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Schmidt von Knobelsdorf, Konstantin

(283 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Schmidt von Knobelsdorf, Konstantin (December 13, 1860, Frankfurt an der Oder – September 1, 1936, Frankfurt an der Oder), German general. Schmidt joined the army in 1878. After attending the Staff College he held various posts in the General Staff and in the army, including chief of staff of the Xth Army Corps (1904–1908) and commander of the 4th Infantry Guards Regiment (1908–1911). In 1911 Schmidt was promoted to major-general, and a year later appointed chief quartermaster. At the outbreak of wa…

Nivelle Offensive

(485 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Nivelle Offensive In the winter of 1916–1917, the new French commander in chief, Georges Robert Nivelle, began to draw up plans for a large-scale spring offensive in Artois, and in the Aisne and Champagne regions. It involved simultaneous operations by British and French forces on virtually the entire length of the German salient between Arras and Reims. Nivelle based his strategy for the most part on the lessons learned at Verdun in the autumn of 1916. He hoped to avert the specter of attrition w…

Hoeppner, Ernst von

(360 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Hoeppner, Ernst von (January 14, 1860, Tonnin Island of Wolin [now in Poland] – September 27, 1922, Gross-Mockratz, Island of Rügen), German general. Educated in the cadet corps, in 1879 Hoeppner entered the 6th Regiment of Dragoons, and was appointed major general in 1912. At mobilization he became chief of the general staff of the Third Army, leading its operations during the Battle of the Frontiers and on the Marne, until the Army entered the positional war. On February 14, 1915, Hoeppner took o…

Stein, Hermann von

(270 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Stein, Hermann von (September 13, 1854, Wedderstedt – May 26, 1927, Lehnin), German general and politician and minister of war. The son of a Protestant clergyman, he joined the army in 1873 as standard-bearer. In 1875 he became a lieutenant and in 1890 a captain. He served in field artillery units and held post on the general staff. In 1903 Stein was appointed as chief of the deployment planning section. In 1905 he was promoted to colonel and four years later became chief quartermaster. In 1912 he …

State of War

(291 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
State of War A “state of imminent war danger” was proclaimed by the German Kaiser on July 31, 1914, at 1 pm, while the mobilization of army and fleet took place on August 1. The constitutional basis of these political actions was provided by Article 68 of the Constitution of the German Empire of 1871. Although an imperial law specifying the manner of proclamation and the consequence of a state of war had originally been planned, it never came to pass until 1914. The Prussian Law of Siege from the y…

Positional Warfare

(1,219 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Positional Warfare A form of warfare conducted along permanent and fortified front lines. The war of positions came to characterize the First World War in contrast to other forms of combat. All major military powers had based their pre-1914 war strategies on a war of movement. This was the case despite the fact that positional warfare was not unfamiliar. Siege warfare had been ubiquitous in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. Even in recent conflicts such as the Russo-Japanese War of 1904…

Wild von Hohenborn, Adolf

(296 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Wild von Hohenborn, Adolf ( July 8, 1860, Kassel – October 25, 1925, Malsburg-Hohenborn [near Kassel]), German general and politician (minister of war). A schoolfellow and close friend of Kaiser Wilhelm II, von Hohenborn joined Infantry Regiment No. 83 in 1877, and became a lieutenant in 1880. His further career took him into the Guards and onto the General Staff. He was elevated to the nobility in 1900. He was chief of staff of the XIIIth Army Corps from 1906 to 1909, then colonel and commander of …

Battle of the Frontiers

(647 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Battle of the Frontiers Collective term for a series of engagements that were fought in Belgium and France in the course of the German invasion between August 20 and 24, 1914. The German operational plan had envisioned a strong right wing enveloping the bulk of the French, British, and Belgian forces in northern France. Following the successful coup de main against Liège this right wing consisting of the First, Second, and Third Armies advanced through Belgium toward the French border. The Fourth and Fifth Armies moved through Luxembourg and the Ardenne…

Cadorna, Count Luigi

(286 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Cadorna, Count Luigi (September 4, 1850, Pallanza, now part of Verbania – December 23, 1928, Bordighera), Italian general and chief of staff. The son of a prominent general, Cadorna joined the cadet corps at the age of ten. A lieutenant in 1870, he rose to major-general in 1898, lieutenant-general in 1905. In 1909 he was given command of the army corps at Genoa, and in 1914 Cadorna received the appointment to serve as chief of staff, succeeding the late Alberto Pollio. Cadorna used the ten-month pe…

Sarajevo

(729 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Sarajevo Capital of the Austro-Hungarian provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Austria-Hungary’s annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1908 had aroused strong hostility against the dual monarchy among the Serbian population in Bosnia. Radicalization had led to the emergence of secret societies that were prepared to use violence. One of those societies, the “Black Hand,” enjoyed the protection of Serbian military circles, and planned to assassinate Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir apparent to the Austrian throne, on the occasion of his visit to Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. In the pro…

