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A Swiss postcard of 'The European War' in 1914. The Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary face enemies to the east, west, and south. Germany is fighting the war it tried to avoid, battling Russia to the east and France to the west. Germany had also hoped to avoid fighting England which came to the aid of neutral (and prostrate) Belgium, and straddles the Channel. Austria-Hungary also fights on two fronts, against Russia to the east and Serbia and Montenegro to the south. Italy, the third member of the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, declared neutrality, and looks on. Other neutral nations include Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania. Japan enters from the east to battle Germany. The German Fleet stays close to port in the North and Baltic Seas while a German Zeppelin targets England. The Austro-Hungarian Fleet keeps watch in the Adriatic. Turkey is not represented, and entered the war at the end of October, 1914; Italy in late May, 1915.
Text:
Der Europäische Krieg
The European War
Reverse:
Kriegskarte No. 61. Verlag K. Essig, Basel
Kunstanstalt (Art Institute) Frobenius A.G. Basel

A Swiss postcard of 'The European War' in 1914. The Central Powers of Germany and Austria-Hungary face enemies to the east, west, and south. Germany is fighting the war it tried to avoid, battling Russia to the east and France to the west. Germany had also hoped to avoid fighting England which came to the aid of neutral (and prostrate) Belgium, and straddles the Channel. Austria-Hungary also fights on two fronts, against Russia to the east and Serbia and Montenegro to the south. Italy, the third member of the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, declared neutrality, and looks on. Other neutral nations include Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania. Japan enters from the east to battle Germany. The German Fleet stays close to port in the North and Baltic Seas while a German Zeppelin targets England. The Austro-Hungarian Fleet keeps watch in the Adriatic. Turkey is not represented, and entered the war at the end of October, 1914; Italy in late May, 1915.

Image text

Der Europäische Krieg

The European War

Reverse:

Kriegskarte No. 61. Verlag K. Essig, Basel

Kunstanstalt (Art Institute) Frobenius A.G. Basel

Other views: Larger, Larger


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1914

Black and white postcard with an embossed floral border, and a calendar for 1914. Two girls play at a water trough fashioned from a log, ribbons in their hair, and toy boats floating. On the trough, a poem:
"This little card I send, and pray
That round about your path each day
The light of love may shine alway."
E. Hutchinson
806J   Copyright.   Beagles' Postcards
Reverse: Post Card and logo for Beagles' Best Postcards
Best in the World
Dear Dorris
I have great pleasure in sending you this card once more trusting to find you in good health. Your(s?) Ca???? Sills

Black and white postcard with an embossed floral border, and a calendar for 1914. Two girls play at a water trough fashioned from a log, ribbons in their hair, and toy boats floating. On the trough, a poem:
"This little card I send, and pray
That round about your path each day
The light of love may shine alway."
E. Hutchinson
806J Copyright. Beagles' Postcards © Beagles' Postcards

1915

Calendar from the French magazine Le Petit Journal with scenes including (clockwise from top left) the capture of a German battle flag by Zouaves and Chasseurs à pied, a French artillery crew manning a 75mm. field gun, a dragoon moving into position, a heavier gun firing, entrenched troops, and marines advancing. The calendar includes Roman Catholic holy days, saints days, fête nationale (Bastille Day), and the time of sunrise and sunset. Illustration by L. Bomblec (?).
Text:
Le Petit Journal
est
Le Journal Républicain
le plus impartial et le mieux informé
le plus répandu des journaux du monde entier
Romans feuilletons des ecrivains les plus célèbres
Calendrier
1915
Le Petit Journal
is
The Republican Journal
the most impartial and well informed
the most widespread of newspapers in the world
Serialized novels of the most celebrated writers
calendar
1915

Calendar from the French magazine Le Petit Journal with scenes including (clockwise from top left) the capture of a German battle flag by Zouaves and Chasseurs à pied, a French artillery crew manning a 75mm. field gun, a dragoon moving into position, a heavier gun firing, entrenched troops, and marines advancing. The calendar includes Roman Catholic holy days, saints days, fête nationale (Bastille Day), and the time of sunrise and sunset. Illustration by L. Bomblec (?).

1916

Children dressed as Allied soldiers run to bring the New Year, 1916. France carries the 1, the United Kingdom (in a kilt) and Belgium — his national roundel on his hat — the 9, Serbia and Russia the 1 of the decade, and Italy the 6. Japan, bearing a flag, hurries to catch up. A folding calendar card for 1916 by G. Bertrand.
Reverse: the calendar for 1916
Inside:
With best wishes for a happy Christmas with love from Wallis

Children dressed as Allied soldiers run to bring the New Year, 1916. France carries the 1, the United Kingdom (in a kilt) and Belgium — his national roundel on his hat — the 9, Serbia and Russia the 1 of the decade, and Italy the 6. Japan, bearing a flag, hurries to catch up. A folding calendar card for 1916 by G. Bertrand.
Reverse: the calendar for 1916
Inside:
With best wishes for a happy Christmas with love from Wallis

1917

1917 Wedgwood Calendar Tile with the U.S. Navy Yard in Boston
Text:
Section of United States Navy Yard, Boston
Reverse:
1917 Calendar
Jones, McDuffee & Stratton Co.
Crockery, China, & Glass Merchants
33 Franklin St., Boston, U.S.A.

