We have already written several times about the Great War here in río Wang. On various aspects of it, but always from a grassroots perspective. About the wartime children’s books, the child propaganda, the Székely soldier letters, the soldier’s songs sung on the two shores of Isonzo, the grateful Russian prisoners of war, the Galician Jews marching out to greet Archduke Frederick, and much else. From this perspective it has been examined also by the conference recently organized by our friends in Szeged. Unfortunately we could not be there in person, but at our request Norbert Glässer, the organizer of the conference, associate of the anthropology department of Szeged, and leader of The Ties research project sent us a report on the event.
The events of the First World War not only radically changed the European power relations and state boundaries, but they also had a considerable impact on everyday life, since it fundamentally transformed former networks and posed new challenges to the communities. On this they held a scientific conference entitled The impact of the Great War on the changes of everyday culture on 26 and 27 November 2015 in Szeged, organized by the Research Group of Religious Culture of the Hungarian Academy and of Szeged University, the Faculty of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of Szeged University, the Ethnographic Research Group of the Academic Committee of Szeged, and the Meritum Public Association of Culture and Education.
The conference speakers viewed the war as a transition, which amplified some processes of modernity, revealed new phenomena, or made new directions to changes. The war was also a crisis situation, which prompted the society to search new answers and models, and questioned models which had worked for several generations. The conference gave special attention to the perceptions of war of various groups, including religious confessions, and the intertwining of life’s turning points and religious contents with war situations.
The event was held under the patronage of Michael von Habsburg-Lothringen, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Chairman of the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation. Archduke Joseph August von Habsburg-Lothringen, Commander of the 7th Corps, took part in the battles of Doberdo together with the 46th Infantry Battalion of Szeged. His grandson, Michael von Habsburg-Lothringen also remembered this in his opening speech in the ceremonial hall of the Town Hall of Szeged.
As part of the program, in the Corridor Gallery of the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology they opened the temporary exhibition “Here, along the trench…”, organized by László Mód from the postcard collection of József Szanka. The period postcards presented the relation system of the front and the hinterland, the fighting soldiers and their families waiting for them, the everyday life and feasts in wartime. Professor Gábor Barna, head of the Research Group of Religious Culture in his opening speech drew attention to the special postcards quoting the verses of the prayer Our Father, and embedding them in war situations. These travesties could also give force of motivation midst the trials of front life. The pictures showing the whole society, from the ruler to the family members, praying for the victory and the end of the war, set in a transcendental context the war events. This is clearly expressed in the picture of Jesus supporting Emperors William and Franz Joseph, but this is also the background of the representations of Jesus and Mary appearing in the battlefield. Due to their novelty, and the differences of the visual culture of the period from that of today, these images could have a significant influence on the contemporary viewers.
• “Franz Joseph Malkenu”,
27. October 2016
• “Take the crown…”,
23-24 November 2016
The video recording on the opening of the conference and the plenary section can be seen here.