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Lusitania

(653 words)

Author(s): Kramer, Alan
Lusitania A British luxury liner that was torpedoed on May 7, 1915, off the south coast of Ireland by the German U-boat U-20 while on its way from New York to Liverpool. A total of 1,198 passengers (according to another estimate: 1,201) lost their lives, including 127 Americans. The incident occurred during the phase of unrestricted U-boat warfare, during which the German naval command intensified its efforts to sink British merchant ships in order to cripple the British economy. Whether or not the Lusitania had munitions on board was controversially debated for many years…

War Atrocities

(955 words)

Author(s): Kramer, Alan
War Atrocities War atrocities may either be in direct violation of international law or contravene the generally accepted conventions of war, or else be conform to international law but nevertheless condemnable. The basic premise lies in the particular atrocity of the type of warfare or in the choice of victims. When defenseless people deliberately become the target of acts of war (civilians, shipwrecked persons, captured or wounded soldiers), the afflicted side perceives such acts as war atrociti…

German War Graves Commission

(615 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
German War Graves Commission Founded in 1919 this commission, entitled the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (VDK), was the most important private organization of the interwar period concerned with the creation and maintenance of German war graves. After 1923 the Zentralnachweiseamt für Kriegerverluste und Kriegergräber (‘Central Office for War Victims and War Graves,’ or ZAK) in Berlin was officially charged by the Interior Ministry with the many tasks involved in the care of war graves, and of fallen soldiers’ next-of-kin, as wa…

Paris Peace Conferences

(739 words)

Author(s): Schwabe, Klaus
Paris Peace Conferences In Paris between January 18 and June 28, 1919, peace conferences were held by the victorious powers of the First World War in order to make final decisions on a host of questions, and then to write them as regulations to which the signatories would be contractually obligated. Additionally the victorious powers would conclude so-called minority treaties with the allies of the German Empire after the signing of the Versailles Treaty. The Paris Peace Conferences were held in se…

Reparations

(2,115 words)

Author(s): Geyer, Martin H.
Reparations Since the First World War the normal term for war compensation, by which a state is obliged to remedy damage illicitly caused by it on the sovereign territory of an enemy. In contrast to the traditional practice whereby financial obligations were imposed by the victors in a war in the form of tribute, the concept of reparations introduced the new idea that a state must pay for the damage it has caused another state by an illegal act. The first use in a treaty of the concept réparation des dommages (compensation for damages), drawn from French civil law, was in the cease-f…

The First World War and German Memory

(13,798 words)

Author(s): Kramer, Alan
Kramer, Alan - The First World War and German Memory Keywords: First World War | German memory | lightning warfare | Weimar Republic ISFWWS-Keywords: Germany | Legacy | Intellectuals and the War | Literature | Culture | Politics | Belgium Abstract: This chapter outlines the German memory of the First World War. It discusses collective memory, political culture and historical scholarship in the period 1918 to 1939, the Second World War, and since 1945. The memory of the war was increasingly a battleground in the final …

Hoover, Herbert Clark

(422 words)

Author(s): Waechter, Matthias
Hoover, Herbert Clark (August 10, 1874, West Branch IA – October 20, 1964, New York NY), American politician (1929–1933: president of the United States). In the United States, Hoover is remembered above all as the luckless president of the crisis years of 1929–1933, his presidency overshadowed by his successor Franklin D. Roosevelt. Against that background, his remarkable activities during the First World War have largely been forgotten. Hoover came from a simple Quaker family and studied mining engineering at Stanford University. His mining work took him all o…

Peace Initiatives

(1,049 words)

Author(s): Hoff, Henning
Peace Initiatives In the course of the World War there were repeated attempts to end hostile activities. However, right until the end the war aims of the two sides were irreconcilable so that the chances for the success of peace initiatives remained small. The first serious attempts to bring the European belligerents to the negotiating table were made by American President Woodrow Wilson, who in the spring of 1915 sent his trusted “Colonel” Edward M. House to London, Berlin and Paris to hold exploratory talks. The trip foundered on the G…

Music Theater

(1,707 words)

Author(s): Hebestreit, Oliver
Music Theater There were only a very few voices calling for the cessation of public music-making after the outbreak of the First World War. So music continued to be performed for the duration of the conflict. However, musical institutions and music makers did not remain untouched by the effects of the war, which included the drafting of artists, financial restrictions, the changed character of concert programs and repertoires, and state censorship. In all belligerent states musicians were drafted or went to the front as volunteers. But conscription also affected te…

