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Spartakus League

(540 words)

Author(s): Mühlhausen, Walther
Spartakus League The most important radical left group in the SPD, so called from its Politische Briefe (“Political Letters”), signed “Spartakus,” illegally distributed from 1916. These decisively rejected the Burgfrieden policy adopted by the majority of the Social Democratic Party. Leading figures in the Spartakus Group (later League) were Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, Franz Mehring, Clara Zetkin, Julian Marschlewski, and Käte and Hermann Duncker. The group’s support came predominantly from the existing intellectual …

Verdun

(2,073 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
Verdun A French fortress that was continually expanded since the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/1871. With its 20 forts and 40 intermediate redoubts, Verdun was without any doubt the strongest defense work in France. The principal forts in the vicinity of Verdun included Douaumont, Vaux, Souville, and Tavannes. Verdun was considered to be practically impregnable. During the German advance of August 1914, the German Fifth Army (under Crown Prince Wilhelm of Prussia) operated in the sector before Verd…

Noske, Gustav

(415 words)

Author(s): Schulz, Petra
Noske, Gustav ( July 9, 1868, Brandenburg an der Havel – November 30, 1946, Hannover), German politician. Noske, a skilled basket maker, joined the union in 1885, and Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD, ‘Social Democratic Party of Germany’) in Brandenburg in 1886. In 1897 he took charge of the editorial staff of the Social Democratic newspapers in Königsberg and Chemnitz, gathering his first political experience at the local level. In 1906 he was first elected to the Reichstag, styling himself as an expert on household, colonial, and military affairs. Noske belonged to th…

Chemin des Dames

(350 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Chemin des Dames A prominent ridge running north of the River Aisne between Vailly and Craonne (département Aisne) with a paved promenade dating from the 18th century. German troops held the Chemin des Dames since the start of trench warfare and had taken up defensive positions along the steep slopes and in the numerous caves underlying the ridge. It was not until the Nivelle Offensive was launched in 1917 that the Chemin des Dames became a military focal point. From the middle of April the French Sixth Army commanded by …

Bissing, Baron Moritz Ferdinand von

(475 words)

Author(s): Gerhards, Thomas
Bissing, Baron Moritz Ferdinand von ( January 30, 1844, Bellmannsdorf, Silesia – April 18, 1917, Trois Fontaines, Belgium), German general. The son of a Prussian chamberlain and estate holder from a Saxon noble family Bissing chose a military career early, serving as an officer in the wars of 1866 and 1870–1871. In 1887 he became adjutant to Crown Prince Wilhelm, and after the latter’s accession to the Imperial throne in 1888, was named the emperor’s aide-de-camp. It was this appointment which laid t…

Naval Warfare

(2,850 words)

Author(s): Salewski, Michael
Naval Warfare In all theoretical discussions of a future war the war at sea was expected to play a major, if not the decisive role. For this reason all leading industrial nations had from the early 1890s onward been building massive, homogenous battle fleets. The “naval race” played a central role in souring Anglo-German relations during Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz’ tenure as the German Naval Secretary. The fledgling détente in the maritime sector, which was noticeable two years prior to the outbreak of the war, came …

Versailles, Treaty of

(1,736 words)

Author(s): Schwabe, Klaus
Versailles, Treaty of The Versailles Treaty was negotiated and signed by the victors and the defeated Germany in the Parisian suburb of Versailles in May/June 1919. On May 7 at the Trianon Palace, the victorious powers, represented by Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, and Georges Clemenceau, David Lloyd George, and Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, the prime ministers of Great Britain, France, and Italy, together with representatives of Germany’s other opponents in the war, presented a draft…

Einem, Karl von

(339 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Einem, Karl von (January 1, 1853, Herzberg [Harz] – April 7, 1934, Mülheim an der Ruhr), German colonel general. Educated in the cadet corps, in 1870 Einem joined the 14th regiment of Uhlans, with whom he took part in the war against France. Never having attended military academy, Einem was ordered to the general staff while still a first lieutenant. In 1898 he was transferred as a colonel to the Prussian ministry of war (where he was director of the general war department from 1900). Lieutenant Ge…

Diaz, Armando

(321 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Diaz, Armando (December 5, 1861, Naples – February 29, 1928, Rome), Italian chief of general staff, and Marshal of Italy. Diaz took part in the Italo-Turkish war, 1911/1912, as a regimental commander. At the outbreak of the First World War, he was head of the Operations Department of the Italian general staff, thus one of the closest collaborators of Cadorna, the chief of the general staff. He received command of a division at the end of 1915, and distinguished himself in August 1916 in the assaul…

Barbusse, Henri

(571 words)

Author(s): Beaupré, Nicolas
Barbusse, Henri (March 17, 1872, Asnières near Paris – August 30, 1935, Moscow), French writer. Barbusse is undoubtedly one of France’s most famous war novelists. He moreover embodied the type of the left-wing intellectual wartime activist. His 1916 war novel Le Feu (English: Under Fire, 1917 and 2003) quickly earned him recognition in and outside of France. Henri Barbusse, 1915. Barbusse was a member of the intellectual bourgeoisie. In 1898 he married Helyonne, daughter of the influential poet Catulle Mendès. At that time he was primarily writing poetry…

German Revolution

(1,770 words)

