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Nicholas II, Tsar of Russia

(545 words)

Author(s): Lindemann, Mechthild
Nicholas II, Tsar of Russia (May 18, 1868, Tsarskoye Selo [Puschkin] – July 16, 1918, Yekaterinburg [murdered]), Tsar of Russia from 1894–1917. Nicholas saw his lifelong, God-given mission to be the preservation of his autocratic power so as to pass it on, undiminished, to his successor. He was strengthened in this point of view by the Tsarina Alexandra Fjodorovna. He thus did not feel authorized to yield to the demands of society’s elites for a voice and participation in his political authority. Nicholas proved to have no understanding either of the need for modernization of the economy and society, or of the greater public’s desire for reform. He pursued the repressive policies of his father, thereby losing his influence upon the general public. Within the orthodox religion, Nicholas felt bound to the simple, Russian peasant people in some mystical way, but without having any clear understanding of the social and economic problems facing the peasants. The Stolypin Land Reform of 1906 was too late to take effect before war broke out, and thus too late to defuse the dynamite of the agrarian question. The defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–1905 had heightened the political crisis situation. The Revolution of 1905 initiated by Bloody Sunday compelled Nicholas to permit a legislative parliament, the State Duma. The restricted voting law of 1907 avoided …

Bulgaria

(1,164 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Bulgaria In the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913 Bulgaria had not been able to fulfill its hopes of creating an “ethnographic” Bulgaria that would include Macedonia, parts of Thrace and the Dobrudja. In the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest it was moreover forced to concede to its neighbors practically all the territory it had captured in the First Balkan War of 1912. The outbreak of the First World War seemed to offer a new opportunity for the military realization of a “Greater Bulgaria,” a dream pursued since t…

Mobile Warfare

(1,059 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Mobile Warfare A form of warfare which seeks to bring about a military decision through the tactical movement of forces for the purpose of achieving advantageous territorial concentrations without having to rely on fortified positions at all times. At the beginning of the war in 1914 the military doctrines and operational plans of all belligerent powers were based on mobile warfare. In the first instance these offensive operations were motivated by the strategic and economic objective of ensuring …

Red Cross

(1,371 words)

Author(s): Mönch, Winfried
Red Cross The red cross on a white ground signifies neutrality in war, and thus protection. The Ottoman Empire introduced the alternative symbol of the red crescent on a white ground during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877/1878, and also used it during the First World War. The red crescent continues to be used by Muslim states in place of the red cross, in order to avoid using the Christian symbol. …

Neutral States

(688 words)

Author(s): Hoff, Henning
Neutral States States that do not participate in a war. The legal status “neutral” implies the right and the duty to pursue corresponding policies. The consequence thereof is a foreign policy that avoids any more or less explicit alignment in the international conflicts that occur in times of peace. Six Eur…

Expressionism

(436 words)

Author(s): Jürgens-Kirchhoff, Annegret
Expressionism The dominant modernist movement in German literature and art prior to the First World War (with the artistic groups Die Brücke and Der Blaue Reiter). Although th…

Erzberger, Matthias

(506 words)

Author(s): Haidl, Roland
Erzberger, Matthias (September 20, 1875, Buttenhausen [now part of Mün…

Naval Arms Race

(1,316 words)

Author(s): Krüger, Friederike
Naval Arms Race When he ascended the throne in 1888, Kaiser Wilhelm II was determined to practice Weltpolitik. His instrument of choice to achieve this aim would be a strong battle fleet. With the appointment of Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz as secretary of state for the German Imperial Naval Office in 1897, the Kaiser found an officer who was willing to implement the Kaiser’s ambitious plans, and to manipulate public opinion to that purpose. Already in the years prior to his appointment, Tirpitz had in several memoranda laid out his views on naval strategy and policy. In addition to offering domestic sta…

The Great War and Urban Crisis: Conceptualizing the Industrial Metropolis in Japan and Britain in the 1910s

(9,515 words)

Author(s): Townsend, Susan C.
Townsend, Susan C. - The Great War and Urban Crisis: Conceptualizing the Industrial Metropolis in Japan and Britain in the 1910s ISFWWS-Keywords: Asia | Britain | Society | Economy | Legacy The Decade of the Great War Tosh Minohara , Tze-ki Hon and Evan Dawley , (2014) Publication Editor: Brill, The Netherlands, 2014 e-ISBN: 9789004274273 DOI: 10.1163/9789004274273_016 © 2014 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands Townsend, Susan C.

