World War I in Linz


Food shortages in Linz

As the first declaration of war by Austria-Hungary to Serbia was issued in July 100 years ago, anyone knew anything about the terrible consequences of the First World War. “By Christmas we are all back home”, many the soldiers from Linz throught, which formed up in the summer of 1914. Markus Altrichter from the Archives of the City of Linz provides new insights with historical photographs from Linz during Deep Space LIVE on THU, March 27, 2014, 8 PM, into this time. When we think of the First World War today, especially black and white photographs come to mind – but we can hardly imagine that the war and the hunger crisis, however, took place under a blue sky and summer temperatures, too.

Mr. Altrichter, as a historian have you encountered first color photographs during your research?

Markus Altrichter: The technique of color photography was still in its infancy, photos in color of the First World War were therefore extremely rare. In Linz, to my knowledge, no color photographs have been made at this time. But there were manual colorings of black and white photos, but their color did not match the reality.

War bonds, 1917

Suppose we take a look back at Linz in March 1914 (just before the war began), in March 1916, and in March 1918 (the last year of the war) – what has changed in the city and in the population?

Markus Altrichter: Linz was a prosperous town in peace in March 1914. For the population there was no indication of a major European war. In the spring of 1916, the situation was completely different. Due to the long duration of the war and the large losses the initial euphoric enthusiasm for the war was gone. The population had to adapt to a long war. Food rationing were the result, nevertheless the items of daily use became less and less. In March 1918, the population suffered in particular in the cities from hunger. In agriculture, the labor shortage was noticeable, crop yields declined. War-weariness and strikes were the result. The people hoped for a quick end of the war.

Corpus Christi procession on the main square of Linz, 1915

Which motives did you most frequently encountered from the time of World War I in Linz?

Markus Altrichter: Pictures of moving out soldiers who were cheered by the population were very dominant at the beginning of the war. Later, with increasing duration of the war and the rise of the losses at the front, views of reserve military hospitals, schools and or the like were often made. You always have to remember that when they published pictures it was a time of censorship and propaganda measures were taken. Especially, I found pictures as advertisements for war bonds very often.

On THU March 27, 2014, 8 PM, you will see during Deep Space LIVE at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz a selection of historical photos from the time of World War I in Linz. Admission 3 € or a valid museum ticket – during your visit to the museum on Thursday, the entrance to Deep Space LIVE is included.