- The path to World War I
There were alternatives. The beginning of the war was neither an inevitable disaster nor was it blind fate that struck the Habsburg monarchy. The assassination of the Imperial Successor Franz Ferdinand did not automatically cause war against Serbia.
- Disillusion with war
The enthusiasm for war in Vienna was not as unanimous as is often claimed. There are numerous indications that fatalism and fear were wide-spread.
- Refugees coming to Vienna
When in the autumn of 1914, the Russian armies conquered Austria’s northeastern Crown lands (Kronländer), one million people fled their homes. When 250,000 of them ended up in Vienna, the authorities tried to lock the city.
- Collecting for the war effort – and its victims
At the start of the war, the welfare state had just started to take shape. There was no insurance for the unemployed, no support for the disabled, and the care for the old and poor mostly rested in the hands of public charities, endowments and volunteer groups.
- Organizing the Supply Chain
As early as 1915, it became clear that the Viennese population could not be supplied with sufficient amounts of food. The logistics supply chain had ceased functioning. A centralized regulatory agency was supposed to solve the problem. The German Empire again provided a large-scale and admirable model.
- Stay the course („Durchhalten!“)
When the authorities realized that the war was not going to end as quickly as they had expected, they had to adapt their expectations and to change the minds and hearts – and the taste – of the population. They had to prepare people for far reaching changes in food supply and nutrition.
- A city in upheaval
In August 1914, when the prices for potatoes and vegetables rose, women at the Yppen-Market in Vienna’s 15th district destroyed market stalls. One year later, the situation escalated at the markets and in front of several shops. There were obvious shortages of a number of basic food items, and traditional and popular ways of cooking and eating were prohibited by the authorities.
- The „dying city“
It was evident that the Viennese were severely affected by the war and feared for their lives. Clothes and suits did not fit any longer. Everyone needed ointments for bites by fleas and bugs, shoes and soles became a highly desired good. One could see children walking barefoot in the winter.
- In a state of emergency – chaos and polarization
The longer the war lasted, the stronger the level of polarization became. Emperor Karl who came into power after the death of Franz Joseph in November 1916, wanted a new beginning and a political spring with popular measures: reinstatement of the parliament, peace initiatives, legislation for social causes, amnesty for political prisoners — but the implementation of these measures did not work.
- Societal change and „female war service“
The longer the war lasted the greater the strain on the social and political structure of the city became. The middle class envied the working class which was able to succeed with their strikes in getting higher wages and better working conditions.
- The Lost Generation
The First World War was the first European war that affected the entire population. Every single person was expected to make sacrifices. All areas of life were subordinated to the goals of optimizing warfare and to mobilizing all reserves.
- A laboratory of ideas
Reflecting on the war’s incalculable physical and mental devastation, intellectuals adopted for the first time a critical position to the war. Vienna became a busy “laboratory of ideas”.