In this short article about Stefan ZWEIG I mentioned that he served during WWI in the Kriegspressequartier:

He served voluntarily in the “Kriegsarchiv“, what was part of the “Kriegspressequartier” – a kind of early propaganda service, Austrian edition. Here writers like GINZKEY (Eng.), CSOKOR (Eng.), Paul STEFAN (Eng.), POLGAR (Eng.),  EHRENSTEIN (Eng.), TREBITSCH  served, later joined by a certain RILKE (Eng.). In the end they had to tell lies and to produce two patriotic journals (“Österreich-Ungarn in Waffen” and “Donauland“) and hated it.

Meanwhile someone wrote a small article about the “k.u.k. Kriegspressequartier” (KPQ) on Wikipedia (Ger. only). This institution was founded in July 1914 and concentrated all press and propaganda efforts in the double-monarchy throughout WWI. For this purpose it used all media channels of the time, of course the written word but also war painting, photography and film. More than 33.000 photographs taken at the behest of the KPQ are stored in the Austrian National Library (ÖNB, Ger., Eng.). Known to have worked for the KPQ is the photograph Hugo EYWO (Ger.). In command of the film departement was Sascha KOLOWRAT-KRAKOWSKY (Ger., Eng.), the founder of the Austrian film industry. The article focuses on the painting departement, but mentions the following writers as connected with the KPQ:

Albert Paris GÜTERSLOH (Eng.), Alfred KUBIN (Eng.), Egon Erwin KISCH (Eng.),  Robert MUSIL (Eng.), Leo PERUTZ (Eng.), Alice SCHALEK, Hugo von HOFMANNSTHAL (Eng.), RODA RODA (Eng.), Ferenc MOLNÁR (Eng.), Robert MICHEL und Franz WERFEL (Eng.).

Alice SCHALEK was the only female war correspondent of the Great War. A search for “Kriegspressequartier” in the English Wikipedia brings up the painter Alfred BASEL (Ger., Eng.) and the already mentioned KOLOWRAT. The Adalbert-Stifter-Verein had a touring exhibition about “writers and artists in propaganda 1914-1918” in 2003 (35 panels, 80×60 cm) and there exists an accompanying publication in two volumes, but this is hardly a profound essay about the history and relevance of  the first modern propaganda instrument. As I understand actually exist only two works about the KPQ, a dissertation from 1963 by Klaus MAYER about the organizational structure and one by Hildegund SCHMÖLZER about the propaganda of saied institution, from 1965.

It would be worth the effort to write and research the history of the KPQ on various levels, especially in respect of the year 2014 and the centenary of the Great War. Seemingly anybody in the Habsburg Empire who could hold a brush, use a photograph and write a clear sentence (and did not run away in August ’14) was sooner or later in some way connected with the KPQ, and what a bunch they were. For ZWEIG it was a turning point, for others maybe not. So the intellectual implications would be worth a look, and mundane things too: Where do these people gather? What is daily routine?
Two and a half years left – a stipendium should be thrown out, someone should start to search for records and source materials.

8 thoughts on “KPQ

  1. I’m gratified to find out about these interesting people. I was also interested to find out that Bela Lugosi served voluntarily in WWI in the ski patrol and sustained an injury which would plague him for the rest of his life and cause him to become dependent on opium for relief of the pain. WWI is the forgotten war, at least in the United States, and it needs to be remembered. One cannot truly understand why WWII happened without understanding WWI.

  2. Bela on skies? Whow! They were pretty generous with all sorts of drugs throughout WWI. Cocain, Morphium and H were given as paynekillers and with shell-shock victims, I think Laudanum also was still used. Poorman’s everyday drug was of course alcohol, the “hero breakfast” / “Heldenfrühstück” (say Good Morning to a quarter of Rum and a cigar and “over the top!”) was common in all armies. An other famous addict is Goering, who is saied to have developed a morphium addiction because of medical treatment. But I do not believe in one word this lyer ever told.

  3. During WWI, schoolgirl Marlene Dietrich and her classmates knitted mittens and sweaters for the German soldiers on the front.

    During WWII, she served on the front entertaining the Allied soldiers!

  4. That would be an interesting study indeed. Clearly the KPQ must have been instrumental to getting the people behind such a costly war.

    BTW, you were right about the Hoya being the same as Wachblume. I re-edited my earlier reply to your comment.

  5. I remember Uncle Chub explaining the importance of fighting an enemy that one can respect. He was speaking of the Germans. I understand what he meant, but even now, I don’t think I could adequeately define its importance to a soldier’s psyche. Propaganda of a different vein perhaps.

  6. She did well, XL.

    At the beginning, July and August 1914, there was no problem, LGS, a wave of national drunkness swept through Europe. Later onwards problems started, when the fast victory everybody promised and expected, vanished on the horizon. The KPQ must have been playing a crucial role in this, I even think it was a kind of model for German efforts in the same direction.
    Oh they are related – the plant on your photograph looked similar to a Wachsblume we once had.

    Fighting an enemy one does not respect also works, as the German army proofed in the East, the Übermenschenhybris made them run until Moscow, Melanie.

    Sorry Roses, but I am really un-impressive.

    “Gott strafe Engelland” – I never understood what the Almighty should the “perfide Albion” punish for, or when and where these slogans originated from. Maybe they just jumped out of Wilhelm’s head …

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