Outbreak of the war
End of the war
Transporting weapons to the advance position, photograph, February 1916

Copyright: Sammlung Frauennachlässe, Institut für Geschichte der Universität Wien
Partner: Sammlung Frauennachlässe, Institut für Geschichte der Universität Wien


‘To you, to you!’

The correspondence of a Viennese husband and wife during the First World War

The Viennese couple Mathilde and Ottokar Hanzel were separated almost continuously from each other during the four years of the conflict. Whereas Mathilde Hanzel (née Hübner) experienced the war together with the couple’s two children in Vienna, her husband was deployed in a reserve company in Tyrol from August 1914 and from 1915 stationed at the Italian front. During this time the couple wrote lengthy letters and postcards to each other almost daily, often several times a day. Encompassing more than 2,000 items in all, this correspondence sent via the military postal service has been preserved almost in its entirety. It is thus also one of the most extensive exchanges of correspondence currently archived at the Sammlung Frauennachlässe (collection of women’s literary estates) at the Department of History at the University of Vienna. The letters afford an insight into the daily life of a couple separated by the war, a life marked by the daily anxiety and worry about each other, confrontation with food shortages, and the longing for peace.

Translation: Sophie Kidd