Outbreak of the war
End of the war

The Fading-Out of the Balkan Front

With the focus of commemorating the First World War on the Western front, not only the fighting of the Russian Tsar's army in the East was overshadowed, also the armed conflict in Southeast Europe. The same has long held true for writing the war’s history, which is increasingly starting to turn towards the war in the Balkans.

In the countries of Southeast Europe, the events that occurred between 1914 and 1918 were perceived somewhat selectively. From a more or less nationalist point of view, the Central Powers’ behaviour was reduced to repression, exploitation and revenge, whilst from an Austrian perspective the Habsburg Army’s actions were judged positively, with dark sides often overlooked.

Although more critical observations have gradually gained traction in the recent military history of Austria since the 1980s, ultimately it was an international trend that drew more attention to the First World War, previously consigned to the ‘antiquarian nook of historiography’.

Given this situation, many fields of research from the cultural, social and economic spheres were developed only recently. Interest was thus inevitably awakened in whether and in what way certain aspects – not least of all everyday life and the ‘civilian side’ of the war – encroached upon environments and regions hitherto unconsidered, at least not in this respect. Precisely the chance to gather these days more detailed information – not confined to the Western front – has led to a search for other battlefields and for a ‘war as yet untold’, in Poland, the bordering Western territories of the Tsarist Empire, the Middle East or in colonial regions overseas, among other places. With this in mind, the ‘International Society for First World War Studies’ held its conference in Innsbruck in 2011 under the heading of ‘Other Fronts’.

Within this framework, greater attention to the ‘First World War in the Balkans’ had already been called for previously. Congresses dealt with this topic from the year 2000, as did collective volumes and monographs that not least of all addressed the Danube Monarchy’s occupation policy and the situation of civilians during military campaigns or under the occupying regimes.


Angelow, Jürgen/Gahlen, Gundula (Hrsg.): Der Erste Weltkrieg auf dem Balkan. Perspektiven der Forschung, Berlin 2011

Gumz, Jonathan E.: The Resurrection and Collapse of Empire in Habsburg Serbia, 1914–1918, Cambridge 2009

Contents related to this chapter


  • Aspect

    After the war

    The First World War marked the end of the “long nineteenth century”. The monarchic empires were replaced by new political players. The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy disintegrated into separate nation states. The Republic of German Austria was proclaimed in November 1918, and Austria was established as a federal state in October 1920. The years after the war were highly agitated ­– in a conflicting atmosphere of revolution and defeat, and political, economic, social and cultural achievements and setbacks.


Persons, Objects & Events