28 Jul 1914

"To My Peoples!"


The First World War 1914 - 1918
War riddle: Open Sesame!, 1914/1918, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918

Open Sesame!

We begin this exhibition with a game - a war riddle. After visiting this exhibition, you might be able to solve this riddle. If not, we will tell you the solution.

The game consists of nine concentric discs. On the largest are the questions to be answered: “Who began and who wins the war?”, the sales price, the prize-money for the solution, who marketed the game (the War Aid Office of the Imperial-Royal Ministry of the Interior) and a reference to the explanations on the back. The discs are riveted together in the middle, so that they can be turned. Each of the eight other discs contains all the letters of the alphabet both in red and in black. If the discs are turned correctly, the answer to the first question is given in eight red letters. The eight black letters underneath automatically answer the second question. The game cost one Krone, a prize of 2500 Kronen was offered for the solution.

Chapter 1 

The War of the Court Library

As early as August 1914, the Court Library in Vienna began to create a historical collection of sources on the “great age” of the war. The library sent requests to the daily press and the authorities to submit posters, notices, leaflets, diaries, vivat ribbons, postcards, poems, school essays, drawings, photos etc. so that subsequent generations could be shown as many aspects of the war as possible. The reaction was huge. From all the Crown Lands came official and private material of widely varying quality. The Court Library also exchanged material above all with Budapest and Berlin. By the end of the war, the Library had collected around 52,000 objects and thousands of photos. After 1918, the willingness to document the lost war fell noticeably, and in the First and even the Second Republic practically no one was interested any longer in this particular heritage of the years between 1914 and 1918.

Announcement, “To My Peoples”, November 1916, 1916-11-21, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918

“To My Peoples!” -  If there is one document that can be regarded as the “foundation deed” for the First World War, it is the Imperial Manifesto “To My Peoples!” of 28 July 1914. This announcement was printed in countless variations throughout the Empire, often in various scripts, but also in versions as ornaments with decorative frames. Above all, it was announced in the nine official national languages – German, Czech, Polish, Ukrainian, Slovene, Croatian, Serbian, Romanian, Italian – in the Austrian half of the Empire.

“Mobilisation” General mobilisation was announced in Austria - Hungary immediately after war was declared on Serbia. The armed forces, referred to in the general mobilisation as Bewaffnete Macht or Wehrmacht, consisted of the Imperial and Royal Army, the Imperial-Royal Militia, the Royal Hungarian Militia and the Imperial and Royal Navy. In part, these announcements had already been printed and only needed to be completed by stamping the date.

Announcements, “Mobilisation”, 1914-07-31, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918

General mobilisation of non-active duty and landsturm people, horse, transport and war services.

Postcard to the “Illustrierte Kronenzeitung”, 1914/1918, From the collection of: Europeana
Postcard to the “Illustrierte Kronenzeitung”

The Illustrierte Kronenzeitung launched an appeal for field postcards to be sent to the newspaper, of which a selection would then be published. The Imperial-Royal Court Library then asked the editor-in-chief to pass them on afterwards to the Library's War Collection, as happened with this card from a military hospital in Fiume (Rijeka) to the “golden Viennese hearts.”

Paper seal, envelope with sample seal, 1916, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Paper seals were a popular collectors’ item and advertising medium from 1900 on. These seals, designed by artists, could be collected or affixed to letters or postcards alongside the official stamps. In the First World War, they could be purchased in return for a donation, which in most cases benefited the War Welfare Fund. The purchase of these paper seals bearing the Vienna coat of arms helped to finance the provision of free meals for the needy.

Paper seals were not only published for charitable purposes such as the War Welfare Fund, there are also examples of war propaganda. This seal from Waidhofen an der Ybbs quotes the then popular saying “God punish England”, although in fact hardly any soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian army fought against British troops. The symbolism of the image refers to the brotherhood of arms between Austria-Hungary, Germany and the Ottoman Empire.

“God punish England”

Paper seal, “God punish England”, 1916, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Lottery ticket, Empress Zita Day, 1917, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Lottery ticket, Empress Zita Day

As in times of peace, lotteries were also held during the war, the revenue supporting the War Welfare Fund. 9 May 1917 was the Empress Zita Children's Day, when tickets could be bought for 20 Heller. The design of the small ticket was by Theo Zasche, a major Viennese painter and caricaturist. In the middle is a portrait of the then four-year-old Crown Prince Otto (1912–2011).

