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Forced Labor

(1,842 words)

Author(s): Hinz, Uta
Forced Labor It is entirely possible to see the development of state-organized forced labor in Germany between 1914 and 1918 as a kind of “trial run” for the Second World War (Ulrich Herbert). It is necessary first of all to distinguish between legitimate military forms of forced labor (in accordance with the laws of war as they stood at the time, for prisoners of war) and forced labor for civilians. The latter affected many civilians forced to work in Germany, and transported to Germany in breach of international law for that purpose. The use of the labor of captured ordinary soldiers…

The Forgotten Campaign: Alsace-Lorraine August 1914

(9,488 words)

Author(s): Herwig, Holger H.
Herwig, Holger H., - The Forgotten Campaign: Alsace-Lorraine August 1914 Keywords: French Army and its combattants | Western Front | France | Germany | Published memoirs and biographies | Experience of combat | Science, Technology, and Medicine Abstract: The conclusions drawn from the campaign in Alsace-Lorraine are as follows. First, the German army's prewar neglect of electronic communications and the need to assign royal heirs to command field armies combined against efficient coordination between Koblenz and Hell…

North Africa

(2,498 words)

Author(s): Cornelissen, Christoph
North Africa Geographical area stretching from the Atlantic coast of present-day Morocco in the west to the Suez Canal and the Red Sea in the east. The territories in question experienced various phases of political and military subjugation by the European colonial powers before the outbreak of the First World War. The North African territories were subject to differing external and internal political arrangements, and were then administered under direct and indirect forms of rule. France claimed formal sovereignty in Al…

War Enthusiasm

(799 words)

Author(s): Ullrich, Volker
War Enthusiasm In August 1914, the Germans went to war in a wave of general enthusiasm – or so it was claimed until recently in schoolbooks and in a number of representative works written by German historians. This stereotyped conception has, in the meantime, been increasingly challenged and corrected in a number of crucial points. Accordingly, it can now stated with certainty that an “August Experience” in the sense of an enthusiastic, nationwide approval of the war that would have mobilized all social classes did not take place. …

Famine

(1,380 words)

Author(s): Corni, Gustavo
Famine The long duration of the war, reciprocal blockades of food imports, and the exploitation of regions occupied by the Central Powers all caused occasional dramatic occurrences of famine in the World War. In the German Reich and Austria especially, the food situation during the second half of the war was appalling. In Germany, the lack of planning to maintain the food supply in case of war was partly the blame for the quantitative and qualitative decline in the diet of a majority of the German civilian population. The weekly flour ration fell…

Fourteen Points

(899 words)

Author(s): Waechter, Matthias
Fourteen Points Fourteen Points stands for the peace aims of American President Woodrow Wilson, who made them public in a speech before the United States Congress on January 8, 1918. The basic reasons for American participation in the war were already clear. To justify America’s joining the war in April 1917, Wilson stressed that the United States was not interested in realizing any narrowly defined national demands. Rather, he meant to for liberal political principles to be implemented globally, …

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…

Big Bertha

(279 words)

Author(s): Gross, Gerhard P.
Big Bertha Name popularly given to the 42-cm mortar on a wheeled carriage developed by the Krupp Company, and named after the eldest daughter of Friedrich Alfred Krupp. Commissioned by the Prussian general staff as a howitzer with the aim of destroying the modern fortifications located in Belgium and France along the line of the planned Prussian advance. In 1909 Krupp proposed the 42-cm short naval cannon 12/16, with the cover-name Gamma Device, often also referred to as dicke Bertha (BB). This platform gun was transported by rail and fired 930-kg shells up to a distance o…

Uniforms

(1,390 words)

Author(s): Kraus, Jürgen
Uniforms At the beginning of the war, the armies of most warring states were outfitted with a special field uniform, camouflaged to blend into the terrain, in addition to their colorful parade uniforms. Such a camouflage uniform was necessary because of modern weapons technology including smokeless powder. This was already well known from the Boer Wars and the Russo-Japanese War. Still, camouflage uniforms dated back to the colonial wars of the 19th century. Based on experience in India, Great Br…

Eastern Front

(1,205 words)

Author(s): Stone, Norman
Eastern Front The topography of the Eastern Front differed markedly from that of the Western Front. For one thing, it was twice as long as the Western Front, stretching in an irregular line from the southeast corner of the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea – including the Bulgarian Front and all the way to the Aegean Sea. Although the terrain was mainly gently rolling, or else flat and forested, the Carpathian Mountains along the Polish and Hungarian borders could pose a significant obstacle for militar…

Public Opinion, Study of

(594 words)

