In October 1914, just a few months after the war began, shortages and scarcities could be felt everywhere. The authorities thus took the first measures in terms of rationing and intervention.
During the war, the civilian population came to endure a worsening of their living conditions in general. This affected the shortage in foodstuffs and consumer goods in a particularly drastic way, however, leading to a dramatic emergency.
It was not until the second half of the war that airborne leafleting was recognized as an effective instrument of psychological warfare. Mostly printed on one side only, these publications were dropped over the front in hazardous actions in an attempt to demoralize enemy troops.
The poster had been used as a medium of communication for commercial purposes well before the First World War, and advertising art had already become established as a separate branch of art production. With the advent of war the poster became a modern vehicle of political content.
Caricature was especially successful as a medium of propaganda since its subtle visual effects could have a substantial and far-reaching impact, ensuring the swift dissemination of emotions and values in reaction to current events.
It was not only the messages of inflammatory propaganda that exhibited similarities in all the countries involved in the war. The subjects and forms of representation of pictorial propaganda were also astonishingly similar.
The propaganda produced by the warring states exhibited few distinctive national traits. It conveyed similar messages about the progress and aims of the war, images of the enemy and national identity, varying according to the country of origin.
The First World War saw the creation for the first time of dedicated institutions of propaganda intended to generate a perception of the war that was as uniform as possible. Britain and the United States of America took a pioneering role in the development of psychological warfare. The Central Powers at first underestimated the opportunities offered by propaganda and only started to organize propaganda measures centrally as the war progressed.
The First World War witnessed the wholesale mobilization of the masses to an extent that had never been seen before. As in all the belligerent countries, targeted propaganda became an important element of warfare in the Habsburg Monarchy. Men and women, young and old, the front line and the hinterland, were to form a common ‘front of opinion’.
In the First World War, visual representation developed into its own dimension of the war. Photography and film became the leading media for representing the war and determined society's perception of it.