him and his wife.

This event had the unintentional effect of triggering the July Crisis, which would lead to the beginning of World War I.