Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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Friedrich, Ernst

(362 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
Friedrich, Ernst (February 25, 1894, Breslau [modern Wrocław] – May 2, 1967, Le Perreux sur Marne), German pacifist. In 1924 Friedrich, a member of the SPD, published the still well-known volume of photographs titled Krieg dem Kriege! ( War against War!). With his multilingual captions he addressed an international audience. In 1925 he established the first International Antiwar Museum in Berlin. His life-long struggle against militarism and war was based on the conviction that an education for peace must start on the playground and, …

Postcards

(297 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
Postcards Nearly 28 billion items were conveyed to and from the front by the German Army Postal Service during the First World War. Postcards above all were a favorite medium used by soldiers to maintain contact with the people at home. Since 1873 the postage for postcards had been half that for letters, and, since that date too, postcards produced by private companies had been permitted alongside official versions. They enabled a brief and moreover rapid greeting, as, in many major cities, post was delivered up to eleven times per working day, or conveyed by pneumatic means. Furthermore, p…

Army Corps District

(482 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Army Corps District Official German military command. Each of the 25 active army corps of the German Reich was placed under the command of an army corps districts. As a rule a commanding general of infantry, cavalry, or artillery was placed in charge of an army corps district. German army corps districts controlled the largest combined-arms units of the peacetime army, and the generals in charge of them had the right to report directly to the Kaiser. After the 1914 German mobilization, the army cor…

Vermin

(445 words)

Author(s): Eckart, Wolfgang U.
Vermin Animal pests and parasites that either attack human beings directly or contribute to the spread of infectious diseases as pathogenic agents, or else spoil or damage food supplies and implements in trenches and sleeping quarters. Bedbugs, lice, fleas, mice, rats, cockroaches, mealworms, and larder beetles in particular were regarded as vermin in this sense. In the European war theaters, bedbugs were not carriers of diseases, but still proved a nuisance as blood-feeding insects whose bites caused unpleasant wheals and itching…

Occupation (East)

(1,730 words)

Author(s): Liulevicius, Vejas Gabriel
Occupation (East) In 1915, the German Reich and Austria-Hungary conquered enormous areas of Eastern Europe, and subjected them to an occupation regime. Among the areas in question were Russian Poland and Lithuania, and parts of the Baltic provinces (now Estonia and Latvia), Belarus (White Russia), the Ukraine, Russia, and Serbia. These conquests were joined by Romania in 1916. As there was no detailed prewar planning for such an event, the occupation was initially characterized by improvisation and ad hoc policies with various different plans being proposed for the future…

Flamethrower

(468 words)

Author(s): Gross, Gerhard P.
Flamethrower Weapon designed for tactical attacks against military targets by means of a stream of fire. Flammable oil is sprayed from a pressurized container through a tube and automatically ignited upon leaving the tube. The development of flamethrowers began in Germany shortly before the First World War. The Germans produced heavy-duty stationary flamethrowers with a capacity to hold 100 liters of fuel oil, which had a range of about 50 m, and small, portable units with a fuel reservoir of 10 …

Nerves

(695 words)

Author(s): Ulrich, Bernd
Nerves The mental history of the Wilhelminian epoch is marked by the phenomenon of “nervousness.” The over-exertion of mind and body, the worries and fears, the sexual excesses and aberrations, the rapid pace, the noise; the over-indulgence in coffee, alcohol, tobacco, and morphine; as well as the “violent shocks to the body, for example from rail accidents” – those were causes that, taken with the suspected inheritability of “nervousness,” were ascribed to the “cultural progress” of the 19th cen…

Barrès, Maurice

(394 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Barrès, Maurice (September 22, 1862, Charmes, département Vosges – December 4, 1923, Neuilly-sur-Seine), French writer and politician. Originally from Lorraine, Barrès was one of the most important exponents of prewar French nationalism. Having come to public attention as the author of a trilogy of novels ( Le Culte du moi, 1888–1891), Barrès turned to the politics and the ideology of nationalism in the wake of the political crisis triggered by General Georges Boulanger in the 1880s that shook the French state and society. Barrès believed that…

Field Grey

(251 words)

Author(s): Hettling, Manfred
Field Grey Color of the German field uniform. Field grey was gradually introduced from 1907 in all regiments of the army of the German Reich, beginning with the infantry and artillery. The cavalry and officers followed between 1908 and 1910. Rifle units wore grey-green. The decision was in reaction to experiences in the Boer War and the Russo-Japanese War, where colored uniforms had always offered a good target to enemies equipped with modern weapons. Functional aspects now superseded consideratio…

Kolchak, Aleksandr Vasiliyevich

(329 words)

