The Black Hand was an extremist Serbian terrorism society. The group was formed on May 9, 1911. Alternate name is Ujedinjenje ili Smrt, meaning Union or Death.

The group is most well known for its plot to kill Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The Black Hand was upset over the annexation of Bosnia by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They wanted the region to be ruled by Slavic people, a popular notion due to the recent movement of Panslavism in the area at that time. Since Austria--a non-slavic country--controlled Bosnia, the group decided to assassinate a head of state. Ergo...bye Archduke Franz Ferdinand.


The Black Hand was led by Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijevic, aka "Apis". Thanks to Gorgonzola fo dat won.

In the RPG, Vampire: The Masquerade by White Wolf Publishing, the Black Hand is a militia of sorts in the sect of vampires known as the Sabbat. The primary purpose of the Black Hand is to assault or besiege citied held by the Camarilla in order to gain control of the territory. Without the Black Hand, most say, the Sabbat would surely fall apart. However, for fear of a coup, the Black Hand does not remain active for extended periods of time. The only way to join the Black Hand is to be recruited, and members are often secretive.

The black hand is a favorite image of many groups. Easy to create and, before the age of finger printing, hard to trace.

Another way this symbol has been used was by the early Mafia groups in the United States. The black hand was a handprint on a piece of paper that would be left to intimidate extortion victims. It let them know that they were marked for death by the one of the gangs that were the predecessors to the more organized La Cosa Nostra groups. It was used from about the turn of the century until the 1920's as the gangs grew into organized crime rings.

It had started in Sicily during the 1700's. Pictures of a black hand were distributed to the wealthy. This was an unspoken request for an amount of money in return for protection. If the money wasn't paid, the recipients could expect violence such as kidnappings, bombings, and murder. In contrast when it arrived in New York it was mainly against the poor immigrants, those that would not go to the police out of fear or lack of knowledge.

Black Hand, common name in the United States for an offshoot of two long-established societies of an intricate and powerful order of Italian criminals, known in their respective strongholds of Naples and Sicily as the "Camorra" and "Mafia." The habit of the members of signing blackmail and threatening letters with the words "black-hand," or a rude representation of one, gave these desperadoes in the United States their distinctive name.


Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

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