History

The Emperor and the Peasant: Two Men at the Start of the Great War and the End of the Habsburg Empire

By Kenneth Janda

There was more to World War I than the Western Front. This history juxtaposes the experiences of a monarch and a peasant on the Eastern Front. Franz Josef I, emperor of Austria-Hungary, was the first European leader to declare war in 1914 and was the first to commence firing. Samuel Mozolak was a Slovak laborer who sailed to New York—and fathered twins, taken as babies (and U.S. citizens) to his home village—before being drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army and killed in combat.

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