Author(s): Brand, Bettina
Kolchak, Aleksandr Vasiliyevich (November 16, 1874, Saint Petersburg – February 7, 1920, Irkutsk), Russian admiral. Kolchak, a Russian naval officer, took part in polar expeditions in 1900–1903 and 1908–1911 and acquired a reputation as a hydrologist. He commanded a minelayer in the Russo-Japanese War, and was captured. After the beginning of the First World War in 1914, he also initially led mine-laying operations in the Baltic. Kolchak was then appointed in July 1916 to the command of the Black S…

Monuments

(2,302 words)

Author(s): Behrenbeck, Sabine
Monuments War memorials do not function solely as monuments to the war-dead, but also to “affirm the identity of the survivors” (Reinhart Koselleck). They construct the past in order to cope with the present. War-memorials thus say more about their architects than about the fallen, and the wars they are supposed to commemorate. In the age of mercenary armies, there were no monuments commemorating the common soldier; this honor was reserved for officers and commanders. In Prussia at the beginning of the 19th century, with the introduction of genera…

Weber, Max

(849 words)

Author(s): Tiefel, Marcus A.
Weber, Max (April 21, 1864, Erfurt – June 14, 1920, Munich), German political economist and sociologist. Important milestones in Weber’s academic formation included his law dissertation in 1889 and habilitation in 1892, and then posts as professor extraordinarius of commercial law in Berlin in 1893, and professor ordinarius of political economics at Freiburg im Breisgau (1894–97) and at Heidelberg (1897–1903). The years after 1898 saw frequent interruptions due to ill health. He ceased teaching activities in 1900, and resumed them only in 19…

Home Front

(853 words)

Author(s): Baumeister, Martin
Home Front In today’s usage in English and German (German Heimatfront), in terms of the geography of the First World War, the term signifies the home territory, defined essentially as the civilian sphere, as opposed to the battle zone and in particular the military front. Used in this sense, with the rise since the 1970s of the social and economic history of war as a subject of study, and also the growing significance of approaches based on sexual and cultural history, it has achieved broad currency in th…

Supreme Army Command (OHL)

(996 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Supreme Army Command (OHL) When Germany mobilized for the war, the chief of the Prussian Army General Staff was named chief of the General Staff of the entire Armed Forces. According to law, of course, the Kaiser was commander in chief of the military. However, the chief of the General Staff actually led military operations. The department established for this purpose was the Supreme Army Command, which was placed under the control of the Supreme Headquarters. Early in the war the Supreme Army Comma…

Entente Cordiale

(491 words)

Author(s): Kröger, Martin
Entente Cordiale Cordial understanding. Agreement of April 8, 1904, between Great Britain and France, settling a number of colonial differences. The Entente cordiale represented the culmination of the policy of French Foreign Minister Delcassé. He saw an understanding with Great Britain as the best means to make France secure against the German Reich. For such an understanding to come about, the antagonism between France and Britain outside Europe had to be overcome. The confrontation at Fashoda in the Sudan in 1898 …

Joffre, Joseph Jacques Césaire

(581 words)

Author(s): Becker, Jean-Jacques
Joffre, Joseph Jacques Césaire (January 12, 1852, Rivesaltes – March 1, 1931, Paris), Marshal of France. Joffre was descended from an affluent, southern French winegrowing family. At 17, he was accepted to the École Polytechnique. Like many officers of his generation, he spent much of his career in the colonies, namely in Tonkin, the Sudan, and Madagascar. In 1905 at the age of 53, his distinguished career led to his being named a divisional general even though he lacked the usual diploma. Joffre was named chief of the General Staff in 1911. He succeeded General Victor Michel…

Gas Mask

(546 words)

Author(s): Mülle, Rolf-Dieter
Gas Mask With the first use of chemical weapons in 1915, the newly developed gas mask became a vital piece of equipment for every soldier. Success or failure in the military employment of poison gas depended on whether the attacking troops were themselves protected against any possible poisoning and whether the defenders had sufficient warning, sufficient training, and were sufficiently equipped to don their masks in time. Each individual soldier required personal protective gear that offered the …

Committee of Inquiry of the German Parliament

(787 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Committee of Inquiry of the German Parliament On August 21, 1919, the newly formed 15th Committee of the German Constitutional Assembly met as a fact-finding parliamentary committee to consider the central political and military issues stemming from the World War. The legal basis for the committee was Article 34 of the Weimar Constitution. Under Article 34, officeholders and officials were obligated to work together with a fact-finding commission. Furthermore, the committee would have the right to secure expert tes…

Ideas of 1914

(1,265 words)

Author(s): Verhey, Jeffrey
Ideas of 1914 The concept “Ideas of 1914” alludes to two different, yet related phenomena. The first meaning refers to all discursive reflections that were formulated and published by intellectuals in 1914, to all attempts to interpret the significance of the war. The second has to do with a particular category of “ideas” which the contemporaries subsumed under the notion “Ideas of 1914.” At the beginning of the war, the vast majority of German intellectuals were united in their almost unconditional support of the German war effort, which they attempted to …

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…
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