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Somme

(2,475 words)

Author(s): Simkins, Peter
Somme River in northern France. The battle that took place between July 1 and November 25, 1916, in the French region of Picardy was the largest Franco-British offensive of that year. It was also the first major offensive of the British volunteer army (Kitchener’s Army) and the first battle in which tanks were used. In early December 1915, at a conference held in Chantilly, the representatives of the Allied Powers agreed to launch a general offensive in the following year. This coordinated action was meant to deprive the Central Powers of the abili…

Brittain, Vera

(232 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Brittain, Vera (December 29, 1893, Newcastle-under-Lyme – March 29, 1970, London), English writer. Brittain became particularly well-known through her memoir Testament of Youth (1933), which was based on her correspondence with her younger brother Edward, her fiancé Roland Leighton and other friends, as well as her own diaries from the time of the First World War. Already a student at Somerville College (Oxford) at the beginning of the war, she decided to go to France, Malta, and London first to work as a Voluntary A…

Entente Cordiale

(491 words)

Author(s): Kröger, Martin
Entente Cordiale Cordial understanding. Agreement of April 8, 1904, between Great Britain and France, settling a number of colonial differences. The Entente cordiale represented the culmination of the policy of French Foreign Minister Delcassé. He saw an understanding with Great Britain as the best means to make France secure against the German Reich. For such an understanding to come about, the antagonism between France and Britain outside Europe had to be overcome. The confrontation at Fashoda in the Sudan in 1898 …

Michael Offensive

(1,595 words)

Author(s): Kitchen, Martin
Michael Offensive Official title for the German offensive conducted in March 1918, also called the Great Battle in France. Plans for the offensive had begun in October 1917, with the recommendations of Von Ludendorff ’s newly appointed operations chief Major Wetzell. The new chief called for a series of exploratory attacks in Flanders. These attacks were intended to discover any weaknesses in the British defenses, as suitable sites for a major offensive. Army Group Crown Prince was deployed in the terrain between…

March, Peyton Conway

(449 words)

Author(s): Showalter, Dennis E.
March, Peyton Conway (December 27, 1864, Easton PA – April 13, 1955, Washington DC), United States Army chief of staff. March was a talented and ambitious artillery specialist. Owing to his many and varied battlefield and staff postings, he was preceded by an outstanding reputation. The commander in chief of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF), General Pershing, accordingly chose him in 1917 to command first a brigade of artillery, and then all the AEF’s artillery. March was seen as overbearing …

Colored Troops

(587 words)

Author(s): Koller, Christian
Colored Troops German war propaganda described the nonwhite colonial troops employed by the Entente Powers in the First World War in general terms as “colored auxiliaries.” The very use of such units in Europe caused a considerable sensation. All in all, some 485,000 nonwhite soldiers from the French colonies and 160,000 from the British colonies fought in the ranks of the Entente Powers in the European theater. Important contingents came from Algeria (173,000), India (153,000), French West Africa…

Espionage

(613 words)

Author(s): Bavendamm, Gundula
Espionage Clandestine gathering of information about the military opponent, usually through agents acting on behalf of intelligence services. In times of war espionage is regulated under international law. Articles 29 and 30 of the Annex to the Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907) recognized espionage as a legitimate means of warfare and required that a spy caught in the act must not be punished without a proper trial. In World War I the intelligence services of all belligerent nations recruited agents for o…

Verdun

(2,073 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
Verdun A French fortress that was continually expanded since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/1871. With its 20 forts and 40 intermediate redoubts, Verdun was without any doubt the strongest defense work in France. The principal forts in the vicinity of Verdun included Douaumont, Vaux, Souville, and Tavannes. Verdun was considered to be practically impregnable. During the German advance of August 1914, the German Fifth Army (under Crown Prince Wilhelm of Prussia) operated in the sector before Verd…

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 …

Versailles, Treaty of

(1,736 words)

Author(s): Schwabe, Klaus
Versailles, Treaty of The Versailles Treaty was negotiated and signed by the victors and the defeated Germany in the Parisian suburb of Versailles in May/June 1919. On May 7 at the Trianon Palace, the victorious powers, represented by Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, and Georges Clemenceau, David Lloyd George, and Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, the prime ministers of Great Britain, France, and Italy, together with representatives of Germany’s other opponents in the war, presented a draft…

Einem, Karl von

(339 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Einem, Karl von (January 1, 1853, Herzberg [Harz] – April 7, 1934, Mülheim an der Ruhr), German colonel general. Educated in the cadet corps, in 1870 Einem joined the 14th regiment of Uhlans, with whom he took part in the war against France. Never having attended military academy, Einem was ordered to the general staff while still a first lieutenant. In 1898 he was transferred as a colonel to the Prussian ministry of war (where he was director of the general war department from 1900). Lieutenant Ge…

