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Ypres

(416 words)

Author(s): Werth, German
Ypres Belgian city in West Flanders located along the Ypres-Comines Canal. After four years at the center of positional warfare, it was fully destroyed. After the First Battle of Flanders, the German Fourth and (on the right flank) Sixth Army resumed the offensive in November 10–18, 1914, with the limited goal of retaking the Ypres Salient and capturing the city. This operation was intended to end the German 1914 Campaign with clear success, before troops were shifted to the Eastern Front. Reinfo…

Loos

(547 words)

Author(s): Werth, German
Loos A small French town northwest of Lens, in the region of Artois. During the fighting in autumn 1915 (the dual British and French offensive in Artois and in the Champagne) between Arras and the La Bassée Canal (September 22 to October 11, 1915), Loos found itself in the middle of the combat zone. For the offensive in Artois, Joffre assigned the front sector between Lens and La Bassée to the British Army (General Haig) and the southern front sector between Lens and Arras to the French Tenth Arm…

Cambrai

(605 words)

Author(s): Werth, German
Cambrai City in the north of France on the canalized River Scheldt (L’Escaut). The “Tank Battle of Cambrai” in November of 1917 saw the first operational massed deployment of British tank forces – a veritable revolution on the battlefield. On November 20, after only a brief burst of fire and without the normal artillery preparation lasting several days, the newly-created British Tank Corps breached the German Hindenburg Line near Havrincourt. The 400 tracked vehicles were supported by six infantry and three …

Argonne Forest

(733 words)

Author(s): Werth, German
Argonne Forest Densely wooded plateau between the Champagne region and the Côtes Lorraines (Meuse Valley), extending some 12 km east to west, and about 50–60 km north to south. In World War I it was the theater of a tenacious small-scale war of attrition that was being fought on the edges of the larger decisive battles. During the German advance in late August and early September of 1914, neither the German Fifth (operating immediately to the west of Verdun) and Fourth Armies, nor the retreating F…

Compiègne

(335 words)

Author(s): Werth, German
Compiègne French town and railway junction on the River Oise, some 60 km northeast of Paris; in 1917 it became the seat of the French Headquarters (GQG) and later the site of the 1918 Armistice. On November 11, 1918, at around 5:20 am, the Armistice between the Entente represented by chief negotiator Marshal Ferdinand Foch, and the German Empire was signed in a wooded area near Compiègne. The act itself took place in a railway carriage parked in a siding that belonged to a disused railway gun emp…

Sports

(883 words)

Author(s): Werth, German
Sports When the World War broke out, the Burgfrieden (Fortress Truce) between Turner (German workers’ sports movement) gymnasts and other athletes crumbled in the face of the possible awarding of the 1916 Olympic Games to Berlin. The Turner movement was critical of the ‘international Olympiad,’ rejecting its games as “English attempts to break records,” and not for Germans. Once it became clear that the war would last awhile, the idea grew of replacing the Olympiad with “German war games” as their “national Olympic games.” Accordingly in 1917, the Deutscher Reichsausschuss für die …

Animals

(1,008 words)

Author(s): Werth, German
Animals The use of animals for war service is known from antiquity. Elephants, bears, or packs of bloodhounds were used to break open enemy lines. Clay balls containing poisonous snakes were used as projectiles. Most often used as “war equipment” was the horse, in a team to pull combat vehicles and naturally, as a mount for a rider. Surprisingly, it was not during the First World War – in which mechanization was at first of less significance – but during the Second World War that the use of horses was comparatively greater. Despite being engaged in pos…

Tannenberg Myth

(602 words)

Author(s): Werth, German
Tannenberg Myth As a major German victory right at the start of the war, the Battle of Tannenberg soon became the stuff of legend. Its exploitation for propaganda purposes contributed to the creation and rise of the Hindenburg Cult. Famed as “one of the greatest encirclement battles in world history” after Leipzig, Metz, and Sedan, and styled as a “modern Cannae,” the Battle of Tannenberg was wrapped in legends and stories that reached beyond the actual military action. Supposedly the Russian General Rennenkampf had intentionally lef…

Tannenberg

(881 words)

Author(s): Werth, German
Tannenberg Location of a battle in East Prussia on August 26–30, 1914, which ended when the German Eighth Army enveloped and then destroyed the Russian Second Army. Since the Russian leadership had begun their offensive against East Prussia earlier than anticipated, at France’s insistence, the German war plan for the Eastern Front proved illusory. The Russian Northwest Forces under their Commander General Zhilinski planned a two-pronged advance: the first from north of Lötzen Fortress by the Njem…

Champagne

(1,284 words)

Author(s): Werth, German
Champagne With the onset of positional warfare the front between Reims and the Forest of Argonne became the theater for two major French offensives in 1915. The battles in Champagne saw the emergence of what came to be known in Germany as Materialschlachten (battles of matériel). These were characterized by artillery bombardments which would last for several days and would rise in intensity to the level of a continuous barrage ( Trommelfeuer). The intention was to bring about the utter demoralization and material attrition of the enemy, which would then be followed…