Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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July Crisis

(720 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
July Crisis Few topics from the history of the First World War have been discussed more intensively by historians and in the public arena than the July Crisis of 1914. Into the 1930s in Germany, the foremost question was that of the justice of the accusation of “war guilt” as expressed in Article 231 of the Versailles Treaty. In this case the predominant opinion initially, and even after the Second World War, was that all the powers “stumbled” into war. In the 1960s, Fritz Fischer brought to the c…

Gallieni, Joseph-Simon

(365 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
Gallieni, Joseph-Simon (April 24, 1849, Saint-Béat [Haute-Garonne] – May 27, 1916, Versailles), French general and politician. Gallieni already had a long and impressive military career behind him when the First World War began. After taking part in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871, he soon became probably France’s most celebrated colonial soldier. He was appointed commander in chief in French Sudan in 1886. In 1896 he was employed in the pacification of Madagascar. Back in France, Brigadier G…

Kerensky Offensive

(725 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
Kerensky Offensive Contrary to the expectations and hopes of the Central Powers, the Russian February Revolution initially brought a considerable improvement of Russia’s political and military fighting morale. Alexander Kerensky, minister of war from May 19, 1917, onward, followed the motto that Russia was by and large in favor of a “peace without annexations and contributions,” but under certain circumstances also ready to fight for a “peace without defeat.” In July 1917, Kerensky toured the fron…

Lyautey, Louis Hubert Gonzalve

(283 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
Lyautey, Louis Hubert Gonzalve (November 17, 1854, Nancy – July 21, 1934, Thorey [Département Meurthe-et-Moselle]), French general and politician (minister of war). A cavalry officer serving at the Saint-Cyr military academy from 1873, Lyautey was politically to the right, but always remained alive to social questions. In the 1890s he produced proposals for reforming the social role of army officers. He was frequently employed in the French colonies in the 1890s, as well as in Algeria. From 1912 he …

Painlevé, Paul

(466 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
Painlevé, Paul (December 5, 1863, Paris – October 29, 1933, Paris), French politician (minister for war, prime minister). Painlevé was not only a politically prominent personality, twice a prime minister and later the minister for war, but also a renowned mathematician. A professor of mathematics in Lille since 1887, Painlevé first came to the attention of the public when in 1890, he received the Grand Prix des Sciences Mathématiques (‘Grand Prize in Mathematical Sciences’) of the Académie Française. His primary research area was related to friction energy. He w…

National Socialism

(2,472 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
National Socialism The first industrialized mass war had considerable effects on political and social relationships, and on the mentality of people. Italian Fascism and German National Socialism owe their particular characteristics and their legitimization to the First World War, described by Eric J. Hobsbawm as a “machine for brutalizing the world.” By his own testimony, Hitler himself was a “son of the war.” In repeated references to the war in Mein Kampf and in numerous statements and documented conversations ( Hitler’s Table Talks), Hitler returned time and again to his p…

January Strikes

(1,075 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
January Strikes Between January 28 and February 2, 1918, there arose in Berlin and other industrial and economic centers (Kiel, Hamburg, and the Rhine-Westphalia industrial area) mass protests and strike actions, in which between 200,000 and 500,000 workers took part. In contrast with the 1917 strikes, which may be understood primarily as social protest, the January Strikes had to a great extent a direct political motive. In light of the Soviet government’s offer of peace, and the brutally extreme claims for annexation of the German S…

Sarrail, Maurice

(322 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
Sarrail, Maurice (April 6, 1856, Carcassonne – March 23, 1929, Paris), French general. All his life Sarrail was a politically engaged soldier, close to the republican left. He was involved in the “republicanization of the army” after the Dreyfus affair. During the years after 1905, Sarrail was initially commandant of the Saint-Maixent military academy and from 1907 until 1911, head of the infantry department at the Ministry of War. At the beginning of the First World War he was given command of th…

Poincaré, Raymond

(994 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
Poincaré, Raymond (August 20, 1860, Bar-le-Duc [Département Meuse] – October 15, 1934, Paris), French politician, state president. Poincaré came from a prosperous French provincial bourgeois family. Despite a political career that took place predominantly in Paris, his home town of Bar-le-Duc (capital of the Meuse Department) remained for him a haven of social and political retreat. Poincaré became one of the defining personalities of moderate republicanism in France. A lawyer by profession, he wa…

“Stab-in-the-Back” Legend (Dolchstosslegende)

(930 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
“Stab-in-the-Back” Legend ( Dolchstosslegende) The claim that Germany’s military defeat in 1918 was not, or not primarily, to be ascribed to the failure of the military leadership, or the exhaustion of the soldiers, but to failure or betrayal on the part of particular persons or groups on the home front. There were a number of quite different variants of the legend. Thus, for example, the inadequacy of supply in the battles for Verdun in 1916 was already referred to in military circles as a Dolchstoss. As early as July 1917, General von Seeckt gave voice to the typical accusati…

Encirclement Concept

(477 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
Encirclement Concept The concept of encirclement was coined, or rather applied to the situation in international relations, by Reich Chancellor Bülow in a speech in the Reichstag on November 14, 1906. Reacting to the entente that had just been concluded between England and France, Bülow warned that the German Reich was being encircled “like the beast in the forest.” It is probable that no political conception received such wide currency in prewar Germany as that of encirclement. The mantra circulated not only among nationalists, but also in that portion…

Wilson, Woodrow

(808 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
Wilson, Woodrow (August 1856, Staunton – February 3, 1924, Washington DC), President of the United States. Nothing in Wilson’s career prepared him for leading the United States into an international political conflict. Born the son of a Presbyterian minister in Virginia, Wilson internalized the Protestant Ethic early. He felt called to commit himself to politics. Wilson was a professor of Political Science at Princeton University when nominated to become the university’s president in 1902. This sm…