Wednesday, 5 October 2011

CASE 346 - Black hand

Serbian Military army version of the black hand

The Black Hand, is an unofficial name for the secret military society in the Serbian army in the Kingdom of Serbia, which was founded on September 6, 1901. It was a part of the Greater Serbia movement, with the intention of uniting all of the territories containing Serb populations annexed by Austria-Hungary. Through its purported connections to the 28 June 1914, assassination in Sarajevo of Franz Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria, the Black Hand may have been one of the principal catalysts to the start of World War I.

The Black Hand was founded on September 6, 1901.Then was the first meeting of the conspirators. At the meeting were: Captain Radomir Aranđelović, Capt. Milan F. Petrović, Capt. Dragutin Dimitrijević, Lieutenant Antonije Antić, Lt. Dragutin Dulić, Lt. Milan Marinković and Lt. Nikodije Popović. They made a plan to kill the royal couple, Aleksandar Obrenović and Draga Mašin. The birthday of Queen Draga was 11 September 1901, and in honour of this occasion preparations were being made to hold a celebration at the palace Kolarac. The main weapons of assassination chosen organised the successful assassination of King Alexander I of Serbia and his consort Draga; he confirmed that Captain Dragutin Dimitrijevic, who had personally led the group of Army officers who killed the royal couple in the Old Palace at Belgrade on the night of 28/29 May 1903 (Old Style), was also the Black Hand's leader.

On 8 October 1908, just two days after Austria annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, many men, some of them ranking Serbian ministers, officials and generals, held a meeting at City Hall in Belgrade. They founded a semi-secret society—Narodna Odbrana (National Defense) which gave the Greater Serbia idea a focus and an organization. The purpose of the group was to liberate Serbs under the control of Austria-Hungary. They also undertook anti-Austrian propaganda and organized spies and saboteurs to operate within the empire's provinces. Satellite groups were formed in Slovenia, Bosnia, Herzegovina and Istria. The Bosnian group went under the name Mlada Bosna—Young Bosnia. In 1909, Austria pressured the Serbian government to put a stop to their anti-Austrian insurrection. Russia was not ready to stand fully behind Serbia should things come to a showdown, so Belgrade was grudgingly forced to comply. From then on, Narodna Odbrana concentrated on education and propaganda within Serbia, trying to fashion itself as a cultural organization.

Italian mafia version of the black hand

Black Hand (Italian: La Mano Nera) was a type of extortion racket. It was a method of extortion, not a criminal organization as such, though gangsters of Camorra and the Mafia practiced it.

The roots of the Black Hand can be traced to the Kingdom of Naples as early as the 1750s. However, the term as normally used in English specifically refers to the organization established by Italian immigrants in the United States during the 1880s who, though fluent in their Southern Italian regional languages, had no access to Standard Italian or even a grammar school education. A minority of the immigrants formed criminal syndicates, living alongside each other. By 1900, Black Hand operations were firmly established in the Italian-American communities of major cities including New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Chicago, Scranton, San Francisco, and Detroit. In 1907, a Black Hand headquarters was discovered in Hillville, Pennsylvania, a village located a few miles west of New Castle, Pennsylvania. The Black Hand in Hillville established a school designed to train members in the use of the stiletto. Although more successful immigrants were usually targeted, possibly as many as 90% of Italian immigrants and workmen in New York and other communities were threatened with extortion.
Typical Black Hand tactics involved sending a letter to a victim threatening bodily harm, kidnapping, arson, or murder. The letter demanded a specified amount of money to be delivered to a specific place. It was decorated with threatening symbols like a smoking gun or hangman's noose and signed with a hand imprinted in black ink; hence the Sicilian name 'La Mano Nera (The Black Hand) which was readily adopted by the American press as "The Black Hand Society".
The tenor Enrico Caruso received a Black Hand letter, on which a black hand and dagger were drawn, demanding $2,000. Although Caruso decided to pay, he again received a demand for $15,000. Realizing the extortionists would continue to demand money, he reported the incident to the police who, arranging for Caruso to drop off the money at a prearranged spot, arrested two Italian-American businessmen who retrieved the money. On occasion, Black Handers threatened other gangsters and usually faced retaliation. In Chicago, the notorious Shotgun Man murdered dozens of people in broad daylight on the same street corner during a decade-long reign of terror.

If law enforcement closed in, gangsters answered with their usual style: assassination. Victims include New Orleans police chief David Hennessy and NYPD lieutenant Joseph Petrosino. They intimidated potential witnesses even in the courtroom.
The Black Hand practice in the United States disappeared in the mid 1920s after a wave of negative public opinion led organized crime figures to seek more subtle methods of extortion.

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