Military Cabinet

(247 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Military Cabinet The bureau that handled personnel matters for the Prussian army. Created in 1883 out of the former Prussian Adjutant General’s Office, the Military Cabinet reported directly to the Kaiser. The Military Cabinet represented the last, official bastion of Prussian military absolutism. In addition to personnel matters, the War Cabinet administered honor courts and the conferring of medals and decorations. Additionally, the chief of the Military Cabinet served as the military advisor to…

Marwitz, Georg von der

(292 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Marwitz, Georg von der ( July 3, 1856, Klein Nossin [Kreis Stolp] – October 28, 1929, Wundichow [Kreis Stolp]), German general. Marwitz joined the 2nd Garde-Ulan Regiment in 1875. He began his career in the Guards Cavalry and later served in the General Staff. He was appointed major in 1894, colonel in 1904, major-general in 1908, lieutenant general as well as commander of the 2nd Division in 1911, and inspector general of the cavalry in 1913. Entrusted with the task of reconnoitering and deceiving …

Battisti, Cesare

(467 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Battisti, Cesare (February 4, 1875, Trento – July 12, 1916, Trento), Italian politician and officer. The son of Italian-speaking parents, Battisti grew up in Trento, which belonged to Austria at the time. Between 1893 and 1897 Battisti studied in Graz, Florence, Turin, and Vienna. He became a supporter of irredentism, a movement calling for the separation of all Italian-speaking territories from the Habsburg Empire and their annexation by Italy. Upon earning his degree in geography Battisti began …

Hindenburg Line

(426 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Hindenburg Line The name in British and French literature for the German defensive line on the Western Front in 1917/18, known in German as Siegfried-Stellung. After the close of the costly battles of 1916, the OHL (German Supreme Army Command) and the Army Group Kronprinz Rupprecht had decided to pull the front back to the Arras – Saint-Quentin – Vailly line. Their reasons had been strategic and operational: building on successes on the Eastern Front and in the unrestricted submarine war, the war in the West was to be waged defensively in…

Declarations of War

(276 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Declarations of War 1914 July 28 Austria-Hungary on Serbia August 1 Germany on Russia August 2 German invasion of Luxembourg1 August 3 Germany on France August 4 German invasion of Belgium* August 4 Great Britain enters the war* August 6 Serbia on Germany August 6 Austria-Hungary on Russia August 7 Montenegro on Austria-Hungary August 11 France on Austria-Hungary August 12 Great Britain on Austria-Hungary August 12 Montenegro on Germany August 23 Japan on Germany August 23 Austria-Hungary on Japan August 28 Austria-Hungary on Belgium October 15 Montenegro on Bulgaria October 29 the …

Arz von Straussenburg, Baron Artur

(338 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Arz von Straussenburg, Baron Artur (June 16, 1857, Hermannstadt, modern Sibiu in Transylvania – July 1, 1935, Budapest), Austro-Hungarian army general and chief of the General Staff. A member of the Transylvanian Saxon ethnic community, Arz joined the 23rd Feldjäger (Rifle) Battalion in 1877 for one year of voluntary military service. After attending the Kriegsschule (General Staff College) from 1885 to 1887, he was assigned to the General Staff and advanced his career mainly by serving with field units. Within months of attaining th…

Tunnel Warfare

(587 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Tunnel Warfare Warfare by means of planting subterranean destructive charges. Following the onset of positional warfare, the belligerents soon turned to tunneling and mining along the stationary front lines, especially on the Western Front and in the Alps. A distinction must be made between offensive and defensive mining: offensive mining was conducted for the purpose of destroying key positions or entire sections of the enemy’s trenches immediately before a planned infantry attack. This was accom…

Chemin des Dames

(350 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Chemin des Dames A prominent ridge running north of the River Aisne between Vailly and Craonne (département Aisne) with a paved promenade dating from the 18th century. German troops held the Chemin des Dames since the start of trench warfare and had taken up defensive positions along the steep slopes and in the numerous caves underlying the ridge. It was not until the Nivelle Offensive was launched in 1917 that the Chemin des Dames became a military focal point. From the middle of April the French Sixth Army commanded by …

Einem, Karl von

(339 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Einem, Karl von (January 1, 1853, Herzberg [Harz] – April 7, 1934, Mülheim an der Ruhr), German colonel general. Educated in the cadet corps, in 1870 Einem joined the 14th regiment of Uhlans, with whom he took part in the war against France. Never having attended military academy, Einem was ordered to the general staff while still a first lieutenant. In 1898 he was transferred as a colonel to the Prussian ministry of war (where he was director of the general war department from 1900). Lieutenant Ge…

War Office

(452 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
War Office The War Office was established by a cabinet order of November 1, 1916, to administer the Hindenburg Program initiated by the Operations Branch of the General Staff. The War Office was to centralize war economy measures and serve as the enforcement authority for the Auxiliary Service Bill. Officially placed beneath the Prussian War Ministry, it was a peculiar mix of military war-economy staff and civilian government boards. Lieutenant General Wilhelm Groener was named the War Office’s fi…
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