Flyer thrown from an aircraft, 1918, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
During the war, war loan posters were ever-present in the Vienna street scene. However, these large formats were not the only means of advertising – postcards and at times flyers thrown from aircrafts were also used. In this case, this small work of art – with traces of use – was thrown over the so-called “Jesuitenwiese” in Vienna’s Prater on 8 July 1918. The design was by the Tyrolean painter and graphic artist Walter Kühn.
Announcement, “The King of Italy”, 1915-05-23, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918

Ten months after the first Imperial Manifesto, the words “To My Peoples” were to be seen once again throughout the Empire. This time, Emperor Franz Joseph did not play an active role by declaring war on Serbia, but instead found himself in a passive function following Italy's declaration of war, and announced defensively: “The King of Italy has declared war on Me”. This announcement was also posted in all the national languages, naturally also in Italian for the Italian-speaking territories in Trentino, the Coast Lands and Dalmatia.

Announcement, “Prisoners of war”, 1916-03-20, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Announcement, “To My loyal Austrian Peoples!” Towards the end of the war, there was another Imperial Manifesto, but this time, on 16 October 1918, it no longer stated “To My Peoples!” but instead “To My loyal Austrian Peoples!”. Poles, Czechs, southern Slavs and Hungarians had already indicated that they wanted to go their own way. This, the “People's Manifesto”, is also to be interpreted as the “deed of dissolution” of the multi-ethnic state.
Announcement, “To the German people in Austria”, 1918-10-31, From the collection of: Europeana
Announcement, “To the German people in Austria”

At the end of October 1918, a few soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were still fighting on the fronts, but the tendency towards disintegration was already apparent. On 30 October 1918, the German-speaking representatives in the Imperial Council elected a Republican State Council that was to begin peace negotiations and to ensure a peaceful solution to the difficult political situation. The Manifesto, already without the Double Eagle as the sovereign symbol, was signed by the German National Franz Dinghofer, the Christian Social Johann Nepomuk Hauser and the Social Democrat Karl Seitz. The document can be regarded as the founding document of the Republic of Austria.

Chapter 2

Assassination and July Crisis 1914, War and Memory

For 100 years, the First World War has occupied a fixed place in the collective memory of most European and many non-European countries. In Austria, the memory of the war years from 1914 to 1918 blends with the knowledge of the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The reminders of the age of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the war that meant its downfall are still present today.

On 28 June 1914, the Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated by a young Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo. From the very first moment on, Austria-Hungary‘s intention was to demand satisfaction from Serbia, if necessary by war. An ultimatum was drawn up. Emperor Franz Joseph was also – and particularly – in favour of the deployment of the Imperial and Royal Army. With Serbia unwilling to satisfy Austria-Hungary‘s demands to the full, the Habsburg Monarchy finally unleashed the dogs of war, a move followed by a rapid succession of similar declarations by the other countries involved. By 12 August 1914, Europe was in flames.

The Jewish population of the Danube Monarchy was regarded as particularly loyal to the Emperor, as evidenced by the announcement of mourning by the Jewish community of Ragusa (Dubrovnik) on the occasion of the assassination of the heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand and his wife. It was printed in both Italian and Croatian.

Announcement of mourning by the Jewish community of Ragusa (Dubrovnik), 1914, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Announcement of mourning by the Jewish community of Ragusa (Dubrovnik)
Announcement, “The war has begun!”, 1914-07-30, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Only two days after the Imperial Manifesto, the Viennese population was informed that a “Central Agency for the Welfare of Soldiers and their Family Members” had been set up, although the patriotic text suggested that the soldiers would soon be returning home victorious.

“The War Has Begun”

“Belgrade” and “Przemysl” picture sheets, 1916, From the collection of: Europeana
In the 19th century, picture sheets were a very popular medium, and were used as a means of propaganda in the First World War. The Magdeburg printers Robrahn and Co founded in 1823 specialised in such single page prints and also produced motifs for the Austrian ally such as the “Bombardment of Belgrade” at the start of the war, which presented only victories.
Postcard, “Horseman’s Song”, 1914, From the collection of: Europeana
Postcard, “Horseman’s Song”

Postcards were printed in editions of millions during the First World War. Some were created by artists, others were photographic reproductions. The Grafische Kunstanstalt Schulz in Prague produced a series with popular soldier songs. Wallenstein’s Horseman’s Song by Friedrich Schiller from 1798 was part of the repertoire of patriotic war songs.

Souvenir sheet, “The Iron Wehrmann”, 1915, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
On 6 March 1915 what was known as an “Iron Wehrmann” was set up on Schwarzenbergplatz. This was a limewood figure by the sculptor Johann Müllner. The statue was a propaganda measure for the War Welfare Fund. In return for a donation, one could hammer in a nail and receive a document in confirmation. Such Wehrmann figures  were to be found in many towns in Germany and Austria. Today, this Wehrmann is to be found under the arcades of the building at the corner of Rathausstrasse and Felderstrasse near the Vienna Town Hall.
Announcement, “Fellow citizens”, 1914-12-02, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Announcement, “Fellow citizens”

This announcement by the Mayor of Vienna Richard Weiskirchner is a propaganda poster par excellence. For, by the time it was posted – probably on 3 December 1914 – and the buildings had been festively flagged, Belgrade was once again in Serbian hands and there could be no longer any question of being “victorious”.

