Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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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…

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 shor…

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…

Alsace-Lorraine

(1,831 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Alsace-Lorraine As a Reichsland, part of the German Reich from 1871. The desire on the part of France to exact revenge for defeat in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870/1871, and reverse the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine by the newly founded German Reich under the terms of the Frankfurt Peace Treaty, has often been regarded, particularly by the Germans, as an important causal factor in respect of the origins of the First World War. In the light of recent research, however, this conception must now be seen as o…

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…

Grigorovich, Ivan Konstantinovich

(349 words)

Author(s): Herwig, Holger H.
Grigorovich, Ivan Konstantinovich (February 7, 1853, Saint Petersburg – March 3, 1930, Menton, France), Russian admiral and minister of the navy. Grigorovich graduated from the Naval Academy in 1874, served in the war against Turkey 1877–1878, and was posted to London as naval attaché from 1896 to 1898. Having commanded the battleship Zarevich in 1903, he was the officer in charge of the port at Port Arthur during the war with Japan in 1904. Following service as chief of staff for the Black Sea Fleet (1905), he was appointed chief of the Baltic p…

Benedict XV

(414 words)

Author(s): Becker, Annette
Benedict XV (November 21, 1854, Genoa – January 22, 1922, Rome; formerly Giacomo della Chiesa), Pope. Giacomo della Chiesa was elected Pope following the death of Pius X in September of 1914. He took the name of Benedict in memory of the great legislator Benedict XIV. Even though the promulgation of the

Ferdinand I, Tsar of Bulgaria

(451 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Ferdinand I, Tsar of Bulgaria (February 26, 1861, Vienna – September 10, 1948, Coburg) Ferdinand, from the house of Sachsen-Coburg-Koháry, was elected Prince of Bulgaria against the bitter resistance of Russia, and to the discontent of Bismarck, in 1887. He became the tsar in the context of a national and constitutional crisis triggered by the abdication of Prince Alexander of Battenberg that was compelled by Russia in 1886. However, his influence, both internally and externally, was initially slight…

General Government/Occupation Government

(1,029 words)

Author(s): Zilch, Reinhold
General Government/Occupation Government In World War I, a general government was a conquered territory under the supreme command of a governor general. This territory would have its own administrative unit attached, and was divided into the front, and the administrative zones. The governor general possessed the highest legislative, judicial, and executive power in the general government, and the troops stationed in the area were also placed under his command. He had the task of organizing public l…

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 fundamenta…

Baltic States

(1,258 words)

Author(s): Dahlmann, Dittmar
Baltic States The countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are collectively known as the Baltic States. In 1914 they were part of the Russian Empire. In power-political terms, the Baltic States were repeatedly exposed to the expansionist pressure put on them by their larger neighbors: Germany, Russia, Poland, and Scandinavia. At the beginning of the First World War, the Latvian delegate to the Duma J. Goldmanis delivered a declaration of loyalty to the Russian government. Even though opposition movements existed, especially movements of the …

Sykes-Picot Agreement

(371 words)

Author(s): Zürcher, Erik Jan
Sykes-Picot Agreement An agreement between Great Britain and France concerning the postwar partitioning of the Arabian provinces of the Ottoman Empire. In 1915 both allies agreed to formulate their war aims in the …

Bug Offensive

(785 words)

Author(s): Stone, Norman
Bug Offensive On June 22, 1915, the Austro-Hungarian Second Army recaptured Lemberg (Lviv), the capital of Galicia, which had been held by the Russians since September of the previous year. For the Central Powers, this event marked the high point of an important series of successes that had begun in May with the breakthrough at Gorlice-Tarnów. The reduction of the salient in Russian Poland seemed within reach, and there appeared to be a realistic chance of encircling the strong Russian forces in t…

Hindenburg, Paul von Beneckendorff und von

(1,692 words)

Author(s): Chickering, Roger
Hindenburg, Paul von Beneckendorff und von (October 2, 1847, Posen – August 2, 1934, Neudeck [West Prussia]), German field marshal (chief of the field army). Hindenburg’s military career began with his entry into the military academy at Wahlstatt in Silesia at the age of 12. He was a product of the army of King Wilhelm I of Prussia and his socialization and intellectual development took place within the narrow confines of that institution. Hindenburg’s political loyalties were unconditionally linked t…

Enver Pasha, Ismail

(471 words)

Author(s): Zürcher, Eric N.
Enver Pasha, Ismail (Ismail Enver Efendi; November 22, 1881, Constantinople – August 4, 1922, near Baljuvon [Tajikistan]), Ottoman general and politician (war minister). Enver Pasha’s family was from Macedonia. His father was a minor official. Enver attended various military academies and in 1902 graduated from the general staff academy in Constantinople. He was one of the initiators of the Young Turks’ coup in January 1913. He was finally appointed minister of war…

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…

Looted Art

(1,176 words)

Author(s): Kott, Christina
Looted Art Originally a term for cultural assets taken away by the enemy in times of war, the looting of art today denotes an illegal act under international law that is perpetrated by belligerent powers and involves the theft of artistic and cultural items in the course of military operations or during occupation. The protection of cultural property had since the end of the 19th century, if not earlier, been one of the fundamental tenets of international law: in particular Article 56 of the Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907) banned “[a]ll seizure of, destruction or willful damage done to [. . .] historic monuments, works of art and science.” Works of art owned by the state had to be treated as private property, and all forms of confiscation were prohibited. No official organized looting campaigns are documented for the First World War. Although numerous architectural monuments, museums,…

War Aims

(1,667 words)

Author(s): Mommsen, Wolfgang J.
War Aims Prior to the outbreak of the war, none of the European Powers had pursued concrete territorial annexation aims that might have significantly influenced their decision to take up arms. Soon after the beginning of the war, however, the issue of war aims began to be debated in all countries, at first mostly behind closed doors. The British foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey was able to prevent a public discussion of British war aims. Great Britain was quite resolute in its demand that the ind…

Cavalry

(738 words)

Author(s): Gross, Gerhard P.
Cavalry The combat arm of the land forces that fought primarily on horseback. The increased firepower of the infantry had since the middle of the 19th century forced the cavalry into playing a diminished supporting role in military campaigns. Paradoxically, the size of the cavalry forces maintained by the E…
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