1917 Wedgwood Calendar Tile with the United States Navy Yard in Boston on the face, and the 1917 calendar on the reverse.

1918

1918 YMCA folding calendar card of two child French and American soldiers dancing beneath a ball of mistletoe and the words "With much Love", by Ray or R.A.Y.
The back cover is a 1918 calendar and the YMCA logo and "Devambez. Gr. Paris". The months are in English and French.
On the inside, two toy soldiers - French and American - holding hands beneath the words 'Best Wishes from "Over Here"' and "1918". Hand written is, "Best Love and Wishes to Little Sister from Big Brother."

1918 YMCA folding calendar card of two child French and American soldiers dancing beneath a ball of mistletoe and the words "With much Love", by Ray or R.A.Y.

Saturday, June 27, 1914

"Brünn (745 ft.), the capital of Moravia, with 125,000 inhab. (two-thirds German), lies in a beautiful fertile region at the foot of the Spielberg, between the Schwarzawa and the Zwittawa. The town, which was an important place as early as the 9th cent. is now one of the chief manufacturing places in the Austrian empire, especially for cloth." *

Sunday, June 27, 1915

"Suddenly the artillery fire died away. The front line became visible. But then we began firing again. Our artillery put the Russian trenches under heavy fire. I demanded that the reserves go in. We had a firing line, man against man. The Russians didn't advance and those who tried to retreat were blown away. We killed hundreds of them. It is irresponsible, how ruthlessly the Russians drive their men forward. My men were exemplary. An unshakeable wall. The night passed without incident. We left the Russians alone so that they could collect their wounded. Many were screaming all day in the wheatfield." *

Tuesday, June 27, 1916

"God (blessed and exalted be He) has vouchsafed the land an opportunity to rise in revolt, has enabled her by His power and might to seize her independence and crown her efforts with prosperity and victory, even after she was crushed by the maladministration of the Turkish civil and military officials. She stands quite apart and distinct from countries that still groan under the yoke of the Union and Progress Government. She is independent in the fullest sense of the word, freed from the rule of strangers and purged of every foreign influence. Her principles are to defend the faith of Islam, to elevate the Moslem people, to found their conduct on Holy Law, to build up the code of justice on the same foundation in harmony with the principles of religion, to practice its ceremonies in accordance with modern progress, and make a genuine revolution by sparing no pains in spreading education among all classes according to their station and their needs." *

Wednesday, June 27, 1917

"There remained one other factor in the situation: the great amorphous mass of the Russian people themselves. Up to this point the revolution had not improved their living conditions in the least, at any rate in the cities. The food shortage in the cities had grown worse, and prices had now risen to seven times above the prewar level. The bread ration had gone down to 1½ pounds for manual workers and one pound for others. In Petrograd many factories had closed down, and the unemployed men, mingling with the idle military garrison, formed a solid pacifist block. They believed that their leaders in the Ex Com and the Soviet had betrayed them by joining a belligerent coalition government. They wanted peace." *

Thursday, June 27, 1918

"June 27 thus marked the final step in Foch's rise to power. Like previous selections of Joffre, Nivelle, and Pétain, Foch's elevation had a profound effect on French strategy, operations, and doctrine. The day after the War Committee met, Foch sent Pétain a letter that began, 'It is important to envisage henceforth the resumption of the offensive by the allied armies in 1918 as soon as means permit.' Bowing to Foch's new powers, on July 2 Pétain sent his army-group commanders a copy of Foch's memorandum of June 16 on doctrine. Neither Foch nor Pétain realized how close they were to the end of the war." *

* Quotation contexts and sources

At the End

During the four and half years of the Great War from the summer of 1914 to November 11, 1918, over eight million combatants and six million civilians died. In battle, they were killed by new and increasingly powerful weapons, 70% by artillery fire, and in higher percentages than in Europe's wars of the previous century. Civilians died from starvation, from being shelled and bombed, and from genocidal operations against ethnic minorities.

In the war and its aftermath, the empires of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, and Turkey were destroyed, and new nations were born and reborn.

New technologies were invented and young ones advanced rapidly - the airplane, poison gas, the machine gun, the tank, flame-throwers, submarines. Industrial production of the technologies, of shells, of bullets, of barbed wire, grew to unprecedented levels.

Societies changed. Women entered the wage labor market to free men up for combat and to meet the production demands of the war. Passports, identity cards, and increased border controls became increasingly common.

