Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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Generalship and Mass Surrender during the Italian Defeat at Caporetto

(9,337 words)

Author(s): Wilcox, Vanda
Wilcox, Vanda - Generalship and Mass Surrender during the Italian Defeat at Caporetto Keywords: Caporetto | Italian Defeat | mass surrender ISFWWS-Keywords: Italian-Austrian Front | Italy | Military organisation of combat | Austria-Hungary | Germany | Experience of combat Abstract: The Italian defeat at Caporetto in October 1917 has been the subject of fierce historiographical debate. An examination of the conduct of the opening stage of the battle offers some answers as to the nature and causes of mass surrender at Ca…

Groener, Wilhelm

(732 words)

Author(s): Kitchen, Martin
Groener, Wilhelm (November 22, 1867, Ludwigsburg – May 3, 1939, Bornstedt [today part of Potsdam]), German general and first quartermaster general in the general staff of the field army. The son of a warrant officer from Württemberg, Groener owed his career in the Prussian-German Army solely to his exceptional skills and was one of the leading “technicians” whose opinions gained increasing weight in the general staff. Groener was a cultivated and liberal man, although he was also receptive to the …

Khaki Elections

(217 words)

Author(s): Letho, Mandy
Khaki Elections The general election for the British House of Commons in December 1918 secured a working majority in Parliament for the Liberal prime minister David Lloyd George and his coalition government, made up of Conservatives (led by Andrew Bonar Law) and Liberals. The coalition governed until 1922. This parliamentary election acquired its name from the brown color of the uniforms of the many soldiers, at this time yet to be demobilized, among the voters. The term continues in general use in Britain for elections held during, or immediately after a war. Politically, the Khaki El…

Forging The Industrial Home Front: Iron-Nail Memorials in the Ruhr

(92 words)

Author(s): Goebel, Stefan
Goebel, Stefan - Forging The Industrial Home Front: Iron-Nail Memorials in the Ruhr Keywords: Home fronts | Germany | Visual Arts | Economy | Society | Culture ‛Uncovered Fields’ Jenny Macleod and Pierre Purseigle, Publication Editor: Brill, The Netherlands, 2004 e-ISBN: 9789047402596 DOI: 10.1163/9789047402596.010 © 2004 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands Goebel, Stefan

Soldiers’ Newspapers

(1,076 words)

Author(s): Nelson, Robert L.
Soldiers’ Newspapers Collective term for publications that were produced in the immediate vicinity of the front (front and trench newspapers) or in the rear areas by the official military authorities (army and corps newspapers). The editorial staffs of the soldiers’ newspapers consisted mostly of officers, but also of lower-ranking soldiers. Many soldiers’ newspapers printed official war bulletins and “eyewitness accounts” of recent events that had been written down by the war participants themsel…

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…

Infantry Weaponry/Weapons

(3,025 words)

Author(s): Thoss, Bruno
Infantry Weaponry/Weapons Weapons technology during the First World War was geared mainly to the ground war, drawn from traditional types of infantry and artillery weapons. At the beginning of the war, cavalry was still relatively important, though they no longer had a decisive function in battle. For equipment early in the war, troops relied upon firearms such as rifles, carbines, machine guns and pistols; cutting and thrusting blades including bayonets, sabers, and lances; and explosive devices …

Brittain, Vera

(232 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Brittain, Vera (December 29, 1893, Newcastle-under-Lyme – March 29, 1970, London), English writer. Brittain became particularly well-known through her memoir Testament of Youth (1933), which was based on her correspondence with her younger brother Edward, her fiancé Roland Leighton and other friends, as well as her own diaries from the time of the First World War. Already a student at Somerville College (Oxford) at the beginning of the war, she decided to go to France, Malta, and London first to work as a Voluntary A…

August Experience

(1,226 words)

Author(s): Verhey, Jeffrey
August Experience Augusterlebnis (August Experience) was the contemporary German term for the patriotic enthusiasm among the German population at the outbreak of the war. The well-known images from the last weeks of July and from August of 1914 depict masses of people in the streets. The contemporary captions under the pictures suggest that these people were unanimously filled with “war enthusiasm.” The pictures are impressive but they do not tell the whole truth. In reality there was no near-ecst…

