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Schmidt von Knobelsdorf, Konstantin

(283 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Schmidt von Knobelsdorf, Konstantin (December 13, 1860, Frankfurt an der Oder – September 1, 1936, Frankfurt an der Oder), German general. Schmidt joined the army in 1878. After attending the Staff College he held various posts in the General Staff and in the army, including chief of staff of the Xth Army Corps (1904–1908) and commander of the 4th Infantry Guards Regiment (1908–1911). In 1911 Schmidt was promoted to major-general, and a year later appointed chief quartermaster. At the outbreak of wa…

Mobile Warfare

(1,059 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Mobile Warfare A form of warfare which seeks to bring about a military decision through the tactical movement of forces for the purpose of achieving advantageous territorial concentrations without having to rely on fortified positions at all times. At the beginning of the war in 1914 the military doctrines and operational plans of all belligerent powers were based on mobile warfare. In the first instance these offensive operations were motivated by the strategic and economic objective of ensuring …

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…

Marwitz, Georg von der

(292 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Marwitz, Georg von der ( July 3, 1856, Klein Nossin [Kreis Stolp] – October 28, 1929, Wundichow [Kreis Stolp]), German general. Marwitz joined the 2nd Garde-Ulan Regiment in 1875. He began his career in the Guards Cavalry and later served in the General Staff. He was appointed major in 1894, colonel in 1904, major-general in 1908, lieutenant general as well as commander of the 2nd Division in 1911, and inspector general of the cavalry in 1913. Entrusted with the task of reconnoitering and deceiving …

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…

Nivelle Offensive

(485 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Nivelle Offensive In the winter of 1916–1917, the new French commander in chief, Georges Robert Nivelle, began to draw up plans for a large-scale spring offensive in Artois, and in the Aisne and Champagne regions. It involved simultaneous operations by British and French forces on virtually the entire length of the German salient between Arras and Reims. Nivelle based his strategy for the most part on the lessons learned at Verdun in the autumn of 1916. He hoped to avert the specter of attrition w…

War Chronicles

(301 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
War Chronicles The war chronicles were the expression of a changed public awareness of journalism. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870/1871 had already led to a serious boom of popular military literature. Military topics gained a wider appeal in the German Reich due the growing agitation of the colonial unions, navy leagues, and defense associations since the turn of the century. The first war chronicles were printed at the beginning of the World War, usually by book publishers (Beck, Franck, Insel) …

Army Corps Districts

(411 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Army Corps Districts When they mobilized, the twenty-five active army corps each left a deputy commanding general behind on the home front. Upon the outbreak of war, the senior deputy commanding general was assigned as the military commandant with full power in his territory (military district), answerable exclusively to the Kaiser. The powers and assigned duties of the deputy commanding general grew considerably in the course of the war. For example, the deputy commanding generals of the XIIIth Ro…

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…

Chemin des Dames

(350 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Chemin des Dames A prominent ridge running north of the River Aisne between Vailly and Craonne (département Aisne) with a paved promenade dating from the 18th century. German troops held the Chemin des Dames since the start of trench warfare and had taken up defensive positions along the steep slopes and in the numerous caves underlying the ridge. It was not until the Nivelle Offensive was launched in 1917 that the Chemin des Dames became a military focal point. From the middle of April the French Sixth Army commanded by …

Montenegro

(459 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Montenegro The smallest of the Balkan states, Montenegro was strategically defined by its borders with Austria-Hungary and Serbia. To the south the kingdom bordered Albania, from which it had won territory populated by Albanians during the Second Balkan War. Since the Montenegrin populace itself was ethnically mainly Serbian, during the July Crisis of 1914 their support for their Serbian neighbors arose. The land had been ruled since 1860 by Nikola Petrović I, who had crowned himself king in 1910…

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 Department IIIb…

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 in Washington, Johann Heinrich Graf von Bernstorff, to be forwarded to the German ambassador in Mexico, Heinrich von Eckardt. The telegram instructed Eckardt to propose to the Mexican government an alliance against the United States. In re…

Stein, Hermann von

(270 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Stein, Hermann von (September 13, 1854, Wedderstedt – May 26, 1927, Lehnin), German general and politician and minister of war. The son of a Protestant clergyman, he joined the army in 1873 as standard-bearer. In 1875 he became a lieutenant and in 1890 a captain. He served in field artillery units and held post on the general staff. In 1903 Stein was appointed as chief of the deployment planning section. In 1905 he was promoted to colonel and four years later became chief quartermaster. In 1912 he …

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…

Giolitti, Giovanni

(430 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Giolitti, Giovanni (October 27, 1842, Mondovì [Piedmont] – July 17, 1928, Cavour [Turin]), Italian politician who served as prime minister. One of the most influential Italian politicians of the prewar period, the liberal Giolitti practiced Realpolitik with a bureaucratic approach. He served as prime minister for five separate terms: 1892–1893, 1903–1905, 1906–1909, 1911–1914, and then 1920–1921. Indeed, the years from the turn of the century to 1914 are known in Italy as the “Giolitti Era.” During this period Giolitti ushered in…

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 very beginning of positional warfare in 1914, the Saint-Mihiel Salient extended from Combres to St. Mihiel, then from there to Pont-à-Mousson. It interrupted the French communication lines running from the south toward Verdun and posed the constant threat of a flanking attack on the fortresses. …

Arz von Straussenburg, Baron Artur

(338 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Arz von Straussenburg, Baron Artur (June 16, 1857, Hermannstadt, modern Sibiu in Transylvania – July 1, 1935, Budapest), Austro-Hungarian army general and chief of the General Staff. A member of the Transylvanian Saxon ethnic community, Arz joined the 23rd Feldjäger (Rifle) Battalion in 1877 for one year of voluntary military service. After attending the Kriegsschule (General Staff College) from 1885 to 1887, he was assigned to the General Staff and advanced his career mainly by serving with field units. Within months of attaining th…
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