France · Political

The assassination of Alexander I of Yugoslavia, one of the first assassinations captured on film

October 9, 1934
Marseille, France
King Alexander I of Yugoslavia is assassinated

Alexander I had been the King of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes from 1921 to 1929, until Alexander changed the kingdom’s name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Just before his assassination, he had arrived in France to strengthen the countries’ alliance and was being escorted by French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou in a slow moving motorcade as an adoring crowd cheered.

During the procession, Bulgarian revolutionary Vlado Chernozemski (Владо Черноземски) jumped onto the car’s running board, chanted “Vive le roi” (“long live the king”), and fired a pistol he had concealed in a bouquet of flowers. Alexander was shot twice: once in the abdomen and once in the heart. He died minutes later. The motorcade’s chauffeur attempted to push Chernozemski from the running board and was also shot, possibly by accident, and died almost instantly. The chauffeur’s body slumped, his foot stepping on the brake which allowed for those with cameras to capture the final moments of Alexander’s life. Barthou was also shot during the events, by either a police officer who missed his mark or by Chernozemski, and died within a hour. Also killed were two bystanders.

After shooting Alexander, Chernozemski was struck by a police officer’s sabre and shot in the head by another officer; neither wound was fatal. However, the angry crowd quickly engulfed Chernozemski and beat him severely while police allowed them to do so. Eventually, Chernozemski was arrested but as his condition was critical he was unable to answer any questions. He died of his wounds later that evening.

A video of the king’s arrival, the beginnings of his motorcade, and the immediate aftermath of the shooting can be seen on YouTube.


Alexander I moments after being shot


Assassin Vlado Chernozemski

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