Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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Hindenburg Line

(426 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Hindenburg Line The name in British and French literature for the German defensive line on the Western Front in 1917/18, known in German as Siegfried-Stellung. After the close of the costly battles of 1916, the OHL (German Supreme Army Command) and the Army Group Kronprinz Rupprecht had decided to pull the front back to the Arras – Saint-Quentin – Vailly line. Their reasons had been strategic and operational: building on successes on the Eastern Front and in the unrestricted submarine war, the war in the West was to be waged defensively in…

Hoeppner, Ernst von

(360 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Hoeppner, Ernst von (January 14, 1860, Tonnin Island of Wolin [now in Poland] – September 27, 1922, Gross-Mockratz, Island of Rügen), German general. Educated in the cadet corps, in 1879 Hoeppner entered the 6th Regiment of Dragoons, and was appointed major general in 1912. At mobilization he became chief of the general staff of the Third Army, leading its operations during the Battle of the Frontiers and on the Marne, until the Army entered the positional war. On February 14, 1915, Hoeppner took o…

Hutier, Oskar von

(357 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Hutier, Oskar von (August 27, 1857, Erfurt – December 5, 1934, Berlin), German general. Hutier was educated in a cadet school. He joined the Infantry Regiment No. 88 as a lieutenant in 1875. After a successful career in headquarters and field units, Hutier was appointed major-general in 1910 and chief quartermaster of the Great General Staff one year later. In 1912, having risen to the rank of lieutenant-general he assumed command of the 1st Guards Division, with which he went to war in 1914. As pa…

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…

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…

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…

Nicolai, Walter

(321 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Nicolai, Walter (August 1, 1873, Braunschweig [Brunswick] – May 4, 1947, Moscow), German officer and leader of the Military Intelligence Service of the German Supreme Army Command. Nicolai joined the 2nd Hessian Infantry Regiment, No. 82 in 1893; in 1907, he was promoted to captain. As a major in 1912, he was entrusted with the directorship of Department IIIb, the Military Intelligence Bureau of the General Staff. In early August 1914, he was named chief of the section. The work of D…

Zimmermann Telegram

(358 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Zimmermann Telegram On January 16, 1917, after the German government’s decision to resume unrestricted submarine warfare (from February 1, 1917), Arthur Zimmermann, secretary of state at the German foreign ministry, sent a coded telegram to the German ambassador i…

War Office

(452 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
War Office The War Office was established by a cabinet order of November 1, 1916, to administer the Hindenburg Program initiated by the Operations Branch of the General Staff. The War Office was to centralize war economy measures and serve as the enforcement authority for the Auxiliary Service Bill. Officially placed beneath the Prussian War Ministry, it was a peculiar mix of military war-economy staff and civilian government boards. Lieutenant General Wilhelm Groener was named the War Office’s fi…

Saint-Mihiel Salient

(390 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Saint-Mihiel Salient Located southeast of Verdun, this salient was the theater of the first independent World War offensive of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF), September 12–15, 1918. Created at the ver…

Meuse-Argonne Offensive

(571 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Meuse-Argonne Offensive As part of the final Allied offensive on the Western Front the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) had been charged in September of 1918 with launching an assault against the sector of the front held by the German Fifth Army (Georg von der Marwitz) between the Argonne Forest and the River Meuse, and to advance in the general direction of Mézières. Heading the AEF was General John Pershing, who also took command of the newly formed United States First Army. After completing t…

Declarations of War

(276 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Declarations of War 1914 July 28 Austria-Hungary on Serbia August 1 Germany on Russia August 2 German invasion of Luxembourg1 August 3 Germany on France August 4 German invasion of Belgium* August 4 Great Britain enters the war* August 6 Serbia on Germany August 6 Austria-Hungary on Russia …

Instruction in Patriotic Values (German)

(340 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Instruction in Patriotic Values (German) The need for a methodical, propagandistic strengthening of the army’s and population’s will to hold out had thrust itself upon the German government since the aggravation of the military an…

Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria

(316 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria (March 18, 1869, Munich – August 2, 1955, Schloss Leutstetten, Bavaria), Crown Prince of Bavaria, German Field Marshal. In 1886 he entered the Bavarian infantry regiment as a lieutenant. He then studied in Munich and Berlin, under Count Hertling and Hans Delbrück among others. His further military training took place according to the aristocratic norms. In 1899 he was made colonel and in 1906, general of infantry and commander of the Ist Bavarian Army Corps. In 1913…

