Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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Armed Forces (Italy)

(3,527 words)

Author(s): Massignani, Alessandro
Armed Forces (Italy) The defense of the Italian Kingdom proclaimed on February 18, 1861, was the duty of the Royal Army and the Royal Navy. The King was nominally the supreme commander of the military in peacetime, but the chiefs of the General Staff and the Admiralty functioned as the de facto Supreme Command in time of war. Italy’s new national army evolved from the Piedmontese Army that had fought in the Wars of Independence. Though gradually restructured into the Royal Italian Army, it maintained its traditional character, especially the imprint of…

Central Powers

(325 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Central Powers Title indicating the German-Austro-Hungarian alliance that expanded to include the Ottoman Empire in 1914 and Bulgaria in 1915. Before the outbreak of war in 1914, this title was seldom used. Reference was made instead to the Triple Alliance among Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. To be sure, Bismarck’s Dual Alliance of 1879 between Germany and Austria-Hungary still existed alongside the Triple Alliance of 1882. Furthermore, it was clear to contemporaries that the earlier Dual Alliance was closer …

Adriatic

(463 words)

Author(s): Massignani, Alessandro
Encyclopedia Adriatic For most of the belligerents the Adriatic was of secondary importance, but for Italy and Austria-Hungary it was a major theater of naval warfare. Unlike the Italian coastline, that of Dalmatia is very rugged; the naval bases of the Austro-Hungarian navy located there were protected by numerous offshore islands. Their heavy units were stationed in Pola (modern Pula in Croatia); the lighter warships lay in Cattaro (modern Kotor in Montenegro). When the war opened the Habsburg n…

Salonica (Thessalonika)

(669 words)

Author(s): Simkins, Peter
Salonica (Thessalonika) Port in northern Greece. From October 1915 the base of the Entente’s so-called Army of the Orient. The multinational Entente campaign against Bulgaria was fought from the end of 1915 in inhospitable territory, and remained bogged down for long periods. In this theater of war the soldiers suffered most casualties from disease. The Entente forces finally achieved a sudden and decisive breakthrough in September 1918. After Bulgaria had received guarantees in respect of territorial gains in the Macedonian part of Serbia, its government signe…

Berchtold, Leopold Count

(508 words)

Author(s): Kronenbitter, Günther
Berchtold, Leopold Count (April 18, 1863, Vienna – November 21, 1942, Pereznye Castle near Ödenburg, modern Sopron, Hungary), Austro-Hungarian politician. Berchtold joined the Austro-Hungarian diplomatic service in 1893 and served as the Dual Monarchy’s ambassador in Saint Petersburg from 1906 until 1911. In February of 1912 he took office as Foreign Minister, and in the autumn the First Balkan War presented him with a sudden, massive threat to Austria-Hungary’s position of power in the region. Ber…

Bug Offensive

(785 words)

Author(s): Stone, Norman
Bug Offensive On June 22, 1915, the Austro-Hungarian Second Army recaptured Lemberg (Lviv), the capital of Galicia, which had been held by the Russians since September of the previous year. For the Central Powers, this event marked the high point of an important series of successes that had begun in May with the breakthrough at Gorlice-Tarnów. The reduction of the salient in Russian Poland seemed within reach, and there appeared to be a realistic chance of encircling the strong Russian forces in t…

Troop Strength

(1,120 words)

Author(s): Thoss, Bruno
Troop Strength The initial numbers of soldiers mobilized for immediate wartime service. The peacetime strength of the individual armies before 1914 provided the foundation for troop strength in the war. A cadre of commanders for reserve units and an attachment of reservists for these troop units were included in their mobilization plans. This would make it possible to raise units to wartime strength once the mobilization was begun. The troop strengths planned in the event of war, and the troop str…

Freikorps (Free Corps)

(1,196 words)

Author(s): Ziemann, Benjamin
Freikorps (Free Corps) Generally, the term Freikorps (literally free corps) denotes military formations manned by volunteers. More specifically it refers to those units which were formed in Germany between 1918 and 1921 with the aim of conducting counter-revolutionary operations and to protect Germany’s eastern border against Poland and Bolshevik Russia ( Grenzschutz Ost). When the German Army marched home in November 1918 it literally fell apart as it reached the homeland, with units simply disbanding themselves and going home. At the same time, …

Carpathians

(916 words)

