Leopold Lojka

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Leopold Lojka (also spelt Leopold Loyka) (1885 – 18 July 1926) was the chauffeur of the car carrying Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand at the point of Ferdinand's assassination in Sarajevo in 1914.[1]

Lojka was born in 1885 in the town of Znojmo in southern Moravia in the Austro-Hungarian Empire (now part of the Czech Republic). He became a professional chauffeur in the service of Franz, Count Harrach, an Austro-Hungarian nobleman and close friend of heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Lojka accompanied his employer and the Archduke on their trip to Sarajevo on 28 June 1914 so as to serve as Ferdinand's chauffeur. Shortly after leaving the military barracks where Ferdinand had been inspecting the local Imperial garrison, the car was attacked by a Young Bosnia member, who threw a bomb at it. However, Lojka was able to swerve out of the way and the bomb bounced away, injuring several soldiers in the car behind.

Despite protestations from his wife Sophie, Ferdinand decided to visit the injured soldiers in the hospital. However, this was off the planned route and Lojka had not been informed of the change in plans and was not familiar with the new route. Consequently, as he was driving away from the hospital to head out of Sarajevo, Lojka took a wrong turn down a backstreet. Realising his mistake, Lojka began to reverse out. However, it so happened that Young Bosnia member Gavrilo Princip was sitting in a café on the street just as Ferdinand's car began to pull into it. Princip seized his chance and ran out of the café with his Model 1910 7.65 mm FN Browning. Spotting him, Lojka attempted to reverse faster, but his foot missed the accelerator pedal. As a consequence, Princip shot and killed the Archduke, shooting him in the jugular vein, and his wife, in her stomach.

After the assassination, Lojka was given the task of sending three telegrams: one for the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph, one for the German Emperor Wilhelm II, and one for the children of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. He also served as a witness for the prosecution in the Young Bosnia trial.

Lojka was later awarded 400,000 crowns by Austro-Hungarian emperor Charles I, which he used to buy an inn in Brno in Czechoslovakia. There he became an innkeeper, and would often show off the bloodstained braces of Franz Ferdinand and a piece of Sophie's golden bracelet.[citation needed]

He died in Brno in 1926. Since his death, the role of chauffeur of Franz Ferdinand's car has often been erroneously attributed to a 'Franz Urban'.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Time Magazine Milestones (spelling: Lojka)