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War Credits

(773 words)

Author(s): Zilch, Reinhold
War Credits War credits were one of the crucial means of financing the war. They were raised in various forms, by various methods, and in various amounts, by all belligerent nations at home and sometimes abroad. War credits were necessary because some elements of normal state receipts fell drastically upon the outbreak of war, while the financial burden abruptly multiplied. War credits were raised at home in the form of short- or long-term government bonds, or by increasing the amount of paper cur…

Battle of the Frontiers

(647 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Battle of the Frontiers Collective term for a series of engagements that were fought in Belgium and France in the course of the German invasion between August 20 and 24, 1914. The German operational plan had envisioned a strong right wing enveloping the bulk of the French, British, and Belgian forces in northern France. Following the successful coup de main against Liège this right wing consisting of the First, Second, and Third Armies advanced through Belgium toward the French border. The Fourth and Fifth Armies moved through Luxembourg and the Ardenne…

Spee, Imperial Count Maximilian von

(390 words)

Author(s): Herwig, Holger H.
Spee, Imperial Count Maximilian von ( June 22, 1861, Copenhagen – December 8, 1914, off the Falkland Islands), German admiral. Spee entered the Imperial German Navy in 1878 and became a rear admiral in 1910. Placed in command of the German East Asia Squadron in 1912, he was promoted to vice admiral in 1913. At the beginning of the war his squadron was operating in the vicinity of the island of Ponape, the largest of the Eastern Carolines. Following the Japanese declaration of war against Germany, Spee decided to head for Chile across the Pacific Ocean with the armored cruisers Scharnhorst and Gn…

Wilhelm II, German Kaiser

(1,402 words)

Author(s): C.G. Röhl, John
Wilhelm II, German Kaiser ( January 27, 1859, Berlin – June 4, 1941, Doorn, Netherlands), German Kaiser and King of Prussia. Kaiser Wilhelm was characterized by Germany’s enemies during the First World War as an aggressive warmonger, the personification of the German lust for conquest. Not only among the Allied populace, showered as it was with bloodthirsty caricatures and poisonous propaganda, but also in well-informed government circles (not least in the White House), the war was seen simply as “t…

Poland

(2,056 words)

Author(s): Hecker, Hans
Poland At the beginning of the First World War, Poland existed only in the form of three territorial fragments: the largest and central portion belonged to the Russian Empire (Congress Poland/Russian Poland), the western and northwestern portion (Posen, West Prussia) to Prussia, and thus to the German Reich, and the southern (Galicia and Lodomeria) to Austria-Hungary. As the Central Powers and Russia bordered one another on Polish territory, the war in the East was predominantly fought there. Thr…

Protestantism

(641 words)

Author(s): Hübinger, Gangolf
Protestantism In the years before the outbreak of war, Anglo-Saxon Protestantism made repeated efforts to establish closer international relations with other churches. The World Alliance for Promoting International Friendship through the Churches, financially supported by the American industrialist Andrew Carnegie, with Friedrich Siegmund Schultze as its German contact, had called its founding assembly in Constance for the 3rd and 4th August of 1914. However, as the war began all the churches qui…

Students

(1,543 words)

Author(s): Weber, Thomas
Students Students were clearly overrepresented among the soldiers of the First World War. The mention of exclusively or predominantly student-recruited military units in wartime and postwar literature, however, belongs to the realm of fiction. Its origins must be sought in the frequently politically motivated idealizations that were characteristic of journalistic publications and commemorative events. The most famous German example is the myth that “student regiments” singing the German national …

Durazzo (Durrës)

(465 words)

Author(s): Massignani, Alexandre
Durazzo (Durrës) Until 1921 the capital of the state of Albania, which was founded in 1912 on the initiative of the major European Powers. A strategically important Adriatic port. As Serbia had a claim on Albania, Serbian troops reentered the country during the first phase of the First World War, and were compelled to withdraw again in the course of Albania’s recapture by Austro-Hungarian, German, and Bulgarian troops in October 1915. Parts of the defeated Serbian army fled into the port of Durazz…

Small Nations under the Gun. Europe 1914–1940

(8,320 words)

Author(s): Murray, W.
Murray, W. - Small Nations under the Gun. Europe 1914–1940 Keywords: Europe | first world war | small nations ISFWWS-Keywords: Neutral States | General | Politics | Legacy Abstract: In the fifth century B.C. the greatest strategic historian of war recorded a conversation between Athenian negotiators and those of the island city state of Melos. Quite simply on the great stage of world politics, the United States and its Western allies were not going to risk a global conflict over the fate of Poland. This…

North Africa

(2,498 words)

Author(s): Cornelissen, Christoph
North Africa Geographical area stretching from the Atlantic coast of present-day Morocco in the west to the Suez Canal and the Red Sea in the east. The territories in question experienced various phases of political and military subjugation by the European colonial powers before the outbreak of the First World War. The North African territories were subject to differing external and internal political arrangements, and were then administered under direct and indirect forms of rule. France claimed formal sovereignty in Al…