Sweden

(696 words)

Author(s): Bohn, Robert
Sweden Constitutional monarchy, King Gustav V (r. 1907–1950). The foreign and security policy of Swedish governments and the political elites developed between 1914 and 1918 from initially strong support for the German Reich to a gradual turn towards the Entente Powers, particularly Great Britain. Throughout those four years, however, political life was constantly under the shadow of Russia, felt in Sweden to be the traditional enemy. Many Swedes still failed to come to terms with the loss of Fin…

Switzerland

(960 words)

Author(s): Pöhlmann, Markus
Switzerland Switzerland experienced the First World War as a small state in an exposed, central geographical position. The Swiss government responded to the tense European situation by proclaiming general mobilization on August 1, 1914, and three days later the neutrality of the Swiss Confederation. The traditional pillars of the state’s self-conception and territorial defenses alike were perpetual neutrality and the readiness to defend that neutrality militarily by means of a militia army. Corps commandant Colonel Ulrich Wille (1848–1925) was appointed commander in chief (General of the Swiss Army). His constitutional position was unique insofar as appointment to the post was based on a vote of both chambers of parliament at the outbreak of war, and it lasted only for the duration of the war. At mobilization, the six divisions of the national army took up a defensive stance on the frontiers, with especial focus along the northwestern frontier with France and the German Reich. The mountain fortresses of St. Gotthard and St. Moritz were also manned. The strength of the forces deployed was subsequently adjusted to the actual level of threat, standing at its highest in August 1914, at 200,547 men, and at its lowest in September 1918, at 20,124. A southerly outflanking of the German-French front carried out across Swiss territory was seen as the greatest military danger and, after Italy entered the war in 1915, there was also the risk of a forcible crossing o…

Milner, Alfred

(400 words)

Author(s): Winter, Jay
Milner, Alfred (March 23, 1854, Giessen, Germany – May 13, 1925, Sturry Court, Kent; Viscount from 1902), British politician. Milner was educated at King’s College (London) and Balliol College (Oxford University). After a brief spell in journalism, and an unsuccessful bid for parliament as a Liberal candidate (1885), he finally sought a career in the colonial service. He found his true calling as a convinced imperialist, organizing the economic reconstruction of South Africa after the Boer War. It…

Serbia

(1,820 words)

Author(s): Hirschfeld, Gerhard
Serbia Established in 1882, the Southern Slavic Kingdom of Serbia was governed until 1914 by Petar I of Serbia (1844–1921), who an officers’ conspiracy had brought to power in 1903 and who was subsequently elected king by the Serbian National Assembly. Relying on the support of the Radical Party of Prime Minister Nikola Pašić (1846–1926), the king championed a Greater Serbian policy that was particularly directed against the interests of Austria-Hungary. In 1906, this policy led to a trade war, t…

Munitions Crisis

(504 words)

Author(s): Thoss, Bruno
Munitions Crisis Serious shortages of munitions experienced by all the warring powers between fall 1914 and spring 1915. Nations had failed to adequately mobilize their industries for war, or to stockpile raw materials needed for the war. Moreover, industrial manpower shortages were soon experienced owing to the growing personnel needs of the military. The result was a serious shortage of munitions supplies by fall 1914. The shortfall of munitions worsened for all armies until there was only enoug…

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…

Beneš, Edvard

(414 words)

Author(s): Hadler, Frank
Beneš, Edvard (May 28, 1884, Kožlany, Bohemia – September 3, 1948, Sezimovo Ústí, South Bohemian Region), Czechoslovak politician. Beneš was his country’s first minister of foreign affairs (1918–1935). In 1921–1922 he simultaneously held the office of prime minister before succeeding Tomáš Masaryk as president (1935–1938). From 1940 he headed the Czechoslovak government-in-exile in London and finally became president of Czechoslovakia following the renewal of the country in the wake of World War I…

Finland

(2,352 words)

Author(s): Wegner, Bernd
Finland This small country (1910: 2.94 million inhabitants) located at the northeastern periphery of Europe entered the First World War as an autonomous grand duchy within the Russian Empire, and emerged from it an independent republic and parliamentary democracy. The process was not foreseeable, and by no means straightforward. Apart from the final months of the civil war, the sea change in the country’s status was primarily the result of external events – October Revolution, Peace of Brest-Lito…

Losing Manliness: Bohemian Workers and the Experience of the Home Front

(8,269 words)

Author(s): Kučera, Rudolf
Kučera, Rudolf - Losing Manliness: Bohemian Workers and the Experience of the Home Front ISFWWS-Keywords: Austria-Hungary | Masculinity | Home fronts | Society | Economy | Politics | Women and War Other Fronts, Other Wars? Joachim Bürgschwentner, Matthias Egger and Gunda Barth-Scalmani , (2014) Publication Editor: Brill, The Netherlands, 2014 e-ISBN: 9789004279513 DOI: 10.1163/9789004279513_016 © 2014 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands Kučera, Rudolf

Making Friends and Foes: Occupiers and Occupied in First World War Romania, 1916–1918

(14,194 words)

Author(s): Mayerhofer, Lisa
Mayerhofer, Lisa - Making Friends and Foes: Occupiers and Occupied in First World War Romania, 1916–1918 Keywords: Austria-Hungary | civilian population | Germany | Military Administration | occupier | Romania | war experience ISFWWS-Keywords: Romania | Home fronts | Germany | Austria-Hungary | Politics | Russia | Economy | Prisoners of War | Bulgaria | The Ottoman Empire and the Middle East Abstract: The phenomenon of 'occupation' was thus an integral part of the war experience for numerous contemporaries. This chapter outlines how several Roman…
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