Postcards had their heyday at the start of the 20th century. In countries at war, but also in neutral Switzerland, the First World War brought about a rise in picture postcards being sent in the post. They were a blank canvas for propaganda, satire and patriotism, and they illustrated the lives of soldiers, albeit it in a somewhat idealistic manner.
Hundreds of years after the outbreak of war these postcards are now giving endless insight into this dark period. In contrast to the cinema, newspapers or literature, these cards have been more or less ignored until now.
Historians have recently begun to take an interest in the illustrations. Their images are clues to the era, conjuring up a sense of the important themes and topics of the time and how they were expressed.
The combination of a personal message and a contemporary image mean readers today can immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the age, reaching a deeper understanding of the concerns and challenges that faced people at the time.
(Text: Olivier Pauchard, swissinfo.ch, Pictures from: Georg Kreis: Swiss postcards from the First World War. Baden: hier + jetzt Association for Culture and History 2013)