Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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Hirschfeld, Magnus

(333 words)

Author(s): Hirschfeld, Gerhard
Hirschfeld, Magnus (May 14, 1868, Kolberg [Kołobrzeg, Poland] – May 14, 1935, Nice), German doctor and sexual researcher. Hirschfeld is regarded as the pioneer of sexual research in Germany. One of his achievements was to outline a biological theory of homosexuality and he was a committed advocate of equal social rights for homosexuals. In 1897 he co-founded the Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee (Scientific Humanitarian Committee) for the decriminalization of homosexuality and served as its first chairman until 1929. In 1907 he was an expert witness …

Sembat, Marcel

(398 words)

Author(s): Mollenhauer, Daniel
Sembat, Marcel (October 19, 1862, Bonnières-sur-Seine – September 5, 1922, Chamonix Mont Blanc), French politician. A lawyer and journalist, Sembat belonged along with Jean Jaurès and Alexandre Millerand to a group of bourgeois intellectuals who significantly influenced the French form of socialism. After early work in the left-republican and socialist press, in 1893 Sembat was elected for the first time to a seat in the National Assembly representing Paris’s Grandes-Carrières working-class district, an office which he was to …

Cult of the Dead

(642 words)

Author(s): Becker, Annette
Cult of the Dead Funeral ceremonies are an essential part of the grieving process for the dead. The obsequies of the 1920s and 1930s are to be understood as a way for the collective consciousness to understand the reality of death, and to deal with its constant reminders. Especially in the years right after the war, the war dead were remembered at national commemorations by their former comrades-in-arms, their families, their hometowns, their fellow worshippers, their workmates, and even by the stat…

War Exhibitions

(775 words)

Author(s): Brandt, Susanne
War Exhibitions In a number of warring countries, public exhibitions of war objects were already organized during the war for the purpose of informing the civilian population about the military aspects of the war, but also with the intention of influencing public opinion in a propagandistic manner. The first war exhibitions placed captured enemy cannons on display in order to demonstrate the superiority of the respective country’s own army. In Berlin, captured artillery pieces lined the Siegesallee (Avenue of Victory); others stood in the inner courtyard of the Zeughaus (a former a…

Social Democracy

(1,232 words)

Author(s): Mühlhausen, Walter
Social Democracy A political movement in the German Imperial Reich seeking social and political emancipation of the workers. In the First World War, it suffered its greatest crisis, culminating in 1917 in a permanent split. On the eve of the war, with about a million members, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) was the largest party in Germany, and with 110 members the strongest group in Parliament, but it split on the question of the “fortress truce” ( Burgfrieden) policy. Although shortly before the outbreak of war the party leadership called its membership to demo…

Forced Labor

(1,842 words)

Author(s): Hinz, Uta
Forced Labor It is entirely possible to see the development of state-organized forced labor in Germany between 1914 and 1918 as a kind of “trial run” for the Second World War (Ulrich Herbert). It is necessary first of all to distinguish between legitimate military forms of forced labor (in accordance with the laws of war as they stood at the time, for prisoners of war) and forced labor for civilians. The latter affected many civilians forced to work in Germany, and transported to Germany in breach of international law for that purpose. The use of the labor of captured ordinary soldiers…

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…

War Enthusiasm

(799 words)

Author(s): Ullrich, Volker
War Enthusiasm In August 1914, the Germans went to war in a wave of general enthusiasm – or so it was claimed until recently in schoolbooks and in a number of representative works written by German historians. This stereotyped conception has, in the meantime, been increasingly challenged and corrected in a number of crucial points. Accordingly, it can now stated with certainty that an “August Experience” in the sense of an enthusiastic, nationwide approval of the war that would have mobilized all social classes did not take place. …

Arab Revolt

(808 words)

Author(s): Neulen, Hans Werner
Arab Revolt Bedouin uprising against Turkish suzerainty. In July of 1915 the Emir of Mecca, Hussein bin Ali, began negotiations with the British High Commissioner in Egypt regarding the Arab desire for independence and British support for a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire. For Great Britain this presented an opportunity to increase its influence in the Middle East considerably. While making promises to Hussein, the British simultaneously divided the Middle East into a French and a British sph…

Famine

(1,380 words)

Author(s): Corni, Gustavo
Famine The long duration of the war, reciprocal blockades of food imports, and the exploitation of regions occupied by the Central Powers all caused occasional dramatic occurrences of famine in the World War. In the German Reich and Austria especially, the food situation during the second half of the war was appalling. In Germany, the lack of planning to maintain the food supply in case of war was partly the blame for the quantitative and qualitative decline in the diet of a majority of the German civilian population. The weekly flour ration fell…