Barbusse, Henri

(571 words)

Author(s): Beaupré, Nicolas
Barbusse, Henri (March 17, 1872, Asnières near Paris – August 30, 1935, Moscow), French writer. Barbusse is undoubtedly one of France’s most famous war novelists. He moreover embodied the type of the left-wing intellectual wartime activist. His 1916 war novel Le Feu (English: Under Fire, 1917 and 2003) quickly earned him recognition in and outside of France. Henri Barbusse, 1915. Barbusse was a member of the intellectual bourgeoisie. In 1898 he married Helyonne, daughter of the influential poet Catulle Mendès. At that time he was primarily writing poetry…

Greece

(1,698 words)

Author(s): Loulos, Konstantin
Greece While the real tragedy of the World War played out on Europe’s theaters of war, Greece remained neutral until 1917. This neutrality was above all benevolent toward the Central Powers – at least, as far as the head of state, King Constantine, was concerned. Since the monarch admired his brother-in-law Kaiser Wilhelm II as the personification of the German martial spirit, he refused to march off to war against the Central Powers. Thereupon, Greek Premier Eleftherios Venizelos advocated stron…

Scapa Flow

(665 words)

Author(s): Krüger, Friederike
Scapa Flow A body of water in the Scottish Orkney Islands. On June 21, 1919, at 11 in the morning, the German Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter issued the order to scuttle the 16 battleships, eight cruisers, and 50 destroyers and torpedo boats lying in Scapa Flow. Within a few hours 64 ships, totaling about 400,000 tons, were destroyed, eight further vessels having been beached in time by the British. Nine Germans were shot and killed and nine wounded by Royal Navy guards in connection with the scutt…

Colonial War

(1,529 words)

Author(s): Zimmerer, Jürgen
Colonial War The war against the German colonies of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, led by the forces of Japan, Great Britain, France, Belgium, and their respective colonies. The spread of the war to the colonies was undertaken by Great Britain and France, primarily for strategic reasons. By occupying the German colonies, their respective ports would be closed to the German navy. Also, the German worldwide communications network, which depended upon the wireless stations erected there, would be dis…

Army Postal Service

(989 words)

Author(s): Latzel, Klaus
Army Postal Service Besides the arrangements made by civil and military authorities to provide for the transmission of mail between the battlefront and home, as well as within the army, the term also applies to the various items of mail themselves: postcards, letters, packets, parcels, newspapers, and other printed material, and not least the written exchange of information between military command posts and headquarters. In the age of modern mass armies, the army postal service was especially important. The advent of total war required not only comprehensiv…

Armed Forces (France)

(2,071 words)

Author(s): Jauffret, Jean-Charles
Armed Forces (France) During the World War the French armed forces were faced with an extraordinary organizational challenge. Including foreign legionaries and the colonial troops, there were a total 8.7 million men assembled under arms. Until General Joffre was replaced as commander-in-chief in December 1916, Grand Quartier Général (General Staff, GQG) held the supreme command. According to the decree of December 2, 1913, in time of war its commander in chief would maintain supreme command of the zone des armées (militarized zone), while the minister of war would be respo…

Rolland, Romain

(602 words)

Author(s): Beaupré, Nicolas
Rolland, Romain ( January 29, 1866, Clamecy [département Nièvre] – December 30, 1944, Vézelay [Département Nièvre]), French writer. Rolland was born in Burgundy to a republican-minded solicitor’s family. In 1886 he passed the entrance examination for the École Normale Supérieure, where he graduated in history and geography. In 1889 he received a grant to attend the École Française in Rome. During his two-year stay in Rome, he made the acquaintance of Malwida von Meysenburg, who introduced him to G…

Peace Movements

(1,734 words)

Author(s): Holl, Karl
Peace Movements Social and political movements, at first based in the middle class, appearing from the early 19th century. “Pacifism” was organized in the form of peace societies and unions on national and local levels. In Germany the Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft, DFG (German Peace Society), was founded in 1892. Their aim was cooperation with peace organizations in other countries, at first by means of international peace congresses, and from the end of the 19th century through the International Peace Office in Bern. The expectation of so-called organized pacifism, accordin…

War Welfare Office

(930 words)

Author(s): Verhey, Jeffrey
War Welfare Office Wide sections of the population that had never before been counted among the recipients of poor relief turned for help from the government care services. Many working women were dismissed from their jobs at the beginning of the war. These were joined by the families of soldiers and the surviving dependents of the fallen. The existing statutes in Germany, France, and Great Britain failed to fully address the real needs of those made poor by the war circumstances. The laws passed by the combatant nations early in the war still did not address the problem adequately. Wartime w…
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