Central Powers:  
Celebrating Alliances (1)
(scroll down for the pictures)

In a time of war, belligerents always seek to boost civilian and soldier morale and cooperation by emphasizing that their nation does not fight alone. Their nation's fate, and power, are favorably enhanced because of alliance and association with the people and leadership of other nations. The imperative to highlight and celebrate the alliance betwen Germany and Austria-Hungary was especially felt in Germany from the earliest days of the war as the two Central allies were immediately and simultaneously facing the three great empires of Russia, Great Britain and France. This section highlights the Central Powers' celebration of such alliances in postcards which prominently feature the royal head of state of the four nations. In reviewing these cards, you will notice that there are two other types of national identity symbols variously utilized.

There were three types of images used by the Central Powers propagandists to symbolize the wartime alliance:
1- The royal heads of state:
    1.1 Germany's Kaiser (emperor) Wilhelm II (middle aged with upswept     
    1.2 Austria-Hungary's Kaiser (emperor) Franz Josef I (old man with white side 
    1.3 Ottoman Turkey's Sultan Mehmed Rechad V (middle aged, clean shaven
          with white moustache (later also with beard) and fez).
    1.4 Bulgaria's King (czar) Ferdinand I (older man with full beard).
2- National flags and, only for Germany and Austria, the royal coats of arms
3- Soldiers (and children dressed as soldiers) in stereotypical uniforms (primarily
    distinctive headgear):
    3.1 Germany's helmet with a spike on the top (till mid-1916)
    3.2 Austria-Hungary's vertically conical hat with a small visor
    3.3 Ottoman Turkey's brimless fez
    3.4 Bulgaria's flat topped field cap with wide brim

1a - The royal heads of state - Zweibund

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zweibund01h.JPG (52768 bytes)

zweibund02h.JPG (74843 bytes)

zweibund03h.JPG (67112 bytes)

"In Treue Fest!"
Publ. E. Bieber, Berlin

"Fest und getreu"
Publ. Meissner, Leipzig

"In Treue fest"
Publ. unknown no. 2001

zweibund04v.JPG (22766 bytes)

zweibund05v.JPG (27814 bytes)

zweibund06v.JPG (42425 bytes)

zweibund07v.JPG (38112 bytes)

"Ein Herz, eine Hand,
für's Vaterland!"
Publ. "Industrie" Wien

"Wir halen fest
und treu zusammen"
Publ. NPG no. 4865

"Gott mit uns,
mit vereinten
Publ. R.W. Wien no.101

Brüder Kohn Wien

The Central Powers Alliance was described from the German and Austrian side as a "Bund", an "association". From August 1 through October 1914 the alliance as "der Zweibund" - The Association of Two - consisting of the German and Austro-Hungarian empires.

1b - The royal heads of state - Dreibund

dreibund01v.JPG (35398 bytes)

dreibund02h.JPG (55966 bytes)

dreibund03v.JPG (30267 bytes)

In gewitterschwerer
großer Zeit
Ein festes Band der Einigkeit.

Publ. S. Gabai, München

Publ. unknown

dreibund04h.JPG (41050 bytes)

dreibund05h.JPG (66831 bytes)

dreibund06h.JPG (57139 bytes)

dreibund07h.JPG (49979 bytes)

Publ. unknown
No. 68 

"Mit vereinten Kräften"
Publ. Brüder Kohn Wien 

"Dreibund des
Weltkrieges 1914"
Nr. 46 R.F.G.
 Art by F.W. Frankel

"Im Kampf vereint!"
Publ. Photochemie

With the entry of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) on November 10, 1914, the alliance became "der Dreibund" - The Association of Three. The Central Powers reached what was to be their full strength on October 14, 1915 with Bulgaria's oportunistic entry into the war against Serbia. The alliance therefore became "der Vierbund" - The Association of Four - which was to remain until the desintegration of late-1918 as the allies sought armistice and peace in turn.

1c - The royal heads of state - Vierbund

vierbund01v.JPG (38815 bytes)

vierbund02v.JPG (29694 bytes)

vierbund03v.JPG (28660 bytes)

"Wir werden nie bezwungen
so lang wir einig sind"

"Treue Waffenbrüderschaft"
Publ. NPG no. 5370

"Viribus Unitis"
Publ. O.K. Wien no. 4024

vierbund04h.JPG (55383 bytes)

vierbund05h.JPG (45919 bytes)

vierbund06h.JPG (61649 bytes)

"Der Vierbund 1915"
Publ. Stengel & Co. Dresden

"Vereinte Kräfte führen
zum Ziel"
Publ. Photochemie Berlin
No. 3603

"Treue Verbündete"
Publ. F.H. & S. Wien
No. H. 239
Art by A. Frank

vierbund07vkarl.JPG (28224 bytes)

"Vierbund" card with Kaiser Karl.
(After the death of Franz Josef on November 21, 1916, he was succeeded by his great nephew the Archduke Karl, son of Franz Josef's deceased younger brother Karl)

While the term "Zweibund" became obsolete early in the war, the theme of an alliance between the germanic royal houses of Germany (Hohenzollern) and Austria (Habsburg) was a theme that was prevalent throughout the war. This theme of Germanic unity not only made sense to the German populace of the two empires, but appealed strongly to the patriotic philosophy of pan-German nationalism which was an insistent and pervasive political and moral factor in Germany since the 1850's. A common and very effective expression of this, were propaganda slogans and images centering upon the "Waffenbrüder" (brothers in arms) shared by German and Austrian soldiers.

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