The barrack camp of Gmünd in Lower Austria was the largest camp for refugees and evacuees on Austrian soil during the First World War. From 1914 to 1918 it accommodated predominantly Ruthenian citizens of the Habsburg monarchy. Gmünd not only housed refugees, but also evacuees who had been deported by the Austrian Hungarian army because of suspected political unreliability. The Ruthenian population, whose language shared similarities with Russian, was especially suspected of being “russophile”. This generalized stereotype of political unreliability also influenced the state and public perception of the refugee phenomenon during the war. The living situation of the camp inmates was characterized by inadequate nourishment, bad housing and insufficient sanitary and medicinal provisions. Contemporary perceptions and portrayal of camp life, however, starkly contrasted with the actual living conditions. For the Cisleithanian state, the camps also served as labour reservoirs for the war economy as well as laboratories for social engineering. Gmünd was designed to “re-educate” a part of the Austrian population that was deemed backward and uncivilized. Negating the dire living conditions in Gmünd, war propaganda moreover instrumentalized Gmünd as a showcase camp, illustrating the states successful refugee relief policies through a portrayal of the modernity and efficiacity of the camps organisation and infrastructure. Although the camps proved economically beneficial for the region, the populations perception of the refugees was heavily influenced by fears of foreign influence, disease and the scarcity of resources in war economy.