Faith and Death

  

Knieender Soldat, Anton Faistauer (1887 – 1930), 1917, Kohle, Pastellkreide auf Papier, Salzburg Museum, , Inv.-Nr. 308-50
Knieender Soldat, Anton Faistauer (1887 – 1930), 1917, Kohle, Pastellkreide auf Papier, Salzburg Museum, , Inv.-Nr. 308-50Klicken um Bild zu vergrößern
Behelmter Sensenmann, Karl Reisenbichler (1885 – 1962), um 1918, Kohle auf Papier, Salzburg Museum, Inv.-Nr. 1161-87
Behelmter Sensenmann, Karl Reisenbichler (1885 – 1962), um 1918, Kohle auf Papier, Salzburg Museum, Inv.-Nr. 1161-87Klicken um Bild zu vergrößern
Mirabellplatz, Feldmesse für das k. u. k. Infanterie-Regiment "Erzherzog Rainer" Nr. 59, 7. August 1914, 1. Weltkrieg, Kirche St. Andrä, Pfarrhof, Allee, Karl H. Hintner (1862 – 1939), 1914, Papier, Fotoabzug SW, Salzburg Museum, , Inv.-Nr. F 8563
Mirabellplatz, Feldmesse für das k. u. k. Infanterie-Regiment "Erzherzog Rainer" Nr. 59, 7. August 1914, 1. Weltkrieg, Kirche St. Andrä, Pfarrhof, Allee, Karl H. Hintner (1862 – 1939), 1914, Papier, Fotoabzug SW, Salzburg Museum, , Inv.-Nr. F 8563Klicken um Bild zu vergrößern

God in the War
Faith and Church(es)

  
God and religion were exploited in the First World War, whether among Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox or Muslims and Jews. The Catholic Church in Austria-Hungary was traditionally closely linked to the Imperial House; thus the Austrian-Hungarian bishops did not hesitate in standing by Emperor Franz Joseph’s declaration of war. They interpreted the war as just and saw it as God’s necessary judgement over sinful mankind, even though they feared this would mean many victims.

  
Popular Piety and Military Pastoral Care
At the outbreak of the war, many sought refuge in popular religious devotions which promised support and consolation. Military chaplains held church services in the field, cared for soldiers in military hospitals and informed relatives of the fallen. As the war went on and the number of wounded and dead people increased, the churches, too, took on an ever more critical stance against the war.

  
Death
Soldiers were seen as a human commodity. They were there to be moved around at will from front to front and deployed according to need; they were expected to “function” at all times and everywhere. However, thousands of imperial-royal soldiers on the Eastern and Southeastern Front were unable to endure the conditions for long and preferred to surrender or commit suicide by lying down in the snow and freezing to death, or by deliberately acting as targets for enemy attacks. Soldiers who deserted or uttered criticism were subjected to the rigours of military justice. Those who went on fighting experienced the senselessness of trench warfare and failing offensives.

   
“The Grave of Heroes”
The massacre of the industrial war was reframed as “Heldentod” – heroic death. So-called war-grave exhibitions highlighted the artistic design of monumental tombs, no doubt with the aim of distracting people’s attention from the mass burials of those who had been killed on the front.

Visit us on Facebook