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Central Powers

(325 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Central Powers Title indicating the German-Austro-Hungarian alliance that expanded to include the Ottoman Empire in 1914 and Bulgaria in 1915. Before the outbreak of war in 1914, this title was seldom used. Reference was made instead to the Triple Alliance among Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. To be sure, Bismarck’s Dual Alliance of 1879 between Germany and Austria-Hungary still existed alongside the Triple Alliance of 1882. Furthermore, it was clear to contemporaries that the earlier Dual Alliance was closer …

Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy

(482 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy (November 11, 1869, Naples – December 28, 1947, Alexandria, Egypt), Italian king. As heir apparent Prince Victor Emmanuel pursued the usual, meteoric career in the Italian Army. In 1896 he married Princess Helena, daughter to the Prince of Montenegro, whereupon he acquired an especial interest in Balkan politics. The diminutive Prince Victor Emmanuel was reputed to be great in intelligence, reserved and skeptical. He ascended to the Italian throne in 1900 upon the mu…

Falkenhayn, Erich von

(1,204 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Falkenhayn, Erich von (September 11, 1861, Burg Belchau [Kreis Graudenz] – April 8, 1922, Schloss Lindstedt [near Potsdam]), German general and chief of the General Staff. Falkenhayn came from a West-Prussian “Junker” family with a strong military tradition. He entered the cadet corps at the early age of ten. He had a successful career as a young officer, and attended military academy. His life took an unusual turn when, in 1896, he took leave from the army and, for professional and financial reaso…

Bauer, Max

(582 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Bauer, Max (January 31, 1869, Quedlinburg – May 6, 1929, Shanghai), Prussian officer. Bauer joined the Prussian Foot Artillery Regiment No. 2 in 1888. In 1908, as a captain, Bauer became an artillery expert with the Deployment Section of the General Staff, where he worked with Erich Ludendorff. In 1918 he was prooted to colonel. He remained a close member of Ludendorff ’s staff throughout the war and was considered to be an exceptionally gifted officer with a touch of genius. During the war he was…

Christmas Memorandum of 1915

(490 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Christmas Memorandum of 1915 Supposedly, a situation report Falkenhayn gave in a memorandum conveyed to the Kaiser some time around Christmas. The document in question comes down to us only through Falkenhayn’s own memoirs, Die Oberste Heeresleitung 1914–1916 in ihren wichtigsten Entschließungen (The Supreme Army Command 1914–1916 in Its Most Critical Decisions, 1920). For this reason its authenticity is doubtful. The Christmas Memorandum, concerning strategic plans for 1916, includes several fundamental declarations: Britain was the primary enemy. Britain…

Nibelung Loyalty

(270 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Nibelung Loyalty (German Nibelungentreue) A name given to the particular loyalty that characterized the alliance between the German Reich and Austria-Hungary. The term Nibelung Loyalty was coined by Reich Chancellor Bülow during a speech before the Reichstag (Imperial Diet) on March 29, 1909. He thereby illustrated the quasi indissoluble loyalty that united the Central Powers in political and military affairs. The statement was made in reference to the tense political situation following the Bosnian Annexation Crisis, during which…

Triple Alliance (Dreibund)

(421 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Triple Alliance ( Dreibund) Alliance of May 20, 1882, between the German Reich, Italy, and Austria-Hungary. On the basis of the treaty’s content, the Triple Alliance may be seen as having been essentially a defensive alliance against France. The existence of this secret alliance became known in the spring of 1883, but the terms of the treaty were not fully published until after the First World War. The Triple Alliance was renegotiated in 1886/1887, 1892, 1902, and 1911/1912, and the text of the trea…

Two-Front War

(612 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Two-Front War The specific strategic situation of the Central Powers, surrounded by the “Iron Ring” (W. Groener) of the opposing coalition. This was mostly seen as a grave strategic disadvantage, and was instrumental in the emergence before 1914 of the hazardous Schlieffen Plan: the attempt to forestall a two-front war, and so avoid the dissipation of Germany’s strength. German policy during the Crisis of July 1914 has frequently been interpreted as having been motivated by the necessity to meet the threat of a two-front war, or “encirclement,” while i…

