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Carpathians

(916 words)

Author(s): Jerabék, Rudolf
Carpathians A mountain range between Hungary and Galicia, the site of several battles from January to April 1915. The Austro-Hungarian general staff was quite aware of the Carpathians’ strategic importance. The Austro-Hungarian troops in Galicia, which were enclosed on all sides, were left with little possibility of evading attack due to the mountain range, while the enemy was at all cost to be prevented from overcoming it. Large parts of the Carpathians also placed mountain-trained or specially …

Foch, Ferdinand

(633 words)

Author(s): Becker, Jean-Jacques
Foch, Ferdinand (October 2, 1851, Tarbes – March 20, 1929, Paris) French field marshal. In the course of the large-scale German offensive in March of 1918 the Allies realized that the lack of a central military command on the Western Front might result in a defeat. Up to that point, British generals (with some exceptions) had categorically refused to serve under French command. Now, however, General Foch was given the task of coordinating the operations of the French and British armies; later he r…

Looted Art

(1,176 words)

Author(s): Kott, Christina
Looted Art Originally a term for cultural assets taken away by the enemy in times of war, the looting of art today denotes an illegal act under international law that is perpetrated by belligerent powers and involves the theft of artistic and cultural items in the course of military operations or during occupation. The protection of cultural property had since the end of the 19th century, if not earlier, been one of the fundamental tenets of international law: in particular Article 56 of the Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907) banned “[a]ll seizure of, …

Fortresses

(737 words)

Author(s): Storz, Dieter
Fortresses Sites provided with permanent, artificial reinforcement, so as to protect them from capture by the methods of field warfare. For this reason, the battle for fortresses was always given a particular designation as “fortress warfare,” to distinguish it from “field warfare,” or war as waged by mobile field forces. The technical design of fortresses closely paralleled developments in artillery, which made tremendous advances during the 19th century (introduction of guns made from drawn steel, long-range howitzers, armor-piercing shells).…

Polish Activism Abroad

(509 words)

Author(s): Hecker, Hans
Polish Activism Abroad The term here refers to the activities in particular of the Polish National Democrats under Roman Dmowski and cooperating Polish politicians in the West, who achieved a political breakthrough following the proclamation for an independent Polish state by the Provisional Government of Russia on March 30, 1917, and the ensuing declaration by the French President Raymond Poincaré on June 4, 1917, announcing the formation of Polish army units in France. Thanks to the initiative of…

Wartime Coalitions

(2,117 words)

Author(s): Dülffer, Jost
Wartime Coalitions Before the World War, the European system of states had become strongly polarized. On the one side stood the Central Powers, namely the Dual Alliance of German Reich and Austria-Hungary that had been formed in 1879 as well as the (independently concluded) Triple Alliance of German Reich, Austria-Hungary, and Italy; however, the latter country declared itself neutral at the beginning of the war. On the other side stood the Entente Powers, among which France and Russia had been bound by a military alliance since 1893/1894, while France and Great Bri…

Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria

(316 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria (March 18, 1869, Munich – August 2, 1955, Schloss Leutstetten, Bavaria), Crown Prince of Bavaria, German Field Marshal. In 1886 he entered the Bavarian infantry regiment as a lieutenant. He then studied in Munich and Berlin, under Count Hertling and Hans Delbrück among others. His further military training took place according to the aristocratic norms. In 1899 he was made colonel and in 1906, general of infantry and commander of the Ist Bavarian Army Corps. In 1913…

Matériel, Battle of

(671 words)

Author(s): Thoss, Bruno
Matériel, Battle of Characteristic form of positional warfare that prevailed in particular on the Western Front. In combat operations that lasted for months on end and involved the massive deployment of heavy weapons, the belligerents aimed for the total destruction of the opponents’ fortified lines and of the troops fighting in them. The ultimate goal of the armies was to break through the enemy front line and to begin regaining ground in depth. Notable examples of the battle of matériel are the Battles of Ver…

Delcassé, Théophile

(468 words)

Author(s): Becker, Jean-Jacques
Delcassé, Théophile (March 1, 1852, Pamiers [Ariège] – February 22, 1923, Nice), French politician (foreign minister). Delcassé was a journalist who entered politics as a disciple of Léon Gambetta. He remained deputy for his home department of Ariège from 1889 until 1919. His uninterrupted seven years’ service as foreign minister, from 1898 to 1905, was the most important period of his political career. Although his stance was for a long time anti-British rather than anti-German, it was during his…

Krobatin, Baron Alexander von

(475 words)

