Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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Beneš, Edvard

(414 words)

Author(s): Hadler, Frank
Beneš, Edvard (May 28, 1884, Kožlany, Bohemia – September 3, 1948, Sezimovo Ústí, South Bohemian Region), Czechoslovak politician. Beneš was his country’s first minister of foreign affairs (1918–1935). In 1921–1922 he simultaneously held the office of prime minister before succeeding Tomáš Masaryk as president (1935–1938). From 1940 he headed the Czechoslovak government-in-exile in London and finally became president of Czechoslovakia following the renewal of the country in the wake of World War I…

Small Nations under the Gun. Europe 1914–1940

(8,320 words)

Author(s): Murray, W.
Murray, W. - Small Nations under the Gun. Europe 1914–1940 Keywords: Europe | first world war | small nations ISFWWS-Keywords: Neutral States | General | Politics | Legacy Abstract: In the fifth century B.C. the greatest strategic historian of war recorded a conversation between Athenian negotiators and those of the island city state of Melos. Quite simply on the great stage of world politics, the United States and its Western allies were not going to risk a global conflict over the fate of Poland. This…

Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich

(600 words)

Author(s): Brand, Bettina
Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich (Real name V.I. Ulyanov; April 22, 1870, Simbirsk [from 1924 Ulyanovsk] – January 21, 1924, Gorki [near Moscow]), Russian revolutionary and politician. Lenin was born into an upper class family. A critical youthful influence was the conviction and execution in 1887 of his older brother Alexander, who had taken part in an assassination attempt against the Tsar. Lenin qualified to practice as a lawyer after studying law at the University of Kazan. In 1893 he moved to Saint Pete…

Berchtold, Leopold Count

(508 words)

Author(s): Kronenbitter, Günther
Berchtold, Leopold Count (April 18, 1863, Vienna – November 21, 1942, Pereznye Castle near Ödenburg, modern Sopron, Hungary), Austro-Hungarian politician. Berchtold joined the Austro-Hungarian diplomatic service in 1893 and served as the Dual Monarchy’s ambassador in Saint Petersburg from 1906 until 1911. In February of 1912 he took office as Foreign Minister, and in the autumn the First Balkan War presented him with a sudden, massive threat to Austria-Hungary’s position of power in the region. Ber…

Wartime Coalitions

(2,117 words)

Author(s): Dülffer, Jost
Wartime Coalitions Before the World War, the European system of states had become strongly polarized. On the one side stood the Central Powers, namely the Dual Alliance of German Reich and Austria-Hungary that had been formed in 1879 as well as the (independently concluded) Triple Alliance of German Reich, Austria-Hungary, and Italy; however, the latter country declared itself neutral at the beginning of the war. On the other side stood the Entente Powers, among which France and Russia had been bound by a military alliance since 1893/1894, while France and Great Bri…

Netherlands

(1,981 words)

Author(s): Blom, J.C.H.
Netherlands On the eve of the World War, the Netherlands held the same neutral stand regarding international relations as it had for the preceding three-quarters of a century. The Netherlands thus stood apart from the international alliances. This decision rested as much upon the safeguarding of Netherlands’s economic and military-political interests, as it did upon considerations of civil rights and ethics. The deciding question, however, was whether the Great Powers would respect Netherlands’s …

Munitions Crisis

(504 words)

Author(s): Thoss, Bruno
Munitions Crisis Serious shortages of munitions experienced by all the warring powers between fall 1914 and spring 1915. Nations had failed to adequately mobilize their industries for war, or to stockpile raw materials needed for the war. Moreover, industrial manpower shortages were soon experienced owing to the growing personnel needs of the military. The result was a serious shortage of munitions supplies by fall 1914. The shortfall of munitions worsened for all armies until there was only enoug…

Headquarters

(1,417 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Headquarters Command centers for the supreme military, sometimes also political, leadership set up in the field for the duration of the war. Composition, location, and function of such a headquarters depended on the constitutional position of the supreme military command of each belligerent and the demands of modern mass and coalition warfare. – By far the most comprehensive headquarters at the outbreak of the war was the German “Great Headquarters.” Aside from the German Emperor as the nominal c…

‘Too Good to be True?’ European Hopes for Neutrality before 1914

(13,370 words)

Author(s): Abbenhuis, M. M.
Abbenhuis, M. M. - ‘Too Good to be True?’ European Hopes for Neutrality before 1914 Keywords: Congress of Vienna | European | neutrality | state behaviour ISFWWS-Keywords: Neutral States | Origins and Pre-war | Politics | Scandinavia Abstract: This chapter argues that judging neutrality as a naïve and fl awed foreign policy option in the context of the two world wars misses the point about the relevance of neutrality in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Europe. Within the international system created and sustai…

Conscientious Objection

(630 words)

Author(s): Jahr, Christoph
Conscientious Objection The rejection of the legal obligation to fulfill one’s military duty in times of war. A distinction must be drawn between conscientious objection in the narrow sense and other ways of evading wartime military service. Conscientious objection, which was also an important motive for emigrating from Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, was traditionally practiced by a number of religious communities, for instance by the Quakers and Mennonites. In 1914, however, no country with a conscript army had made provis…