Author(s): Schwabe, Klaus
German Revolution With the German Revolution of 1918/1919, the German Empire became a German Republic. The deep roots of this upheaval lay in the war-weariness of the exhausted and malnourished civilian population and the overburdened soldiery. The German Revolution was more a collapse of the traditional order than a militant mass rebellion. In this, it resembled the Russian February Revolution of 1917 rather than the revolutions of 1848. The Russian October Revolution, with Lenin’s proclamation o…

Greece

(1,698 words)

Author(s): Loulos, Konstantin
Greece While the real tragedy of the World War played out on Europe’s theaters of war, Greece remained neutral until 1917. This neutrality was above all benevolent toward the Central Powers – at least, as far as the head of state, King Constantine, was concerned. Since the monarch admired his brother-in-law Kaiser Wilhelm II as the personification of the German martial spirit, he refused to march off to war against the Central Powers. Thereupon, Greek Premier Eleftherios Venizelos advocated stron…

Scapa Flow

(665 words)

Author(s): Krüger, Friederike
Scapa Flow A body of water in the Scottish Orkney Islands. On June 21, 1919, at 11 in the morning, the German Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter issued the order to scuttle the 16 battleships, eight cruisers, and 50 destroyers and torpedo boats lying in Scapa Flow. Within a few hours 64 ships, totaling about 400,000 tons, were destroyed, eight further vessels having been beached in time by the British. Nine Germans were shot and killed and nine wounded by Royal Navy guards in connection with the scutt…

Defending the Heimat: The Germans in South-West Africa and East Africa During the First World War

(12,890 words)

Author(s): Rouven Steinbach, Daniel
Rouven Steinbach, Daniel - Defending the Heimat: The Germans in South-West Africa and East Africa During the First World War Keywords: First World War | German East Africa | German Schutzgebiete | Heimat | South-West Africa ISFWWS-Keywords: Africa | East Africa | Germany | Society | Pre-war period | Culture | Home fronts Abstract: This chapter examines wartime mobilization of German settlers in Africa with particular reference to the German concept of Heimat. It focuses on the two German Schutzgebiete which had the largest white populations and that experienced the mo…

Colonial War

(1,529 words)

Author(s): Zimmerer, Jürgen
Colonial War The war against the German colonies of Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, led by the forces of Japan, Great Britain, France, Belgium, and their respective colonies. The spread of the war to the colonies was undertaken by Great Britain and France, primarily for strategic reasons. By occupying the German colonies, their respective ports would be closed to the German navy. Also, the German worldwide communications network, which depended upon the wireless stations erected there, would be dis…

Army Postal Service

(989 words)

Author(s): Latzel, Klaus
Army Postal Service Besides the arrangements made by civil and military authorities to provide for the transmission of mail between the battlefront and home, as well as within the army, the term also applies to the various items of mail themselves: postcards, letters, packets, parcels, newspapers, and other printed material, and not least the written exchange of information between military command posts and headquarters. In the age of modern mass armies, the army postal service was especially important. The advent of total war required not only comprehensiv…

Kühlmann, Richard von

(348 words)

Author(s): Beckers, Thomas
Kühlmann, Richard von (May 3, 1873, Constantinople – February 6, 1948, Ohlstadt), German diplomat and politician. The son of the director general of the Anatolian Railway, Kühlmann completed his law studies with a doctoral degree and entered the diplomatic service in 1898. After numerous international postings he served as counselor at the German Embassy in London from 1909 to 1914. In that position he worked to create an atmosphere of Anglo-German cooperation and prepared various agreements toward…

Armed Forces (France)

(2,071 words)

Author(s): Jauffret, Jean-Charles
Armed Forces (France) During the World War the French armed forces were faced with an extraordinary organizational challenge. Including foreign legionaries and the colonial troops, there were a total 8.7 million men assembled under arms. Until General Joffre was replaced as commander-in-chief in December 1916, Grand Quartier Général (General Staff, GQG) held the supreme command. According to the decree of December 2, 1913, in time of war its commander in chief would maintain supreme command of the zone des armées (militarized zone), while the minister of war would be respo…

Richthofen, Manfred Baron von

(440 words)

Author(s): Schmidt, Wolfgang
Richthofen, Manfred Baron von (May 2, 1892, Breslau – April 21, 1918, Vaux-sur-Somme near Amiens [killed in action]), German fighter pilot. Richthofen joined a Prussian Ulan regiment in 1911 after graduating from the cadet corps. He undertook patrol duties in 1914 and after the cavalry was in part transferred to the infantry in 1915, signed up to the Imperial Air Service. He was initially an observer, then a reconnaissance and bomber pilot. Between 1916 and April 1918, when he was shot down at Vaux-…

Rolland, Romain

(602 words)

Author(s): Beaupré, Nicolas
Rolland, Romain ( January 29, 1866, Clamecy [département Nièvre] – December 30, 1944, Vézelay [Département Nièvre]), French writer. Rolland was born in Burgundy to a republican-minded solicitor’s family. In 1886 he passed the entrance examination for the École Normale Supérieure, where he graduated in history and geography. In 1889 he received a grant to attend the École Française in Rome. During his two-year stay in Rome, he made the acquaintance of Malwida von Meysenburg, who introduced him to G…
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