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.
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.
“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.
General mobilisation of non-active duty and landsturm people, horse, transport and war services.
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 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”
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).
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.
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.
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.
“The War Has Begun”
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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)
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:
Project management: Susanne Tremml
Austrian National Library — onb.ac.at
Europeana 1914 - 1918 — europeana1914-1918.eu
Europeana — europeana.eu
Europeana Collections 1914-1918 — europeana-collections-1914-1918.eu