Brändström, Elsa

(445 words)

Author(s): Hinz, Uta
Brändström, Elsa (March 26, 1888, Saint Petersburg – March 4, 1948, Cambridge MA), Swedish philanthropist and nurse. The daughter of the Swedish ambassador in Saint Petersburg, Brändström continued to be known throughout Europe long after her death; in Germany she enjoyed nearly saintly status as the “Angel of Siberia.” This veneration was bestowed on her for the courage and commitment she had shown in caring for German and Austrian prisoners of war in Russia, and above all for her personal humanitarian work in Russian camps between 1915 and 1920. Living in Saint Petersburg at the o…

Russian Revolution

(1,052 words)

Author(s): Kochanek, Hildegard
Russian Revolution Neither the Russian army, nor their economy, nor their political system was equal to the demands of the World War, contributing to the end of the Russian Tsarist Empire. Another major reason was the rapid loss of trust, at all levels of society, which the regime had endured during the war years. As the situation at the military front continued to worsen, an even deeper conflict developed between Tsar Nicholas II and the State Duma. The subsistence crisis engendered by the wartim…

Occupation (West)

(1,527 words)

Author(s): Kramer, Alan
Occupation (West) Occupation is the temporary authority over foreign territory during war. According to international law, a territory is considered occupied when “it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army” ( Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, Article 42). Not to be viewed as occupation are the systems of government in Ireland, Alsace-Lorraine, the non-Russian part of the Tsarist Empire etc., even though their administrations developed techniques of asserting their authority which resemble…

Drina

(966 words)

Author(s): Jerabék, Rudolf
Drina Border river between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia. The battle of the Drina (August 12–21, 1914) was, for Austria-Hungary, the most unfortunate conceivable prelude to the war against Serbia. The prime cause was the incomplete deployment of the Austro-Hungarian forces. The forces ranged against Serbia comprised not only the Fourth and Fifth Armies, but also the Second Army, which had been earmarked for use against the Russians in the event of the opening of a second front in Galicia. However…

Netherlands

(1,981 words)

Author(s): Blom, J.C.H.
Netherlands On the eve of the World War, the Netherlands held the same neutral stand regarding international relations as it had for the preceding three-quarters of a century. The Netherlands thus stood apart from the international alliances. This decision rested as much upon the safeguarding of Netherlands’s economic and military-political interests, as it did upon considerations of civil rights and ethics. The deciding question, however, was whether the Great Powers would respect Netherlands’s …

Pan-German League

(886 words)

Author(s): Hagenlücke, Heinz
Pan-German League Radical nationalistic organization in Germany. The Pan-German League (Alldeutscher Verband, ADV) was founded in Berlin in April 1891 and (until 1894) operated under the name Allgemeiner Deutscher Verband (“General German Association”). It was formed as a non-party organization on the initiative of a small circle of activists that included representatives from the community of “ethnic Germans” living outside of the German Empire ( Volksdeutsche), several colonial propagandists with ties to Carl Peters, and Alfred Hugenberg, who was still a yo…

Submarine Warfare

(2,604 words)

Author(s): Rohwer, Jürgen
Submarine Warfare Grossadmiral Alfred von Tirpitz, secretary of state for the German Imperial Navy Bureau, was mainly interested in the battle fleet and initially had little regard for submarines. So the construction of U1 did not begin until 1904/1905, and, by the beginning of the First World War, only 28 submarines were in service in the German Navy. Of these, only the final ten were equipped with operationally safe diesel engines for running on the surface. Tirpitz’ intention at the beginning of the war was to use submarines for reconnaissance against the British Gra…

War Damage

(2,196 words)

Author(s): Thoss, Bruno
War Damage Damages and costs incurred during the war through the destruction of military equipment and weaponry, but also as a consequence of property damage in the regions directly affected by the war. War damage thus refers to the material costs of the war in the narrow sense. The calculation of war costs in the wider sense as well as of material losses in the narrow sense is so fraught with difficulties that all figures can only be seen as rough approximations. This already became evident during a first general assessment carried out for t…

China

(2,662 words)

Author(s): Mühlhahn, Klaus
China The largest state by population and area in eastern Asia; a republic from 1911 to 1949. Although China was scarcely involved militarily in the First World War, the war nevertheless represented an important turning point for the country. The consequences of the war fundamentally changed both China’s status in international politics and its internal political and social circumstances. China’s involvement in the First World War was a long-term result of the expansion of European imperialism. Increased rivalry between the Great Powers, in their strugg…

Balkan Wars

(957 words)

Author(s): Kröger, Martin
Balkan Wars Two wars in the Balkans region (1912–1913) that caused the Ottoman Empire to lose most of its European territories. During this period of conflict there were differences between the Great Powers concerning the consequences of the Balkan Wars. Against the backdrop of the Italo-Turkish war (1911–1912), the ethnically diverse and unstable Southeastern European States led by Serbia attempted to secure for themselves a share of the disintegrating Ottoman Empire. A direct consequence of the Turkish weakness wa…
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