Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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Subject: History

Brill’s Digital Library of World War I is an online resource that contains over 700 encyclopedia entries plus 250 peer-reviewed articles of transnational and global historical perspectives on significant topics of World War I. This collection includes Brill’s Encyclopedia of the First World War, an unrivalled reference work that showcases the knowledge of experts from 15 countries and offers 26 additional essays on the major belligerents, wartime society and culture, diplomatic and military events, and the historiography of the Great War.

The 250 articles address not only the key issues from political, historical and cultural perspectives, but also engages with aspects of the war which have remained underexplored such as the neutrals, the role of women before, during and after the war, and memory. The chapters have been drawn from a select number of Brill publications that have been published in the last 15 years. Brill’s Digital Library of World War I is a unique digital library that will allow researchers to discover new perspectives and connections with the enhanced navigational tools provided.

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Race to the Sea

(479 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Race to the Sea Popular metaphor for the military operations on the northern flank of the Western Front between September 15 and late October 1914, in the course of which both sides hoped to outflank the opponent, and which eventually came to an end with the onset of positional warfare in November of 1914. Following the German withdrawal to the Marne, the new chief of the Supreme Army Command (Oberste Heeresleitung, OHL), General Erich von Falkenhayn, planned to renew the offensive on the German rig…

Railroads and the Operational Level of War in the German 1918 Offensives

(11,046 words)

Author(s): Zabecki, David T.
Zabecki, David T. - Railroads and the Operational Level of War in the German 1918 Offensives Keywords: 1918 | Amiens | German | offensives | operational art | railroads ISFWWS-Keywords: Germany | Military organisation of combat | Western Front | Science | Technology | Medicine | Pre-war period | Experience of combat | Britain Abstract: This paper evaluates the German approach to the operational art by analyzing the Ludendorff Offensives of 1918, and specifically the influence of railroads on the outcome of the entire campaign. The purpose…

Railroad Workers and World War I: Labor Hygiene and the Policies of Japanese National Railways

(8,593 words)

Author(s): Lim, Chaisung
Lim, Chaisung - Railroad Workers and World War I: Labor Hygiene and the Policies of Japanese National Railways ISFWWS-Keywords: Asia | Science, Technology, and Medicine | Economy | Society | Home fronts The Decade of the Great War Tosh Minohara , Tze-ki Hon and Evan Dawley , (2014) Publication Editor: Brill, The Netherlands, 2014 e-ISBN: 9789004274273 DOI: 10.1163/9789004274273_021 © 2014 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands Lim, Chaisung


(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 o…

Rainbow Books

(583 words)

Author(s): Zala, Sacha
Rainbow Books Official printed texts or collections of diplomatic documents, appearing on an ad hoc basis treating primarily questions of foreign policy. A government published “rainbow books,” frequently during or after an international crisis, in order to inform its parliament and/or public, to legitimize its own policy, and/or to criticize the policy of a foreign state. The books owe their name to the colors of their bindings, used on a consistent basis by the various governments: Great Britain blue; Germa…

Raps across the Knuckles: The Extension of War Culture by Radical Nationalist Women Journalists in Post-1918 Germany

(8,310 words)

Author(s): Streubel, Christiane
Streubel, Christiane - Raps across the Knuckles: The Extension of War Culture by Radical Nationalist Women Journalists in Post-1918 Germany …

Rasputin, Grigori Yefimovich

(375 words)

Author(s): Lindemann, Mechthild
Rasputin, Grigori Yefimovich (Probably 1872, Pokrovskoye [near Tyumen] – December 30, 1…

Rathenau, Walther

(882 words)

Author(s): Sabrow, Martin
Rathenau, Walther (September 29, 1867, Berlin – June 24, 1922, Berlin [assassinated]), German industrialist and politician. He was the son of Emil Rathenau, later the founder of AEG. Under the Empire he followed a career as an industrial employer which took him to the board of AEG (1899) as proprietor of the Berlin Handels-Gesellschaft (1902), and then to the supervisory board of AEG, of which in 1912 he became chairman. By 1914 Rathenau was one of the most influential German and European major in…


(634 words)

Author(s): Berghoff, Hartmut
Rationing The systematic registration and distribution of goods in short supply, in order to meet priority needs. The aim of rationing is to achieve distribution which is as fair as possible, and adequate to the war economy. All belligerent nations, and even the neutral countries, realized that the destruction of established structures of the international division of labor, together with enemy blockades and the enormous needs of the defense economy, created shortages of raw materials and foodstu…

Rawlinson, Sir Henry

(307 words)

