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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…

Mobilization

(664 words)

Author(s): Thoss, Bruno
Mobilization The conversion of a nation’s military forces to a state of war, callled specifically “military mobilization,” and the adaptation of its government and industry to the demands of the war, known as “military mobilization.” Military mobilization for the World War had been planned in detail during peacetime. The preplanned procedures were intended to outfit military units with personnel, uniforms and equipment so as to bring them swiftly up to war strength. When the war began, frontier p…

Romania

(1,553 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Romania Having come into being in 1859 in the union of the two Danube principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, Romania endeavored to remain aloof from the great diplomatic crises and military upheavals that gripped the Balkans from the end of the 19th century. The country accordingly did not participate in the Balkan League comprising Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Montenegro, which declared war on the Ottoman Empire in 1912. However, when Bulgaria’s success in the Balkan War of 1912 appeared to …

Albert I, King of the Belgians

(707 words)

Author(s): van Ypersele, Laurence
Albert I, King of the Belgians (April 8, 1875, Brussels – February 17, 1934, accident near Namur), King of the Belgians. Albert was the youngest son of Philippe Count of Flanders and Maria of Hohenzollern. In 1900 he married Elisabeth of Bavaria. They had three children: Leopold, Charles, and Marie-José. In 1909 he inherited the Belgian throne from his uncle Leopold II, and in stark contrast to the latter, immediately enjoyed enormous popularity. Instilled with a sense of duty, Albert also turned out to be a man of sober and level-headed conduct. In political terms Albert strove to end the Catholic hegemony in Belgium. (The Catholic Party had been forming the government since 1884.) Directly following his accession he continued the army reform begun by Leopold II. But these belated measures remained inadequate: the Belgian Army, which had been formed subject to three separate defense laws, would prove badly prepared for the war in August of 1914.…

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, destruction or willful damage done to [. . .] historic monuments, works of art and science.” Works of art owned by the state had to be treated as private property, and all forms of confiscation were prohibited. No official organized looting campaigns are documented for the First World War. Although numerous architectural monuments, museums, libraries and archives were damaged or destroyed along with their contents in the fighting, apart from isola…

Polish Activism Abroad

(509 words)

Author(s): Hecker, Hans
Polish Activism Abroad …

Armed Forces (Dominions)

(3,147 words)

Author(s): Grey, Jeffrey
Armed Forces (Dominions) The settler colonies of the British Empire (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa) had already acquired the status of dominions prior to 1914, as part of a constitutional development towards full independence. Self-determination in domestic matters had already been granted to Canada in 1867, to Australia in 1901, to New Zealand in 1907, and to South Africa in 1910. The British declaration of war on Germany in 1914 was binding for all dominions, since London still controlled the foreig…

German East Africa

(848 words)

Author(s): Zimmerer, Jürgen
German East Africa Situated on the coast of the Indian Ocean, between Portuguese Mozambique to the south, British East Africa to the north, and the Belgian Congo to the west, German East Africa comprised the modern states of Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi. Declared a territory of the German Reich in 1885, with 7.5 million inhabitants the country was the most populous German colony, and at 995,000 km2 also the largest. Some 5,300 Europeans lived in the colony in 1914. The British government decided to capture German East Africa as early as August 1914. As with the other German colonies, strategic aims were paramount. Occupation of the ports of Tanga and Dar es Salaam, and the destruction of the wireless stations at Dar es Salaam, Bukoba, and Mwanza, would deny bases and communications to the German navy. Under the command of General Aitken, and with the aid of Indian troops, the British beg…

Wartime Coalitions

(2,117 words)

Author(s): Dülffer, Jost
Wartime Coalitions Before the World War, the European system of states had become strongly polarized. On the one side stood the Central Powers, namely the Dual Alliance of German Reich and Austria-Hungary that had been formed in 1879 as well as the (independently concluded) Triple Alliance of German Reich, Austria-Hungary, and Italy; however, the latter country declared itself neutral at the beginning of the war. On the other side stood the Entente Powers, among which France and Russia had been bound by a military alliance since 1893/1894, while France and Great Britain had concluded military agreements for the conduct of the war on land (1905) and at sea (1911). An A…

Bloch, Ivan Stanislavovich

(468 words)

