Tony returned from three weeks of the new and exciting and the old and familiar and took a couple of days to regroup before heading back to the office. Though Anna Grace was away on her class retreat we could not really lounge about as our “toddler,” Clayton Theodore demanded his morning constitutional rather early. That said, we did manage some old school “Face Time” with long lunches, as well as a little sightseeing of the WWI exhibit at the Military History Museum. (Yes, we practicing empty nesters really know how to have a good time.)
The museum is housed in the former Imperial military complex (Arsenal) to the south of the Inner Stadt. The buildings are grandiose and worth walking around even if your interests lie elsewhere.
As part of the WWI Centenary, the museum regrouped select pieces from across the former empire to tell the story. I have seen a handful of centenary exhibits this year, and by far this one is the most comprehensive, and most objective.
The maps for each year of the war are like cast lists, keeping the museum-goer fully up to date with alliances and battle lines.
Some of the weapons from along the planned assassination route in Sarajevo.
The vehicle in which Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie of Hohenberg were riding when assassinated on the Latin Bridge in Sarajevo.
This is the Latin Bridge in Sarajevo; Anna Grace and I visited Sarajevo last summer on our tour through the Balkans.
The Archduke’s uniform.
Considerable time was spent walking through the history of the war and learning about the various advantages (and disadvantages) with respect to war readiness. From the Mardi Gras-style hats worn by conscripts that had passed their military medical exams, to the canons used by the Macedonians and the Howitzers used by the Germans and the never-ending propaganda, WWI was truly a Great War.
“We Play World War!” and “Who Will Win?” were games to keep the youngest members of the empire enthusiastic.
There is a fee to take photographs in the museum, and all photos in the dimly lit galleries must be without flash. This (sad and blurry) photo is of a cage for the Carrier Pigeon. Over 100.000 war pigeons were used with an astonishing 95% success rate in getting messages delivered to their destination. Now, for better or for worse, we just “Tweet.”
WWI history is not routinely taught in the U.S., so living in the former capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at this time is immensely fascinating to us. Well done, Heeresgeschichtliches Museum.