“Long live our Emperor!”

Announcement, “Lvov”, 1915-06-23, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Announcement, “Lvov” The reconquest of the Galician capital Lemberg/Lvov was celebrated throughout the Empire. It was also celebrated on hoardings as a patriotic deed. This poster was printed in the Bohemian town of Blatná, a town with a majority of Czech speakers, in June 1915.
Poster, “6th War Loan”, 1917, From the collection of: Europeana
Poster, “6th War Loan”

For the 6th War Loan, the Sparkasse Meran commissioned the Tyrolean painter and graphic artist Oswald Hengst (1870–1938). He was also the head of the graphic arts department of the Wagner’schen Druckerei in Innsbruck, where this poster was printed. Technical innovations such as submarines were a popular motif. The submarine of the Austro-Hungarian Navy possibly refers to the person of the Knight of Maria Theresa Georg Ludwig von Trapp, who in 1915 sank the French battle-cruiser Leon Gambetta before the straits of Ottranto.

Poster, “8th War Loan”, Hengst, Oswald, 1918, From the collection of: Europeana
Poster, “8th War Loan” In 1918, the Viennese academic painter Emil Ranzenhofer (1864–1930) created, on a commission for the Länderbank, a motif for the 8th and last Austrian War Loan, which can only be interpreted as a visualisation of the 12th Battle of the Isonzo, in which Austria-Hungary had prevailed, known as the “miracle of Karfeit”. What we see is not the battle itself or even the use of poisonous gas in it, but rather the “general's hill”, from where there is a view of an apparently peaceful landscape.

Even before the First World War, the Austrian Fleet Association was founded in order to emulate in a small way Germany’s ambition to build a powerful navy. The Association collected donations for the construction of the largest class of ships, known as Dreadnoughts, such as the “SMS Viribus Unitis” with its crew of 1000, which is probably the ship shown here. The other ship, an Austrian Lloyd passenger steamer, unintentionally refers to the tragic start of Austrian shipping in the First World War. On 13 August 1914, the liner “Baron Gautsch” hit a mine that had been laid by the Austro-Hungarian Navy before the island of Brioni to protect the naval port of Pula, and sank with the loss of around 150 lives.

Poster, “The Austrian Fleet Association”, Ranzenhofer, Emil, 1915, From the collection of: Europeana
Poster, “The Austrian Fleet Association”
Poster, “War welfare for the Turkish troops”, Heusser, Heinrich, 1916, From the collection of: Europeana
Poster, “War welfare for the Turkish troops”

After troops from the Ottoman Empire were deployed on the Eastern front in Galicia and suffered heavy losses, the brotherhood of arms between Austria-Hungary and the Turkish troops was increasingly documented in the visual media. Here, we see a soldier of the Austro-Hungarian army holding out his hand to his comrade in arms. As the poster shows, the Turkish language was still being written in Arabic script before Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's reforms.

Chapter 3

Refugees and Prisoners of War, the Wounded and the Dead

Even before the beginning of hostilities at the end of July 1914, the inhabitants began to flee from the areas where the armies would be deployed. This was followed by systematic forced resettlement, expulsion and the internment of suspicious individuals. Even larger masses of people had to be accommodated in prisoner-of-war camps, which rapidly became shantytowns accommodating 40,000 and more prisoners of war. Ultimately, around 2 million soldiers were held in Russia and around 100,000 in Serbia. Most camps suffered from extremely miserable conditions. From the very first day of the war, the soldiers of all armies risked being killed or wounded. To begin with, the lists of the Imperial and Royal Army’s losses were published every day but then publication was abandoned when the lists began to contain too many names. However, the sad truth about the losses, amounting ultimately to 1.2 million dead, gradually seeped through. Roughly three times as many were wounded, some suffering lasting damage.

Building owners and managers were required to post warnings against providing assistance to prisoners of war. These announcements were available at police stations and to be affixed within 48 hours. Failure to comply was strictly punished. The announcement by the Imperial-Royal Government Councillor and Director of Police von Tarangul was published in Czernowitz on 20 March 1916 in Romanian, German and Ukrainian.

Announcement, “Prisoners of war”, 1916-03-20, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Announcement, “Prisoners of war”
Announcement, “Escape of prisoners of war”, 1915-06-21, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Announcement, “Escape of prisoners of war” The District Administrative Office of the eastern Bukovinian town of Kimpolung, in an announcement of 21 June 1915, promised a reward for the communication of information to the security or military authorities if the information led to the capture of escaped prisoners of war.