Author(s): Ziemann, Benjamin
Public Opinion, Study of Opinion polls, often systematically organized, were taken periodically regarding the outlook of different population groups on politics, the war situation, the economic situation, and other topics, with the object of obtaining information for official use concerning public opinion The study of public opinion was based upon various kinds of reports officially collected as part of government reforms after 1812, including the Prussian Zeitungsberichte, and the weekly reports on the workers’ movement beginning in 1848 in Bavaria, the Wochenberichte. Thes…

Military Losses (Casualties)

(1,331 words)

Author(s): Overmans, Rüdiger
Military Losses (Casualties) There is little agreement in the literature as to the casualties sustained by the states that took part in the First World War. Figures vary between about 6 and about 13 million. A principle reason for the different estimates lies in the fact that definitions of the term “casualties” differ greatly. In the narrow military terminology of the time and in the specialized military literature, “casualties” frequently included all those soldiers who were no longer available t…

Entente

(1,077 words)

Author(s): Becker, Jean-Jaques
Entente Also referred to as the Triple Entente, this was one of the great alliances that had formed in Europe at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Although these alliances are ascribed a certain responsibility for the outbreak of the First World War, they were far less stable and less systematically structured than was later claimed. The system of alliances created by Reich Chancellor Bismarck after the war of 1870/1871 had as its goal the isolation of France in Europe, and to that end the maintenance of good relations with…

Isonzo

(796 words)

Author(s): Isnenghi, Mario
Isonzo River located in the Karst region of Slovenia near the front in the Alps where, between 1915 and 1917, Italian and Austro-Hungarian troops opposed one another. Directly after Italy had joined the war in May 1915, their Chief of Staff Luigi Cadorna had wanted to undertake a penetration of the Austrian heartland across the Isonzo. However, the Imperial Austrian Army troops held their defensive positions. The war, which devolved into independent actions in the High Alps, was cemented here at …

Motor Vehicles

(664 words)

Author(s): Storz, Dieter
Motor Vehicles The technology of motor vehicles had already been progressing at a tremendous pace before the outbreak of the war. Dissatisfied with their cumbersome, horse-drawn supply convoys, all the armies were greatly interested in trucks. However, the technological advances were so rapid that motor vehicles soon became obsolete, which spoke against their acquisition for the army. Instead, most nations decided to help the private economy purchase trucks in exchange for the obligation to place …

Occupation (West)

(1,527 words)

Author(s): Kramer, Alan
Occupation (West) Occupation is the temporary authority over foreign territory during war. According to international law, a territory is considered occupied when “it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army” ( Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, Article 42). Not to be viewed as occupation are the systems of government in Ireland, Alsace-Lorraine, the non-Russian part of the Tsarist Empire etc., even though their administrations developed techniques of asserting their authority which resemble…

Owen, Wilfred

(538 words)

Author(s): Winter, Jay
Owen, Wilfred (March 18, 1893, Oswestry [Shropshire] – November 4, 1918, Landrecies [Département du Nord; killed]), British lyric poet. During the World War Owen served on the Western Front with the Second Manchesters. His experiences in positional warfare provided the material for forceful lyrics, which after his death counted among the most significant English-language testimonials of the antiwar movement. Owen had already travelled to France, where he worked as a language teacher. Then in 1915, he returned to England to enlist as a volunteer soldier.…

Roques, Pierre Auguste

(230 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
Roques, Pierre Auguste (December 20, 1856, Marseillan [département Hérault] – February 26, 1920, Saint-Cloud [near Paris]), French general (minister of war). Roques first made his reputation during his service in the French colonial army in the 1890s as General Gallieni closest subordinate in the pacification and development of Madagascar, where he was responsible for the creation of a technical infrastructure. General of a division and responsible in the war ministry for technical troops from 1909…

Pan-German League

(886 words)

Author(s): Hagenlücke, Heinz
Pan-German League Radical nationalistic organization in Germany. The Pan-German League (Alldeutscher Verband, ADV) was founded in Berlin in April 1891 and (until 1894) operated under the name Allgemeiner Deutscher Verband (“General German Association”). It was formed as a non-party organization on the initiative of a small circle of activists that included representatives from the community of “ethnic Germans” living outside of the German Empire ( Volksdeutsche), several colonial propagandists with ties to Carl Peters, and Alfred Hugenberg, who was still a yo…

Kiggell, Sir Launcelot

(246 words)

Author(s): Tiefel, Marcus A.
Kiggell, Sir Launcelot (October 2, 1862, Ballingarry [Limerick] – February 23, 1954, Felixstowe [Suffolk]), British general. A general of traditional views and a confidant of Sir Douglas Haig, Kiggell was promoted to the rank of major-general in 1914 and served in the War Office until November 1915. Summoned to France by Haig in December of the same year, he was appointed chief of staff of the British Expeditionary Force. However, the Sandhurst-educated Kiggell had until then never had an opportuni…
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