Outbreak of the war
End of the war

About the Project

Virtual journey to the time of the First World War

Online exhibition "The First World War and the End of the Habsburg Monarchy" presents new approaches to history

On 28 June 1914, the fatal shots were fired at the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne in Sarajevo. Shortly before the 100th anniversary of the assassination, an innovative online exhibition will provide an understanding of the path into the First World War, the end of the Habsburg Empire and life of the people on all the fronts.

Hundreds of memorabilia

On 24 June 2014, the new project of the award-winning portal “The World of the Habsburgs” is going online. For the new web exhibition, a 7-person team and a number of guest authors under the academic coordination of Univ.-Prof. Franz X. Eder have been researching since the beginning of 2013 and have collected over 1000 illustrations together with sound and film material. This includes not only source material from a variety of archives but also a large number of memorabilia from private individuals. “It was particularly important for us to enable the user to experience the everyday and social history of the First World War, to show them how the people themselves experienced their time. The many letters, field postcards and extracts from diaries in the exhibition communicate an impressive picture,” explains Eder. This particularly moving part of the virtual exhibition casts light on the fates of many individuals, and is the result of a call for material issued in cooperation with the “Documentation of Life Recordings at the University of Vienna”. It is based on source material from the “Collection of Women's Estates at the University of Vienna”.

Individual access

The platform provides a number of access levels: the media library presents visitors with a variety of pictorial material by means of which they can reach the linked texts, persons, places and events. Alternatively, the developments of the war years can be followed geographically on the map and chronologically on a time line display. A particularly innovative navigation approach is the time image: Depending on where the visitor is in terms of topic, place or time, different objects, symbols or persons are displayed that invite the visitor to begin further voyages of discovery through history.

Innovative information architecture

Thus there are around 70 topic areas to be investigated - from the nationalities of the Danube Monarchy through the various war fronts to the propaganda film and children's literature in the First World War. The innovative information architecture of the online exhibition relates the topics to each other and links them with persons, places and objects. “Our aim was to enable users to discover more and more approaches to the history of the First World War. In this way, they can explore the historical connections for themselves and experience a dynamic digital narrative,” as Christopher Höbart of the dform design office summarises the objectives. Following the huge success of “The World of the Hapsburgs”, the dform design collective was once again entrusted with the concept, the web design and the development of the digital exhibition..

Historical responsibility

The organisation responsible for the online exhibition, as previously for “The World of the Habsburgs”, is Schloß Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H. under the direction of Dr. Franz Sattlecker. “The end of the Danube Monarchy and the First World War are inseparably linked. We see it as our responsibility to preserve not only the architectural heritage of the Habsburgs but also to report about the end of the dynasty and its role in the world war. Above all, however, we want to show what the horrors of the war and the radical social changes meant for the people in Austria,” explains Sattlecker.