In this announcement of 31 March 1916, the population's attention was drawn to the fact that hostilities against prisoners of war were to be avoided and all dealings with them were strictly prohibited. They were not to be given food and cigarettes, or served alcoholic drinks in public premises. Offences would be punished, a reward was offered for participation in the pursuit of escaped prisoners.

Announcement, “Dealings with prisoners of war”, 1916-03-31, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Announcement, “Dealings with prisoners of war”
Announcement, “Refugees”, 1914-12-16, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
The announcement by the public authorities of the city of Vienna of 16 December 1914 states that enquiries and communications concerning missing civilians from Galicia and the Bukovina are to be addressed to the Central Office for Refugees from Galicia and the Bukovina. Finding military personnel and the sending of letters and money was not the function of the Central Office.
Announcement, “Weisselberger lecture”, 1915-12-11, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Announcement, “Weisselberger lecture” The War Welfare Office of the Austro-Hungarian Minister of War announces a lecture by the Jewish Mayor of Czernowitz  Salo von Weisselberger on 11 December 1915 at the Konzerthaus about his experiences as a hostage in Russian captivity. After the war Weisselberger was a member of the Romanian Parliament.
Announcement, “Lists of casualties”, 1914-08, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Announcement, “Lists of casualties”

The City Administration of the Imperial-Royal Capital and Residence City Vienna informs the population in August 1914 about the lists of casualties (list of missing persons). The lists of casualties of the Imperial-Royal Court and State Printers could be inspected in the District Offices of the City Administration and in the Local Government Offices during official hours. To keep up morale during the war, the lists were not announced publicly.

“Blessing letter”, 1914/1918, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
The regimental doctor Robert Piowaty found this letter on a fallen soldier, Karl Erhardt of the 23rd Infantry Regiment, and sent it to the Imperial Court Library’s war collection. In the so-called “blessing letter”, the infantryman Erhardt explains that he believed that this amulet protected him against enemy bullets.
Announcement, “Work Placement for War Invalids”, Erhardt, Karl, 1915, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Announcement, “Work Placement for War Invalids”

The Provincial Office for Lower Austria of the Imperial-Royal Work Placement Agency for War Invalids found all kinds of jobs. The office was located at Vienna’s Neubaugürtel. Alongside the announcement of the office hours, a request was also made for notification of vacancies.

Announcement, “Donation days”, 1916-10, Original source: Europeana
Announcement, “Donation days” On the occasion of the name day of Emperor Franz Joseph, the war invalids, the soldiers suffering from tuberculosis and the widows and orphans of soldiers were remembered from 4 to 8 October 1916. This announcement appealed for donations, the purchase of official badges and attendance at the events, and invites the public to join the Imperial-Royal Austrian Army Widows and Orphans Fund Association.
“Spitzy's radialis splint”, 1914/1918, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
“Spitzy's radialis splint”

Numerous images from schools for invalids were published to inform the public about how well war invalids were being cared for. This picture from 1915 shows the radialis splint, developed by the famous orthopaedist Professor Hans Spitzy. It helped war invalids to pick things up and write.

Chapter 4

The Old and the Young Emperor

Emperor Franz Joseph played a just as large and probably decisive role in the unleashing of the war in 1914 as in its course. There was never any question of him of making peace. Italy’s declaration of war in 1915 eliminated any willingness on his part to bring the war to an early conclusion. He wanted the troops of his Empire to fight to the bitter end – which they did. From 30 July 1914 until his death, he lived in almost complete isolation in Schönbrunn Palace and devoted most of his days to examining reports from the front. Franz Joseph died on 21 November 1916. On the day when he died, his grandnephew Karl automatically became the new Emperor and King: in Austria Emperor Karl I, in Hungary King Károly IV. In contrast to his predecessor the 30-year-old monarch seemed to be omnipresent. He wanted to communicate the impression of a dynamic ruler who exercised power. Thanks to skilful PR work, detailed reports were issued about Karl’s visits and encounters at the fronts and in the hinterland, as well as about his relief work. The monarch’s popularity was unbroken until at least the beginning of 1918. His intentions were clear – the Emperor wanted peace as quickly as possible. But he was unable to escape the alliance with Germany or to prevent the collapse of his Empire.

Postcard "Goods and Blood”, 1914, From the collection of: Europeana
The postcard shows a larger-than-life Emperor Franz Joseph as supreme commander towering above the attacking army. The text of the postcard reads: "Goods and Blood for our Emperor, Goods and Blood for the Fatherland!" The sentence originates from the national anthem. 

