Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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Armed Forces (Great Britain)

(4,680 words)

Author(s): Bourne, J.M.
Armed Forces (Great Britain) The First World War was a highly unpleasant experience for the British. The perception of this war in public opinion was once summed up by the historian A.J.P. Taylor in the disparaging words “brave, helpless soldiers; blundering, obstinate generals; nothing achieved.” This negative view was primarily the consequence of the losses of human life, as the number of casualties among the soldiers was without precedent in the history of Great Britain. The majority of these los…

New Zealand

(743 words)

Author(s): Grey, Jeffrey
New Zealand New Zealand shared many World War experiences with its larger Pacific neighbor Australia. Yet there existed just as many differences which could not be erased by the fact that the troops of both states fought in joint contingents like the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) for most of the war. The military organization before the war was based on a territorial militia established in 1909, with a total strength of 25,000 men. Under the military service laws, the stationing of…

Kessler, Harry Graf

(817 words)

Author(s): Riederer, Günter
Kessler, Harry Graf (May 5, 1868, Paris – November 30, 1937, Lyon), German author, journalist, politician and diplomat. Kessler spent his childhood and youth in France, Germany and England. After studying law in Bonn and Leipzig, he fulfilled his one-year military obligation serving with the 3rd Guard Uhlan Regiment in Potsdam. Kessler did not enter the diplomatic service as originally planned, owing to his developing talents and interests. He served instead as a patron of the arts, supporting arti…

Barbusse, Henri

(571 words)

Author(s): Beaupré, Nicolas
Barbusse, Henri (March 17, 1872, Asnières near Paris – August 30, 1935, Moscow), French writer. Barbusse is undoubtedly one of France’s most famous war novelists. He moreover embodied the type of the left-wing intellectual wartime activist. His 1916 war novel Le Feu (English: Under Fire, 1917 and 2003) quickly earned him recognition in and outside of France. Henri Barbusse, 1915. Barbusse was a member of the intellectual bourgeoisie. In 1898 he married Helyonne, daughter of the influential poet Catulle Mendès. At that time he was primarily writing poetry…

Manifesto of the 93

(963 words)

Author(s): vom Bruch, Rüdiger
Manifesto of the 93 Published on October 4, 1914, an appeal addressed “to the civilized world” ( An die Kulturwelt! Ein Aufruf ) and endorsed by 93 German men of letters, scientists, scholars and artists, rejected as “untrue” allegations made by the Entente against the German “militarism” and atrocities verifiably committed by the German Army in neutral Belgium. The Manifesto followed numerous other, similar declarations made especially by well-known cultural figures on both sides in the “war of the minds” ( Krieg der Geister, the title of a 1915 collection of international es…

Armed Forces (Dominions)

(3,147 words)

Author(s): Grey, Jeffrey
Armed Forces (Dominions) The settler colonies of the British Empire (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa) had already acquired the status of dominions prior to 1914, as part of a constitutional development towards full independence. Self-determination in domestic matters had already been granted to Canada in 1867, to Australia in 1901, to New Zealand in 1907, and to South Africa in 1910. The British declaration of war on Germany in 1914 was binding for all dominions, since London still…

Railways

(539 words)

Author(s): Thoss, Bruno
Railways A means of mass transportation of persons and goods, developed in the 19th century, and adapted for military purposes in the second half of the century. The first extensive and operationally effective implementation of plans for the transportation of major bodies of troops by rail occurred in the wars of 1866 and 1870/1871. From that point on, all general staffs included the railways in their operational plans, and created specialized military units for the construction, safeguarding, an…

Deployment Plans

(1,557 words)

Author(s): Bourne, John
Deployment Plans Deployment plans were plans for readying the mobilized units of a land army. To what degree the warring states of World War I actually sought after this conflict is one of the most intensively researched, and most sharply contended subjects of 20th century historiography. It is agreed, however, that most powers had worked out detailed mobilization and attack plans in case of war. These, they also realized to a greater or lesser degree when war broke out in August 1914. The war plans of the German Reich are customarily referred to as the Schlieffen Plan, even …

Desertion

(1,634 words)

Author(s): Jahr, Christoph
Desertion Denotes a soldier’s unauthorized absence from his unit, without the permission of his superior officers. Related offences are “unauthorized absence” and “defection to the enemy.” In common with all other legal offenses, desertion does not necessarily reflect objective circumstances, but depends on national legal provisions and their interpretation on a particular occasion, that is to say their practical application. In particular, the distinction between desertion, unauthorized absence, defection, refusal of wa…

Spain

(827 words)

Author(s): Albes, Jens
Spain This one-time world power had sunk to the level of a second-rate power after the 17th century. During the World War, however, it grew to become the most important neutral state of Europe. Favorably situated geo-strategically – two continents plus two oceans meeting at the Straits of Gibraltar – Spain constituted a veritable island of neutrality, surrounded by the warring states of France with Morocco, England with Gibraltar, and after March 1916 Portugal as well. That caused this land on the Iberian Peninsula to unexpectedly become the object of international interest. Despite co…

