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Gallwitz, Max von

(481 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Gallwitz, Max von (May 2, 1852, Breslau [modern Wrocław] – April 18, 1937, Naples), German general. The son of a sergeant, Gallwitz served as a volunteer in the Franco-Prussian War. He later made his career in the General Staff and in the Prussian War Ministry. He was appointed divisional commander in 1905, inspector of the field artillery in 1911, and raised to the nobility in 1913. Gallwitz was commander of the Guard Reserve Corps when the war broke out; one of his first tasks was the capture of the fortress of Namur. As early as August 1914, the corps was t…

National Socialism

(2,472 words)

Author(s): Krumeich, Gerd
National Socialism The first industrialized mass war had considerable effects on political and social relationships, and on the mentality of people. Italian Fascism and German National Socialism owe their particular characteristics and their legitimization to the First World War, described by Eric J. Hobsbawm as a “machine for brutalizing the world.” By his own testimony, Hitler himself was a “son of the war.” In repeated references to the war in Mein Kampf and in numerous statements and documented conversations ( Hitler’s Table Talks), Hitler returned time and again to his p…

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 …

August Experience

(1,226 words)

Author(s): Verhey, Jeffrey
August Experience Augusterlebnis (August Experience) was the contemporary German term for the patriotic enthusiasm among the German population at the outbreak of the war. The well-known images from the last weeks of July and from August of 1914 depict masses of people in the streets. The contemporary captions under the pictures suggest that these people were unanimously filled with “war enthusiasm.” The pictures are impressive but they do not tell the whole truth. In reality there was no near-ecst…

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…

Cavalry

(738 words)

Author(s): Gross, Gerhard P.
Cavalry The combat arm of the land forces that fought primarily on horseback. The increased firepower of the infantry had since the middle of the 19th century forced the cavalry into playing a diminished supporting role in military campaigns. Paradoxically, the size of the cavalry forces maintained by the European Powers rose continually throughout the period. At the beginning of the 20th century, nearly all states uniformly modified the tactics and weapons of their mounted troops, creating a largely standar…

Emergency Money (Notgeld)

(483 words)

Author(s): Zilch, Reinhold
Emergency Money ( Notgeld) Money put temporarily into circulation, to replace either in whole or in part, the coinage that before its issue represented the currency, and that for a time could function as currency. Notgeld was mostly issued by other authorities than those issuing regular currency. During the war, a severe shortage of means of payment led to the issue of Notgeld in various states. The main reasons for this were the hoarding of coins and banknotes, the collapse of the system of payment, and the widening circulation of currencies of belligeren…

Polivanov, Alexei Andreyevich

(212 words)

Author(s): Dahlmann, Dittmar
Polivanov, Alexei Andreyevich (March 16, 1855, [unknown] – September 25, 1920, Riga), Russian general (minister of war). Polivanov was a graduate of the Nikolaevsky Engineering Academy (1880) and the General Staff Academy (1888). Between 1899 and 1904 he was active on the General Staff, where he was editor in chief of the journal Voenny Sbornik (War Digest). Chief of the Army Headquarters Staff in 1905/1906, and deputy war minister between 1906 and 1912, Polivanov was close to the bourgeois parties in the Imperial Duma during these years. This even…

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 …

Climax in the Baltic: The German Maritime Offensive in the Gulf of Riga in October 1917

(6,634 words)

Author(s): Grove, Eric
Grove, Eric - Climax in the Baltic: The German Maritime Offensive in the Gulf of Riga in October 1917 Keywords: German Maritime | Gulf of Riga | Russia ISFWWS-Keywords: Russian Front | Naval Warfare | Germany | Russia | Military organisation of combat Abstract: On 17 October 1917, only three weeks before the Bolsheviks seized power in Petrograd on 7 November, an engagement occurred in the Gulf of Riga between the German dreadnought battleships Konig and Kronprinz and three Russian capital ships of the previous generation, the pre-dreadnought battleships Slava and Grazhdanin and the ar…

