(Worry not, I am not going to go all-PBS on the subject.) This year marks the centenary of the start of The Great War, and across Europe the commemorations are commencing.
In a nutshell, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia for having assassinated the Archduke Ferdinand (and his wife) and Russia came to Serbia’s aide. This angered Germany, who declared war on Russia, and then decided, “What the heck? Let’s go for broke!” and so declared war on France and invaded neutral Belgium (in order to get to France). The invasion of Belgium angered the British, who declared war on Germany. Finally, the Empire brought it all full circle by declaring war on Russia. Ergo, what happened in the Balkans didn’t stay in the Balkans, and four years later the Austro-Hungarian Empire was no more.
Throughout the year various institutions across the city are exhibiting different perspectives on the war. The first one up, In the Epicenter of Collapse, is at the Vienna city hall library. It is a small gallery offering just enough tidbits about life and propaganda during war time in Vienna to pique my interest for the rest of the series.
Nothing says, “Go Empire” like bath tissue with the enemy’s flag on it.
Postcards figured prominently throughout the war as propaganda, with over 4.000 different ways to say, “We’re at war. Glad you aren’t here.”
Yes, children as propaganda.
Bedtime reading? “We Play World War!”
There was not enough context for this exhibit piece, a spinning wheel of sorts to determine both “Who started the war?” and “Who will win the war?” I’m thinking it was part of a drinking game.
Depending on which side you were on, you could toast the deaths of 17 million people and the demise of the Austro-Hungarian Empire with this drinking glass. Or drown your sorrows.