Outbreak of the war
End of the war

Ines Rebhan-Glück


"Wartime absolutism" – and the revocation of civic rights

The new military mobilisation led to a system of political coercion in Austria Hungary, which is referred to in the historical literature as "wartime absolutism". This was made possible by several emergency regulations that had already been laid down in the 1867 "December Constitution" in the form of the Emperor's powers to issue emergency decrees, as well as in the right to suspend selected basic rights.


“Hypercensorship” and mood reports

During the entire war, it was not only the contents of letters that were monitored but also the censors themselves were subject to permanent control. What was known as "hypercensorship" was applied at all censorship offices, “carried out by particularly reliable and experienced censors or by the censorship administration”.



Censorship with ink and scissors and seeking for information material

In order to be able to censor the huge mass of mail, sorting offices were set up after the reform of the letter censorship in 1916, dividing the letters into “language and subject groups”. If there were no objections to a letter, it was stamped by the censor and passed on to the Outgoing Group, from where it was sent to the recipient.


Monitoring of the post – letter censorship

The censorship of letters covered all correspondence sent to and from abroad, (random samples of) domestic correspondence, and initially the entire field post and all letters from prisoners of war.


Everything is censored!

In addition to the press, the Censorship Group within the War Monitoring Office also dealt with telegrams. This essentially involved two measures: “the closure of certain telegraph offices” (for instance in the broader area of the front) and “the monitoring and control of telegrams by what were known as Censorship Commissions”. The latter were set up in a number of cities of the monarchy (Vienna, Krakow, Lviv, Prague, Innsbruck, Graz, Trieste and Zadar) at the start of the war, and were under the control of the armed forces, with staff comprising military and telegraph officials.



Blank spaces, everywhere!

On 25 July 1914, “a regulation of the ministries of the interior and justice explicitly banned the publication of military news in print”.


The War Monitoring Office and press censorship

By instruction of 27 July 1914, a War Monitoring Office (WMO) was set up in the Ministry of War in Vienna under the direction of Leopold von Schleyer as the top-level authority for ensuring the enforcement of the emergency regulations.


A love affair in wartime

As was the case in many wartime correspondences, in their letters to one another Mathilde and Ottokar Hanzel evoked memories of happier times before the war and contemplated their future after the end of the conflict. Looking back on their shared past and forwards to a shared future helped them in part to overcome the pain of separation in war, giving them comfort and making the gruelling conditions of everyday life in wartime – even if only for a short time – seem more bearable.


Black marketeering, profiteering and self-subsistence

As the war went on, the food supply situation in the Austrian half of the Monarchy began to assume catastrophic dimensions, particularly in the larger cities. The relevant authorities attempted to secure supplies by introducing measures such as rationing or ‘meat-free days’, but this did little to relieve the dismal situation during the latter years of the war. Black marketeering and profiteering increasingly led to widespread resentment among the population and an atmosphere of general mistrust.