The First World War was both novel and random when it began in the summer of 1914.
The result: four long years of static warfare in the West, occupation of the Tsarist Empire in the East, barbed wire labyrinths from Isonzo to Gallipoli and from Palestine to Mezopotamia and Armenia, campaigns in Africa and China. European Powers’ small armies have tried to conquer the world before, but this was the first time that millions of people around the world went to the front lines, where extreme mechanized warfare and industrialized killing awaited them. This was the first time that by the end of the war, empires collapsed and revolutions swept the monarchies away.
However WWI did not just affect the front lines but also caused major changes in the hinterland and to Hungarian society as a whole. Changes included: equality for women who replaced men in factories and on the lands; agrarian reforms for peasant soldiers hungry for land; economical intervention of the State (eg. rationing, controlling production and distribution); extensive social policy (eg. offering allowances for relatives of the enlisted, disability care and orphan care); political role of the violence cult; and further avantgard changes. The memory of WWI, its suffering, its destruction and its social change, was overrrun by a later and deadlier war and further totalitarian regimes. This partially explains how some of the aftermath of WWI (such as the Trianon Peace Treaty) are looked at as independent historical events.
The centenary gives opportunity to commemorate the war. Besides the battles, the heroes, the victims, the horror of the front lines and their short-lived glory, it is important to look at the crucial development that took place in European societies over the next few decades. One hundred years is a long time, so it is a difficult task to revive the memory of families and communities, but it is not entirely a lost cause.
The regularly updated The Front Line and Hinterland website offers articles on issues that were also discussed 100 years ago in the news. The content is written and edited by the fellows of the Institute of Political History and also available from our community page. Our related events – from conferences, thematic talks, movie clubs, school competitions, calls for proposals etc. – would like to conrtibute to this by not only adressing the reader but also asking for their active involvement in commemorating the war.