What do these newspapers know about the fate of man! What do they do today? “Nothing new! Artillery shelling.” The irony!
Karel Jagodič

The time of the First War was divided between two parallel worlds, co-existing, fusing and complementing each other, though remaining strictly separate and totally different. The first was the world of war existing at the fronts and in the trenches, while the second was the world far removed from the killing fields and the atrocities of war, which persisted without interference. While newspapers, the post service and personal stories of soldiers kept the civilian population well informed on life at the front lines, they could not even begin to comprehend the actual absurdities and horrors of fighting. This is attributable to a number of reasons. Through censorship, government services would have control over the publication of every book, newspaper, film or other type of media of the time. From day one, the public media was prohibited from reporting with negative connotations or criticising both the war and the associated events. Victories and achievements by allied armies were praised, while those of the enemy and its units were ridiculed and smeared. Any newspaper not adhering to the new set of rules was abolished. Simultaneously, this caused the creation of many new ones, namely biased and demagogic publications that would zealously follow the government’s and military’s propaganda interests.

The public opinion was controlled and shaped also by censoring private communications, that is private mail travelling between the military front and the rear. Under the pretence of public safety, military authorities had strictly defined the permitted topics of communication for soldiers, along with the contents of letters, postcards and other communications. The mentioning of places and locations, or describing the military’s movements and its positions was strictly prohibited. Furthermore, criticism of the negatives of army life was forbidden, while opposing and objecting to the monarchy and the then politics was highly undesirable. Similar restrictions were also observed at public locations. In particular, the authorities would closely supervise in particular the soldiers attending regular or sick leave. It was thought that accurate and vivid descriptions of the horrors experienced in the trenches could spread turmoil and fear among the population, adversely influence the support of war efforts, and affect the population in a generally negative manner.

War efforts were largely based on promoting a positive public atmosphere in order to avoid rioting and panic, as well as to provide a continuous influx of new soldiers and the funds that were always lacking and other assets. For this purpose, state authorities, associations and religious communities would organise public manifestations, goods-raising drives as well as found organisations responsible for mitigating the impacts of war. Campaigns of this sort were always well advertised via newspapers, posters and other promotional materials, promoting among the population by means of catchy slogans, the patriotism and invoking the most delicate of emotions, guaranteeing and preserving the population’s support for the war.

This function of military and government propaganda efforts also included communicating official death notices and similar announcements. In case of the death of a family member, families would receive a modest official notice indicating the date and possible location of the death. In some cases, the official notice would be accompanied by a letter composed by the chaplain, comrade or superior describing the various circumstances surrounding the death of the soldier. Of course, in such events, even the producers of such notices would avoid the most horrifying of specifics, or would at least attempt to comfort the families by describing a death as quick, painless and heroic. Similar were the reports on missing soldiers. They would, if not having suffered a debilitating illness or death, with the assistance of the Red Cross soon contact their families. However, many of those missing never returned from the war.