Author(s): Jerabék, Rudolf
Krobatin, Baron Alexander von (September 12, 1849, Olmütz [modern Olomouc, Czech Republic] – December 27, 1933, Vienna), Austrian general and minister of war. As an artillery staff officer with a university education in chemical engineering, Krobatin was predestined from an early stage for a higher calling. Appointed to the Imperial War Ministry in 1896 as an expert in artillery technology, he was a section chief at the Ministry in 1904. In addition to weapons and munitions, his responsibilities now…

Caporetto

(993 words)

Author(s): Massignani, Alessandro
Caporetto Town on the Isonzo River (modern Kobarid, Slovenia). During the battle fought in the Julian Alps from October 24 to November 9, 1917, Austro-Hungarian and German forces brought about the collapse of the Italian Front on the upper Isonzo and forced the Italians to retreat behind the Piave River. The Battle of Caporetto is also known as the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo. In August/September of 1917 the Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo and the capture of the Bainsizza Plateau by the Italian Second Army plunged the Austro-Hungarian forces into a profound c…

Mussolini, Benito

(411 words)

Author(s): Hirschfeld, Gerhard
Mussolini, Benito ( July 29, 1883, Dovia di Predappio [Forli Province] – April 28, 1945, Giulino di Mezzegra [Como Province; executed]), Italian journalist and politician. At the outbreak of the war, this man who would later found Fascism still numbered among the advocates of a neutral, internationally orientated Italian politics. Mere weeks afterward, Mussolini, the former revolutionary socialist politician and journalist, had a falling-out with the party leadership of the Partito Socialista Italiano (PSI, Italian Socialist Party), calling for his country’s enterin…

Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy

(482 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy (November 11, 1869, Naples – December 28, 1947, Alexandria, Egypt), Italian king. As heir apparent Prince Victor Emmanuel pursued the usual, meteoric career in the Italian Army. In 1896 he married Princess Helena, daughter to the Prince of Montenegro, whereupon he acquired an especial interest in Balkan politics. The diminutive Prince Victor Emmanuel was reputed to be great in intelligence, reserved and skeptical. He ascended to the Italian throne in 1900 upon the mu…

Prisoners of War

(3,043 words)

Author(s): Hinz, Uta
Prisoners of War Persons with the status of combatants who fell into enemy hands during the war. Only rough estimates of the total number of prisoners of war can be given for the World War. It is assumed that some 6.6 to 8 million soldiers were taken captive, which represents at least 10% of the approximately 60 million soldiers who were mobilized during the war. By late 1918, according to statistics from the interwar period, 328,000 soldiers had been captured by the British, 350,000 by the French,…

Italy “Ante Portas”

(18,796 words)

Author(s): Bobič, Pavlina
Bobič, Pavlina - Italy “Ante Portas” Keywords: Austria-Hungary | Catholic Church's | Italy | Radiant May | Slovenian Abstract: The essential themes, which are addressed in this chapter, are therefore firstly centred on the questions of the interpretive tools-and imagery-that the Church seized upon to explain the nature of the Italian foe in 1915, given that he threatened to encroach directly upon the Slovenian lands. In order to gain an insight into the political background to the conflic…

Falkenhayn, Erich von

(1,204 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Falkenhayn, Erich von (September 11, 1861, Burg Belchau [Kreis Graudenz] – April 8, 1922, Schloss Lindstedt [near Potsdam]), German general and chief of the General Staff. Falkenhayn came from a West-Prussian “Junker” family with a strong military tradition. He entered the cadet corps at the early age of ten. He had a successful career as a young officer, and attended military academy. His life took an unusual turn when, in 1896, he took leave from the army and, for professional and financial reaso…

Rationing

(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…

Total War

(813 words)

Author(s): Förster, Stig
Total War This expression first appeared in the French press in 1917 as la guerre totale, meant to stir the French to their ultimate war effort. “Total war” and related expressions played a major role in international discussions concerning military policy in the 1920s and 1930s. The Italian General Giulio Douhet and German General Erich Ludendorff in particular promoted total war as the warfare of the future. In the Second World War the call for total war became a thoroughly universal phenomenon. Joseph Goebb…

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…

Headquarters

(1,417 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Headquarters Command centers for the supreme military, sometimes also political, leadership set up in the field for the duration of the war. Composition, location, and function of such a headquarters depended on the constitutional position of the supreme military command of each belligerent and the demands of modern mass and coalition warfare. – By far the most comprehensive headquarters at the outbreak of the war was the German “Great Headquarters.” Aside from the German Emperor as the nominal c…
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