When the war itself ended, related wars continued: in Russia, Civil War between the new Bolshevik government and its enemies, both foreign and domestic; in Turkey, war by Greece to seize islands in the Aegean Sea and parts of the mainland of Turkey itself; in Ireland, war for independence from Great Britain.

At the Beginning

On Sunday, June 28, 1914, in the city of Sarajevo, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, a province of Austria-Hungary, a team of seven conspirators with grenades, pistols and cyanide capsules/tablets, joined the crowds that had turned out to see Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and his wife Sophie von Hohenberg. A failed assassination attempt - a grenade that slightly wounded spectators and two in the royal couple's entourage - altered some plans and led to other events. A planned visit to City Hall went ahead, but a decision to visit the victims in hospital necessitating a changed route, a failure to inform the drivers of the change, the lead driver's attempt to back to correct the mistake - put the Archduke's stopped car in front of the most determined of the assassins, the Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip. He stepped forward, averted his eyes, and fired twice, shooting the Archduke through the throat and his wife through the groin. The couple was dead within an hour. The gun, the bombs, the cyanide Princip took, and some of the conspirators would be traced to Serbia.

The Archduke was not popular in Austria-Hungary, and the reaction to his death was muted. But Austria-Hungary was a multi-ethnic, polyglot nation with populations that wanted to leave the empire. Princip had acted to advance his vision of a union of South Slavs that included Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In Vienna, the capital, government officials feared the rise of Serbia, which had been victorious and doubled its size in the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913.

Initial concerns in other European capitals of an Austro-Hungarian response to the assassination lessened as July passed. In Petersburg, the Russian capital, government officials felt they must support Serbia if Austria-Hungary acted. The French and Russian governments communicated their support of their alliance and mutual commitment to aid the other in the event of war. The government of Great Britain, the third member of the Triple Entente with Russia and France, heard little that alarmed it. In Berlin, capital of the German Empire, which was allied with Austria-Hungary and Italy in the Triple Alliance, there was support for a quick and limited military action by Austria-Hungary.

Fears

Defeated by Japan in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, and humiliated in 1908 when it failed its Balkan ally Serbia, and did not prevent Austria-Hungary's incorporation of Slavic Bosnia-Herzegovina, many government officials in Russia felt the country must act in the next crisis when it inevitably arose. Many in the French government wanted to restore the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine it had lost to Germany in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, but feared a Germany that had a population half again as large as that of France, and worked to strengthen its ties with Russia, in part by financing its ally's rapid recovery from the 1905 war. Having seen the creation and rise of the Balkan states of Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro, Albania, and Greece, that had all wrested land and nationhood from the Ottoman Empire, and had come close to eliminating Turkey in Europe, Austria-Hungary feared losing its peoples and territories to these nations and to nations that did not yet exist. Great Britain, with the most powerful fleet in the world, and rule over one quarter of the world's population, but with a small army that was not structured for a European land war, was troubled by Germany's expansion and strengthening of its fleet. Many in the German military thought that war with Russia was inevitable, and that, with the recovery of Russia from the war and revolution of 1915, it should come sooner rather than when Russia had become even stronger. The military also feared a two-front war, facing France to the west, and Russia to the east. The military plan to address this, the Schlieffen Plan, aimed for a rapid defeat of France so that troops could be transported by rail across Germany to face the slowly-mobilizing Russians.

Austria-Hungary's Demands, Mobilization, and War

When Austria-Hungary's response to evidence that Serbia had played a role in the assassination came, there was little time for governments to react. Austria-Hungary submitted demands of Serbia that included unconditional acceptance within 24 hours. As European governments learned of the response, and hurried to react, Serbia accepted all by one of Austria-Hungary's demands, that which most impinged upon its sovereignty. The ambassador receiving the response left immediately for Vienna. On July 28, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and on the next day bombarded Belgrade, its capital.

Russia mobilized its army in support of Serbia, but with a mobilization plan that activated troops facing not only Austria-Hungary but also Germany. On August 1, Germany declared war on Russia and invaded Luxemburg to begin its assault on France. France ordered general mobilization effective August 2, and began executing its plan to attack Germany along their border, through Alsace and Lorraine. On August 3, Germany declared war on France, and requested passage of its troops through Belgium to attack France along its northern border. Belgium, defending the neutrality that France, Germany, and Great Britain had pledged to support, refused. On August 4, Germany invaded Belgium. In Great Britain, where there was significant opposition to the war, the invasion of Belgium shifted the opinion of the public and the government. Britain declared war on Germany.

Across Europe, millions of men were in motion, on trains, horseback, and on foot. France and Britain were bringing troops and laborers from its colonies and the British Commonwealth, France from Algeria, Senegal, and Dahomey, Britain from Egypt and India. Generals had not assembled armies this large before, and had not put them into motion, nor led them into battle. Most generals, most soldiers, most civilians thought the war would end in months, that their their army would be in Berlin, in Paris, in Petersburg, by Christmas, before 1915. Only a few saw this war would be different, and would not end for years.