Lansing Note

(488 words)

Author(s): Waechter, Matthias
Lansing Note A diplomatic note conveyed to the leadership of the German Reich on November 5, 1918, by the United States, France, and Britain. Known in Germany by the name of then American Secretary of State Robert Lansing. The Allies declared in this note that they accepted American President Wilson’s 14-point program as a common basis for peace negotiations. This declaration followed several weeks of exchanges of notes between Germany and the United States concerning conditions for the cease-fire and the peace. The leadership of th…

Pacelli, Eugenio

(249 words)

Author(s): Becker, Annette
Pacelli, Eugenio (March 2, 1876, Rome – October 9, 1958, Castel Gandolfo), Italian clergyman and papal diplomat, later Pope Pius XII. Pacelli was born into a lower-class, Roman Catholic family that was closely connected to the Vatican. As a priest and jurist, Pacelli rose quickly to the higher offices within the Vatican administration. Ultimately in 1939, he was elected pope. In 1901 Pacelli joined the Papal State Secretariat of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, becoming its secretary in 1912. Pacelli climbed every rung of the career ladder. During t…

Film (1914–1918)

(1,029 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
Film (1914–1918) The triumphal progress of film began with the first cinema shows in Paris and Berlin in 1895. In Berlin alone, in 1914 there were already more than 200 cinemas, with a total capacity of 120,000. And the audience constantly grew in number: according to contemporary estimates, between 1 million and 1.5 million people visited the cinema each day in Germany before the First World War. Many attended regularly, with a third of the total seeing a performance every week. Most of the regul…

Heroes’ Groves

(499 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Gerhard
Heroes’ Groves On December 8, 1914, an article by the head of the German Royal Horticultural College’s Department for Plant Production, Berliner Willy Lange, appeared in the entertainment section of the Täglichen Rundschau. In his article, “Oaks for Heroes and Lindens for Peace,” Lange proposed that every German community should establish heroes groves, planting there, in orderly rows, one oak tree for every fallen soldier from the community: “For each, who lost his life for Germany’s freedom; for the ideal of Germanness, with…

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…

Defending the Heimat: The Germans in South-West Africa and East Africa During the First World War

(12,890 words)

Author(s): Rouven Steinbach, Daniel
Rouven Steinbach, Daniel - Defending the Heimat: The Germans in South-West Africa and East Africa During the First World War Keywords: First World War | German East Africa | German Schutzgebiete | Heimat | South-West Africa ISFWWS-Keywords: Africa | East Africa | Germany | Society | Pre-war period | Culture | Home fronts Abstract: This chapter examines wartime mobilization of German settlers in Africa with particular reference to the German concept of Heimat. It focuses on the two German Schutzgebiete which had the largest white populations and that experienced the mo…

Paris Peace Conferences

(739 words)

Author(s): Schwabe, Klaus
Paris Peace Conferences In Paris between January 18 and June 28, 1919, peace conferences were held by the victorious powers of the First World War in order to make final decisions on a host of questions, and then to write them as regulations to which the signatories would be contractually obligated. Additionally the victorious powers would conclude so-called minority treaties with the allies of the German Empire after the signing of the Versailles Treaty. The Paris Peace Conferences were held in se…

Auxiliary Service Bill

(1,121 words)

Author(s): Mai, Gunther
Auxiliary Service Bill The Gesetz über den Vaterländischen Hilfsdienst, of December 5, 1916, imposed an obligation to work on all male Germans aged between 17 and 60 engaged in reserved occupations; the sectors affected included agriculture, health services, and public authorities. Originally demanded by the Operations Branch of the Supreme Army Command as an extension of conscription, the law was to provide for the employment of workers – including women – in armaments production (Hindenburg Program). As the Supreme Army Command did n…

Aircraft

(895 words)

Author(s): Schmidt, Wolfgang
Aircraft After the Wright brothers achieved lift with the aid of a propeller driven by a combustion engine and thus in 1903 completed the first powered flight, most industrial nations saw rapid improvements taking place in the technical reliability, endurance and range of airplanes. France, as the leading European aircraft builder, possessed 100 military planes as early as 1911, while Germany had only begun training military pilots in 1910 on planes purchased from private owners. The Prussian Gen…
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