Author(s): Jerabék, Rudolf
Carpathians A mountain range between Hungary and Galicia, the site of several battles from January to April 1915. The Austro-Hungarian general staff was quite aware of the Carpathians’ strategic importance. The Austro-Hungarian troops in Galicia, which were enclosed on all sides, were left with little possibility of evading attack due to the mountain range, while the enemy was at all cost to be prevented from overcoming it. Large parts of the Carpathians also placed mountain-trained or specially …

Foch, Ferdinand

(633 words)

Author(s): Becker, Jean-Jacques
Foch, Ferdinand (October 2, 1851, Tarbes – March 20, 1929, Paris) French field marshal. In the course of the large-scale German offensive in March of 1918 the Allies realized that the lack of a central military command on the Western Front might result in a defeat. Up to that point, British generals (with some exceptions) had categorically refused to serve under French command. Now, however, General Foch was given the task of coordinating the operations of the French and British armies; later he r…

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, …

Fortresses

(737 words)

Author(s): Storz, Dieter
Fortresses Sites provided with permanent, artificial reinforcement, so as to protect them from capture by the methods of field warfare. For this reason, the battle for fortresses was always given a particular designation as “fortress warfare,” to distinguish it from “field warfare,” or war as waged by mobile field forces. The technical design of fortresses closely paralleled developments in artillery, which made tremendous advances during the 19th century (introduction of guns made from drawn steel, long-range howitzers, armor-piercing shells).…

Polish Activism Abroad

(509 words)

Author(s): Hecker, Hans
Polish Activism Abroad The term here refers to the activities in particular of the Polish National Democrats under Roman Dmowski and cooperating Polish politicians in the West, who achieved a political breakthrough following the proclamation for an independent Polish state by the Provisional Government of Russia on March 30, 1917, and the ensuing declaration by the French President Raymond Poincaré on June 4, 1917, announcing the formation of Polish army units in France. Thanks to the initiative of…

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 Bri…

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…

Matériel, Battle of

(671 words)

Author(s): Thoss, Bruno
Matériel, Battle of Characteristic form of positional warfare that prevailed in particular on the Western Front. In combat operations that lasted for months on end and involved the massive deployment of heavy weapons, the belligerents aimed for the total destruction of the opponents’ fortified lines and of the troops fighting in them. The ultimate goal of the armies was to break through the enemy front line and to begin regaining ground in depth. Notable examples of the battle of matériel are the Battles of Ver…

Delcassé, Théophile

(468 words)

Author(s): Becker, Jean-Jacques
Delcassé, Théophile (March 1, 1852, Pamiers [Ariège] – February 22, 1923, Nice), French politician (foreign minister). Delcassé was a journalist who entered politics as a disciple of Léon Gambetta. He remained deputy for his home department of Ariège from 1889 until 1919. His uninterrupted seven years’ service as foreign minister, from 1898 to 1905, was the most important period of his political career. Although his stance was for a long time anti-British rather than anti-German, it was during his…

Krobatin, Baron Alexander von

(475 words)

Author(s): Jerabék, Rudolf
Krobatin, Baron Alexander von (September 12, 1849, Olmütz [modern Olomouc, Czech Republic] – December 27, 1933, Vienna), Austrian general and minister of war. As an artillery staff officer with a university education in chemical engineering, Krobatin was predestined from an early stage for a higher calling. Appointed to the Imperial War Ministry in 1896 as an expert in artillery technology, he was a section chief at the Ministry in 1904. In addition to weapons and munitions, his responsibilities now…

Caporetto

(993 words)

Author(s): Massignani, Alessandro
Caporetto Town on the Isonzo River (modern Kobarid, Slovenia). During the battle fought in the Julian Alps from October 24 to November 9, 1917, Austro-Hungarian and German forces brought about the collapse of the Italian Front on the upper Isonzo and forced the Italians to retreat behind the Piave River. The Battle of Caporetto is also known as the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo. In August/September of 1917 the Eleventh Battle of the Isonzo and the capture of the Bainsizza Plateau by the Italian Second Army plunged the Austro-Hungarian forces into a profound c…

Mussolini, Benito

(411 words)

Author(s): Hirschfeld, Gerhard
Mussolini, Benito ( July 29, 1883, Dovia di Predappio [Forli Province] – April 28, 1945, Giulino di Mezzegra [Como Province; executed]), Italian journalist and politician. At the outbreak of the war, this man who would later found Fascism still numbered among the advocates of a neutral, internationally orientated Italian politics. Mere weeks afterward, Mussolini, the former revolutionary socialist politician and journalist, had a falling-out with the party leadership of the Partito Socialista Italiano (PSI, Italian Socialist Party), calling for his country’s enterin…
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