Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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Trenches

(1,284 words)

Author(s): Ulrich, Bernd
Trenches Part of the infantry field fortifications. Before the First World War trenches existed only as a provisional, temporary fortification used to defend areas of land. Trenches developed after the early hardening of the fronts into a socially dominant symbol of military technology in the war. Especially on the Western Front, trenches, and the way of fighting that derived from them, marked the character of the war from October/November 1914 to 1918. After the strategic defeat on the Marne, and the building of the first trenches, between mid-September and early N…

National Socialism

(2,472 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
National Socialism The first industrialized mass war had considerable effects on political and social relationships, and on the mentality of people. Italian Fascism and German National Socialism owe their particular characteristics and their legitimization to the First World War, described by Eric J. Hobsbawm as a “machine for brutalizing the world.” By his own testimony, Hitler himself was a “son of the war.” In repeated references to the war in Mein Kampf and in numerous statements and documented conversations ( Hitler’s Table Talks), Hitler returned time and again to his p…

War Neurosis and Viennese Psychiatry in World War One

(93 words)

Author(s): Hofer, Hans-Georg
Hofer, Hans-Georg - War Neurosis and Viennese Psychiatry in World War One Keywords: Science, Technology, and Medicine | Intellectuals and the War | Home fronts | Austria-Hungary | Society ‛Uncovered Fields’ Jenny Macleod and Pierre Purseigle, Publication Editor: Brill, The Netherlands, 2004 e-ISBN: 9789047402596 DOI: 10.1163/9789047402596.015 © 2004 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands Hofer, Hans-Georg

Witkop, Philipp

(378 words)

Author(s): Jakob, Neil
Witkop, Philipp (April 17, 1880, Kleinenberg [now Büren] – December 18, 1942, Freiburg im Breisgau), German literary scholar. A professor of modern German literature, Witkop is the editor of the well known collection of war correspondence, Kriegsbriefe gefallener Studenten which has appeared in many different editions since its initial publication as Kriegsbriefe deutscher Studenten in 1916 (still published in English as German Students’ War Letters). After his promotion to Doctor of Political Science at Freiburg in 1903, then to Doctor of Philosophy at Heid…

War Poetry

(1,081 words)

Author(s): Hüppauf, Bernd
War Poetry Prophecies of a coming war had been a theme in German poetry since the beginning of the century. Expressionist poets conjured up the war in apocalyptic images that alternated between the fear of its violence and a yearning for its purifying and regenerative power. Feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction over a long and “foul” peace gave rise to fantasies of war in the sense of a longed-for renewal, often expressed through theological formulations such as J…

Christmas Memorandum of 1915

(490 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Christmas Memorandum of 1915 Supposedly, a situation report Falkenhayn gave in a memorandum conveyed to the Kaiser some time around Christmas. The document in question comes down to us only through Falkenhayn’s own memoirs, Die Oberste Heeresleitung 1914–1916 in ihren wichtigsten Entschließungen (The Supreme Army Command 1914–1916 in Its Most Critical Decisions, 1920). For this reason its authenticity is doubtful. The Christmas Memorandum, concerning strategic plans for 1916, includes several fundamental declarations: Britain was the primary enemy. Britain…

Fuller, John Frederick Charles

(373 words)

Author(s): Bourne, J.M.
Fuller, John Frederick Charles (September 1, 1878, Chichester – February 10, 1966, Falmouth), British general. Fuller was full of ideas and energy, but he was always controversial and inclined to contradiction. The army bored him, causing him to take comfort in books – primarily on military history – and he also developed an intense preoccupation with Eastern mysticism and the occult. Only gradually did he begin to take his profession seriously. After a failed attempt, he finally gained admittance t…

German and French Regiments on the Western Front, 1914–1918

(18,055 words)

Author(s): Meteling, Wencke
Meteling, Wencke - German and French Regiments on the Western Front, 1914–1918 Keywords: First World War | French armies | German army | Western Front ISFWWS-Keywords: Western Front | French Army and its combattants | Germany | Military organisation of combat | Experience of combat | Published memoirs and biographies | Science, Technology, and Medicine | Society | Legacy Abstract: This chapter talks about how the fundamental changes in the German and French armies developed at regimental level during the First World War. It explores a central …

Zimmermann Telegram

(358 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Zimmermann Telegram On January 16, 1917, after the German government’s decision to resume unrestricted submarine warfare (from February 1, 1917), Arthur Zimmermann, secretary of state at the German foreign ministry, sent a coded telegram to the German ambassador in Washington, Johann Heinrich Graf von Bernstorff, to be forwarded to the German ambassador in Mexico, Heinrich von Eckardt. The telegram instructed Eckardt to propose to the Mexican government an alliance against the United States. In re…

Fisher, John Arbuthnot

(493 words)

Author(s): Herwig, Holger H.
Fisher, John Arbuthnot (January 25, 1841, Ramboda [Ceylon] – July 10, 1920, London; from 1908 Baron Fisher of Kilberstone), British admiral. Fisher joined the Royal Navy in 1854, and, after a variety of seagoing posts, began a 14-year period of service on land in 1882. In 1899 he represented England at the First Hague Peace Conference. He was subsequently entrusted with the command of the Mediterranean Fleet. As Second Sea Lord (1901), Fisher undertook an intensive remodeling of the personnel struc…

