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Bethmann Hollweg, Theobald von

(1,133 words)

Author(s): Tiefel, Marcus A.
Bethmann Hollweg, Theobald von (November 29, 1856, Hohenfinow near Eberswalde – January 2, 1921, Hohenfinow), German politician (chancellor). After studying law in Strasbourg, Leipzig and Berlin, Bethmann passed his Referendarexamen (first state examination required to enter the Prussian civil and administrative services) in 1879. For ten years, from 1886 to 1896, he held the office of Landrat (chief administrator) in his home district of Oberbarnim. Promoted to the position of Oberpräsidialrat (dep…

Naval Warfare

(2,850 words)

Author(s): Salewski, Michael
Naval Warfare In all theoretical discussions of a future war the war at sea was expected to play a major, if not the decisive role. For this reason all leading industrial nations had from the early 1890s onward been building massive, homogenous battle fleets. The “naval race” played a central role in souring Anglo-German relations during Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz’ tenure as the German Naval Secretary. The fledgling détente in the maritime sector, which was noticeable two years prior to the outbreak of the war, came …

Versailles, Treaty of

(1,736 words)

Author(s): Schwabe, Klaus
Versailles, Treaty of The Versailles Treaty was negotiated and signed by the victors and the defeated Germany in the Parisian suburb of Versailles in May/June 1919. On May 7 at the Trianon Palace, the victorious powers, represented by Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, and Georges Clemenceau, David Lloyd George, and Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, the prime ministers of Great Britain, France, and Italy, together with representatives of Germany’s other opponents in the war, presented a draft…

German Revolution

(1,770 words)

Author(s): Schwabe, Klaus
German Revolution With the German Revolution of 1918/1919, the German Empire became a German Republic. The deep roots of this upheaval lay in the war-weariness of the exhausted and malnourished civilian population and the overburdened soldiery. The German Revolution was more a collapse of the traditional order than a militant mass rebellion. In this, it resembled the Russian February Revolution of 1917 rather than the revolutions of 1848. The Russian October Revolution, with Lenin’s proclamation o…

Scapa Flow

(665 words)

Author(s): Krüger, Friederike
Scapa Flow A body of water in the Scottish Orkney Islands. On June 21, 1919, at 11 in the morning, the German Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter issued the order to scuttle the 16 battleships, eight cruisers, and 50 destroyers and torpedo boats lying in Scapa Flow. Within a few hours 64 ships, totaling about 400,000 tons, were destroyed, eight further vessels having been beached in time by the British. Nine Germans were shot and killed and nine wounded by Royal Navy guards in connection with the scutt…

War Office

(452 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
War Office The War Office was established by a cabinet order of November 1, 1916, to administer the Hindenburg Program initiated by the Operations Branch of the General Staff. The War Office was to centralize war economy measures and serve as the enforcement authority for the Auxiliary Service Bill. Officially placed beneath the Prussian War Ministry, it was a peculiar mix of military war-economy staff and civilian government boards. Lieutenant General Wilhelm Groener was named the War Office’s fi…

Dardanelles

(1,004 words)

Author(s): Prior, Robin | Wilson, Trevor
Dardanelles Straits between the Aegean Sea and the Sea of Marmara. After the outbreak of war in Europe, the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire had envisioned joining the war on the side of the Central Powers. The arrival of two German warships, the Goeben and the Breslau, at Constantinople on August 10, 1914, reinforced this decision. For Turkey joining the war meant territorial gains at Russia’s expense; in the Caucasus, at British expense; as well as in Egypt. On October 27, the Turkish fleet put to sea against the Russian Black Sea base, thereby triggering war with the Entente. Mean…

Flanders

(2,611 words)

Author(s): Bourne, John M.
Flanders A province in northwestern Belgium. Western Flanders was the theater of three major battles in 1914, 1915, and 1917, and to these must be added the battles fought during the course of the German spring offensive in 1918. For the British, the battles are inseparably associated with the market town of Ypres. It is accordingly not surprising that the British commission charged after the war with naming the battles and engagements designated the battles fought here as the First, Second, and …

Falkland Islands

(756 words)

Author(s): Krüger, Friederike
Falkland Islands An archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean; a British colony since 1843. On December 8, 1914, a battle was fought near the Falkland Islands between the German East Asia Squadron under Vice Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee and a British battle squadron under Vice Admiral Sir Frederick Doveton Sturdee. After a sea battle lasting approximately five hours, only one light cruiser survived from the German squadron; four German ships sank; of some 2,200 men on the German ships, 1,985 per…

Naval Blockade

(1,483 words)

Author(s): Neitzel, Sönke
Naval Blockade During the World War, the Allied naval blockade brought German foreign trade practically to a standstill, especially after 1916. It contributed significantly to the serious subsistence problems in Germany. On the eve of the World War Germany was one of the most important economic powers in the world. Obviously, accomplishing this required extensive trade relationships. This left the German economy highly vulnerable during such a long-lasting war. Indeed, Germany had to import 30% of all processed iron ore. The …

Haus, Anton Freiherr von

(355 words)