Prittwitz und Gaffron, Maximilian von

(293 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Prittwitz und Gaffron, Maximilian von (November 27, 1848, Bernstadt – March 29, 1917, Berlin), German general. Prittwitz came from an old military family, and in peacetime had a rapid and brilliant career. Yet even before the war, doubts were expressed about the military capacity of the “thick soldier” (his nickname). He was criticized for his rough manners and his excessive nervousness. Therefore as commander of the XIVth Infantry Corps in Metz, capable chiefs of staff were chosen to support him. Wh…

Alekseyev, Mikhail Vasiliyevich

(302 words)

Author(s): Dahlmann, Dittmar
Alekseyev, Mikhail Vasiliyevich (November 15, 1857, Tver Province – October 9, 1918, Yekaterinodar, modern Krasnodar), Russian general. Born into a military family, Alekseyev graduated from the Moscow Infantry School in 1876 and in 1890 completed his training at the General Staff Academy. He served with the General Staff while also teaching military history at the Staff Academy from 1898 to 1904. From October 1904 and throughout 1905 he held the post of quartermaster general with the Third Manchurian Army, after…

Kolchak, Aleksandr Vasiliyevich

(329 words)

Author(s): Brand, Bettina
Kolchak, Aleksandr Vasiliyevich (November 16, 1874, Saint Petersburg – February 7, 1920, Irkutsk), Russian admiral. Kolchak, a Russian naval officer, took part in polar expeditions in 1900–1903 and 1908–1911 and acquired a reputation as a hydrologist. He commanded a minelayer in the Russo-Japanese War, and was captured. After the beginning of the First World War in 1914, he also initially led mine-laying operations in the Baltic. Kolchak was then appointed in July 1916 to the command of the Black S…

Dmowski, Roman

(258 words)

Author(s): Hecker, Hans
Dmowski, Roman (August 9, 1864, Kamionek [near Warsaw] – January 2, 1939, Drozdowo [near Łomża]), Polish politician and commentator. As leader of the right-leaning National Democratic Party ( Narodowa Demokracja – ND) and member of the Russian Duma, Dmowski advocated a future Poland as a centralist-democratic national state, occupying large parts of the German Reich, and with close ties to a liberal-democratic Russia. He combined his commitment to the creation of a Polish state with a decidedly anti-German position (“Piasti…

Desertion

(1,634 words)

Author(s): Jahr, Christoph
Desertion Denotes a soldier’s unauthorized absence from his unit, without the permission of his superior officers. Related offences are “unauthorized absence” and “defection to the enemy.” In common with all other legal offenses, desertion does not necessarily reflect objective circumstances, but depends on national legal provisions and their interpretation on a particular occasion, that is to say their practical application. In particular, the distinction between desertion, unauthorized absence, defection, refusal of wa…

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…

Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils

(577 words)

Author(s): Hagenlücke, Heinz
Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils Representative bodies of soldiers and workers on the basis of the council system, a form of political rule aimed at practicing direct democracy with the aid of elected councilors. The council idea had essentially been developed by Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. In the Russian Revolution of 1905 self-governing bodies had for the first time been organized in the form of spontaneously elected councils (soviets). After the February Revolution of 1917 Lenin tried to enforce…

Below, Otto von

(480 words)

Author(s): Kleine Vennekate, Erik
Below, Otto von (January 18, 1857, Danzig, modern Gdańsk – March 9, 1944, Besenhausen near Göttingen), German general. After attending secondary school, Below joined the Prussian army as a cadet in 1871. From 1884 to 1887 he attended the Prussian Military Academy and was subsequently appointed to the General Staff. He was given command of a battalion in 1897, a regiment in 1905, and a brigade in 1909. In 1912 he was promoted to lieutenant-general, with command of the 2nd Division at Insterburg (Chernyakhovsk) in East Prussia. At the start of the war Below commanded the Ist Reserve…
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