Cultural events

Summer 1914 - The last days of the old world


from March 25, 2014 to August 3, 2014 François-Mitterrand / Large gallery

28 June 1914: Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria is assassinated in Sarajevo by a Serbian nationalist. Another political assassination, not very different from the former ones, particularly on the borders of Austria-Hungary. Just a bolt from the blue… Despite this tragic event, the summer goes on a usual. Peasants work in the fields and workers in factories. Children look forward to the end of the school year. A lucky few treat themselves to holidays in Deauville or on the Riviera. Yet, on July the 23rd, Austria presents Serbia with an ultimatum. Politicians, diplomats and public opinion do not worry about what they see as a regional crisis that will be solved, like former tensions, with a peace conference. In Paris, the press is more interested in the Caillaux case. The Kaiser takes part in sea races. However, there are farsighted minds who get alarmed: Jean Jaurès talks about something ‘oscillating on the verge of ruin’. More and more worrying news follow one another…A week later, on July the 30rd, Russia mobilizes its troops. The war machine sets off and will be impossible to stop. Alliances between countries take Europe to a war expected to be harsh but short…To Stefan Zweig, this is the time of ‘ecstasy and cries of joy while walking to death’ even if populations, rather grave and resigned, do not necessarily all want to go and fight. As early as August, the extremely violent reality of the conflict comes out: Europe discovers the industrial war on its own soil.The chronological presentation of the exhibition focuses on the period between July the 23rd and August the 4th, 1914; during this short period of time, a series of diplomatic, political and military decisions lead to the general conflagration.Seven thematic sessions allow to go deeper into the chronology and better understand peoples’ attitudes towards the crisis:

1 – Portrait of Europe and its former long period of peace

2 - Cultural cosmopolitanism and economic growth

3 - Persistent tensions in Europe and the colonies

4 – Pacifism and warmongering feelings

5 – Soldiers as popular figures

6 – Preparation for the conflict

7 – Mobilization

The end of the exhibition focuses on the first concrete consequences of the war, a real shock on the front line and in the rear.


Exhibition presented in the framework of the Mission pour le centenaire de la Première Guerre mondiale 1914-2014.

With the support of

Logo d'Esri France

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Visites sur réservation au 01 53 79 49 49 ou
Prix d'entrée de l'exposition +3 €.
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Accompagnement pédagogique

- visites ateliers autour de l’exposition
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Wednesday, May 23, 2018