Austria-Hungary and the Control of Wartime Morale
In the days after 28 July 1914, when the Habsburg Empire declared war on Serbia, three million men were called to the colours. They represented 11 different nationalities, with their homes in regions of Austria-Hungary which had witnessed bitter national tensions in the prewar period. Yet, there seemed a good deal of truth in the Hungarian Prime Minister’s observation on 4 August that ‘the atmosphere prevailing in the whole Monarchy is very good’.1 Whether in Vienna or Budapest, in Prague or Ljubljana, in Innsbruck or Krakow, the publicized image in the principal cities seemed to be the same, of a spontaneous enthusiasm for war against Russia and Serbia, and of troops marching off to the railway stations bedecked in garlands and surrounded by cheering crowds. In ‘loyalist’ memoirs written after the war this image was naturally sustained. In Vienna, one kaisertreu officer recalled how the mayor, Richard Weiskirchner, had suddenly interrupted a music concert in order to make the announcement of general mobilization; it was greeted with brief silence followed by stormy applause and a burst of the national anthem. In Budapest, another observer recalled how a crowd of 20000 swept through the streets, waving black and yellow (Habsburg) flags, all inspired by ‘love of country, the intoxication of the hour, the flame of national instinct’.2
KeywordsPolitical Authority Political Regime Emergency Power Minority Nationality National Anthem
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