The exterior of the Austrian National Library

Austrian National Library to mark First World War Centenary

Posted on on 31 December 2013
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The Austrian National Library will mark the Centenary of the First World War with a large scale digitisation project and a major exhibition.


Professor Manfried Rauchensteiner, a historian and former Director of the Military History Museum in Vienna, will curate an exhibition entitled An Meine Völker! Der Erste Weltkrieg 1914-1918 (To My Peoples! The First World War 1914-1918).

Scheduled to open on the 13th March 2014, the exhibition will “comprehensively” display items from the collections of the National Library, which was known as the Hofbibliothek (Imperial Library) until 1920.

The Hofbibliothek immediately began to collect testimonies about the First World War upon its outbreak in 1914 and continued to do so throughout the conflict.

Tens of thousands of photographs, posters, literary texts, sheet music, war diaries and other objects have remained in the possession of the National Library from the period, and some will be displayed at Professor Rauchensteiner’s exhibition.

Many of these original documents are also being digitised as part of the National Library’s efforts to mark the Centenary.


The National Library is planning to digitise 75,000 primary sources relating to the First World War by April 2014.

Amongst the tens of thousands of materials ranging from photographs to war diaries, there are 6,500 posters, 230 children’s drawings, 200 documented ‘soldier songs’ and 1,100 leaflets which were dropped from aeroplanes during the conflict.

These primary sources are an “important testament to the millions who died on the front and provide insight into the private lives of those on the home front”.

The digitisation is part of the Europeana 1914-1918 project to collect documents and materials from the First World War from across Europe and to make them available online.

The National Library already provides access to 840,000 pages from newspapers and magazines from the period 1914-1918 to a global audience.

Source: Austrian National Library

Posted by: Daniel Barry, Centenary News