Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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Komarów

(674 words)

Author(s): Stone, Norman
Komarów A town in Russian Poland. The war on the Austrian-Russian Front began with a Russian offensive. Four Russian armies were to advance concentrically on Galicia. Facing them were initially three, then four, Austro-Hungarian armies. The Austrians would, at every opportunity, go on the tactical offense as the basis of their defensive strategy. The Austro-Hungarian First and Fourth Armies (Dankl and Auffenberg) met the Russian Fourth (Evert) and Fifth (Plehve) in late summer 1914 east of Kraków (Cracow). The opposing armies were of roughly equal…

Auffenberg von Komarów, Baron Moritz

(292 words)

Author(s): Kronenbitter, Günther
Auffenberg von Komarów, Baron Moritz (May 22, 1852, Troppau, modern Opava in the Czech Republic – May 18, 1928, Vienna), Austro-Hungarian minister of war and army general. Auffenberg graduated from the Theresian Military Academy and chose to pursue a career with the General Staff. Commanding a brigade in Győr and later a division in Zagreb, he experienced the conflict-laden internal structure of the Habsburg Monarchy. As a corps commander in Sarajevo from 1909 to 1911 he distinguished himself with hi…

Brusilov Offensive

(1,136 words)

Author(s): Stone, Norman
Brusilov Offensive The designation “Brusilov Offensive” refers to the Russian army’s last major military operation in the summer of 1916. It was named after the commander of the Russian Southwest Front (Army Group Brusilov), General A.A. Brusilov, whose offensive in the first days of June 1916 annihilated two Austro-Hungarian armies and badly crippled two others. It was one of the greatest Russian victories of the war, but nevertheless exhausted itself in frontal attacks. Born into an aristocratic family, Brusilov earned a reputation as a competent senior commander a…

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…

Szögyény-Marich, László (Ladislaus) de

(262 words)

Author(s): Kronenbitter, Günther
Szögyény-Marich, László (Ladislaus) de (November 12, 1841, Vienna – June 11, 1916, Csór), Austro-Hungarian diplomat. At first Szögyény-Marich participated in Hungarian politics as a nobleman. After 1883, he worked in the Foreign Ministry of the Habsburg Monarchy. Later as minister, he represented the Hungarian government at the Royal Court in Vienna. In 1892 he was named Austria-Hungary’s ambassador to Berlin, an office which he held until 1914. Szögyény-Marich was actually scheduled to retire in sp…

War Guilt

(797 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
War Guilt The question of responsibility for the First World War was actually the subject of controversial discussion even before the outbreak of war, during the July Crisis of 1914, and was even answered propagandistically, to justify positions taken. Proclamations at the outset of the war, such as the “balcony speech” of Kaiser Wilhelm II on August 4 (“It is not the desire for conquest that drives us . . .”) or Poincaré’s “ Union sacrée” address on the same date (“In the war now breaking out, France has right on her side.”) always emphasize the defensive character of…

Rumors

(703 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Rumors In all societies involved in the World War, social culture was influenced by “informal communication” media. In addition to military letters, trench newspapers, and unofficial leaflets and pamphlets, a large number of rumors supplied the lack of social information once censorship had caused the public media to lose credibility. In many places these rumors contained could a mixture of propaganda, popular cultural mythology, visions driven by panic fear, and (though very rarely) genuine information. An initial surge in war rumors can be observed in connection with…

War Damage

(2,196 words)

Author(s): Thoss, Bruno
War Damage Damages and costs incurred during the war through the destruction of military equipment and weaponry, but also as a consequence of property damage in the regions directly affected by the war. War damage thus refers to the material costs of the war in the narrow sense. The calculation of war costs in the wider sense as well as of material losses in the narrow sense is so fraught with difficulties that all figures can only be seen as rough approximations. This already became evident during a first general assessment carried out for t…

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…

Moltke, Helmuth Johannes Ludwig von (the Younger)

(578 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Moltke, Helmuth Johannes Ludwig von (the Younger) (May 25, 1848, Gersdorff [Mecklenburg] – June 18, 1916, Berlin), German general; chief of the Army General Staff and nephew of Field Marshal von Moltke. In 1869 Moltke joined Fusilier Regiment the Queen’s No. 86 (Schleswig-Holstein), taking part in the Franco-Prussian War as a lieutenant. In 1872 he succeeded in transferring to the 1st Foot Guards Regiment. Moltke’s later military career was shaped by his closeness to his famous uncle – Moltke was his a…

Lichnowsky, Prince Karl Max

(442 words)

Author(s): Wüstenmeyer, Manfred
Lichnowsky, Prince Karl Max (March 8, 1860, Kreuzenort [near Ratibor, Upper Silesia] – February 27, 1928, Berlin), German diplomat. In some ways Lichnowsky was a typical representative of the Imperial German diplomatic class, which consisted overwhelmingly of members of the nobility. Nevertheless, Lichnowsky was an independent and shrewd individual. Wilhelm II appointed him ambassador to London in the autumn of 1912, against the objections of the German Foreign Ministry. The Kaiser’s hope that the appointment of an Anglophile as his representative might ensure Br…

Assault Battalions

(304 words)

Author(s): Gross, Gerhard P.
Assault Battalions Army formations that were raised specifically to be used in trench warfare and as training units. Beginning in 1916, the Germans deployed assault battalions primarily on the Western Front. France, Russia, and Austria-Hungary also fielded assault troops from 1917. The first German unit of this type, “Assault Battalion Rohr,” was organized in 1915 and initially comprised two pioneer companies. Its success led to the creation of 16 more assault battalions of this type, with infantry and pioneers p…

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. …

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…

Infantry

(964 words)

Author(s): Gross, Gerhard P.
Infantry A branch of the armed forces; infantry is the term for foot soldiers. The infantry served as the main branch of the armed forces in the World War. Despite the increased firepower of the infantry, the concept of war held by the European armies originated in the dogma of the superiority of the offensive over the defensive. Tight formations of battle-hardened riflemen swarming over open terrain was the basis for the attack methods of the German infantry Once the infantry had attained fire s…

Bulgaria

(1,164 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Bulgaria In the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913 Bulgaria had not been able to fulfill its hopes of creating an “ethnographic” Bulgaria that would include Macedonia, parts of Thrace and the Dobrudja. In the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest it was moreover forced to concede to its neighbors practically all the territory it had captured in the First Balkan War of 1912. The outbreak of the First World War seemed to offer a new opportunity for the military realization of a “Greater Bulgaria,” a dream pursued since t…

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…

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 …

Epidemics

(1,367 words)

Author(s): Eckart, Wolfgang U.
Epidemics None of the classic war plagues struck with their former severity during the First World War. With the exception of the great influenza epidemic of the final year of the war, the series of significant epidemic diseases that arose occurred in the form of concentrated outbreaks of infectious diseases in the various theaters of war, limited in terms of place and time. The following absolute figures convey at least an impression of the rates of infection in the German field armies and occup…

Students

(1,543 words)

Author(s): Weber, Thomas
Students Students were clearly overrepresented among the soldiers of the First World War. The mention of exclusively or predominantly student-recruited military units in wartime and postwar literature, however, belongs to the realm of fiction. Its origins must be sought in the frequently politically motivated idealizations that were characteristic of journalistic publications and commemorative events. The most famous German example is the myth that “student regiments” singing the German national …
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