Author(s): Bourne, J.M.
Rawlinson, Sir Henry (February 20, 1869, Trent Manor [Dorset] – March 28, 1925, Delhi), British general. Rawlinson’s remarkably successful prewar career included command of a mobile column in the Second Boer War (1899–1901), of the Army Staff College (1903–1906), and of the 3rd Division (1910–1914). As commanding general of the IVth Corps, he played a vital role in the battles of 1915. Named commander in chief of the Fourth Army in February 1916, Raw…

Raw Materials, Rationing, and Procurement

(2,348 words)

Author(s): Zilch, Reinhold
Raw Materials, Rationing, and Procurement The war had scarcely begun before the mass armies ran short of vital raw materials and replacement supplies. State intervention in the procurement and distribution of raw materials followed in the warring nations’ economies with the goal of making maximum use of the raw materials available for the war effort. This effort was linked with intense efforts to depress private consumption. To this end, the state intervened in the economy to requisition and distribu…

Reaching Out to the Past: Memory in Contemporary British First World War Narratives

(9,338 words)

Author(s): Renard, Virginie
Renard, Virginie - Reaching Out to the Past: Memory in Contemporary British First World War Narratives Keywords: British fiction | collective memory | contemporary First World War narratives | Great War writers | Julian Barnes | …

Rear Area

(318 words)

Author(s): Thoss, Bruno
Rear Area Originally the term for the area devoted to the storage of military supplies behind the frontline. The German term Etappe derives from the French étape. The zone located directly behind the rearward limits of the combat area, and serving, among other things, for the supply and transportation of men and materials. Owing to the increased supply needs of large-scale modern armies, the term came to refer to the zone linking the fighting troops with their home territory. Its forward limit was defined by the operational zone of the army in the field, while to the rear it merged into the home areas or occupied territories under military administration immediately adjacent to it. The rear area provided access for the supply of personnel and material, the…


(522 words)

Author(s): Schmidt, Wolfgang
Reconnaissance Military procedure by which information is gathered about the enemy situation as well as terrain and weather conditions; it is a vital prerequisite for the decision-making processes on all levels of command. In addition to peace-time intelligence gathering, war-time reconnaissance operations were broken down according to the type of theater or battlefield into long-range, short-range and battlefield, or c…

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, were included under the blanket title Red Cross until the end of the war. In the event of war, Red Cross associations saw themselves as a civilian complement and aid to the army medical service. The purpose was to free soldiers for the front by delegating medical duties to civilians. In Germany until the end of the war there wer…


(328 words)

Author(s): Storz, Dieter
Regiment Major administrative unit of a service branch, normally led by a colonel. The infantry of all European countries had been organized into regiments since the late 17th century. In order to ensure command efficiency, regiments were further divided into battalions and companies. Other branches of the army, notably the cavalry and artillery branches, were also organized into regiments. Administrative units corresponded with tactical units except for any existing regiments of special troops, …

Reichsbund Jüdischer Frontsoldaten

(289 words)

Author(s): Sieg, Ulrich
Reichsbund Jüdischer Frontsoldaten Reich Federation of Jewish Front Soldiers. Founded in early 1919 by Captain Leo Löwenstein, this veterans’ organization worked primarily to counter the disparagement of Jewish World War patriotism. The organization’s local chapters quickly gained a following, especially among Jewish liberals. During the Kapp Putsch of 1920 and the Berlin Scheunenviertel ( Jewish Quarter) Riot of 1923, members defended the Jewish residents against Antisemitic attacks. In 1925 the Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten counted as the …


(401 words)

Author(s): Horne, John
Reims Northern French city located in the Département of the Marne. Even before the war, Reims had been an important memorial site. Its cathedral, a French Gothic gem begun in the 13th century, was the coronation site of kings, including the crowning of Charles VII in the presence of Joan of Arc in 1429. During September 4–12, 1914, the German Seco…


(3,176 words)

Author(s): Becker, Annette
Religion During the First World War all participants were defending (or thought they were defending) great values – the values of one’s own country, faith, homeland, and one’s own family. These core values were severely tested by pain, fear, injury, and death. Whether as members of a community, as belonging to particular professional groups, or as inhabitants of a city or village, everyone bore an individual fate. By the fact of belonging to one’s land and/or church, this was imbedded in a collec…

Remarque, Erich Maria

(831 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Thomas F.
Remarque, Erich Maria ( June 22, 1898, Osnabrück – September 25, 1970, Locarno; born Erich Paul Remark), German writer. Remarque was born into a working-class family, and trained in Osnabrück as an elementary-school teacher; conscripted into the army in 1916, he underwent initial military training at Osnabrück and Celle. He served as a sapper on the Arras and Ypres fronts from June 1917. On July 31 at Houthulst in Flanders he was seriously wounded and…
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