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When the Music Stopped: Reactions to the Outbreak of World War I in an Austrian Province

Abstract: The article analyzes reactions to the outbreak of World War I in the Habsburg Crownland of Salzburg. Based on a detailed examination of local sources, such as diaries, memoirs, church and gendarmerie chronicles, regional newspapers, and administrative records, the study sheds light on the complexity of responses and emotions elicited during the summer of 1914. Engaging with recent historiography on the question of “war enthusiasm” and the “August experience,” the ensuing analysis allows for profound insights into how the local population reacted to the news of the Sarajevo assassinations, Austria-Hungary's ultimatum to Serbia, and the subsequent declaration of war, mobilization, and the first weeks of the conflict. The article highlights the role of the press, governmental policies, and repression as key factors in creating an agitated atmosphere to which people responded in different ways, depending on age, class, gender, and the urban–rural divide. At times, frenzied patriotic mobilization occurred alongside not only a widespread acceptance of the obligation to do one's duty, but also—and equally—great uncertainty and anxiety. This highlights the complexities of public reactions in the summer of 1914, thereby challenging from a regional historical perspective the notion of an “enthusiastic” welcoming of the war.
Keywords: 1914 / World War I / Salzburg / war enthusiasm / Austria-Hungary / August experience / social history / militarism / war propaganda

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