Moltke, Helmuth Johannes Ludwig von (the Younger)

(578 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Moltke, Helmuth Johannes Ludwig von (the Younger) (May 25, 1848, Gersdorff [Mecklenburg] – June 18, 1916, Berlin), German general; chief of the Army General Staff and nephew of Field Marshal von Moltke. In 1869 Moltke joined Fusilier Regiment the Queen’s No. 86 (Schleswig-Holstein), taking part in the Franco-Prussian War as a lieutenant. In 1872 he succeeded in transferring to the 1st Foot Guards Regiment. Moltke’s later military career was shaped by his closeness to his famous uncle – Moltke was his adjutant until his uncle’s death in 1891 – and also from the protection of the young Kaiser Wilhelm II. Moltke was made a captain in 1881, then a major in 1888. As personal adjutant to the Kaiser, his command of several guards regiments, and position as liaison brought him to the court of the Russian Tsar. In 1899 he was named a brigadier general. In 1904, he was named quartermaster general of the Supreme Army Command. At the special request of the Kaiser, in 1906 he became Alfred von Schlieffen’s successor as chief of the General Staff. Later in 1906, he was made general of the infantry, and then promoted in 1914 to full general. During his time in service, Moltke was confronted with the overpowering military traditions of his predecessors, who would create an elaborate operational plan even if there were insufficient matériel to carry it out. Under the influence of the crisis-laden, final years of the war, he required army personnel to be more heavily armed. The two-front war against France and Russia became Moltke’s strategic dilemma, a quandary from which the General Staff chief sought to extricate himself numerous times with preventive wa…

Sarajevo

(729 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Sarajevo Capital of the Austro-Hungarian provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Austria-Hungary’s annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovin…

Alberich, Operation

(374 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Alberich, Operation Code name for the planned German rearward movement to the Hindenburg Line in February and March of 1917. Preparations for the withdrawal from the salient between Arras and Soissons had begun in the autumn of 1916 with the aim of disrupting Allied plans for an offensive in the spring of 1917 and shortening the German front line. Prior to the actual retreat, during the so-called Alberich period (February 9–March 15), the scheme called for the systematic devastation of the withdra…

Military Historiography, Official German

(1,063 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Military Historiography, Official German Immediately after the end of the war, nearly all the states that had participated in the war began elaborating an official military historiography. These early efforts to produce standard official publications were not only a consequ…

Einem, Karl von

(339 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Einem, Karl von (January 1, 1853, Herzberg [Harz] – April 7, 1934, Mülheim an der Ruhr), German colonel general. Educated in the cadet corps, in 1870 Einem joined the 14th regiment of Uhlans, with whom he took part in the war against France. Never having attended military academy, Einem was ordered to the general staff while still a first lieutenant. In 1898 he was transferred as a colonel to the Prussian ministry of war (where he was director of the general war department from 1900). Lieutenant Ge…

Kuhl, Hermann von

(350 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Kuhl, Hermann von (November 2, 1856, Koblenz – November 4, 1958, Frankfurt am Main), German general. Kuhl received a doctoral degree from the University of Tübingen for his thesis on the Carmen Saliare in 1878. That same year he joined the Prussian Infantry Regiment No. 53, rising to captain in 1893, and to major in 1899. Having taught at the War Academy from 1898, Kuhl became chief of Department III at the General Staff in 1906. Promoted to major general in 1912, he was raised to the hereditary nobility one year later. In 1913–1914, as Oberquartiermeister (senior general staff officer with the power to act as deputy chief of staff), he headed the war-historical sections. By this time Kuhl had already come to be regarded as the intellectual “brains” and “grey eminence” of the General Staff. His chief-of-staff assignment with the First Army at the beginning of the war saw him deployed at the focal point of the Battle of the Marne. A lieutenant general in 1915, Kuhl was transferred to serve as chief of staff for the Sixth Army at the end of November. After August 1916 he worked in the same capacity for the newly formed army group under Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, from the start engaged in the effort to repulse the Somme Offensive. He retired from the army with the rank of general in January of 1919. After the war Kuhl was active as a military writer and functionary of the German Officer Association (Deutscher Offizier Bund). His work (1920–1925) for the Parliamentary Commission of the Reichstag on the “causes of the German collapse in 1918” and as a member of the Historical Commission of the Reichsarchiv made him the most influential military author in interwar Germany. He was moreover awarded both classes – military and civi…
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