Rare photographs capture the assassination of King Alexander I of Yugoslavia, 1934


The assassination of the first Yugoslavian king Alexander by Vlado Chernozemsky, a veteran marksman in the work of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), would have been forgotten had it not been for the hordes of still and reel cameras. It was the first political murder to be caught on news cameras.

As a result of the previous deaths of three family members on Tuesday, Sikandar refused to do any public work on that day of the week.

On Tuesday, 9 October 1934, however, he had no choice, as he was arriving in Marseilles to begin a state visit to France to consolidate the alliance of the two countries at the Little Entente.

When Alexander was being driven slowly in a car through the streets with French Foreign Minister Louis Bartho, a gunman – Bulgarian Vlado Chernozemsky, stepped off the road and shot the king twice and Mauser to the driver. Shot with a C 96 semiautomatic pistol. Sikandar died in the car, he slipped backwards on the seat, his eyes wide open. Berthou was badly wounded in the arm but later died due to inadequate medical treatment.

The killer, Vlado Chernozemsky, was killed with a saber by a French cavalry officer and according to different accounts was beaten to death by a mob or shot by police, or both.

He was a 36-year-old Bulgarian who belonged to a Macedonian revolutionary organization that wanted to break away from Yugoslavia, and was reportedly in league with the Croatian separatists, Ustash, who were supported by Benito Mussolini's Italy.

Sentenced to death in 1924 for the murder of the leader of the Bulgarian Communist Party, but later freed in an amnesty, he fought several battles in Macedonia against the Serbian police.

The assassination of King Alexander was one of the first murders captured on film; The shooting took place directly in front of the cameraman, who was only feet away at the time.

While the exact moment of shooting was not captured in the film, the murder and its immediate aftermath were. The body of the driver (who was killed immediately) jammed against the brakes of the car, allowing the cameraman to continue filming from within inches of King for several minutes afterwards.

A 20th Century Fox newsreel presented by Lowell Thomas was manipulated to give viewers the impression that the murder was captured in film.

Three identical gunshots were added later in the film, when in fact Chernozemsky fired his handgun ten times, killing or injuring a total of 15 people. A straw hat is shown on the ground, as if it were of a murderer, when in reality it was not.

A Mauser C96 semi-automatic pistol with a 10-round magazine is shown as a murder weapon, while the original had a 20-round magazine. The exact moment of the murder was never filmed.

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