Based on official proclamations, diaries, police records, and occasional newspaper reports, this examination of Cracow during the First World War explores the effect of the war on modern systems and amenities such as mobility, sanitation, communication, entertainment, and the provision of food. It pays particular attention to attitudes toward new technologies such as automobiles and airplanes, which had exemplified the wondrous potential of modernity in the years before the war. The article argues that for citizens of a recently modernizing metropolis like Cracow, the war seemed only to interrupt, redirect, or pervert the workings of modern mechanized society. Despite the hope of one diarist that technologies such as airplanes or submarines, which were currently used to sow “death and destruction,” could be, after the war, redirected for positive commercial and civilian use, by the last years of the war prospects for traveling safely in them with plenty of food “in a world of electric light” seemed unrealistic. The war had cut off the flow of people and goods that characterized urban life before it; darkness, suffering, and food shortages had become the new reality. As other diarists put it, “animalism” and “banditry” seemed to have prevailed.

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