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World War I: Postcards From The Front

During World War I -- which broke out 100 years ago on July 28 -- the Austro-Hungarian Empire's "feldpost" system enabled soldiers to communicate with their loved ones back home. Preserved postcards and letters provide a very personal view of how individual soldiers experienced the conflict. Jaroslav Bis, from the east Bohemian town of Vysoke Myto, sent these poignant messages home to his family during the war. His fate was sadly similar to many others who fought in the trenches from 1914 to 1918. After fighting on the Italian front, he was sent home in 1916 with a head wound that caused him to lose the sight in one eye. In the 1920s, he was admitted to an insane asylum. He died in 1937, and his war injury was cited as the official cause of death. These postcards from a Czech family's private collection were shared with RFE/RL and have never before been shown publicly.

The reverse side of one of Josef Bis's postcards addresed to his wife, Helena Bisova, in the east Bohemian town of Vysoke Myto, dated February 1915.
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The reverse side of one of Josef Bis's postcards addresed to his wife, Helena Bisova, in the east Bohemian town of Vysoke Myto, dated February 1915.

"Here my heart yearns with love for you. It looks forward to someday soon when we can joyfully meet again."  
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"Here my heart yearns with love for you. It looks forward to someday soon when we can joyfully meet again."  

"Grenades are landing on us here!" Bis wrote, marking the spots on the roof of the house that he drew. On the footpath of the sketch, he wrote, "I painted it as I saw it."
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"Grenades are landing on us here!" Bis wrote, marking the spots on the roof of the house that he drew. On the footpath of the sketch, he wrote, "I painted it as I saw it."

"My lovely darling! I'm the same as always. I received both boxes. I thank you for them with all my heart."
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"My lovely darling! I'm the same as always. I received both boxes. I thank you for them with all my heart."

"We have some company here. Their clattering is pleasant!"
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"We have some company here. Their clattering is pleasant!"

"My dearest wife, I send kisses to you and the children! I am still healthy."
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"My dearest wife, I send kisses to you and the children! I am still healthy."

"Tell me, bluebells, if my darling has me in her heart. Tell me, scarlet flowers, if I can now go home." 
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"Tell me, bluebells, if my darling has me in her heart. Tell me, scarlet flowers, if I can now go home." 

"A thousand kisses to you and the children. May 31, 1915."
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"A thousand kisses to you and the children. May 31, 1915."

"Your loyal and loving Jaroslav!"
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"Your loyal and loving Jaroslav!"

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