At the beginning of the war, there was in large part mass enthusiasm for the war among the wealthier families, as well as a general feeling of optimism that a victory would soon be achieved. This is found in Béla’s memoir when he converses with a lieutenant. The lieutenant, and few others, shared their thoughts on the war amongst themselves, which for the most part seemed to Béla to be optimistic. In another instance, Béla described his interaction with an aging banker whom, with intense optimism, recalled the great progress taking place in the war by the Austrians as explained by a “reliable source”. Another example is the throwing of flowers and cheering on of the marching troops through town. This may be a reflection of the wealthier classes support for conservative ideals, which supported militarism during the time. It may also reflect the general positivism of the pre-1914 public mood in Europe, as it’s generation of youths had not experienced what would later be known as “total war” and were thus less aware of its realities.
During the tensions of the First World War, ideas of Nationalism were spreading like wildfire. In Béla’s memoir, it is illustrative of the problems associated with th...
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...upper class individuals as officers. Béla was made a junior officer and platoon leader without having any prior military schooling or experience. Even a young banker with little application to a war was made a reserve lieutenant. The result of this was large sums of officers being lost within the first eight months of the war.
In Béla Zombory-Moldován’s memoir, there were three topics that suggested World War I was a turning point in history. From deteriorating enthusiasm for war, escalating nationalist tensions, and the evolution of warfare, Moldován experienced these changes to varying degrees throughout his memoir. Through Moldován’s perspective, the period can be understood as a transition from a time of relative peace, stability, prosperity, and general optimism for the future, to one of enflamed tensions, uncertainty, and a generally pessimistic worldview.
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