Saki’s Easter egg

Gavrilo Princip and Saki’s easter egg.

The reports about the bomb plot foiled by German cops using the rule of law

include the tidbit that the cell stored their materials in a house in Freudenstadt in the Black Forest.

I know Freudenstadt; it’s a cute resort town, where after you’ve bought your hand-carved ornaments in the Christmas market and sipped your Glühwein, there’s not really much else to do.


I was reminded of the chilling short story by Saki (the English writer H.H. Munro), set in a Central European town like Freudenstadt, The Easter Egg.

(Continuation gives away the punch line, so I suggest you read it first).

The story is about the threat of terrorism to Edwardian order. It wasn’t imaginary. The terrorists – anarchists, Russian radicals, Macedonian irredentists, and so on – could not of course overthrow the governments of the Great Powers by killing presidents and tsars, any more than al Qaeda can overthrow the governments of the USA or even Saudi Arabia. But one of them, Gavrilo Princip, did provide the spark that set off the First World War: the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand near the railway station in Sarajevo served as a pretext to hardliners in Vienna to settle the Serbian question once and for all. The station, a pretty little thing, has survived two world wars and the siege. Private Munro was not so lucky. He was killed on the Western Front in November 1916, one of the 20 million or so victims of Princip’s Easter egg.

Osama can still achieve this, if we let him.

Author: James Wimberley

James Wimberley (b. 1946, an Englishman raised in the Channel Islands. three adult children) is a former career international bureaucrat with the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His main achievements there were the Lisbon Convention on recognition of qualifications and the Kosovo law on school education. He retired in 2006 to a little white house in Andalucia, His first wife Patricia Morris died in 2009 after a long illness. He remarried in 2011. to the former Brazilian TV actress Lu Mendonça. The cat overlords are now three. I suppose I've been invited to join real scholars on the list because my skills, acquired in a decade of technical assistance work in eastern Europe, include being able to ask faux-naïf questions like the exotic Persians and Chinese of eighteenth-century philosophical fiction. So I'm quite comfortable in the role of country-cousin blogger with a European perspective. The other specialised skill I learnt was making toasts with a moral in the course of drunken Caucasian banquets. I'm open to expenses-paid offers to retell Noah the great Armenian and Columbus, the orange, and university reform in Georgia. James Wimberley's occasional publications on the web