Stereotypes

(627 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Stereotypes Combatants developed their images of “us” and “them” along the lines of national stereotypes that echoed, to some degree, cultural impressions coined before the war. Frequently this involved the clearly pejorative, somewhat racist disparagement of the enemy. Occasionally this also involved the judgment implicit in their evolving typification of national characters, which sometimes was in effect along the fronts of the war and beyond. The oldest typification existed in the figure of Tommy Atkins, the typical British soldier. This idealization of the valorou…

Luring Neutrals: Allied and German Propaganda in Argentina during the First World War

(10,707 words)

Author(s): Tato, María Inés
Tato, María Inés - Luring Neutrals: Allied and German Propaganda in Argentina during the First World War ISFWWS-Keywords: South America | Economy | Literature | Culture | Britain | The United States of America | France | Germany | Naval Warfare World War I and Propaganda Troy R.E. Paddock , (2014) Publication Editor: Brill, The Netherlands, 2014 e-ISBN: 9789004264571 DOI: 10.1163/9789004264571_016 © 2014 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands Tato, María Inés

Judaism

(604 words)

Author(s): Sieg, Ulrich
Judaism In all the belligerent states, Jews strove to give evidence of national loyalty. It would be well, however, to take care before singling out a particular Jewish patriotism. Western European Jewry was already largely integrated before 1914. Its national engagement was self-evident, and by no means a form of “total assimilation.” Statements by Jewish organizations that are usually interpreted as an expression of Jewish “hyper-patriotism” can be understood against the background of the press…

Gaulle, Charles de

(360 words)

Author(s): Waechter, Matthias
Gaulle, Charles de (November 22, 1890, Lille – November 9, 1970, Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, Département Haute-Marne), French officer and politician. As a young officer, De Gaulle was decorated among other things, for Verdun. He fell prisoner to the Germans, and undertook several spectacular escape attempts. The World War came to have a special meaning for him, especially for his awareness of politics and history, and for his ideological formation. For De Gaulle, the Union sacrée achieved during the war became his lifelong ideal for a successful, domestic political or…

Compiègne

(335 words)

Author(s): Werth, German
Compiègne French town and railway junction on the River Oise, some 60 km northeast of Paris; in 1917 it became the seat of the French Headquarters (GQG) and later the site of the 1918 Armistice. On November 11, 1918, at around 5:20 am, the Armistice between the Entente represented by chief negotiator Marshal Ferdinand Foch, and the German Empire was signed in a wooded area near Compiègne. The act itself took place in a railway carriage parked in a siding that belonged to a disused railway gun emp…

Greece

(1,698 words)

Author(s): Loulos, Konstantin
Greece While the real tragedy of the World War played out on Europe’s theaters of war, Greece remained neutral until 1917. This neutrality was above all benevolent toward the Central Powers – at least, as far as the head of state, King Constantine, was concerned. Since the monarch admired his brother-in-law Kaiser Wilhelm II as the personification of the German martial spirit, he refused to march off to war against the Central Powers. Thereupon, Greek Premier Eleftherios Venizelos advocated stron…

Lyautey, Louis Hubert Gonzalve

(283 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
Lyautey, Louis Hubert Gonzalve (November 17, 1854, Nancy – July 21, 1934, Thorey [Département Meurthe-et-Moselle]), French general and politician (minister of war). A cavalry officer serving at the Saint-Cyr military academy from 1873, Lyautey was politically to the right, but always remained alive to social questions. In the 1890s he produced proposals for reforming the social role of army officers. He was frequently employed in the French colonies in the 1890s, as well as in Algeria. From 1912 he …

War Credits

(773 words)

Author(s): Zilch, Reinhold
War Credits War credits were one of the crucial means of financing the war. They were raised in various forms, by various methods, and in various amounts, by all belligerent nations at home and sometimes abroad. War credits were necessary because some elements of normal state receipts fell drastically upon the outbreak of war, while the financial burden abruptly multiplied. War credits were raised at home in the form of short- or long-term government bonds, or by increasing the amount of paper cur…

East Prussia

(793 words)

Author(s): Liulevicius, Vejas Gabriel
East Prussia In a single year of the war, 1914–1915, Russian troops overran two-thirds of East Prussia, the most eastern province of the German Reich. It would remain the only meaningful occupation of German territory. In August the Reich’s eastern border had remained only weakly defended in keeping with German operational plans so that the troops could first conduct a decisive attack in the West against France. Yet the Russian army mobilized more quickly than the German plans had envisioned. The …

Triple Alliance (Dreibund)

(421 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Triple Alliance ( Dreibund) Alliance of May 20, 1882, between the German Reich, Italy, and Austria-Hungary. On the basis of the treaty’s content, the Triple Alliance may be seen as having been essentially a defensive alliance against France. The existence of this secret alliance became known in the spring of 1883, but the terms of the treaty were not fully published until after the First World War. The Triple Alliance was renegotiated in 1886/1887, 1892, 1902, and 1911/1912, and the text of the trea…
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