Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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War Bonds

(647 words)

Author(s): Zilch, Reinhold
War Bonds A form of government borrowing for the financing of war expenditures. War bonds were issued by the belligerent states during the World War, thus allowing for the mobilization of significant parts of the social wealth. Both their attractive conditions – interest rates frequently better than in peacetime – as well as a massive propaganda drive, ensured that the first war bonds were able to raise a considerable amount of capital. The bondholders typically reflected a broad spectrum of the p…

Merrheim, Alphonse

(302 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Merrheim, Alphonse (May 7, 1871, La Madeleine [Département Nord] – October 22, 1925 [unknown]), French trade union leader. Merrheim was born into a working class family in the industrial region of Northern France. In the 1890s he joined the Syndicalist movement aimed at the takeover of the means of production by autonomous trade unions, as advocated by the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT), in which he himself took on a leading role after the turn of the century. At the outbreak of the First World War, Merrheim differed from the leadership of the CGT under Léon Jouhaux in rejecting the U…

Poland

(2,056 words)

Author(s): Hecker, Hans
Poland At the beginning of the First World War, Poland existed only in the form of three territorial fragments: the largest and central portion belonged to the Russian Empire (Congress Poland/Russian Poland), the western and northwestern portion (Posen, West Prussia) to Prussia, and thus to the German Reich, and the southern (Galicia and Lodomeria) to Austria-Hungary. As the Central Powers and Russia bordered one another on Polish territory, the war in the East was predominantly fought there. Thr…

Balkan Wars

(957 words)

Author(s): Kröger, Martin
Balkan Wars Two wars in the Balkans region (1912–1913) that caused the Ottoman Empire to lose most of its European territories. During this period of conflict there were differences between the Great Powers concerning the consequences of the Balkan Wars. Against the backdrop of the Italo-Turkish war (1911–1912), the ethnically diverse and unstable Southeastern European States led by Serbia attempted to secure for themselves a share of the disintegrating Ottoman Empire. A direct consequence of the Turkish weakness wa…

Parliamentarization

(630 words)

Author(s): Mai, Günther
Parliamentarization From 1871 the German Reich was a constitutional monarchy. The Kaiser appointed and dismissed the chancellor, who was the only member of the imperial government responsible to the Reichstag (the lower house of parliament), and without whose agreement the Kaiser could not take political action. The chancellor could not rule for long against a majority of the Reichstag, since the Reichstag had the right to adopt the budget. Even before 1914, constitutional reality had changed in …

Trade Unions

(1,014 words)

Author(s): Mai, Günther
Trade Unions In the German Empire in 1914 there were trade unions with social democratic (also called “free”), Christian Catholic, and liberal tendencies, divided according to occupations, and having respectively 2.53, 0.35 and 0.11 million members. These numbers sank rapidly in mid-August 1914 because wage strikes were forbidden, many workers were called up for military service, and unemployment dropped. By 1916 the number of members in the free trade unions had fallen to under a million, and tho…

Leopold, Prince of Bavaria

(337 words)

Author(s): Haidl, Roland
Leopold, Prince of Bavaria (February 9, 1846, Munich – September 28, 1930, Munich), German and Bavarian field marshal. Leopold, the second son of the future prince regent Luitpold, joined the Bavarian Army in 1861 and took part in the 1866 and 1870–1871 campaigns. A lieutenant colonel in 1871, he was appointed commanding general of the Ist Bavarian Army Corps in 1887. From 1891 to 1913, Leopold served as inspector general of the Fourth Army District. During this period he attained the ranks of colon…

Zimmerwald Movement

(467 words)

Author(s): Mühlhausen, Walter
Zimmerwald Movement An alliance of antiwar Socialists from the belligerent states, named after the town where it first met (September 5–8, 1915, at Zimmerwald near Bern). The aim of the movement, which came to symbolize socialist pacifism, was to revive international cooperation, which had been disrupted by the First World War. The first conference was initiated by the Swiss social democrat Robert Grimm, and those attending included Lenin and Zinoviev for the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party, and Adolph Hoffmann …

Brusilov, Aleksei Alekseevich

(338 words)

Author(s): Kochanek, Hildegard
Brusilov, Aleksei Alekseevich (August 31, 1853, Tiflis, modern Tbilisi – March 17, 1926, Moscow), Russian general and commander in chief of the Russian Army. Brusilov was born into an ancient Russian noble family with a long military tradition. After completing his preparatory military training with the Imperial Corps of Pages he joined the Dragoons of the Tver Regiment in the Caucasus. He fought in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 and was decorated multiple times. At the élite Cavalry Officer Sc…

Raw Materials, Rationing, and Procurement

(2,348 words)