Introduction. Small States in a Big World

(11,403 words)

Author(s): Amersfoort, H. | Klinkert, W.
Amersfoort, Herman; Klinkert, Wim - Introduction. Small States in a Big World Keywords: European | military strategy | political strategy | powerpolitical controversies | small states ISFWWS-Keywords: Neutral States | International Relations during the War | Legacy | Belgium | Politics Abstract: One of the primary responsibilities of any state is the development of a political-military strategy which meets the circumstances in which that state finds itself, the manner in which the state perceives its own position in its …

China

(2,662 words)

Author(s): Mühlhahn, Klaus
China The largest state by population and area in eastern Asia; a republic from 1911 to 1949. Although China was scarcely involved militarily in the First World War, the war nevertheless represented an important turning point for the country. The consequences of the war fundamentally changed both China’s status in international politics and its internal political and social circumstances. China’s involvement in the First World War was a long-term result of the expansion of European imperialism. Increased rivalry between the Great Powers, in their strugg…

Petar I Karadjordjević, King of Serbia

(387 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Petar I Karadjordjević, King of Serbia ( July 11, 1844, Belgrade – August 16, 1921, Belgrade), Serbian king (from 1903), from 1918 king of the newly emerged Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. A grandson of Karadjordje Petrović, the legendary leader of the Serbian risings of 1804 to 1813, Petar spent the period of his civilian and military education in Switzerland and France after the fall of his father Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjević in 1858. Despite Russian support and links to opponents of…

Spartakus League

(540 words)

Author(s): Mühlhausen, Walther
Spartakus League The most important radical left group in the SPD, so called from its Politische Briefe (“Political Letters”), signed “Spartakus,” illegally distributed from 1916. These decisively rejected the Burgfrieden policy adopted by the majority of the Social Democratic Party. Leading figures in the Spartakus Group (later League) were Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, Franz Mehring, Clara Zetkin, Julian Marschlewski, and Käte and Hermann Duncker. The group’s support came predominantly from the existing intellectual …

Nationalities Question

(1,312 words)

Author(s): Hecker, Hans
Nationalities Question The nationalities question in Eastern and Southeastern Europe developed in the course of the 19th century from the greatly mixed population that inhabited Russia, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Prussia in the German Reich, plus the newly independent states of Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, and Greece – a great variety of nationalities, with their different languages, religions, cultures, and interests. Although the murder of the Austro-Hungarian he…

Durazzo (Durrës)

(465 words)

Author(s): Massignani, Alexandre
Durazzo (Durrës) Until 1921 the capital of the state of Albania, which was founded in 1912 on the initiative of the major European Powers. A strategically important Adriatic port. As Serbia had a claim on Albania, Serbian troops reentered the country during the first phase of the First World War, and were compelled to withdraw again in the course of Albania’s recapture by Austro-Hungarian, German, and Bulgarian troops in October 1915. Parts of the defeated Serbian army fled into the port of Durazz…

Neutral States

(688 words)

Author(s): Hoff, Henning
Neutral States States that do not participate in a war. The legal status “neutral” implies the right and the duty to pursue corresponding policies. The consequence thereof is a foreign policy that avoids any more or less explicit alignment in the international conflicts that occur in times of peace. Six European states adhered to various forms of neutrality for the entire duration of the war. The monarchs of the Scandinavian states Denmark (Christian X), the sovereign territory of which also inclu…

Serbia

(1,820 words)

Author(s): Hirschfeld, Gerhard
Serbia Established in 1882, the Southern Slavic Kingdom of Serbia was governed until 1914 by Petar I of Serbia (1844–1921), who an officers’ conspiracy had brought to power in 1903 and who was subsequently elected king by the Serbian National Assembly. Relying on the support of the Radical Party of Prime Minister Nikola Pašić (1846–1926), the king championed a Greater Serbian policy that was particularly directed against the interests of Austria-Hungary. In 1906, this policy led to a trade war, t…

Submarine Warfare

(2,604 words)

Author(s): Rohwer, Jürgen
Submarine Warfare Grossadmiral Alfred von Tirpitz, secretary of state for the German Imperial Navy Bureau, was mainly interested in the battle fleet and initially had little regard for submarines. So the construction of U1 did not begin until 1904/1905, and, by the beginning of the First World War, only 28 submarines were in service in the German Navy. Of these, only the final ten were equipped with operationally safe diesel engines for running on the surface. Tirpitz’ intention at the beginning of the war was to use submarines for reconnaissance against the British Gra…

Luxembourg

(1,322 words)

Author(s): Majerus, Benoît
Luxembourg The First World War scarcely has a presence in the collective memory of Luxembourgers, and the country’s historians have until now shown little interest in the period. Luxembourg’s entry into the Zollverein (German Customs Union, 1842) engendered very close economic links between the Grand Duchy and the neighboring German territories. Luxembourg’s railways passed into German Reich ownership in 1872, and the rise of the iron industry was facilitated by both German capital (e.g. Gelsenkirchener Bergwerk AG) and German workers (more than half the foreigners livi…
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