The front of this folding postcard shows the kneeling Emperor Franz Joseph next to the poem “Emperor Franz Josef at prayer”, by Starko Lodzia Lachowitz. The poem is paraphrasing the Pater Noster from the Emperor’s point of view. This iconic representation of the praying Emperor goes back to a photo by the Court Photographer Charles Scolik of the Corpus Christi procession in 1910.

Folding postcard "Emperor Franz Joseph at prayer", 1915/1917, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Folding postcard "Emperor Franz Joseph at prayer"
Sonnet in Italian, 1915, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
This print in Italian shows the “Sonnet on the 85th birthday of his Majesty Emperor Franz Joseph I on 18 August 1915” by Giuseppe Maroli. It was printed in the Dalmatian city Split.
Postcard, “Our Emperor amongst the family”, Ljubic, Dinko, 1914, From the collection of: Europeana
This heavily edited and retouched postcard with the text “Our Emperor amongst the family of the heir to the throne” from 1914 shows Emperor Franz Joseph, the heir to the throne Karl, his wife Zita and their children. Zita is holding the baby Adelheid, Archduchess of Austria, who was born in January 1914, two-year-old Otto is standing next to the Emperor.

The Oberstkämmerer-Amt at the Imperial Palace received from all crown lands of the monarchy poems, drawings and lovingly decorated private Speeches of Homage, mostly written by ordinary citizens. They were handed over to the War collection of the Court Library annually. This speech of homage comes from Rossitz near Brno. It contains a poem by Anton Trnka.

Speech of homage, “Illustrious Majesty”, Frankel, F. W., 1916/1917, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Speech of homage, “Illustrious Majesty”
Admission ticket to the reception of the Imperial Council, Trnka, Anton, 1914/1916, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918

The Imperial Council was the parliament of the Austrian half of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy from 1867 to 1918. Under the reign of the Emperor Karl the Imperial Council was convened for the first time during the war again. On this occasion, there was a formal reception at the Imperial Palace for its members on 31 May 1917. Personal tickets were issued.

Handwritten poem, “The iron Karl”, 1914/1918, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
The handwritten poem “The iron Karl” by H. Hillersperg about Emperor Karl I was, together with many other contributions, received by the Oberstkämmerer-Amt and passed on to the Court Library.

Upon the death of Franz Joseph on 24 November 1916, Karl became Emperor and King. However, Hungary attached great importance to the historical coronation ceremony, which involved an oath on the Hungarian Constitution. On 30 December 1916, Karl was crowned Károly IV, King of Hungary. He had already had this proclamation published on 21 November. After paying homage to his predecessor, he promised to place his life and all his powers in the service of the Monarchy.

Announcement, “To My Peoples”, November 1916, 1916-11-21, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Paper seal, “Emperor Karl in Czernowitz”, 1905-03-30, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918

This 3 x 4.5 cm coloured donation seal of the Official War Welfare Office shows Emperor Karl I visiting Czernowitz on 6 August 1917. Many detailed reports were published on Karl's visits and encounters at the front and in the hinterland, he being one of the few monarchs who often visited the fronts

Paper seal, “Emperor Franz Joseph with heir to the throne Karl”, 1905-03-30, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
This paper seal was created in 1916 and shows the “old Emperor” bent over his desk, and next to him the heir to the throne Archduke Karl, who upon Franz Joseph's death on 21 November 1916 became Emperor and King. In the background a painting of Empress and Queen Elisabeth can be seen.

Chapter 5

Administering Shortages

In the course of the war, more and more goods were rationed and placed under state administration. 95 central bureaus ensured that raw materials and foods were supplied uniformly to businesses and households. April 1915 saw the introduction of ration cards, which were supposed to guarantee a claim to a specific amount of food, but even the best control measures could not prevent food shortages and the spread of hunger. Things that were generally regarded as waste were examined to see if they could be used, and much was supposed to be collected. Once the bells had been melted and copper sheeting and buckles removed, there was little left that could be fed to the metal collections. But there were other things, and the recycling collections of the First World War were aimed above all at preventing an outbreak of famine and replacing everyday goods. There was practically nothing that could not be gathered: nettle stems that could be processed into textiles, maybugs for feeding pigs and poultry, and coffee grounds for obtaining oil for technical equipment. Daylight saving time was introduced in 1916 to allow better use to be made of the daylight hours.

Announcement, “Daylight saving time”, 1916-04-26, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
The Vienna city administration announced that, following Hungary and Germany, daylight saving time would also be introduced in Austria from 1 May 1916. The regulation would apply until the beginning of autumn on 30 September and was intended to save the use of artificial lighting. The population was requested to carry out its activities one hour earlier so that the measure could also bear fruit.

