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Belligerents and Participants
Unlike their German ally, the Austro-Hungarian empire had an elaborate censorship bureaucracy. Not only did Austria and Hungry have separate commissions supervising censorship, these offices were further separated by home front and front line duties. The War Press Office (Kriegpressequartier) that served directly under the Ministry of War was organized in August 1914. At first they primarily kept reporters away from the front lines so that only an official version of the news that supported the war effort would reach the public. Much of this lacked the subtlety needed to be believable as the achievements of the empire’s troops were always aggrandized. Eventually they came to embed reporters in the field under close supervision, and even chose war artists and photographers to capture events closer to the front. Artists were organized into their own department within the press office (Kunstgruppe) under the direction of Dr. Wilhelm John, the director of the Army Museum in Vienna. Photographers were divided up among various units. Censorship within the empire was supervised by the War Surveillance Office (Kriegsuberwachungsamt in Vienna, and Kriegsuberwachungskommission in Budapest). These commissions however were not in charge of producing propaganda, only supervising it. While Austro-Hungarian publishers generated a lot of military postcards, the amount of propaganda produced pales when compared to that of Allied nations.
Austria had a strong printing industry before the War that was concentrated in Vienna. Many artists made this city their home and it flourished as a center of postcard production. Despite wartime shortages, many of its publishers continued to produce postcards in large numbers covering the Balkan, Russian, and Italian Fronts as well as the naval war in the Adriatic. These are some of the best military cards produced during the Great War from an artistic point of view. The number of cards manufactured fell off as the War dragged on, possibly as a combination of war weariness with men in the printing trades being called up for service. German publishers also captured many actions involving Austria-Hungary.
The artist John Quincy Adams was the great grandson of the United States President, John Quincy Adams. He lived his early life in Boston but moved to Vienna in 1891 to study art. By 1903 he was a member of the Vienna Kunstlerhaus where he exhibited his paintings regularly. He worked as a war artist during the First World War, and a number of his paintings were placed on postcards by the publisher Bruder Kohn.
P.M. Anders paintings captured the fighting on all battlefronts. His somewhat impressionist style however makes many of these images difficult to read when reduced to postcard size.
Richard Assmann was a painter, muralist and illustrator who produced many drawings and paintings during World War One on the Austro-Hungarian fronts with Italy, Serbia, and Russia. Many of his war illustrations were published on postcards by E.P. & Co. of Liepzig.
Albert Berger was a noted fine art publisher and printer in Vienna who produced many chromolithographic posters and prints, including some postcards for the Wiener Werkstatte. During World War One he continued to print high quality propaganda and regimental cards.
One of Alber Berger’s notable artists was Hermann Grot-Rottmayer, a landscape and figure painter from Vienna who provided illustrations for postcards during World War One.
Hans Bertle descended from a long line of painters. Born in the Tyrolean Alps, they would provide the subject for many of his paintings. During the First World War he captured many quiet and dramatic military scenes during the fighting over this region. He would also produce illustrations for propaganda. His images were used by both Austro-Hungarian and German publishers.
Mihály Bíró, a Hungarian Jew attended the Budapest School of Applied Arts but was most influenced by the Arts & Crafts movement while studying in London. On his return to Budapest in 1908, he became heavily involved with the Social Democratic Party and began producing graphic work for their newspaper, Népszava (People’s Voice). By 1912 he was designing costumes, stage sets and bold political posters. Bíró served on the Serbian Front during the Great War, but he was discharged in 1917 after developing serious heart and lung problems that plagued him the rest of his life. Before the conflict ended, Bíró designed magazine covers as well as a number of charity and war loan posters. While he produced theater posters in the postwar years, he was most heavily involved in creating political propaganda for the new Hungarian Soviet Republic. Once the campaign of terror was launched against Communists and Jews, Biro was forced to flee. In 1920 he took up residence in Vienna where he published a series of lithographs, the Horthy Album that depicted the horrors of the White Terror. These images also appear on a postcard set published by Arbelter-Buchhandlung.
Klemens Brosch had served on the Galician Front early in the conflict where he made numerous sketches in pencil and ink depicting the horrors of war in a Goya-like fashion. He was soon discharged from military service when his treatment for a lung ailment had left him a morphine addict. He had a successful but brief art career afterwards in which many of his moody wartime sketches were reproduced on postcards.
When the War opened, Vienna based Bruder Kohn was the largest publisher in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They were especially well known for working with many well known illustrators. One of their favorites was B. Betavazy who produced many cavalry scenes in a soft atmospheric style.
Another of Bruder Kohn’s artists was Hans Larwin, long noted for his landscapes and portraits. Though he was interested in capturing daily life out on the streets, and painted in a somewhat academic style, many of his paintings were often fused with symbolic content. This was especial true of the patriotic and military subjects he represented during the First World War. On other cards the power of the landscape overwhelms the military narrative.
Carl Otto Czeschka was an artist of many trades including graphic designs of all sorts including prints, posters, calendars, book designs, fonts and postcards. His postcards were printed in thematic sets from 1899 until his military set in 1915. They all exhibit a strong sense of design. He was a contributor to the Wiener Werkstatte.