Author(s): Zilch, Reinhold
Raw Materials, Rationing, and Procurement The war had scarcely begun before the mass armies ran short of vital raw materials and replacement supplies. State intervention in the procurement and distribution of raw materials followed in the warring nations’ economies with the goal of making maximum use of the raw materials available for the war effort. This effort was linked with intense efforts to depress private consumption. To this end, the state intervened in the economy to requisition and distribu…

Masuria

(1,257 words)

Author(s): Stone, Norman
Masuria Masuria comprised the southeastern portion of the German province of East Prussia, the part of the Reich that was most exposed to a threat from Russia. Two great battles took place here and immediately across the border in Russian Poland in 1914/15. The Russian Army occupied Masuria at the beginning of the war, and remained there until it was defeated at Tannenberg at the end of August 1914. After this battle the remnants of the Russian Second Army, which had entered Masuria from the south, withdrew across the border into Poland.…

Apollinaire, Guillaume

(280 words)

Author(s): Beaupré, Nicolas
Apollinaire, Guillaume (August 26, 1880, Rome – November 9, 1918, Paris), French poet and art critic whose real name was Wilhelm Apollinaris de Kostrowitzky. Not least because of the scandal surrounding his volume of poetry, Alcools, published in 1913, Apollinaire was thought to be one of the most important modern French poets alongside Blaise Cendrars at the outbreak of the war. As a Russian national (his mother was Polish) he was not drafted into the army at the beginning of the war, but he became a volunteer and enlisted with the artillery. At his own …

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, …

Reconnaissance

(522 words)

Author(s): Schmidt, Wolfgang
Reconnaissance Military procedure by which information is gathered about the enemy situation as well as terrain and weather conditions; it is a vital prerequisite for the decision-making processes on all levels of command. In addition to peace-time intelligence gathering, war-time reconnaissance operations were broken down according to the type of theater or battlefield into long-range, short-range and battlefield, or combat, reconnaissance. While the purpose of long-range reconnaissance was to c…

Djemal Pasha, Ahmed

(387 words)

Author(s): Cem Oguz, C.
Djemal Pasha, Ahmed (May 6, 1872, Constantinople – July 21, 1922, Tiflis [assassinated]), Ottoman general and politician. Djemal Pasha was educated in military schools. He concluded his training at the general staff academy in 1895. He was a member of the Committee for Unity and Progress, and used his position as inspector of railways to expand the railway network. After the Constitutional Revolution of 1908, as a member of the Central Committee Djemal Pasha was seen as one of the most influential …

July Crisis

(720 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
July Crisis Few topics from the history of the First World War have been discussed more intensively by historians and in the public arena than the July Crisis of 1914. Into the 1930s in Germany, the foremost question was that of the justice of the accusation of “war guilt” as expressed in Article 231 of the Versailles Treaty. In this case the predominant opinion initially, and even after the Second World War, was that all the powers “stumbled” into war. In the 1960s, Fritz Fischer brought to the c…

Bloch, Ivan Stanislavovich

(468 words)

Author(s): Dülffer, Jost
Bloch, Ivan Stanislavovich (August 24, 1836, Radom – January 6, 1902, Warsaw), Polish economist. Born into a poor family, the Warsaw-based banker applied himself to financing the construction of the Russian railway network between the Baltic and the Black Sea. He became very wealthy as a result and published several volumes on the general aspects of this activity. As a Jewish convert to Calvinism Bloch was an outspoken supporter of the Jewish community in the Tsarist Empire and wrote a number of bo…

Drina

(966 words)

Author(s): Jerabék, Rudolf
Drina Border river between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. The battle of the Drina (August 12–21, 1914) was, for Austria-Hungary, the most unfortunate conceivable prelude to the war against Serbia. The prime cause was the incomplete deployment of the Austro-Hungarian forces. The forces ranged against Serbia comprised not only the Fourth and Fifth Armies, but also the Second Army, which had been earmarked for use against the Russians in the event of the opening of a second front in Galicia. However…

Climax in the Baltic: The German Maritime Offensive in the Gulf of Riga in October 1917

(6,634 words)

Author(s): Grove, Eric
Grove, Eric - Climax in the Baltic: The German Maritime Offensive in the Gulf of Riga in October 1917 Keywords: German Maritime | Gulf of Riga | Russia ISFWWS-Keywords: Russian Front | Naval Warfare | Germany | Russia | Military organisation of combat Abstract: On 17 October 1917, only three weeks before the Bolsheviks seized power in Petrograd on 7 November, an engagement occurred in the Gulf of Riga between the German dreadnought battleships Konig and Kronprinz and three Russian capital ships of the previous generation, the pre-dreadnought battleships Slava and Grazhdanin and the ar…

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…
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