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Finland

(2,352 words)

Author(s): Wegner, Bernd
Finland This small country (1910: 2.94 million inhabitants) located at the northeastern periphery of Europe entered the First World War as an autonomous grand duchy within the Russian Empire, and emerged from it an independent republic and parliamentary democracy. The process was not foreseeable, and by no means straightforward. Apart from the final months of the civil war, the sea change in the country’s status was primarily the result of external events – October Revolution, Peace of Brest-Lito…

Gerlach, Hellmut von

(485 words)

Author(s): Holl, Karl
Gerlach, Hellmut von (February 2, 1866, Mönchmotzelnitz [near Wohlau, Silesia] – August 1, 1935, Paris), German journalist, jurist, and politician. As a member of the German Reichstag from 1903 to 1907 (in informal affiliation with the Freisinnige Vereinigung [Free-minded Union]), and since the turn of the century a collaborator and later editor in chief of the Sunday newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Gerlach went from being a follower of Adolf Stöcker to an advocate of a social-liberal and democratically oriented power state – a transformation that took place …

Berthelot, Henri-Mathias

(385 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
Berthelot, Henri-Mathias (December 7, 1861, Feurs, Département Loire – January 28, 1931, Paris), French general. After a career in the colonial army Berthelot attained the rank of brigadier general when he joined the army’s administrative service at the ministry of war as an adjutant to General Noël Édouard de Castelnau in December of 1913. With mobilization in 1914 Berthelot was named aide-major général (assistant chief of staff ) to General Joseph Joffre, with whom he developed a close working r…

Pétain, Henri Philippe

(572 words)

Author(s): Becker, Jean-Jacques
Pétain, Henri Philippe (April 24, 1856, Cauchy-à-la-Tour [Département Pas-de-Calais] – July 23, 1951, Port-Joinville [L’Île d’Yeu]), French marshal. Pétain graduated from the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint- Cyr (Specialized Military School of St. Cyr) in 1876. In 1914, he actually was a colonel facing the end of his career as a professional soldier. Moreover, his defensive orientation was not well suited to the then-prevailing offensive doctrine. Nevertheless he was swiftly promoted upon the outbreak of war. By August …

Carol I, King of Romania

(296 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Carol I, King of Romania (April 20, 1839, Sigmaringen – October 10, 1914, Peleş Castle near Sinaia), born Karl Eitel Friedrich Zephyrin of Hohenzollern, Prince of Romania (1866–1881), from 1881 King of Romania. After Alexandru Cuza, the first ruler of the Romanian state created from the united principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, was deposed in April 1866, the Romanian Parliament elected Carol, a member of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, as the new head of state. Despite the initial skepticism of Austria in particul…

War Widows

(505 words)

Author(s): Rouette, Susanne
War Widows Most war widows were young women with children. According to estimates based on postwar pension budgets in Germany in 1924 there were 372,000 women receiving widows’ pensions, after approximately 200,000 had ceased to be dependent on state support because of remarraige. In France the figureof dependent widows was more than 700,000, in Great Britain in 1925 there were 248,000 widows. Relief schemes for war widows were inadequate in all countries during the war. In Germany, the level of t…

Goltz, Baron Colmar von der

(454 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Goltz, Baron Colmar von der (August 12, 1843, Bielkenfeld near Labiau [modern Polessk in the Kaliningrad Oblast] – April 19, 1916, Baghdad), Prussian and Ottoman field marshal. After graduating from cadet school, Goltz joined the Fifth East Prussian Infantry Regiment as a lieutenant in 1861. Following active service in the wars of 1866 and 1870–1871, his subsequent career was characterized by extended teaching assignments both at the War School in Potsdam and at the Prussian Military Academy in Berli…

Interparty Committee of the Reichstag

(518 words)

Author(s): Mai, Gunther
Interparty Committee of the Reichstag A coalition committee formed by the political fractions of the Reichstag’s majority and uniting the German Central Party, the Progressive People’s Party, and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), and temporally also the National Liberal Party. The Interparty Committee of the Reichstag became an informal yet politically influential power factor that was acknowledged as such by the government. It was constituted on July 6, 1917, in the midst of the controve…

Constantine I, King of Greece

(389 words)

Author(s): Loulos, Konstantin
Constantine I, King of Greece (August 2, 1868, Athens – February 11, 1923, Palermo). The first-born son of George I and of Russian Grand-Duchess Olga, Constantine married Princess Sophia of Prussia in 1889 and thereby became a brother-in-law of Kaiser Wilhelm II, whom he personally admired along with his authoritarian rule. As the commander in chief of the Greek army, he had subsequently been partly responsible for a serious defeat during the Greco-Turkish War of 1896/1897. Suspected of nepotism, Con…

Robertson, Sir William R.

