Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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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…

Cecil (of Chelwood), Edgar Algernon Robert

(318 words)

Author(s): Winter, Jay
Cecil (of Chelwood), Edgar Algernon Robert (September 14, 1864, London – November 24, 1958, Tunbridge Wells; from 1923 First Viscount), British politician. Cecil was one of the architects and longstanding champions of the League of Nations. After training as a lawyer, he began his political career in 1906 as Conservative Member of Parliament for East Marylebone. At the outbreak of the First World War he first became involved with the Red Cross. He became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Fore…

Kessler, Harry Graf

(817 words)

Author(s): Riederer, Günter
Kessler, Harry Graf (May 5, 1868, Paris – November 30, 1937, Lyon), German author, journalist, politician and diplomat. Kessler spent his childhood and youth in France, Germany and England. After studying law in Bonn and Leipzig, he fulfilled his one-year military obligation serving with the 3rd Guard Uhlan Regiment in Potsdam. Kessler did not enter the diplomatic service as originally planned, owing to his developing talents and interests. He served instead as a patron of the arts, supporting arti…

Manifesto of the 93

(963 words)

Author(s): vom Bruch, Rüdiger
Manifesto of the 93 Published on October 4, 1914, an appeal addressed “to the civilized world” ( An die Kulturwelt! Ein Aufruf ) and endorsed by 93 German men of letters, scientists, scholars and artists, rejected as “untrue” allegations made by the Entente against the German “militarism” and atrocities verifiably committed by the German Army in neutral Belgium. The Manifesto followed numerous other, similar declarations made especially by well-known cultural figures on both sides in the “war of the minds” ( Krieg der Geister, the title of a 1915 collection of international es…

Antwerp

(514 words)

Author(s): van Ypersele, Laurence
Antwerp Belgian city and fortress. In the aftermath of the fall of Liège in mid-August of 1914 and the fighting on the River Gete, the Belgian king Albert I rejected the proposal of a joint Belgian and French withdrawal to Namur, choosing instead to retreat with his field army (80,000 men) to Antwerp. The fortified city with its 70,000 fortress garrison troops was regarded as the “national redoubt” ( réduit national), the stronghold – and refuge – of the nation. The king and his army were determined to defend themselves and to hold out there, awaiting the arrival …

Renn, Ludwig

(569 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Thomas F.
Renn, Ludwig (April 22, 1889, Dresden – July 21, 1979, Berlin [East]; Arnold Friedrich Vieth von Golssenau), German author. Renn was born into a Saxon noble family. His father educated the royal Saxon princes. After his abitur, Renn began the typical officer’s career path. When war first broke out Renn welcomed it, serving as lieutenant of an infantry unit. Once positional warfare had commenced, however, his duties as regimental adjutant led him to doubt the moral and military meaning of warfare. Wounded and decorated several time…

Malvy, Louis-Jean

(370 words)

Author(s): Horne, John
Malvy, Louis-Jean (December 1, 1875, Figeac [Département Lot] – June 9, 1949, Paris), French politician. A radical socialist (and member of the French National Assembly from 1906), and a friend of Joseph Caillaux, Malvy was interior minister from the outbreak of the First World War until August 31, 1917, having already held that office in René Viviani’s prewar administration. He frequently demonstrated his trust in the patriotism of the labor movement, for example when, in August 1914, he refused …

Deployment Plans

(1,557 words)

Author(s): Bourne, John
Deployment Plans Deployment plans were plans for readying the mobilized units of a land army. To what degree the warring states of World War I actually sought after this conflict is one of the most intensively researched, and most sharply contended subjects of 20th century historiography. It is agreed, however, that most powers had worked out detailed mobilization and attack plans in case of war. These, they also realized to a greater or lesser degree when war broke out in August 1914. The war plans of the German Reich are customarily referred to as the Schlieffen Plan, even …

Spain

(827 words)

Author(s): Albes, Jens
Spain This one-time world power had sunk to the level of a second-rate power after the 17th century. During the World War, however, it grew to become the most important neutral state of Europe. Favorably situated geo-strategically – two continents plus two oceans meeting at the Straits of Gibraltar – Spain constituted a veritable island of neutrality, surrounded by the warring states of France with Morocco, England with Gibraltar, and after March 1916 Portugal as well. That caused this land on the Iberian Peninsula to unexpectedly become the object of international interest. Despite co…

Wilhelm II, German Kaiser

(1,402 words)

Author(s): C.G. Röhl, John
Wilhelm II, German Kaiser ( January 27, 1859, Berlin – June 4, 1941, Doorn, Netherlands), German Kaiser and King of Prussia. Kaiser Wilhelm was characterized by Germany’s enemies during the First World War as an aggressive warmonger, the personification of the German lust for conquest. Not only among the Allied populace, showered as it was with bloodthirsty caricatures and poisonous propaganda, but also in well-informed government circles (not least in the White House), the war was seen simply as “t…

Maximilian, Prince of Baden

(1,091 words)

Author(s): Schwabe, Klaus
Maximilian, Prince of Baden ( July 10, 1867, Baden-Baden – November 6, 1925, Salem; real name: Maximilian Alexander Friedrich Wilhelm; also known as Max von Baden), German Reich Chancellor. The son of Prince Wilhelm of Baden, and last German Reich Chancellor before the collapse of the Wilhelmine Reich, Max von Baden became heir apparent to his childless cousin, Grand Duke Friedrich II of Baden, in 1907. After attending humanistisches Gymnasium (high school emphasizing classical studies) and studying law, the prince took up an officer’s career, which he dropped ag…

Red Cross

(1,371 words)

Author(s): Mönch, Winfried
Red Cross The red cross on a white ground signifies neutrality in war, and thus protection. The Ottoman Empire introduced the alternative symbol of the red crescent on a white ground during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877/1878, and also used it during the First World War. The red crescent continues to be used by Muslim states in place of the red cross, in order to avoid using the Christian symbol. The associations that had assumed the voluntary, and most importantly unpaid, task of caring for the wounded in war, as well as preparing for that activity in peacetime, w…

Scheler, Max Ferdinand

(332 words)

Author(s): Hübinger, Gangolf
Scheler, Max Ferdinand (August 22, 1874, Munich – May 19, 1928, Frankfurt am Main), German philosopher, a pupil of Rudolf Eucken. After losing his unsalaried post at the University of Munich, Scheler lived in Göttingen and Berlin as a private scholar and freelance author. His book The Genius of War and the German War (1915) made him one of the protagonists of the “Ideas of 1914.” At the same time, as a convert to Catholicism, he undertook lecture tours on behalf of the Foreign Office in Switzerland, the Netherlands and Austria, with the aim of for…

War Credits

(773 words)

Author(s): Zilch, Reinhold
War Credits War credits were one of the crucial means of financing the war. They were raised in various forms, by various methods, and in various amounts, by all belligerent nations at home and sometimes abroad. War credits were necessary because some elements of normal state receipts fell drastically upon the outbreak of war, while the financial burden abruptly multiplied. War credits were raised at home in the form of short- or long-term government bonds, or by increasing the amount of paper cur…
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