There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but boys, it is all hell!
William Tecumseh Sherman

Despite expectations, the declaration of war and the initial mobilisation finally served as a cold shower, causing confusion, fear and anxiety among the general population. Throngs of boys accompanied by relatives and friends would descend on the cities and train stations on a daily basis, and soon every household was completely devoid of men. Every man aged eighteen to forty-two was initially drafted. As the Great War drew closer to its conclusion and there was a lack of soldiers, the authorities also began drafting seventeen-year-olds. Many young men left for war voluntarily and full of zeal, as they were confident that the war would quickly pass, and that victory was guaranteed. Following an extended period of peace, the collective national memory was pervaded with romantic images of war and heroism. However, no person could actually correctly imagine what the coming “total war”, supported by the massive military machine and modern weapons, would bring.

The initial enthusiasm soon dwindled, and men would attempt to avoid being drafted. Their ranks predominantly included the older population and numerous intellectuals who did not fall for the glorious and patriotic propaganda and who were unwilling to sacrifice their lives for the interests of the soon-to-be in ruins Austro-Hungarian monarchy. From the very beginning, when potential soldiers were still many, the most common grounds for exemption from conscription were health or family obligations. When everything else failed, people would attempt to get sent to a job the rear, while many ended their own lives rather than be forced to battle on the front lines.