Since the prices of important consumer goods had increased on various markets and in stores, the Mayor of Vienna Dr Richard Weiskirchner appealed to the population on 28 July 1914 not to carry out price increases, otherwise there would be strict measures. An appeal was made to housewives not to make hoarding purchases, since these made the market situation more difficult. The government and the city administration were making every effort to ensure the supply of food in Vienna.

Announcement, “Price increase for important consumer goods”, 1914-07-28, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Announcement, “Listing of potato stocks”, 1916-03-11, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
The Imperial-Royal Ministry of the Interior ordered the listing of potato stocks. Amongst others, all producers, dealers, bakers, confectioners, restaurant owners, warehouses, local government authorities and consumer associations were obliged to register by 20 March 1916. The provision of incorrect details was threatened with punishment. 
Announcement, “Nettle stems”, 1915-04-20, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
This announcement from 1916 originated from the Imperial-Royal Provincial Councillor of Carinthia Robert Freiherr von Myrbach, asking the population, above all schoolchildren, to collect nettle stems. The fibres of the nettles were an excellent substitute for textile fibres, and this property was to be used for army purposes.

The announcement by the Graz waste recycling department of the Imperial-Royal Provincial Agriculture Inspectorate appealed for the collection of maybugs. Maybugs dried in a stove were good fodder for hens and pigs and, dead but fresh, were purchased by the waste recycling department at 20 Heller per kilogram.

Announcement, “Maybugs”, 1917, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Announcement, “War coffee”, 1914/1918, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
This announcement drew attention to a sales agency for war coffee. The war coffee consisted mainly of caramel, one part sugar-beet flour and one part coffee. In addition, barley, chicory roots, figs, malt and flour made from lupins and acorns were also used.

Many raw materials and foods were only available with ration coupons. This announcement by the Mayor of Vienna stated that orders for coal would be accepted. The population could place orders with the Municipal Coal Distribution Centre on a specific day depending on the number printed on the ration coupon.

Announcement, “Distribution of coal”, 1917-10, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Announcement, “Coffee grounds”, 1914, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
This appeal was directed to parents and schoolchildren. Coffee grounds should not be thrown away but instead collected and dried. Shops bearing an appropriate sign would accept the grounds from the population for converting into oil.

Chapter 6

“My Dear Pupils” 

The study of the history of the home country and less that of others, which had been part of “Fatherland Education”, rapidly became an element of the patriotic education of children and young people from autumn 1914 on, aimed at arousing and maintaining their enthusiasm for the war. It was almost self-evident that the own troops were the “heroes” and the enemy soldiers the “cowards”. Countless essays were written showing how England could be defeated, enemy ships sunk by submarines and generally how the war could be won. Peace did not appear to be a topic. Teachers wrote to their “Dear Pupils” from the front, and war toys became popular presents. The Minister for National Defence and the Minister of War published letters to the “Dear Children” as small posters. Children and young people collected, rejoiced and mourned. Finally, in autumn 1917 Emperor Karl ordered that fathers of six or more children should be released from the Army. There were not many of them left. The 1917 War Orphans’ Days were dedicated to the orphans of the war.

Field post letter, “To my dear pupils”, 1914/1916, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Leo Benzing, a former teacher of the third class of the Wagstadt Municipal School in the Austrian part of Silesia sent a field post letter from Russia to his pupils on Easter Sunday, regretting that his pupils were not having any teaching at the time. He described his experiences and closed with the words “Hail to Austria's victory, your teacher Leo Benzing sends you warmest Easter greetings.”
Children's drawing, “An Austrian warship fires its guns”, 1914, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Children's drawing, “An Austrian warship fires its guns”

The drawing coloured with watercolours by the pupil J. Tschikof from the Doppel Municipal School on the right bank of the Mur in Graz shows an Austrian warship with five sailors round a deck gun, and an officer standing behind them , firing - probably - at the Montenegrin coast. Already in autumn 1914, the drawing teachers were asked to animate students to draw war events.

Children's drawing, “Mercy”, 1914, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
The coloured drawing bears the title “Mercy” and comes from the Municipal School in Graz. It shows a woman handing a jug of water to a soldier. The drawing bears the note “Seen” together with the teacher’s signature.

In this schoolboy drawing, two soldiers take an offender to the gallows, next to which stand a priest, a guard and another soldier with a text. This scene possibly shows the execution of the Member of the Imperial Council Dr Cesare Battisti on 12 July 1916 in Trient, representing more the imaganiation of the student rather than reality.

