Dear Visitor!

Old Europe was scorched and erased by World War I. Sovereigns parading in uniforms were replaced by tribunes and professional politicians wearing bowlers or flat hats, addressing huge crowds from wooden platforms. Franc Joseph, of Austria-Hungary; Nicholas II of Russia, Wilhelm II of Germany, George V of Great Britain or Mehmed V of Turkey were still convinced of their birth right to rule and make their peoples happy. Then, all of a sudden, centuries old dynasties became fugitives; some fled abroad, others were simply forced to abdicate and were deprived of their wealth - and one of them was slain with his entire family.

In the 21st century, we still feel the attraction of the magic late 19th and the very early 20th centuries - the Belle Époque, the happy years of peace. Elisabeth, the Sissi of all Hungarians as well as her son Rudolf whose life ended so tragically, are still popular among Hungarians, as is controversial Franz Joseph who ruled for sixty-eight years marked by so many failures and even more successes. Franz Joseph knew perfectly well that the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy would descend to the grave with him. A hundred years after his death, the truth we face is that although a new world was born on the ruins of the old one, 21st century people are still under the spell of the splendid days of old. A furtive glance at the lives of the protagonists gives us an insight into a world long gone.

Dr. Schmidt Mária

Director General of the House of Terror Museum,
Member of the First World War Centenary Memorial Committee,
Director General of the Institute of the Twentieth Century