Josef von Diveky was a Hungarian artist that made a career as an etcher, illustrator and graphic designer. He initially found work in a number of foreign countries, but in 1914 he returned to Vienna to exhibit with the Secession. There he produce work for the Cabaret Fledermaus, Wiener Werkstatte, and various magazines. Much of his work wound up on posters and postcards. He continued to illustrate charity and propaganda cards during World War One. While his line drawings differ substantially from the look of his paintings, they all contain a nervous energy.
Josef Danilowatz was a popular painter of landscapes before the Great War, with a propensity for industrial scenes. He produced a number of pieces of the Austro-Hungarian navy once the conflict began. Some of these cards portray straight forward marine scenes while others are infused with patriotic symbolism.
Felice Desclabissac was a Viennese artist who studied in Krakow and Munich. Most of here work revolved around the lives of women who she usually painted in interior settings. The postcards she illustrated for Bruder Kohn during the Great War carry on this theme, only now they are related to the conflict.
The Viennese painter and illustrator, Karl Fahringer is best known for his depictions of animals in traditional rural settings was well as exotic beasts of prey. His somewhat impressionist style carried over into the work he produced as a war artist in in the First Balkan War. He continued to serve in this capacity during World War One on both the Russian and Italian Fronts. A number of his works were reproduced on postcards by Bruder Kohn.
The purpose of the German School Association in Vienna was to promote pan-Germanic solidarity. They built and staffed private schools since 1880 with a curriculum that stressed Germanic ideals. They also produced a lot of propaganda which eventually took the form of charity cards that were printed in great number by Joseph Eberle. Most of these cards promote some aspect of German culture from composers to romantic landscapes, a model they did not break at the outset of World War One. The only military themed cards to be found are those that reference the Liberation Wars.
In addition to charity cards, the German School Association also sold charity stamps to raise additional funds. These were placed on the back of the card to the left, opposite the postage stamp. If both card and stamp were purchased through the association, it could be postmarked with the local chapters seal. Many of these stamps reproduced their logo, which was often printed on their cards.
J.J.Gertmayer was an important lithographer in Vienna who produced many artist drawn military postcards that covered many fronts of the War. They are distinct in that they almost consistently include the year of publication on their backs, though their logo of a mounted knight is often the only indication given of this publisher. These cards were issued in German, Hungarian, and Czech to appeal to a wider audience.
The prolific painter, F. Hollerer seemed to be Gertmayer’s favorite war artist who produced battle scenes from all three Fronts. Sometimes it is the figures that dominate his scenes, at other times it is the landscape. He seems to have had a preference for capturing cavalry action. Hollerer also produced many images for Red Cross cards.
Lajos Gimes was a Hungarian painter of landscapes and cityscapes in which he captured everyday life. He illustrated postcards during World War One capturing the same ordinary subjects while making great use of light to further their appeal.
Although Marie Grengg is best known today for her inter-war writing on nativist aesthetics, she also had an early career illustrating children’s books. Her strong Germanic leanings were evident in the watercolors she produced for propaganda postcards during World War One. These were printed by Chwala in Vienna.
While Karl Hayd painted still lives, cityscapes and rural scenes in a rather brushy style, he also produced a great deal of prints and commercial graphic work for posters and postcards. He became a war artist during the Great War serving with the Austro-Hungarian army in Galicia, the Dolomites, and the Trentino. The images he created at this time range from ordinary scenes of soldier life to the macabre. He returned to painting military subjects during World War Two.
Hermes was a printer in Vienna who produced military and propaganda postcards throughout the War. They are most noted for a large set of postcards in Hungarian that revolve around specifically named military units. Often placed in winter settings, the action is close up and the immediacy this provides gives these cards a very contemporary look.
Hermes also printed an unusual set entitled Marine Schauspiel by Gustav Bitterlich depicting paintings of warships and U-boats.
The naval war on the Adriatic was also covered by Austrian publishers, largely on subset of Red Cross cards. The best of these were by the marine painter Heinrich Heusser, better known as Harry. He grew up in Pola, which was home for an important Austrian naval base on the Adriatic, which no doubt inspired his subject matter. His work captures dramatic events as well as the quiet moodiness of the sea.
Hans von Hayek was a landscape painter, especially noted for his work in Indonesia. He produced military themed paintings during World War One, and some of his drawings were used by German publishers to illustrate postcards.
Rudolf Alfred Hoger was primarily a painter of sentimental narrative subjects from his studio in Vienna. During World War One he painted scenes that captured the more human side of the conflict though they are often fraught with emotion. A number of his images were used to illustrate postcards.
Max Jaffe was one of Vienna’s most notable fine art printers that produced a variety of products in lithography and collotype including postcards. He was responsible for many fine art reproductions and fine portfolio prints for photographers. He would turn out a number of cards illustrated with military subjects during the Great War.
Albert Janesch was a Vienese painter who worked in an academic style. After joining the Austrian army in 1915, he was sent to the Italian Front at the Izonzo River as an official war artist. He would also produce images of the Balkan Front that are reminiscent of Orientalism. Janesch would also work as a war artist during World War Two. His artwork was used to illustrate postcards published during World War One, but a number of these pieces are now in art museums and have been placed on postcards again as art reproductions.