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Soldiers’ Humor

(395 words)

Author(s): Riemann, Aribert
Soldiers’ Humor The culture of popular humor during the First World War followed the structural features of prewar civilian humor, only with content related to the war. At its center was a mockery of the enemies in the war, the social élites, the relation between home and the front, problems in service and between comrades, and sexual relations. Several situational contexts of soldiers’ humor may be distinguished: – The culture of oral story-telling: confidentially repeating jokes and mocking stories opened a communicative space in which to express annoyance wi…

India

(1,806 words)

Author(s): Cornelissen, Christoph
India In August 1914, the Indian subcontinent was the most important pillar of the British Empire. After the start of the First World War India’s importance to the war effort was apparent in the considerable numbers of Indian soldiers employed on the Allied fronts in Europe, Africa, and Asia. By the end of 1918, some 1.5 million Indians had been mobilized for the war. Of these, almost 900,000 belonged to fighting units. More than 60,000 Indian soldiers died in the war and about the same number suffered wounds. It was originally envisaged that only restricted use should be made of I…

Naval Blockade

(1,483 words)

Author(s): Neitzel, Sönke
Naval Blockade During the World War, the Allied naval blockade brought German foreign trade practically to a standstill, especially after 1916. It contributed significantly to the serious subsistence problems in Germany. On the eve of the World War Germany was one of the most important economic powers in the world. Obviously, accomplishing this required extensive trade relationships. This left the German economy highly vulnerable during such a long-lasting war. Indeed, Germany had to import 30% of all processed iron ore. The …

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. Nic…

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. The associations that had assumed the voluntary, and most importantly unpaid, task of caring for the wounded in war, as well as preparing for that activity in peacetime, w…

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 European states adhered to various forms of neutrality for the entire duration of the war. The monarchs of the Scandinavian states Denmark (Christian X), the sovereign territory of which also inclu…

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 the German Expressionists had formulated their artistic manifesto in critical opposition to Wilhelmine society, the majority of them celebrated the outbreak of the First World War. They shared the commonly felt fervor of August 1914, hoping that the war would “cleanse the Augean stable of old Europe” (Franz Marc). Regardless of political and economic…

Baltic States

(1,258 words)

Author(s): Dahlmann, Dittmar
Baltic States The countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia are collectively known as the Baltic States. In 1914 they were part of the Russian Empire. In power-political terms, the Baltic States were repeatedly exposed to the expansionist pressure put on them by their larger neighbors: Germany, Russia, Poland, and Scandinavia. At the beginning of the First World War, the Latvian delegate to the Duma J. Goldmanis delivered a declaration of loyalty to the Russian government. Even though opposition movements existed, especially movements of the …

Erzberger, Matthias

(506 words)

Author(s): Haidl, Roland
Erzberger, Matthias (September 20, 1875, Buttenhausen [now part of Münsingen] – August 26, 1921 [assassinated], near Bad Griesbach [now Bad Peterstal-Griesbach]), German politician. Erzberger was a Center Party member of the Reichstag from 1903. Influenced by South German Catholicism, before the First World War he favored fundamental reform of the state; he decidedly rejected cooperation with the Social Democrats. After the outbreak of war, Erzberger used his connections (to include the Roman Curi…

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 mem…

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…

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…
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