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…

Gallwitz, Max von

(481 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Gallwitz, Max von (May 2, 1852, Breslau [modern Wrocław] – April 18, 1937, Naples), German general. The son of a sergeant, Gallwitz served as a volunteer in the Franco-Prussian War. He later made his career in the General Staff and in the Prussian War Ministry. He was appointed divisional commander in 1905, inspector of the field artillery in 1911, and raised to the nobility in 1913. Gallwitz was commander of the Guard Reserve Corps when the war broke out; one of his first tasks was the capture of the fortress of Namur. As early as August 1914, the corps was t…

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…

War between Allies: Polish and Ukrainian Intellectuals 1914–1923

(8,422 words)

Author(s): Górny, Maciej
Górny, Maciej - War between Allies: Polish and Ukrainian Intellectuals 1914–1923 ISFWWS-Keywords: Russian Front | Politics | Russia | Poland | Intellectuals and the War | Literature | Legacy Other Fronts, Other Wars? Joachim Bürgschwentner, Matthias Egger and Gunda Barth-Scalmani , (2014) Publication Editor: Brill, The Netherlands, 2014 e-ISBN: 9789004279513 DOI: 10.1163/9789004279513_020 © 2014 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands Górny, Maciej

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…

Elsa Brändström and the Reintegration of Returning Prisoners of War and their Families in Post-War Germany and Austria

(8,776 words)

Author(s): Stibbe, Matthew
Stibbe, Matthew - Elsa Brändström and the Reintegration of Returning Prisoners of War and their Families in Post-War Germany and Austria Keywords: Austrian society | Elsa Brändström | First World War | Germany | prisoners of war | women's activism ISFWWS-Keywords: Prisoners of War | Germany | Austria-Hungary | Russia | Scandinavia | Switzerland | The United States of America | Literature Abstract: Less is known about Elsa Brändström's contribution to the reintegration of returning POWs and their families in post-war German and Austrian society,…

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…

Piłsudski, Józef Klemens

(325 words)

Author(s): Hecker, Hans
Piłsudski, Józef Klemens (December 5, 1867, Zułowo [now Zalavas, near Vilnius] – May 12, 1935, Warsaw), Polish politician and marshal. Co-founder of the Polish Socialist Party in 1892, Piłsudski was a determined opponent of Russia. He pursued the goal of a Polish federal republic on the model of the old Polish-Lithuanian Union, reaching far to the east and including non-Polish nationalities. This national revolutionary activist organized paramilitary groups from 1908 on and sent his forces over the…

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…

Masaryk, Tomáš Garrigue

(538 words)

Author(s): Hadler, Frank
Masaryk, Tomáš Garrigue (March 7, 1850, Hodonín [Göding] – September 14, 1937, Lány Castle [near Prague]), Czech politician (state president). Masaryk studied in Vienna and Leipzig. After obtaining his doctorate and professorial qualification, in 1882 he moved from Vienna to Prague, where he worked as Professor of Philosophy at the new Czech University, and entered politics as a member of the Bohemian Parliament and the Austrian Reichsrat (1891–93, 1907–14). After the beginning of the First World War, he played a leading part in founding a secret, anti-Austria…

Rennenkampf, Paul Karlovich Edler von

(302 words)

Author(s): Dahlmann, Dittmar
Rennenkampf, Paul Karlovich Edler von (April 17, 1854, Konuvere, Estonia – April 1, 1918, Taganrog, Russia), Russian general. Born into a Baltic German noble family, Rennenkampf graduated from the Helsinki Junker School in 1873, and from the General Staff Academy in 1882. He commanded a division in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904/1905. During the Russian Revolution of 1905, he was given the task of suppressing uprisings in eastern Siberia. In 1910 he was promoted general of cavalry, and in 1913/1914 commanded the Vilna (Vilnius) military district. At the beginning of the First Wor…

Wilhelm II, German Kaiser

(1,402 words)

Author(s): C.G. Röhl, John
Wilhelm II, German Kaiser ( January 27, 1859, Berlin – June 4, 1941, Doorn, Netherlands), German Kaiser and King of Prussia. Kaiser Wilhelm was characterized by Germany’s enemies during the First World War as an aggressive warmonger, the personification of the German lust for conquest. Not only among the Allied populace, showered as it was with bloodthirsty caricatures and poisonous propaganda, but also in well-informed government circles (not least in the White House), the war was seen simply as “t…

Kerensky Offensive

(725 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
Kerensky Offensive Contrary to the expectations and hopes of the Central Powers, the Russian February Revolution initially brought a considerable improvement of Russia’s political and military fighting morale. Alexander Kerensky, minister of war from May 19, 1917, onward, followed the motto that Russia was by and large in favor of a “peace without annexations and contributions,” but under certain circumstances also ready to fight for a “peace without defeat.” In July 1917, Kerensky toured the fron…

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…

Alekseyev, Mikhail Vasiliyevich

(302 words)

Author(s): Dahlmann, Dittmar
Alekseyev, Mikhail Vasiliyevich (November 15, 1857, Tver Province – October 9, 1918, Yekaterinodar, modern Krasnodar), Russian general. Born into a military family, Alekseyev graduated from the Moscow Infantry School in 1876 and in 1890 completed his training at the General Staff Academy. He served with the General Staff while also teaching military history at the Staff Academy from 1898 to 1904. From October 1904 and throughout 1905 he held the post of quartermaster general with the Third Manchurian Army, after…

Mackensen, August von

(576 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Mackensen, August von (December 6, 1849, Haus Leipnitz [Kreis Wittenberg] – November 8, 1945, Burghorn [now part of Habighorst, Kreis Celle]), German field marshal. The son of an estate manager, Mackensen took part in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/1871 before studying for two years in Halle and subsequently returning to the army, where he pursued a rapid and brilliant career as a cavalryman in spite of his not having attended the Kriegsakademie (War Academy). Among his assignments, his appointment as adjutant to Alfred von Schlieffen (1891) is particularly worthy…

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…

Ludendorff, Erich

(775 words)

Author(s): Kitchen, Martin
Ludendorff, Erich (April 9, 1865, Kruszewnia [near Posen, now Poznań, Poland] – December 20, 1937, Tutzing), German general, and First Quartermaster General on the General Staff of the field army. Although he is often represented as the archetypal middle class technocrat, Ludendorff in fact sprang from the landed nobility. The son of an officer and landed estate owner, he was educated at an army cadet school. He received his officer’s commission in 1881, and in 1894 was appointed to the Imperial G…

Red Cross

(1,371 words)

Author(s): Mönch, Winfried
Red Cross The red cross on a white ground signifies neutrality in war, and thus protection. The Ottoman Empire introduced the alternative symbol of the red crescent on a white ground during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877/1878, and also used it during the First World War. The red crescent continues to be used by Muslim states in place of the red cross, in order to avoid using the Christian symbol. The associations that had assumed the voluntary, and most importantly unpaid, task of caring for the wounded in war, as well as preparing for that activity in peacetime, w…
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