Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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Hindenburg, Paul von Beneckendorff und von

(1,692 words)

Author(s): Chickering, Roger
Hindenburg, Paul von Beneckendorff und von (October 2, 1847, Posen – August 2, 1934, Neudeck [West Prussia]), German field marshal (chief of the field army). Hindenburg’s military career began with his entry into the military academy at Wahlstatt in Silesia at the age of 12. He was a product of the army of King Wilhelm I of Prussia and his socialization and intellectual development took place within the narrow confines of that institution. Hindenburg’s political loyalties were unconditionally linked t…

Expressionism

(436 words)

Author(s): Jürgens-Kirchhoff, Annegret
Expressionism The dominant modernist movement in German literature and art prior to the First World War (with the artistic groups Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter). Although the German Expressionists had formulated their artistic manifesto in critical opposition to Wilhelmine society, the majority of them celebrated the outbreak of the First World War. They shared the commonly felt fervor of August 1914, hoping that the war would “cleanse the Augean stable of old Europe” (Franz Marc). Regardless of political and economic…

Enver Pasha, Ismail

(471 words)

Author(s): Zürcher, Eric N.
Enver Pasha, Ismail (Ismail Enver Efendi; November 22, 1881, Constantinople – August 4, 1922, near Baljuvon [Tajikistan]), Ottoman general and politician (war minister). Enver Pasha’s family was from Macedonia. His father was a minor official. Enver attended various military academies and in 1902 graduated from the general staff academy in Constantinople. He was one of the initiators of the Young Turks’ coup in January 1913. He was finally appointed minister of war in January 1914, and in that posi…

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…

Looted Art

(1,176 words)

Author(s): Kott, Christina
Looted Art Originally a term for cultural assets taken away by the enemy in times of war, the looting of art today denotes an illegal act under international law that is perpetrated by belligerent powers and involves the theft of artistic and cultural items in the course of military operations or during occupation. The protection of cultural property had since the end of the 19th century, if not earlier, been one of the fundamental tenets of international law: in particular Article 56 of the Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907) banned “[a]ll seizure of, …

Last Days of Mankind ( Die Letzten Tage der Menschheit )

(575 words)

Author(s): Pfäfflin, Friedrich
Last Days of Mankind ( Die Letzten Tage der Menschheit ) A drama by Karl Kraus. This writer believes that this play was written as “military theater.” This stage work first appeared in book form in May 1922, having previously been printed in four special editions of the Magazine Die Fackel (1918/1919). The work was reprinted in December 1922 and in 1926, on each occasion in revised form, for a total printing of 23,000 copies. The play has remained the most reprinted work of the Austrian writer Karl Kraus (1874–1936). This antiwar book documents in dialogue form what “they” – the wage…

Botha, Louis

(310 words)

Author(s): Zimmerer, Jürgen
Botha, Louis (September 27, 1862, Greytown, Natal – August 27, 1919, Rusthof, Pretoria), South African general and politician. Botha was perhaps the most gifted member of the Boer military and one of the leading politicians of South Africa. He demonstrated his superior tactical skills as a general in the Boer War (1899–1902). Serving as prime minister of the Transvaal from 1907, Botha worked towards reconciling the Boers and the British. From 1910 he headed the government of the newly established …

War Aims

(1,667 words)

Author(s): Mommsen, Wolfgang J.
War Aims Prior to the outbreak of the war, none of the European Powers had pursued concrete territorial annexation aims that might have significantly influenced their decision to take up arms. Soon after the beginning of the war, however, the issue of war aims began to be debated in all countries, at first mostly behind closed doors. The British foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey was able to prevent a public discussion of British war aims. Great Britain was quite resolute in its demand that the ind…

Cavalry

(738 words)

Author(s): Gross, Gerhard P.
Cavalry The combat arm of the land forces that fought primarily on horseback. The increased firepower of the infantry had since the middle of the 19th century forced the cavalry into playing a diminished supporting role in military campaigns. Paradoxically, the size of the cavalry forces maintained by the European Powers rose continually throughout the period. At the beginning of the 20th century, nearly all states uniformly modified the tactics and weapons of their mounted troops, creating a largely standar…

