Gavrilo Princip (1894-1918) may have been the most influential man of the twentieth century
, if we look at the total effect of what followed. His assassination of the Archduke
and his wife, Sophie sparked World War I
. The war inspired Woodrow Wilson
to involve the United States
in the conflict, paving the way for American Imperialism
and interventionist actions around the globe. The Treaty of Versailles
which followed punished Germany
, causing resentment, nationalism, and the rise of the Nazi
s. This caused World War II
. The same treaty also carved up much of the Middle East
by weakening the Ottoman Empire
. This led to the destruction of the Caliphate
, paving the way for much of the strife in that region.
The war helped to bring about the end of the Czarist system in Russia, leading to the Soviet Union. World War II resulted in that union becoming a superpower, exporting communism across the globe. The early success communism had inspired Mao Zedong, and the methods they used were similar. The Vietnam War, Korean Conflict, and the Cold War all probably would never have happened if those shots had not been fired.
Indirectly, Gavrilo Princip may have caused the deaths of a couple of hundred million people. See the Law of Unintended Consequences. A good reason to look before you leap.
Princip was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his crime, since he was not 20 when he did it. He died in 1918 of tuberculosis. I wonder what he would have thought about what he did if he had lived to see the results.