Hanged Serbian civilians, Mačva, 1914.
Austria-Hungary performed its first attack on Serbia not from north, as expected, but from west, from Bosnia and Herzegovina. First region struck was Mačva, where on summer 1914 Austria-Hungarian soldiers committed first war crimes of WW1.
On territory of Mačva, Jadar, Rađevina and Pocerina Serbian army, chasing out Austria-Hungarian army, found ravaged villages. Austria-Hungarian army had killed 1253 people, of which 288 were women, 62 children aged from 10 to 15 and 77 were children aged from 1 to 10. To investigate these crimes, Serbian politicians invited some of the world’s best criminologists and pathologists, among whom was Archibald Reiss.
People were killed in brutal manners: torn by horses, stabbed by bayonets, buried alive, forced in and then burned in schools and churches, as well as burned on stakes. Rapes were massive, most likely even more than what Archibald had noted, as people refused to speak of it in patriarchal society.
Other than Archibald Reiss, there were multiple journalists who wrote about the event, such as French journalist for “Ilustratión” Henry Barby and American journalist John Reed. Henry Barby writes:
“I am forced to seal the barbarian crimes of Austria-Hungarian troops. If I hadn’t seen their acts with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed in the crimes… For now their wounded are situated together with Serbs in Serbian hospitals, they take care of them the same way as of Serbs.”
At this time, Austria-Hungary launched anti-Serbian sentiments, depicting Serbs as terrorists:
“Serbs must die”, an Austrian caricature from 1914 after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, depicting Serbia as a little terrorist.
Austrian generals accented to the troops that they’re entering an enemy country with people whom they can expect to attack them and that they should act as cruel as possible. Austria-Hungarian soldiers were told they will even to be punished if they acted any different, if they showed any mercy.
Austria-Hungarian propaganda postcard saying "Serbs, we’ll smash you to pieces!”