Disability

(1,876 words)

Author(s): Eckart, Wolfgang U.
Disability In 1934, the Medical Report of the German Army estimated the number of German soldiers who had died of wounds, accident, suicide, or disease between August 2, 1914, and July 31, 1918, at 1,202,042. This number, which rose considerably in the period between the cessation of military casualty reports in July 1918 and the end of the war, must be viewed alongside the 702,778 dismissed from the armed forces in the same period as being unfit for service (503,713 with medical support, 199,065 without…

Japan

(2,146 words)

Author(s): Schwentker, Wolfgang
Japan Japan rose to become a Great Power in East Asia during the two centuries preceding 1914. Although the Japanese Empire had become the object of Western imperialism during the late 19th century, they had resisted all attempts at colonization. After victories in both the Sino-Japanese War of 1894–1895 and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905, Japan itself stepped into the imperialist arena in East Asia as the new colonial power. As Japan expanded its empire upon the Asian continent before 1914,…

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…

Introduction: Approaching the Centenary 1914–2014

(6,877 words)

Author(s): Bürgschwentner, Joachim | Egger, Matthias | Barth-Scalmani, Gunda
Bürgschwentner, Joachim; Egger, Matthias; Barth-Scalmani, Gunda - Introduction: Approaching the Centenary 1914–2014 ISFWWS-Keywords: Legacy | General | Society | Science, Technology, and Medicine Other Fronts, Other Wars? Joachim Bürgschwentner, Matthias Egger and Gunda Barth-Scalmani , (2014) Publication Editor: Brill, The Netherlands, 2014 e-ISBN: 9789004279513 DOI: 10.1163/9789004279513_002 © 2014 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands Bürgschwentner, Joachim, Egger, Matthias and Barth-Scalmani, Gunda

‘It All Goes Wrong!’: German, French, and British Approaches to Mastering the Western Front

(13,762 words)

Author(s): Showalter, Dennis
Showalter, Dennis - ‘It All Goes Wrong!’: German, French, and British Approaches to Mastering the Western Front Keywords: Western Front | Military organisation of combat | Science, Technology, and Medicine | Experience of combat | French Army and its combattants | Britain | Germany | The French and British Empires | Politics | Canada ‛Warfare and Belligerence’ Pierre Purseigle, Publication Editor: Brill, The Netherlands, 2005 e-ISBN: 9789047407362 DOI: 10.1163/9789047407362.003 © 2005 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands Showalter, Dennis

Haig, Sir Douglas

(689 words)

Author(s): Bourne, J.M.
Haig, Sir Douglas (June 19, 1861, Edinburgh – January 29, 1928, London; from 1917 the First Earl Haig), British field marshal (commander in chief on the Western Front, 1915–1918). In the course of a brilliant prewar career, spent mainly in staff posts, Haig made himself a reputation as one of the most capable officers in the British Army. He was promoted to major general at the early age of 44. One of his most important posts was as head of the training department at the ministry of war between 190…

Jackson, Sir Henry Bradwardine

(357 words)

Author(s): Herwig, Holger H.
Jackson, Sir Henry Bradwardine (January 21, 1855, Barnsley – December 14, 1929, Hayling Island), British admiral. Jackson entered the Royal Navy in 1868, and in 1878/1879 took part in the Zulu War on board the HMS Active. From 1890 he took an interest in wireless technology, and six years later met his idol, the Italian physicist Guglielmo Marconi. Jackson served as naval attaché in Washington in 1897 and became Third Sea Lord in 1905. In this position he experienced the revolution in naval armaments that led to the development of…

Psychiatry

(620 words)

Author(s): Ulrich, Bernd
Psychiatry The science that is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of cerebral illnesses and functional brain disorders that primarily manifest themselves through psychological symptoms. Psychiatry constitutes a major aspect of the medico-military study and analysis of the effects of the World War on human beings. In 1916, the German psychiatrist Robert Gaupp (University of Tübingen) summarized the scientific-empirical value of the war for psychiatry in the following manner: “For psychiatr…

Barbarians

(892 words)

Author(s): Horne, John
Barbarians In all warring societies, the topic of the Barbarians played a central role. In this war, it seemed to hinge upon nothing less than the survival, and the critical importance of humankind. Thus, there developed a script that depicted the war as a conflict between one’s own, idealized nation and a demonized enemy. “Civilization” was thereby commonly juxtaposed against “Barbarity.” This dualism was a powerful concept for two reasons. First, the nation-states of the 19th century were defined through a cultural construct that defined one’s own natio…

Combat Engineers

(819 words)

Author(s): Gross, Gerhard P.
Combat Engineers A branch of the army providing technical assistance to the armed forces in combat. European armies had been equipped with combat engineer units – often called “Pioneers” – since the mid-19th century. Their primary mission was the construction of entrenchments, roads, and bridges. Like the other branches of the army, the combat engineers of the German Reich were trained for mobile warfare. The goal was to create a modern, technological, battle support force to provide direct reinforcement in combat. Following the lessons of…
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