Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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Mackensen, August von

(576 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Mackensen, August von (December 6, 1849, Haus Leipnitz [Kreis Wittenberg] – November 8, 1945, Burghorn [now part of Habighorst, Kreis Celle]), German field marshal. The son of an estate manager, Mackensen took part in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/1871 before studying for two years in Halle and subsequently returning to the army, where he pursued a rapid and brilliant career as a cavalryman in spite of his not having attended the Kriegsakademie (War Academy). Among his assignments, his appointment as adjutant to Alfred von Schlieffen (1891) is particularly worthy…

Falkenhausen, Ludwig Alexander Baron von

(303 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Falkenhausen, Ludwig Alexander Baron von (September 13, 1844, Guben – May 4, 1936, Görlitz), German general. Falkenhausen had been a soldier since 1862, and had taken part in the wars of 1866 and 1870/1871. As commanding general of the XIIIth Army Corps, he had been placed on the inactive list in 1902. Recalled to active service at his own request in 1914, onSeptember 15 he took over command of the Falkenhausen Division (from April 1916 Army Division A) that, after the end of the border engagements b…

South Tyrol

(754 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
South Tyrol The part of the Tyrol situated south of the Brenner. Between August 1914 and May 1915, South Tyrol was disputed territory between the Italians and Italy’s Triple Alliance partners Austria-Hungary and the German Reich. At issue initially was Trentino (according to the census of 1910: 393,111 inhabitants, of whom 366,844 were speakers of Italian and Ladin, 13,893 German-speakers, 2,666 speakers of other languages, and 9,708 foreigners, the greater portion of them North Italians), then th…

Two-Front War

(612 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Two-Front War The specific strategic situation of the Central Powers, surrounded by the “Iron Ring” (W. Groener) of the opposing coalition. This was mostly seen as a grave strategic disadvantage, and was instrumental in the emergence before 1914 of the hazardous Schlieffen Plan: the attempt to forestall a two-front war, and so avoid the dissipation of Germany’s strength. German policy during the Crisis of July 1914 has frequently been interpreted as having been motivated by the necessity to meet the threat of a two-front war, or “encirclement,” while i…

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…

Central Powers

(325 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Central Powers Title indicating the German-Austro-Hungarian alliance that expanded to include the Ottoman Empire in 1914 and Bulgaria in 1915. Before the outbreak of war in 1914, this title was seldom used. Reference was made instead to the Triple Alliance among Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. To be sure, Bismarck’s Dual Alliance of 1879 between Germany and Austria-Hungary still existed alongside the Triple Alliance of 1882. Furthermore, it was clear to contemporaries that the earlier Dual Alliance was closer …

Nibelung Loyalty

(270 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Nibelung Loyalty (German Nibelungentreue) A name given to the particular loyalty that characterized the alliance between the German Reich and Austria-Hungary. The term Nibelung Loyalty was coined by Reich Chancellor Bülow during a speech before the Reichstag (Imperial Diet) on March 29, 1909. He thereby illustrated the quasi indissoluble loyalty that united the Central Powers in political and military affairs. The statement was made in reference to the tense political situation following the Bosnian Annexation Crisis, during which…

Falkenhayn, Erich von

(1,204 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Falkenhayn, Erich von (September 11, 1861, Burg Belchau [Kreis Graudenz] – April 8, 1922, Schloss Lindstedt [near Potsdam]), German general and chief of the General Staff. Falkenhayn came from a West-Prussian “Junker” family with a strong military tradition. He entered the cadet corps at the early age of ten. He had a successful career as a young officer, and attended military academy. His life took an unusual turn when, in 1896, he took leave from the army and, for professional and financial reaso…