8 Awesome Mustaches of World War I

Erik Sass
History.com / History.com

While mustaches are nowadays a matter of choice (and occasionally worn tongue-in-cheek), a hundred years ago a man’s facial hair was serious business. Mustaches and beards conveyed virility, age, and experience, not to mention the personalities of their wearers. Of course the best complement to meticulous facial barbering was an elaborate uniform replete with medals, ribbons, sashes, epaulettes, daggers, and other military finery. Behold the mustaches of war!

1. Franz Conrad von Hötzendorf, Austria, Chief of Staff.

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The belligerent head of Austria-Hungary's army, with equally belligerent facial hair. Like a Valkyrie's wings, the upswept ends warn of terrible vengeance.

2. Wilhelm II, Germany, Kaiser

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The mercurial German monarch, who encouraged Austria-Hungary to attack Serbia in 1914. Another case of the upswept Teutonic 'stache of vengeance.

3. Mahmud Shevket Pasha, Ottoman Empire, Minister of War

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One of many Ottoman officials to be assassinated, Shevket Pasha was gunned down in Constantinople on June 11, 1913. A full beard afforded no protection.

4. Enver Pasha, Ottoman Empire, Minister of War  

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The key figure who led the Ottoman Empire into war in 1914, Enver was a great admirer of all things German, as reflected in his grooming choices.

5. Franz Josef, Austria and Hungary, Emperor and King (respectively)

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In 1914 Franz Josef had been emperor of Austria for 66 years, and he had the sideburns to match.

6. Count Aleksandr Izvolsky, Russia, Ambassador to France 

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Izvolsky, a Germanophobe, urged France to support Russia's stand against Germany in July 1914. His neckbeard did too.

7. Alfred Redl, Austria, Colonel

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Redl was chief of Austrian military intelligence for years before being uncovered as a spy and homosexual in May 1913. His relatively subdued 'stache is a step towards the smaller style made (in)famous by Adolf Hitler.

8. George I, Greece, King

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George I was originally a Danish prince who became King of Greece in 1863, and was assassinated in Salonika in March 1913. This portrait enshrines his flying handlebar mustache for posterity.