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Giolitti, Giovanni

(430 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Giolitti, Giovanni (October 27, 1842, Mondovì [Piedmont] – July 17, 1928, Cavour [Turin]), Italian politician who served as prime minister. One of the most influential Italian politicians of the prewar period, the liberal Giolitti practiced Realpolitik with a bureaucratic approach. He served as prime minister for five separate terms: 1892–1893, 1903–1905, 1906–1909, 1911–1914, and then 1920–1921. Indeed, the years from the turn of the century to 1914 are known in Italy as the “Giolitti Era.” During this period Giolitti ushered in…

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…

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…

Military Historiography, Official German

(1,063 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Military Historiography, Official German Immediately after the end of the war, nearly all the states that had participated in the war began elaborating an official military historiography. These early efforts to produce standard official publications were not only a consequence of historical interest or of the wish to honor the achievements of one’s respective army, but should also be viewed in the light of the international debate on war guilt, which began with the Treaty of Versailles. Hence, the …

Army Corps Districts

(411 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Army Corps Districts When they mobilized, the twenty-five active army corps each left a deputy commanding general behind on the home front. Upon the outbreak of war, the senior deputy commanding general was assigned as the military commandant with full power in his territory (military district), answerable exclusively to the Kaiser. The powers and assigned duties of the deputy commanding general grew considerably in the course of the war. For example, the deputy commanding generals of the XIIIth Ro…

War Chronicles

(301 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
War Chronicles The war chronicles were the expression of a changed public awareness of journalism. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870/1871 had already led to a serious boom of popular military literature. Military topics gained a wider appeal in the German Reich due the growing agitation of the colonial unions, navy leagues, and defense associations since the turn of the century. The first war chronicles were printed at the beginning of the World War, usually by book publishers (Beck, Franck, Insel) …

Frederick Augustus III, King of Saxony

(334 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Frederick Augustus III, King of Saxony (May 25, 1865, Dresden – February 18, 1932, Sibyllenort, district of Oels). After studying in Strasbourg and Leipzig and completing his princely military training, Frederick attained the rank of lieutenant general in 1898. In 1902 the crown prince was named commanding general of XIIth (Saxon) Army Corps. Following the death of his father George he was crowned King of Saxony on October 15, 1904. A major general in 1909, he became a Prussian field marshal in 1912. …

Zimmermann Telegram

(358 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Zimmermann Telegram On January 16, 1917, after the German government’s decision to resume unrestricted submarine warfare (from February 1, 1917), Arthur Zimmermann, secretary of state at the German foreign ministry, sent a coded telegram to the German ambassador in Washington, Johann Heinrich Graf von Bernstorff, to be forwarded to the German ambassador in Mexico, Heinrich von Eckardt. The telegram instructed Eckardt to propose to the Mexican government an alliance against the United States. In re…

Hutier, Oskar von

(357 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Hutier, Oskar von (August 27, 1857, Erfurt – December 5, 1934, Berlin), German general. Hutier was educated in a cadet school. He joined the Infantry Regiment No. 88 as a lieutenant in 1875. After a successful career in headquarters and field units, Hutier was appointed major-general in 1910 and chief quartermaster of the Great General Staff one year later. In 1912, having risen to the rank of lieutenant-general he assumed command of the 1st Guards Division, with which he went to war in 1914. As pa…

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…

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…

Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria

(316 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Rupprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria (March 18, 1869, Munich – August 2, 1955, Schloss Leutstetten, Bavaria), Crown Prince of Bavaria, German Field Marshal. In 1886 he entered the Bavarian infantry regiment as a lieutenant. He then studied in Munich and Berlin, under Count Hertling and Hans Delbrück among others. His further military training took place according to the aristocratic norms. In 1899 he was made colonel and in 1906, general of infantry and commander of the Ist Bavarian Army Corps. In 1913…