Zweig, Arnold

(588 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Thomas F.
Zweig, Arnold (November 10, 1887, Glogau – November 26, 1968, East Berlin), German writer. The son of a Jewish saddle maker, Zweig studied German literature, art history, and modern languages, with a view to becoming a teacher, but then decided to live from his writing. After being drafted in 1915, he took part in the battles in Belgium and Serbia, and at Verdun, as an Armierungssoldat (non-combatant equipment service soldier). In 1917 Zweig became a clerk at the headquarters of the army press office at Ober-Ost Headquarters in Kovno, Lithuania. Contact with Eastern European Jew…

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 …

Deportations

(1,069 words)

Author(s): Kramer, Alan
Deportations Forcible expulsions were practised for various reasons, and by all sides, during the First World War. Initially, they were a means of securing zones of conflict and occupation. During the German invasion in the West alone, at least 10,000 French citizens were deported to Germany and interned in barracks that stood vacant. The number of Belgians deported in 1914 is unknown, but may have amounted to several thousands. These first deportations, which included women and children, were in…

Controlling Urban Society during World War I: Cooperation between Belgian Authorities and the Forces of Military Occupation

(106 words)

Author(s): Majerus, Benoît
Benoît, Majerus - Controlling Urban Society during World War I: Cooperation between Belgian Authorities and the Forces of Military Occupation Keywords: Belgium | Germany | Western Front | Home fronts | Society | Economy ‛Endangered Cities’ Marcus Funck and Roger Chickering, Publication Editor: Brill, The Netherlands, 2004 e-ISBN: 9789047409812 DOI: 10.1163/9789047409812.005 © 2004 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands Majerus, Benoît

Food Supplies

(2,616 words)

Author(s): Corni, Gustavo
Food Supplies The supply of food to the civilian population, as well as to the fighting forces, is one of the most important elements in the waging of any war. This applies especially to the First World War, in which food supplies to millions of people had to be assured in the face of mutual blockades that severely compromised trade routes. A deterioration in food supplies was experienced in all belligerent nations and occupied territories during the course of the war, causing governments repeatedly to revise and modify their supply strategies. All sides …

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…

Sub-Saharan Africa

(719 words)

Author(s): Zimmerer, Jürgen
Sub-Saharan Africa Africa without the Arab North, and without the settler colonies in the South. Sub-Saharan Africa was both a theater of war and a source for the recruitment of soldiers and laborers during the First World War. The main areas fought over were the German colonies of Togo, Cameroon, and German East Africa, as their capture would enable the wireless stations located there to be destroyed, and their harbors neutralized as bases for the German Navy. When British and French forces occup…

Infantry

(964 words)

Author(s): Gross, Gerhard P.
Infantry A branch of the armed forces; infantry is the term for foot soldiers. The infantry served as the main branch of the armed forces in the World War. Despite the increased firepower of the infantry, the concept of war held by the European armies originated in the dogma of the superiority of the offensive over the defensive. Tight formations of battle-hardened riflemen swarming over open terrain was the basis for the attack methods of the German infantry Once the infantry had attained fire s…

High Voltage Fence

(334 words)

Author(s): Roolf, Christoph
High Voltage Fence In early 1915 the German occupation forces in Belgium began the construction of a 300 km long high voltage fence along the Belgian-Dutch border. Conceived above all for security reasons, the project was a countermeasure against the continuing flight of more than 800,000 Belgians to Holland and Great Britain following the German occupation of their land. Moreover, German occupation forces feared enemy espionage and smuggling activities. The two-meter high barbed-wire fence, charge…

Humanitarian Relief in Europe and the Analogue of War, 1914–1918

(8,031 words)

Author(s): Little, Branden
Little, Branden - Humanitarian Relief in Europe and the Analogue of War, 1914–1918 Keywords: American Red Cross (ARC) | Belgium | First World War | Humanitarian relief | Rockefeller Foundation (RF) | war in Europe ISFWWS-Keywords: The United States of America | Economy | Belgium | Medicine | Violence against civilians | International Relations during the War | Politics | Naval Warfare | Women and War Abstract: Foremost among the scores of Great War-era American organizations mobilized to deliver life-sustaining aid to Europe in the form of food, clot…

Battlefield Tourism

(601 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
Battlefield Tourism This term covers visits both to former war locations and landscapes and to military cemeteries of the First World War. The majority of “battlefield tourists” during the 1920s and 1930s were relatives of the fallen. Every French citizen, for example, received a free railway pass every year to visit the military cemeteries. The English travel bureau Thomas Cook specialized in accompanying British visitors to the cemeteries and memorials in Belgium and France, which had begun to be constructed soon a…
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