(333 words)

Author(s): Bourne, J.M.
Robertson, Sir William R. ( January 29, 1860, Welbourn [Lincolnshire] – February 12, 1933, London), British field marshal and chief of the General Staff. Robertson joined the army as a private in 1877, the first of many steps in his singular rise to field marshal. As a man of excellent intellect and initiative, Robertson was to become the first officer to have risen through the ranks and then passed the military academy. As a staff officer he would soon make his mark. He served as quartermaster gene…

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…

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 …

Social Injustice in the German Military

(663 words)

Author(s): Hettling, Manfred
Social Injustice in the German Military The beginning of the First World War encouraged the longing for a sense of community, and intensified aspirations for equality and equal rights within the German nation. While these expectations heightened political and national solidarity at the beginning of the war, in the long run they led to considerable difficulties within German society. As the war drew on, social inequality in particular became a serious challenge to political order in the German Reich. Significantly, the conflict first flared up within the military. Instances of socia…

Sexuality

(1,427 words)

Author(s): Sauerteig, Lutz
Sexuality The crisis-related effects of the World War also had consequences for the sexual life of human beings. The separation of (married and non-married) couples became a mass phenomenon of hitherto unknown extent. Extramarital sexuality and prostitution reached new dimensions. Even though the frequency with which soldiers sought extramarital contacts during the war cannot be assessed with precision, a number of indications suggest that soldiers no longer felt bound to middle-class sexual morals as a result of their direct experiencing of war and death. The debate over issue…

Caritas Association

(522 words)

Author(s): Haidl, Roland
Caritas Association In 1897 the various charitable services of the Catholic Church were gathered in the newly formed Caritas Association for Catholic Germany (since 1921: German Caritas Association). The principal purpose of the association was peacetime welfare work founded on Christian principles. During World War I the Caritas Association cared primarily for German prisoners of war and returning former prisoners. In cooperation with the Prussian War Ministry steps were taken to ensure that in the transit camps for returning prisoners…

Heroes’ Groves

(499 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Gerhard
Heroes’ Groves On December 8, 1914, an article by the head of the German Royal Horticultural College’s Department for Plant Production, Berliner Willy Lange, appeared in the entertainment section of the Täglichen Rundschau. In his article, “Oaks for Heroes and Lindens for Peace,” Lange proposed that every German community should establish heroes groves, planting there, in orderly rows, one oak tree for every fallen soldier from the community: “For each, who lost his life for Germany’s freedom; for the ideal of Germanness, with…

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…

Lost Generation

(423 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Lost Generation A collective expression in postwar Anglo-American culture denoting a group of American writers of the generation of World War I. The formula goes back to a remark of Gertrude Stein about Ernest Hemingway, “You are all a lost generation.” Hemingway himself used the expression as an epitaph in his novel The Sun also Rises (1926). The literary “lost generation” movement was characterized by a feeling of lost worth, existential disorientation, and opposition to postwar normality – particularly to the civilian middle-class attitude, and t…

Sabotage

(501 words)

Author(s): Bavendamm, Gundula
Sabotage (French: sabot, wooden shoe) This expression refers to actions committed with the intention of weakening the resolve of a state. Sabotage may be further categorized into acts perpetrated by members of foreign powers, such as agents and prisoners of war, versus acts by individuals against their own nation. In the World War, sabotage was mainly committed by foreign agents. As a rule intelligence agents were responsible for the planning and execution of sabotage acts. Included under the head…

War Toys

(531 words)

Author(s): Audoin-Rouzeau, Stéphane
War Toys The leisure activities of children changed during the First World War in conformity with national propaganda interests. Such pastimes had to adjust to the laws of the market as they applied to the youth culture in wartime. Children’s expectations (or the expectations of family circles) were to be met by the commercial production of toys, games, and children’s books. Long before the war of 1914, politics had found access to the nursery through the medium of toys in Europe. There was already a tradition of patriotic and military toys, and their pro…
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