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…

Freud, Sigmund

(626 words)

Author(s): Ulrich, Bernd
Freud, Sigmund (May 6, 1856, Freiberg [now Přibor, Czech Republic] – September 9, 1939, London), Austrian neurologist, founder of psychoanalysis. Freud’s attitude to the World War was at first little different from that of most intellectuals at that time. Freud is recorded as having said in the first phase of the war that his “whole libido” belonged to Austria-Hungary (1915). When this position changed, turning into one critical of the war, is disputed. In relation to fear of war and “infringement…

Eastern Command

(721 words)

Author(s): Liulevicius, Vejas Gabriel
Eastern Command A military state established by German occupation forces under the auspices of General Erich Ludendorff in Russian Empire territory. Between 1915 and 1918, Eastern Command included what are now the countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and parts of Belarus. The full title of Eastern Command was “Supreme Command of All German Forces in the East,” entrusted since November 1914 to Field Marshal von Hindenburg. When Hindenburg and his Chief of Staff Ludendorff assumed command of the…

The Ukraine

(688 words)

Author(s): Lindemann, Mechthild
The Ukraine Borderland at the edge of the steppes, north of the Black Sea and east of the Carpathian Mountains. Until the 17th century the Western Ukraine (Galicia) had belonged to the Polish crown; after 1772 it belonged to Austria. The Eastern Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire. The commencement of the war in 1914 made the Ukrainian Question into an international issue. However, it also placed the Ukraine between war fronts. On August 1, 1914, the All-Party Supreme Ukrainian Council pledged …

Mata Hari

(314 words)

Author(s): Bavendamm, Gundula
Mata Hari (August 7, 1876, Leeuwarden – October 15, 1917, Vincennes [executed]; real name Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod, born Zelle), Dutch dancer and spy. This daughter of a hat-maker made her living as a dancer, occasional prostitute, and double agent. Mata Hari remains one of the best-known figures in the history of 20th-century espionage. After a failed marriage to a Dutch colonial officer (1895–1902) she moved to Paris. Between 1905 and 1913 she was the talk of several European cities with he…

Photography

(638 words)

Author(s): Hüppauf, Bernd
Photography While photographic cameras had already been used in the Crimean War, and not long afterwards in the American Civil War, and albums of war photographs had been made commercially available, war was first comprehensively portrayed in photographs from 1914 onwards. Military photography also came into its own with the general use of photographic reconnaissance. Indeed, photography fundamentally altered the image of war. In all the belligerent states large and sometimes widely dispersed hoa…

War Atrocities

(955 words)

Author(s): Kramer, Alan
War Atrocities War atrocities may either be in direct violation of international law or contravene the generally accepted conventions of war, or else be conform to international law but nevertheless condemnable. The basic premise lies in the particular atrocity of the type of warfare or in the choice of victims. When defenseless people deliberately become the target of acts of war (civilians, shipwrecked persons, captured or wounded soldiers), the afflicted side perceives such acts as war atrociti…

Balfour Declaration

(486 words)

Author(s): Sieg, Ulrich
Balfour Declaration Statement by the British government made in a letter from the Foreign Secretary Arthur J. Balfour to Lord Lionel Rothschild on November 2, 1917, expressing support for the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” The Manchester-based British Palestine Committee had campaigned for the Declaration. The most prominent advocate was Chaim Weizmann, an advisor to the British government, who enjoyed good contacts with Lord Balfour and the (then) Chancello…

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…

Averescu, Alexandru

(351 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Averescu, Alexandru (April 9, 1859, Izmail – October 3, 1938, Bucharest), Romanian field marshal and politician. Averescu’s military career began in 1877 and led him to join the General Staff of the Romanian Army in 1888. As chief of the General Staff during the Second Balkan War, Averescu acquired a considerable military reputation and a far-reaching popularity within Romanian society. Following Romania’s entry into the First World War in 1916, the army was forced to suffer a series of defeats, c…
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