Chapter 3 - Trial by Fire

Disclaimer: this document is not the final script, but a proposed draft that may undergo changes depending on the available funds and suggestions made by the Donors and Experts. The version below is based on the assumption that we are able to achieve the highest level of funding.



Approx. time



A map of Europe is shown, the alliances are marked – e.g. the Central Powers are marked in red – and Vienna is also visible; the barbwire is being laid between the military camps of the states, the symbol of the borders being marked with this kind of wire.

1 minute

Speaker: Europe started a war with itself. The two opposing alliances driven by past grudges needed a spark that came into being on the territory of the Balkans. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, triggered the chain of events that ultimately led to trenches covering the continent. Ludwig von Mises also took his part in the war. Abandoning the research on the market, the tool that serves peace among people, he did what he thought to be his duty. He fought in the name of his country.


Expert speaking; cutaway shots of joyous soldiers joining the battlefronts in 1914, but also those showing the much darker side of war

1-1,5 minute

The expert talks about the initial enthusiasm connected with the war. He informs the audience about the alliances of the Austria-Hungary and that against it. He talks about the losses that the country suffered, including territorial losses with a temporary loss of Lviv.


Expert speaking

1 minute

The expert discusses Mises’s attitude towards war. He makes a division between patriotism and chauvinism. He mentions Mises’s military rank and duties (artillery unit) and explains how these facts were connected with his education.


A scene including actors: four individuals (including Mises) are travelling by train. We can see shots of soldiers heading to the battlefront – the Austria-Hungary soldiers.

1 minute

Speaker: For Mises, the war started on August 1, at eight o’clock at the Nordbahnhof railway station in Vienna, from which he left to Przemyśl. At that time it was one of the most modern strongholds in Europe, the keystone of the Austrian safety on the Eastern border and an important garrison. Mises travelled with Ewald Pribram and count O’Donell, both cavalry officers, and the doctor acquainted at the University, Erwin Stransky. The time of the journey passed quickly, while Mises was talking to his fellow travelers about his familiar Galicia.


Expert speaking; the scene could include cutaway shots from Vienna’s Kriegsmuseum (a significant exhibition on the World War I or, depending on the financial supply, we could use the greenscreen technology to show Mises at the front of an artillery battery, a couple of rounds fired, and then, some papers laid out in a tent and Mises himself writing something (the second option will be cheaper).

2 minutes

The expert discusses the character of the Eastern battlefront (manoeuvrability, the roles of cavalry and artillery), the character of the Austrian army (multiethnicity, arms, size), and troubles with supplies experienced very early.


Expert speaking

2 minutes

The experts discusses Austria-Hungarian economy during the World War I and the problem with the trade: the early increase in production soon unraveled negative effects as there was a shortage of workers, experts (including Mises) who could help control the situation were out on the battlefront, the state began interfering with the market more and more, it dictated what to produce, which influenced the civilians, which in turn influenced the morale. Nevertheless, it was the economic dominance of both Austria-Hungary and Germany that allowed them to win battles with Russians, who outnumbered them, but had fewer supplies.


Expert speaking

1-2 minutes

The expert talks about moving Mises out of the frontline in the late 1915 and his transition to Hungary (for the hip treatment) and later on to the Department 13 in Vienna (an office job with the staff). He also mentions Mises’s critical opinion on the war management.


The map showed previously appears again, Austria-Hungary breaks up into countries of the pre-war maps; cutaway shots from Vienna and if possible to get, photos of the border posts of that time

1 minute

Speaker: The war has ended and the Central Powers were defeated. Austria lost its territories and Vienna, the former capital of the empire, was definitely too great in scale relative to the country it was now supposed to serve as a capital. The costs were enormous. The non-existing monarchy lost 1.2 million of its citizens. The end of war also marked the end of the unique Austria-Hungarian liberalism. Now, the countries built upon the debris of monarchy, preferred to put entanglements between them rather than create bonds through trade. Mises’s aim was now fighting a different battle – he wished to restore the free market in the economy devastated by the war losses and management. Luckily, he soon found not only a remarkable student, but also the best ally he could possibly find.