Children's drawing, “Execution of Member of the Imperial Council Cesare Battisti”, 1914, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Children's drawing, “Cavalry soldiers on the battlefield”, 1914, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
The drawing by the pupil R. Übleis of the third class of the Doppel Municipal School on the right bank of the Mur in Graz, shows four cavalry soldiers on the battlefield. Regarding selection of motifs this was an exception. Most pupils preferred new technical developments in their works, such as submarines, battleships, airships or large-caliber guns. 
Children's drawing, “Gun under fire”, 1916-06-15, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
This children's drawing by the pupil Leopold Wawronek comes from a municipal school in Graz and represents the bombardment by the famous 30.5 cm mortar of the Škoda Works in Pilsen. As the representation is very detailed, it can be assumed it is based on a photograph. 
School essay, “How I imagine the submarine war”, 1915, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918

In this essay from 1915, the pupil Ferdinand Grabler from the first class of the Franz Josef Boys’ Municipal School in Graz presents his ideas of a submarine war. Since a number of similar essays from this school have survived, it can be assumed that the topic was given by the teachers.

School essay, “How I would defeat the English”, 1915, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
In this short naive essay of 10 July 1915, a pupil of the first class of the Franz Josef Boys’ Municipal School in Graz describes how he would defeat the English with the assistance of a football.
School essay, “How I attacked London by night in my Zeppelin", 1915, From the collection of: Europeana

“How I attacked London by night in my Zeppelin”

In his fictional school essay, “How I attacked London by night with my Zeppelin”, the pupil I. Biberl describes how he was housed with his troops in occupied Antwerp. The essay is followed by a drawing showing the aerial attack. Next to the pupil’s text in his own handwriting can be seen the teacher’s corrections in red.

School essay, “How I attacked London by night in my Zeppelin”, 1915, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Advertising poster, “Anker building block set”, 1914, Original source: Austrian National Library
The war also conquered the children's room and a lot of war toys were produced: Building blocks were used not to make towns, mediaeval castles or fairytale palaces but rather menacing fortresses, as the Austrians and the Italians built them at the entrnace of the Alpine valleys. This advertising poster, a lithograph from the first years of the war, advertises the very popular Anker building block sets.

Chapter 7

The War of Images

At the beginning of the war, Austria-Hungary, like Germany and the Western powers, did not have an official office for military photography. The Sarajevo assassination and the very first representations of events on the battlefields appeared in the daily press as illustrations made by artists. Specialised military units to survey and photograph the war were set up, making pictorial documentation an essential element of the conduct of the war on the front and in the hinterland. The War Press Headquarters censored and controlled the dissemination of images. Life in the field, supplies and health, military successes, glorification of the military leaders, awards for bravery and the satisfaction of the soldiers, heroic deeds of men and women were the main topics of the pictorial propaganda. The photographic staging of the great illusion was followed, as the war continued, by images of disenchantment. The dehumanisation of the war is reflected in photographs of execution scenes, in the deliberate display of prisoners of war and destruction. The “great age” ended with the omnipresence of death.

The destroyed Wolfsbach (today Valbruna) near Tarvisio, 1916-05-27, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
The war between Austria-Hungary and Italy was just as intense and ruthless as the events in the west. The towns in South Tyrol, Venezia-Giulia, Friuli and the karst region were exposed to battles for just under three and a half years. The area west of Tarvisio, which belonged to the Crown Land Carinthia, was fiercely fought over.

The trench war in the east was characterised by long periods of passivity. The time was used not only to systematically extend the trenches but also to set up “leisure facilities” – in part immediately behind the lines.

“Quiet and recreation area” behind a trench, K.u.k. Kriegspressequartier, Lichtbildstelle - Wien, 1915, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Cima di Vezzena, K.u.k. Kriegspressequartier, Lichtbildstelle - Wien, 1915-08-24, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Top left, high above the Valsugana Valley in the Trentino, can be seen the observation fort Cima di Vezzena, below the accommodation for the troops. The soldiers were not only exposed to permanent risk of death from bombardment. The extreme position also involved additional hazards such as from the weather or simply a false step.
Inspecting a reinforced train at Halytsch (Halicz), 1916-08-24, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918

From June 1916 on, Archduke Karl was the Supreme Commander of a section of the Eastern Front and commanded a number of armies between Brody and the Carpathians. In this function, he inspected the units under his command, such as this one in Galicia. Archduke Karl was one of the few monarchs who frequently made visits to the front.

The 30.5 cm mortar was produced at the Škoda works in Pilsen between 1911 and 1918, and was the most famous gun of the Austro-Hungarian artillery. It was relatively easy to transport and for this reason was used on all fronts.