Montenegro

(459 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Montenegro The smallest of the Balkan states, Montenegro was strategically defined by its borders with Austria-Hungary and Serbia. To the south the kingdom bordered Albania, from which it had won territory populated by Albanians during the Second Balkan War. Since the Montenegrin populace itself was ethnically mainly Serbian, during the July Crisis of 1914 their support for their Serbian neighbors arose. The land had been ruled since 1860 by Nikola Petrović I, who had crowned himself king in 1910…

Michaelis, Georg

(639 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Michaelis, Georg (September 8, 1857, Haynau [Silesia] – July 24, 1936, Bad Saarow [district Fürstenwalde]), German politician (chancellor of the Reich and Prussian prime minister). As a doctor of law, the young Michaelis rapidly ascended the steps of the Prussian administrative bureaucracy. Having officiated as deputy district administrator in the Lower Silesian city of Liegnitz (current Legnica) from 1902 to 1909, he was then appointed undersecretary of state in the Prussian Treasury Department. Following the outbreak of the war, he became chairman of the board of d…

Headquarters

(1,417 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Headquarters Command centers for the supreme military, sometimes also political, leadership set up in the field for the duration of the war. Composition, location, and function of such a headquarters depended on the constitutional position of the supreme military command of each belligerent and the demands of modern mass and coalition warfare. – By far the most comprehensive headquarters at the outbreak of the war was the German “Great Headquarters.” Aside from the German Emperor as the nominal c…

Meuse-Argonne Offensive

(571 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Meuse-Argonne Offensive As part of the final Allied offensive on the Western Front the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) had been charged in September of 1918 with launching an assault against the sector of the front held by the German Fifth Army (Georg von der Marwitz) between the Argonne Forest and the River Meuse, and to advance in the general direction of Mézières. Heading the AEF was General John Pershing, who also took command of the newly formed United States First Army. After completing t…

Null-Acht-Fünfzehn (Maxim Machine Gun)

(269 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Null-Acht-Fünfzehn (Maxim Machine Gun) The designation for the new Maxim machine gun, the Model 8, implemented by the German Army beginning in 1915. On this redesigned Maxim gun, the heavy carriage of older models was replaced by a bipod. It was lighter, and equipped for the first time with a shoulder stock as well as a pistol grip. Great quantities of the Model 8 were produced under very strict fabrication tolerances that resulted in exceptional durability, even when subjected to extreme mechanical stresses. It therefore comes as no surprise that in German soldiers’ slang, Null-Acht-Fün…

Instruction in Patriotic Values (German)

(340 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Instruction in Patriotic Values (German) The need for a methodical, propagandistic strengthening of the army’s and population’s will to hold out had thrust itself upon the German government since the aggravation of the military and economic situation in the year 1916. Under the impression of the Reichstag’s Peace Resolution, the military leadership decided to take the initiative. On July 29, 1917, the chief of the General Staff issued the Leitsätze für die Aufklärungsarbeit unter den Truppen ( Guidelines for dispensing instruction among the troops), which henceforth regulated …

Kuhl, Hermann von

(350 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Kuhl, Hermann von (November 2, 1856, Koblenz – November 4, 1958, Frankfurt am Main), German general. Kuhl received a doctoral degree from the University of Tübingen for his thesis on the Carmen Saliare in 1878. That same year he joined the Prussian Infantry Regiment No. 53, rising to captain in 1893, and to major in 1899. Having taught at the War Academy from 1898, Kuhl became chief of Department III at the General Staff in 1906. Promoted to major general in 1912, he was raised to the hereditary nobility one year later. In 191…

Schmidt von Knobelsdorf, Konstantin

(283 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Schmidt von Knobelsdorf, Konstantin (December 13, 1860, Frankfurt an der Oder – September 1, 1936, Frankfurt an der Oder), German general. Schmidt joined the army in 1878. After attending the Staff College he held various posts in the General Staff and in the army, including chief of staff of the Xth Army Corps (1904–1908) and commander of the 4th Infantry Guards Regiment (1908–1911). In 1911 Schmidt was promoted to major-general, and a year later appointed chief quartermaster. At the outbreak of wa…
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