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  • Kulturmanöver: Das k.u.k. Kriegspressequartier und die Mobilisierung von Wort und Bild ed. by Sema Colpan, Amália Kerekes, Siegfried Mattl, Magdolna Orosz, and Tatin Teller
  • John E. Fahey
Sema Colpan, Amália Kerekes, Siegfried Mattl, Magdolna Orosz, and Tatin Teller, eds., Kulturmanöver: Das k.u.k. Kriegspressequartier und die Mobilisierung von Wort und Bild. Budapester Studien zur Literaturwissenschaft 18. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2015. 374pp.

One of the most fascinating aspects of war is how it allows military culture and events to suffuse through and dominate civilian culture and life. In Austria-Hungary during the First World War, one of the most important shapers of both military and civilian culture was the Kriegspressequartier (kpq). Started in July 1914 as a branch of the General Staff, the kpq had the responsibility to coordinate press and propaganda throughout the war. Colpan et al. in Kulturmanöver: Das k.u.k. Kriegspressequartier und die Mobilisierung von Wort und Bild show the wide variety of ways that the kpq affected soldiers and civilians.

After a short overview of the kpq by Walter Reichel, Kulturmanöver dives into analysis of the written activities of the kpq. Most of the notable authors of Austria-Hungary spent time as war correspondents, propagandists, or supporters of the war through other literary means. Specific authors like Alice Schalek, Ferenc Molnár, Margit Vészi, and Felix Salten are discussed by Bernhard Bachinger, Boldizár Vörös, Katalin Teller, and Alfred Pfoser, respectively. There are also excellent overviews of Hungarian literary attitudes regarding Serbia and women’s writings about the war by Edit Király and Alexandra Millner. Larger-profile authors such as Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Karl [End Page 129] Kraus are not explicitly covered, as they have been well studied elsewhere, but Kraus in particular is a frequent foil for many of the kqp’s writers.

More ephemeral but perhaps more influential on troops and audiences, theater was also controlled by the kpq. Kulturmanöver’s authors do an excellent job of showing the ties between theaters in the various parts of the empire and the front. For example, Eva Kirvanec shows the large number of plays and theater groups that traveled between Vienna and Budapest, helping to unify cultural expression within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Multiple chapters address theater on the front lines, looking at cultural transmission from the core to the frontier. Mirella Csiszár and Marianna Sipőcz go further and examine theaters in prisoner of war camps in Russia. Since around two million Habsburg soldiers ended up in pow camps, this is a huge potential area for study. Internment also proved to be a fruitful field for acting practice—many interwar stage actors got their start in pow camps.

Audio-visual propaganda was also extremely important. Obviously, this includes patriotic paintings, wartime photography, and propaganda films. Siegfried Mattl’s chapter takes wartime propaganda in a new direction by looking at wartime clothing and style. The Vienna Werkstätte worked hard to create a distinctly Viennese fashion in contrast to Paris and the other fashion powerhouses. Joachim Schätz examines a fascinating subgenre of wartime propaganda films—factory films. He argues that the kpq produced documentaries showing how ammunition, weapons, and other war material was produced to inspire confidence that Austria-Hungary could compete in the newly industrialized battles of World War I.

Though not directly a product of the kpq, memory and memorialization of the war was heavily influenced by wartime propaganda. Section five of Kulturmanöver addresses memory. Some of the chapters show direct connections to the kpq. For example, many of the photographs stored in archives discussed by Tamás Lénárt in were taken by kpq photographers. The control and use of archival photographs is an important aspect of archival politics. Likewise, Sabine Zelger discusses novels written by, or heavily influenced by, authors who had worked at the kpq. Finally, Attila Ferenczi analyzes war memorials in Budapest. Memorial slogans and tablets are invariably reflective of wartime propaganda, with terms like fatherland, sacrifice, and honor extremely common in both media. The kpq continued to influence Central Europe through these residual memorials, novels, and materials well...


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