K.u.k. Kriegspressequartier, Lichtbildstelle, 1915, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Garden with hut for the company commander, K.u.k. Kriegspressequartier, Lichtbildstelle - Wien, 1916-06-01, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
In 1916, the Eastern Front came to a standstill and the soldiers settled down to everyday life; they even had time to arrange a garden. The photo of Captain Arpad Kattauer of the 14th Field Company of the 35th Infantry Regiment was taken near Ternopil in Galicia on 1 June 1916.
The patient triage camp, K.u.k. Kriegspressequartier, Lichtbildstelle - Wien, 1916, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918

The picture shows the patient triage camp being built in Pradl, an eastern suburb of Innsbruck. The number of barracks is an indication of how many wounded and sick patients would be treated here.

Midday in the trench, K.u.k. Kriegspressequartier, Lichtbildstelle - Wien, 1916-06-25, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
Life in the trenches gradually became normality and the soldiers attempted to relax when not on guard. This photo of machine gun section 4/2 of the 35th Infantry Regiment north of Cebrow (Galicia) was taken on 25 June 1916.
Throwing hand-grenades on the Isonzo front, K.u.k. Kriegspressequartier, Lichtbildstelle - Wien, 1917-09-10, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
This picture dates from 1917. It was only in this year that the soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian army were given steel helmets – previously they had worn caps. The staged photo is a good example of state war propaganda.
Building the Rosengartenstrasse with Russian prisoners of war, K.u.k. Kriegspressequartier, Lichtbildstelle, 1916-02-03, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918
The picture was taken on 3 February 1916 in the Dolomites. It shows Russian prisoners of war building a road for the transport of troops. Although it was forbidden by the Hague Convention of 1907 to make prisoners of war work, no country kept to this rule.

War puzzle: Open Sesame! - The solution

The newspapers advertised that the puzzle was particularly suitable as a gift to wounded soldiers in the hospitals, the attempts to find a solution being a welcome distraction. Admittedly, the sales served a humanitarian purpose – the proceeds went to widows, orphans and war invalids through three combined war welfare agencies (Red Cross, War Welfare Office, War Aid Office), but it is here that the absurdity of war becomes particularly clear – the war can even be used for making toys. The publication of the solution on 1 May 1916 in four well-known Viennese newspapers, as announced on the game, was not found, but the solution was possible even without the newspapers. It is interesting because the War Aid Office as a state agency presumably represented the official opinion of the Monarchy.

During your visits to this exhibition you have seen a lot and learnt a lot. Do you know the answer? The solution is simple at first glance and shows in historical retrospect the blindness in the allocations of blame to “neighbours” who were supposed to have started and caused the war.

Who began the war? Neighbours (nachbarn)

Who wins the war? Victors (besieger)

War riddle: Open Sesame!, 1914/1918, Original source: Europeana 1914 - 1918


The present virtual exhibition is based upon the exhibition of the Austrian National Library called “An meine Völker! Der Erste Weltkrieg 1914-1918” (“To My Peoples! The First World War 1914-1918”) running from March 13th until November 2nd 2014 at the State Hall of the Austrian National Library. Curated by the renowned historian Univ. -Prof. Dr. Manfried Rauchensteiner the exhibition presents the exceptional World War I collection of the former Imperial Court Library (today the Austrian National Library) depicts the most important stages of the war from the assassination of the heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand 1914 until the peoples manifesto of Emperor Charles in 1918 and the slow disintegration of the multinational state Austria - Hungary. 

Most of the objects visible in this virtual exhibition have been digitised within the project “Europeana Collections 1914-1918”. During this project more than 80.000 objects from the Austrian National Library (out of more than 425.000 objects) were digitised. Among others 200 soldiers’ songs from the Austrian Folk Song Archive, over 23,000 newspapers and special editions, 1,100 leaflets dropped from airplanes, 7,500 pamphlets, 6,500 posters, 37,000 photographs of the of the Imperial and Royal War Press Bureau, 820 small form graphics and 230 children and young adults drawings from the Picture Archives and Graphics Department as well as books from the Department of Planned Languages.

For more information please visit www.onb.ac.at or access the digital World War I material of the Austrian National Library in Europeana.eu

Curatorial Team of the virtual exhibition:

Zsuzsanna Brunner

Christian Maryška

Susanne Tremml


Zsuzsanna Brunner

Christian Maryška

Manfred Rauchensteiner


Hans Petschar

Axel Stummer


Project management: Susanne Tremml

Credits: Story

Austrian National Library — onb.ac.at
Europeana 1914 - 1918 — europeana1914-1918.eu
Europeana — europeana.eu
Europeana Collections 1914-1918 — europeana-collections-1914-1918.eu

Credits: All media
The story featured may, in some cases, have been created by an independent third party and may not represent the views of the institutions whose collections include the featured works or of Google Arts & Culture.
Google apps