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Belligerents and Participants
Montenegro, largely populated by ethnic Serbians, fought alongside Serbia during the Balkan Wars. After Austria declared war on Serbia, this small Kingdom declared war on Austria-Hungary on August 7th and Germany on the 9th. Austria-Hungry only invaded with a small force during their initial offensive against Serbia in October. In late 1915, King Nicola sent most Montenegrin troops to Serbia where they fought under Serbian command.
After France entered the War they decided to strengthen their position in the Adriatic by capturing the southernmost Austro-Hungarian naval base at Bocche di Cattaro. This attack was to be supported with heavy guns hauled up to the Montenegrin fortress atop Mount Lovcen where they could bombard the neighboring port. When these guns went into service in October, the Austro-hungarian warships that were already bombarding the coast of Montenegro were reinforced by the dreadnought SMS Radetsky from Pola. This Austro-Hungarian flotilla then set out to end to this threat by bombarding Mount Lovcen. After a number of guns were destroyed, the French withdrew. These naval actions against the coast of Montenegro are some of the most common postcards from this front to be found.
In January of 1916 the Austro-Hungarians with German and Bulgarian help launched a major offensive against Serbia that finally broke through their defenses. After the Serbs were routed, the Montenegrin army retreated to their homeland where they put up a hasty defense to buy time for the Serbian army to retreat into Albania. They held up at the Battle of Mojkovac, where the attacking Austrian-Hungarians were thrown back.
Another Austro-Hungarian attack backed by naval support was then launched a few days later against the main Montenegrin line of defense at the fortress on Mount Lovcen. Montenegrin commanders thought this fortress nearly impregnable and were unprepared when it quickly captured. Their capital, Cetinje fell to the advancing Austro-Hungarians soon afterwards, and Montenegro surrendered on January 17th. Many in the Montenegrin army escaped with the retreating Serbians to Corfu, and would eventually find their way to the Allied lines at Salonika. Some Montenegrins also fought for the Austro-Hungarians on the Russian Front.
At the end of 1918 the Serbian army entered and occupied Montenegro. King Nicola who was living in exile was then deposed and Montenegro united with Serbia. In December they had become part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Many in Montenegro were unhappy with this unification, and with Italian support they staged the Christmas Uprising the following month.
Although the military campaign in Montenegro was brief, the occupation lasted much longer. While this resulted in few postcards being published of this small battlefront, it also provided an opportunity for Austro-Hungarian publishers back home to supply postcards depicting the occupation. Many of these show nondescript collections of soldiers, but the drama of the regions mountainous terrain could always be called in to attract customers. Probably the most common cards to be found of Montenegro are by Austrian publishers depicting their troops on the march or in occupation.
The Austrian artist Karl Ludwig Prinz painted a number of Montenegrin landscapes for Austrian Red Cross charity cards. While these views are similar to his subtle renditions of other battle fronts, they usually contain no hint of military activity. They rely on the viewerÕs knowledge to recognize that these are depictions of places that once held military importance.
Montenegro did not have the capacity nor the resources to support a postcard industry during the War years. If cards were produced here they are few; and most of the scant depictions of this front that do exist were printed elsewhere. Most that depict the military campaigns seem to come from Austria-Hungary since they commanded the victorious forces. Montenegro is best represented on Allied cards by political cartoons, especially from France.