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War Poetry

(1,081 words)

Author(s): Hüppauf, Bernd
War Poetry Prophecies of a coming war had been a theme in German poetry since the beginning of the century. Expressionist poets conjured up the war in apocalyptic images that alternated between the fear of its violence and a yearning for its purifying and regenerative power. Feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction over a long and “foul” peace gave rise to fantasies of war in the sense of a longed-for renewal, often expressed through theological formulations such as J…

Colored Troops

(587 words)

Author(s): Koller, Christian
Colored Troops German war propaganda described the nonwhite colonial troops employed by the Entente Powers in the First World War in general terms as “colored auxiliaries.” The very use of such units in Europe caused a considerable sensation. All in all, some 485,000 nonwhite soldiers from the French colonies and 160,000 from the British colonies fought in the ranks of the Entente Powers in the European theater. Important contingents came from Algeria (173,000), India (153,000), French West Africa…

Espionage

(613 words)

Author(s): Bavendamm, Gundula
Espionage Clandestine gathering of information about the military opponent, usually through agents acting on behalf of intelligence services. In times of war espionage is regulated under international law. Articles 29 and 30 of the Annex to the Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907) recognized espionage as a legitimate means of warfare and required that a spy caught in the act must not be punished without a proper trial. In World War I the intelligence services of all belligerent nations recruited agents for o…

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 …

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 …

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…

Peace Movements

(1,734 words)

Author(s): Holl, Karl
Peace Movements Social and political movements, at first based in the middle class, appearing from the early 19th century. “Pacifism” was organized in the form of peace societies and unions on national and local levels. In Germany the Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft, DFG (German Peace Society), was founded in 1892. Their aim was cooperation with peace organizations in other countries, at first by means of international peace congresses, and from the end of the 19th century through the International Peace Office in Bern. The expectation of so-called organized pacifism, accordin…

War Interpretations

(2,359 words)

Author(s): Hüppauf, Bernd
War Interpretations During the first days of the World War people already began to suspect that this was not an ordinary conflict that might be seen as a continuation of 19th-century European wars. This perception of the war called for an interpretation, which the writers, intellectuals, philosophers, and scholars of all warring nations were only too willing to provide. The prominent public persons (though seldom women) of all major powers and of their former colonies …

Denmark

(672 words)

Author(s): Bohn, Robert
Denmark Constitutional monarchy, ruler Christian X (ruled 1912–1947). Since the annexation of Schleswig-Holstein (1867) by the Prussian State, and the measures of Germanization in North Schleswig, the mood in Denmark had been decidedly anti-German. The army and navy were mobilized at the outbreak of war, owing to fears that, because of its control of access to routes to the Baltic, the country might become the target of British or German military operations. The Royal Navy, however, exercised res…

Falkland Islands

(756 words)

Author(s): Krüger, Friederike
Falkland Islands An archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean; a British colony since 1843. On December 8, 1914, a battle was fought near the Falkland Islands between the German East Asia Squadron under Vice Admiral Maximilian Graf von Spee and a British battle squadron under Vice Admiral Sir Frederick Doveton Sturdee. After a sea battle lasting approximately five hours, only one light cruiser survived from the German squadron; four German ships sank; of some 2,200 men on the German ships, 1,985 per…

Unruh, Fritz von

(528 words)

Author(s): Schneider, Thomas F.
Unruh, Fritz von (May 10, 1885, Koblenz – November 28, 1970, Diez), German writer and politician. The son of a general, Unruh was educated at the Cadet School at Plön. After graduation he set out on the typical officer’s career path. Then in 1911 he resigned from active military service so that his play Offiziere, a critique of the traditional military principles of obedience and responsibility, could be published. His next drama, Louis Ferdinand Prinz von Preußen, handled a very different subject. Although it was banned by the Kaiser initially in 1913, the next year in…

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 …

Internment

(1,392 words)

Author(s): Hinz, Uta
Internment During the World War, the notion of internment referred both to the sheltering of sick or invalid war prisoners in neutral states and to coercive measures against so-called enemy aliens. This conceptual ambiguity resulted from the fact that the large-scale repressive measures carried out against the civilian citizens of enemy countries were a relatively recent phenomenon. The reason for this was a fundamental redefinition of the “enemy” that went far beyond any military conception. As …

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…

Antwerp

(514 words)

Author(s): van Ypersele, Laurence
Antwerp Belgian city and fortress. In the aftermath of the fall of Liège in mid-August of 1914 and the fighting on the River Gete, the Belgian king Albert I rejected the proposal of a joint Belgian and French withdrawal to Namur, choosing instead to retreat with his field army (80,000 men) to Antwerp. The fortified city with its 70,000 fortress garrison troops was regarded as the “national redoubt” ( réduit national), the stronghold – and refuge – of the nation. The king and his army were determined to defend themselves and to hold out there, awaiting the arrival …

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…

Norway

(529 words)

Author(s): Bohn, Robert
Norway Constitutional monarchy under Regent Haakon VII (r. 1905–1957). Norway’s attitude to the World War is only understandable in view of the fact that Norway had only achieved independence from Sweden in 1905, and that Great Britain was Norway’s most important guarantor nation. These security policy considerations, the mainstay of Norway’s foreign policy, were strengthened by a corresponding trade policy orientation. The war having begun, Norway followed Sweden’s lead on August 8, 1914, by iss…

Nationalities Question

(1,312 words)

Author(s): Hecker, Hans
Nationalities Question The nationalities question in Eastern and Southeastern Europe developed in the course of the 19th century from the greatly mixed population that inhabited Russia, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, and Prussia in the German Reich, plus the newly independent states of Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, and Greece – a great variety of nationalities, with their different languages, religions, cultures, and interests. Although the murder of the Austro-Hungarian he…

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…
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