Author(s): Herwig, Holger H.
Haus, Anton Freiherr von (June 13, 1851, Tolmin – February 8, 1917, Pola [Pula]), Austro-Hungarian grand admiral. Haus entered the Austro-Hungarian Navy in 1869, and in 1901, as commander of the cruiser Maria Theresia, took part in the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion. Between 1902 and 1905 he served as chairman of the presiding council in the Naval Section of the War Ministry. He became rear admiral in 1905, commander of the Second Division in 1906, and in 1907 was a delegate at the second peace conference in The Hague. He b…

Erzberger, Matthias

(506 words)

Author(s): Haidl, Roland
Erzberger, Matthias (September 20, 1875, Buttenhausen [now part of Münsingen] – August 26, 1921 [assassinated], near Bad Griesbach [now Bad Peterstal-Griesbach]), German politician. Erzberger was a Center Party member of the Reichstag from 1903. Influenced by South German Catholicism, before the First World War he favored fundamental reform of the state; he decidedly rejected cooperation with the Social Democrats. After the outbreak of war, Erzberger used his connections (to include the Roman Curi…

Naval Arms Race

(1,316 words)

Author(s): Krüger, Friederike
Naval Arms Race When he ascended the throne in 1888, Kaiser Wilhelm II was determined to practice Weltpolitik. His instrument of choice to achieve this aim would be a strong battle fleet. With the appointment of Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz as secretary of state for the German Imperial Naval Office in 1897, the Kaiser found an officer who was willing to implement the Kaiser’s ambitious plans, and to manipulate public opinion to that purpose. Already in the years prior to his appointment, Tirpitz had in several mem…

Heinrich (Henry), Prince of Prussia

(395 words)

Author(s): Schranz, Daniel
Heinrich (Henry), Prince of Prussia (August 14, 1862, Potsdam – April 20, 1929, Hemmelmark [now belonging to Barkelsby]), German grand admiral. Heinrich was born in 1862 the second son of the future Kaiser Friedrich III. At the age of 15 he became the only Prussian prince to embark upon a military career in the Imperial Navy. After completing naval college Heinrich was promoted lieutenant commander in 1882. He was given his first command, a torpedo boat, in 1886. This was followed by a series sea-goi…

Geneva Convention

(612 words)

Author(s): Dülffer, Jost
Geneva Convention The Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of August 22, 1864, is one of the most important human rights agreements still in force. In place of the regulations once agreed upon as necessary for each new war, there was now a permanent treaty. Its inspiration can be traced back to the great number of wounded soldiers who died after battles owing to poor medical care during both the Crimean War of 1854–1856 and the Second Italian War…

Holtzendorff, Henning von

(337 words)

Author(s): Herwig, Holger H.
Holtzendorff, Henning von (January 9, 1853, Prenzlau – June 7, 1919, Jagow [Uckermark]), German grand admiral. Holtzendorff entered the navy in 1869, took part in the war of 1870/1871, and in 1900 served as commander of a capital ship during the Boxer Rebellion. After various commands on land (commander in chief of the navy, chief of staff of the Baltic Division, commander of the dockyard at Danzig [Gdańsk]), from 1906 to 1909 he was commander of the First Squadron, and in 1910 took command of the …

Military Historiography, Official German

(1,063 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Military Historiography, Official German Immediately after the end of the war, nearly all the states that had participated in the war began elaborating an official military historiography. These early efforts to produce standard official publications were not only a consequence of historical interest or of the wish to honor the achievements of one’s respective army, but should also be viewed in the light of the international debate on war guilt, which began with the Treaty of Versailles. Hence, the …

Jutland, Battle of/Skagerrak

(760 words)

Author(s): Krüger, Friederike | Rahn, Werner
Jutland, Battle of/Skagerrak Sea battle fought in 1916 between British and German naval forces off the mouth of the Skagerrak, an arm of the North Sea between Jutland and Norway. In the afternoon of May 31, 1916, about 100 nautical miles west-southwest of the Danish Jammerbugten, off the Skagerrak, the British Grand Fleet under Admiral Jellicoe encountered the German High Seas Fleet under Admiral Reinhard Scheer. The 28 battleships, nine battlecruisers and eight older armored cruisers, 26 light cruisers, and 80 destroyers on the British si…

Armed Forces (Italy)

(3,527 words)

Author(s): Massignani, Alessandro
Armed Forces (Italy) The defense of the Italian Kingdom proclaimed on February 18, 1861, was the duty of the Royal Army and the Royal Navy. The King was nominally the supreme commander of the military in peacetime, but the chiefs of the General Staff and the Admiralty functioned as the de facto Supreme Command in time of war. Italy’s new national army evolved from the Piedmontese Army that had fought in the Wars of Independence. Though gradually restructured into the Royal Italian Army, it maintained its traditional character, especially the imprint of…

Adriatic

(463 words)

Author(s): Massignani, Alessandro
Encyclopedia Adriatic For most of the belligerents the Adriatic was of secondary importance, but for Italy and Austria-Hungary it was a major theater of naval warfare. Unlike the Italian coastline, that of Dalmatia is very rugged; the naval bases of the Austro-Hungarian navy located there were protected by numerous offshore islands. Their heavy units were stationed in Pola (modern Pula in Croatia); the lighter warships lay in Cattaro (modern Kotor in Montenegro). When the war opened the Habsburg n…
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