Author(s): Dülffer, Jost
Bloch, Ivan Stanislavovich (August 24, 1836, Radom – January 6, 1902, Warsaw), Polish economist. Born into a poor family, the Warsaw-based banker applied himself to financing the construction of the Russian railway network between the Baltic and the Black Sea. He became very wealthy as a result and published several volumes on the general aspects of this activity. As a Jewish convert to Calvinism Bloch was an outspoken supporter of the Jewish community in the Tsarist Empire and wrote a number of bo…

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…

Naumann, Friedrich

(545 words)

Author(s): Theiner, Peter
Naumann, Friedrich (March 25, 1860, Störmthal [Leipzig] – August 24, 1919, Travemünde), German politician and publicist. After completing his theological studies, Naumann had many experiences at the Rauh Haus, a Protestant aid foundation for children and youth that influenced him regarding the social problems of his heavily industrialized era. He became a spokesman for the young Christian socialists at the Evangelical Social Congress of 1890, speaking out for a renewal of the institution of German Protestantism. Under the …

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 to the monarch, and his concept of dut…

War Guilt

(797 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
War Guilt The question of responsibility for the First World War was actually the subject of controversial discussion even before the outbreak of war, during the July Crisis of 1914, and was even answered propagandistically, to justify positions taken. Proclamations at the outset of the war, such as the “balcony speech” of Kaiser Wilhelm II on August 4 (“It is not the desire for conquest that drives us . . .”) or Poincaré’s “ Union sacrée” address on the same date (“In the war now breaking out, France has right on her side.”) always emphasize the defensive character of the war. The Kaiser’s assertion had the particular aim of mobilizing the masses “for the defense of the fatherland” in a war forced upon it, or undertaken in face of a manifest attack. …

Auxiliary Service Bill

(1,121 words)

Author(s): Mai, Gunther
Auxiliary Service Bill The Gesetz über den Vaterländischen Hilfsdienst, of December 5, 1916, imposed an obligation to work on all male Germans aged between 17 and 60 engaged in reserved occupations; the sectors affected included agriculture, health services, and public authorities. Originally demanded by the Operations Branch of the Supreme Army Command as an extension of conscription, the law was to provide for the employment of workers – including women – in armaments production (Hindenburg Program). As the Supreme Army Command did n…

Inflation

(1,440 words)

Author(s): Geyer, Martin H.
Inflation An increase in the money supply and a rise of the monetary demand that is not matched by a corresponding amount of goods. Until long after the end of the war, people were accustomed to speak of “rising prices” instead of inflation or devaluation. In current research, the “age of inflation” denotes the period extending from the war to the beginning of the currency stabilization in November 1923. It also alludes to the economic, political, social, and cultural changes that resulted from the currency devaluation as well as to the ways of coming to terms with inflation.…

Rumors

(703 words)

Author(s): Reimann, Aribert
Rumors In all societies involved in the World War, social culture was influenced by “informal communication” media. In addition to military letters, trench newspapers, and unofficial leaflets and pamphlets, a large number of rumors supplied the lack of social information once censorship had caused the public media to lose credibility. In many places these rumors contained could a mixture of propaganda, popular cultural mythology, visions driven by panic fear, and (though very rarely) genuine information. An initial …

Bliss, Tasker H.

(336 words)

Author(s): Showalter, Dennis E.
Bliss, Tasker H. (December 31, 1853, Lewisburg PA – November 9, 1930, Washington DC), American General Bliss was neither a fighting soldier, nor a theoretician. He owed his appointment to acting chief of staff of the United States Army in May 1917 to a successful career as a military civil servant. This conformed to the American model, which stressed the ground-laying and forward planning of military forces over their employment. Confirmed as chief of staff on September 22, 1917, Bliss proved his great understanding for the needs of a national mass army. Unexpectedly, he proved successful at working together with industrialists and politicians, as well as with both American and Allied officers. His marked diplomatic skills, so seldom encountered among higher American officers, led in November 1917 to his being named the United States delegate to the newly created Interallied Supreme War Council. Bliss requ…

Stöger-Steiner von Steinstätten, Rudolf Freiherr

(230 words)

Author(s): Jerabék, Rudolf
Stöger-Steiner von Steinstätten, Rudolf Freiherr (April 26, 1861, Pernegg [Styria] – May 12, 1921, Graz), Austrian general and politician, minister of war. Stöger-Steiner followed a career in the general staff, where he reached the rank of major-general fairly early (1910). After the outbreak of war he continued his rapid rise, thanks not least to notable successes as divisional commander on the Russian front (Galicia) in 1914/15, and his dogged persistence as commander of the XVth Corps with which h…
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