Curzon Line

(287 words)

Author(s): Hecker, Hans
Curzon Line Demarcation line between Poland and Soviet Russia that was proposed by the British government on July 11, 1920, during the Interallied Conference at Spa, with the aim of establishing a cease-fire in the Polish-Soviet War. Named after the then British Foreign Secretary Lord (George) Curzon, it was based on the recommendation of the Commission for Polish Affairs that had been endorsed by the Entente Powers in Paris on December 8, 1919. The line was suggested as a possible eastern border …

Fourteen Points

(899 words)

Author(s): Waechter, Matthias
Fourteen Points Fourteen Points stands for the peace aims of American President Woodrow Wilson, who made them public in a speech before the United States Congress on January 8, 1918. The basic reasons for American participation in the war were already clear. To justify America’s joining the war in April 1917, Wilson stressed that the United States was not interested in realizing any narrowly defined national demands. Rather, he meant to for liberal political principles to be implemented globally, …

Propaganda and Mobilizations in Greece during the First World War

(8,578 words)

Author(s): Lemonidou, Elli
Lemonidou, Elli - Propaganda and Mobilizations in Greece during the First World War ISFWWS-Keywords: Greece | Politics | Balkans | International Relations during the War | Bulgaria | Germany | Pre-war period | Legacy | Peacemaking and Continued Conflict World War I and Propaganda Troy R.E. Paddock , (2014) Publication Editor: Brill, The Netherlands, 2014 e-ISBN: 9789004264571 DOI: 10.1163/9789004264571_014 © 2014 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands Lemonidou, Elli

Uniforms

(1,390 words)

Author(s): Kraus, Jürgen
Uniforms At the beginning of the war, the armies of most warring states were outfitted with a special field uniform, camouflaged to blend into the terrain, in addition to their colorful parade uniforms. Such a camouflage uniform was necessary because of modern weapons technology including smokeless powder. This was already well known from the Boer Wars and the Russo-Japanese War. Still, camouflage uniforms dated back to the colonial wars of the 19th century. Based on experience in India, Great Br…

Eastern Front

(1,205 words)

Author(s): Stone, Norman
Eastern Front The topography of the Eastern Front differed markedly from that of the Western Front. For one thing, it was twice as long as the Western Front, stretching in an irregular line from the southeast corner of the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea – including the Bulgarian Front and all the way to the Aegean Sea. Although the terrain was mainly gently rolling, or else flat and forested, the Carpathian Mountains along the Polish and Hungarian borders could pose a significant obstacle for militar…

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…

Military Losses (Casualties)

(1,331 words)

Author(s): Overmans, Rüdiger
Military Losses (Casualties) There is little agreement in the literature as to the casualties sustained by the states that took part in the First World War. Figures vary between about 6 and about 13 million. A principle reason for the different estimates lies in the fact that definitions of the term “casualties” differ greatly. In the narrow military terminology of the time and in the specialized military literature, “casualties” frequently included all those soldiers who were no longer available t…

Entente

(1,077 words)

Author(s): Becker, Jean-Jaques
Entente Also referred to as the Triple Entente, this was one of the great alliances that had formed in Europe at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Although these alliances are ascribed a certain responsibility for the outbreak of the First World War, they were far less stable and less systematically structured than was later claimed. The system of alliances created by Reich Chancellor Bismarck after the war of 1870/1871 had as its goal the isolation of France in Europe, and to that end the maintenance of good relations with…

Vermin

(445 words)

Author(s): Eckart, Wolfgang U.
Vermin Animal pests and parasites that either attack human beings directly or contribute to the spread of infectious diseases as pathogenic agents, or else spoil or damage food supplies and implements in trenches and sleeping quarters. Bedbugs, lice, fleas, mice, rats, cockroaches, mealworms, and larder beetles in particular were regarded as vermin in this sense. In the European war theaters, bedbugs were not carriers of diseases, but still proved a nuisance as blood-feeding insects whose bites caused unpleasant wheals and itching…

Isonzo

(796 words)

Author(s): Isnenghi, Mario
Isonzo River located in the Karst region of Slovenia near the front in the Alps where, between 1915 and 1917, Italian and Austro-Hungarian troops opposed one another. Directly after Italy had joined the war in May 1915, their Chief of Staff Luigi Cadorna had wanted to undertake a penetration of the Austrian heartland across the Isonzo. However, the Imperial Austrian Army troops held their defensive positions. The war, which devolved into independent actions in the High Alps, was cemented here at …
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