At the beginning of the war the press described the army as some easy, relaxed but also heroic and masculine world. The soldiers’ tales of woes became obvious much later and the important moments of the warfare could only appear in an idiomatic aspect in public. The politics in the occupied areas for example were mainly mirroring the attitude of the Russian invaders and their bad behaviour. While it was rarely reported, that the troops of the Monarchy treated the Serbians, Macedonians and Kosovars the same way.
The basics of the occupation were to get control over the goods and resources. The Germans were more organized in France and in Belgium regarding this matter, as opposed to the Russians in Galicia, but the end result was pretty much the same. The troops commandeered food, valuables, metal, and raw materials. They got the factories under control, debased the money and inflated their war money. Not to mention the denunciative, internments, forced labour and the mass executions. The Pesti Napló seems to have tried to connect the occupation with happy and cool images of the war. In the article about the Monarchy’s second offensive against Serbia in November, which started off as success, they reported about the troops who took over a vineyard. This was divided between the soldiers and everyone got their own part of the vineyard to gather the grapes and have fun. Another corps ate up the abandoned pig herds in a similar way. All this in the article sounded rather entertaining even as a great example for the Hungarian aka inventive behaviour. This was not stealing, this was derring-do, which was so typical of the Hungarian soldiers’ advantage that the writer didn’t even notice he shown the worst possible image about the Monarchy’s army. This was not necessarily because of the stealing, but because their troops enjoyed themselves at the Front, without control, anarchically and without being ready for combat. Hopefully the writer realized this when after the Serbians successful counter attack the happy soldiers found themselves back in Hungary.
Created by: Gábor Egry
Szüret és disznótor a harctéren = Pesti Napló, 1914. november 1.