South Tyrol

(754 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
South Tyrol The part of the Tyrol situated south of the Brenner. Between August 1914 and May 1915, South Tyrol was disputed territory between the Italians and Italy’s Triple Alliance partners Austria-Hungary and the German Reich. At issue initially was Trentino (according to the census of 1910: 393,111 inhabitants, of whom 366,844 were speakers of Italian and Ladin, 13,893 German-speakers, 2,666 speakers of other languages, and 9,708 foreigners, the greater portion of them North Italians), then th…

Falkenhausen, Ludwig Alexander Baron von

(303 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Falkenhausen, Ludwig Alexander Baron von (September 13, 1844, Guben – May 4, 1936, Görlitz), German general. Falkenhausen had been a soldier since 1862, and had taken part in the wars of 1866 and 1870/1871. As commanding general of the XIIIth Army Corps, he had been placed on the inactive list in 1902. Recalled to active service at his own request in 1914, onSeptember 15 he took over command of the Falkenhausen Division (from April 1916 Army Division A) that, after the end of the border engagements b…

Savoia, Emanuele Filiberto di, Duca d’Aosta

(250 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Savoia, Emanuele Filiberto di, Duca d’Aosta ( January 13, 1869, Genoa – July 4, 1931, Turin), Italian general. Savoia, a cousin of King Victor Emmanuel III, entered the Turin Military Academy in 1884. He was commanding general in Naples from 1905 to 1910. At the outbreak of the First World War he was entrusted with command of the Third Army, which fought in the Karst region on the northeast Italian border. His army succeeded in capturing Gorizia in the summer of 1917. After the German-Austrian breakth…

Sonnino, Georgio Sidney

(475 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Sonnino, Georgio Sidney (March 11, 1847, Pisa – November 24, 1922, Rome), Italian politician (foreign minister). After a brief diplomatic career, Sonnino made his name with studies of the situation of the Italian rural population in Sicily. A member of parliament from 1880, he favored an alliance with the Central Powers, and was of the opinion that it was more important for Italy to maintain friendship with Austria than to acquire the Italian-speaking province of Trentino. He subsequently retained …

Mackensen, August von

(576 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Mackensen, August von (December 6, 1849, Haus Leipnitz [Kreis Wittenberg] – November 8, 1945, Burghorn [now part of Habighorst, Kreis Celle]), German field marshal. The son of an estate manager, Mackensen took part in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/1871 before studying for two years in Halle and subsequently returning to the army, where he pursued a rapid and brilliant career as a cavalryman in spite of his not having attended the Kriegsakademie (War Academy). Among his assignments, his appointment as adjutant to Alfred von Schlieffen (1891) is particularly worthy…

Hoffmann, Max

(436 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Hoffmann, Max (January 25, 1869, Homberg near Kassel – July 8, 1927, Bad Reichenhall), German general. The son of a judge, Hoffmann was first posted to the Russian section of the general staff in 1899 and permanently assigned in 1901. In 1904/1905 he was assigned as an observer to the Russo-Japanese War where he was with the Japanese army in Manchuria. He was promoted lieutenant colonel in 1914 and assigned to the staff of the Eighth Army under General von Prittwitz with the task of defending the …

Burián von Rajecz, Stephan

(383 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Burián von Rajecz, Stephan (January 16, 1851, Stampfen near Pressburg, modern Stupuva near Bratislava – October 20, 1922, Vienna), Hungarian politician (foreign minister). Baron (from 1918 Count) Burián belonged to an ancient Hungarian noble family. After an initial period in the diplomatic service with postings to Alexandria, Bucharest, Belgrade, Sofia, Moscow, Stuttgart, and Athens, he became finance minister of Austria-Hungary in 1903. In that capacity he was also responsible for the administrati…

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…

Boroevíc von Bojna, Baron Svetozar

(412 words)

Author(s): Afflerbach, Holger
Boroevíc von Bojna, Baron Svetozar (December 13, 1856, Umetić, Croatia – May 23, 1920, Klagenfurt), Austro-Hungarian field marshal. Upon graduation from cadet school, Boroevíc joined the army and in 1878 participated in the occupation of Bosnia. During 1881–1883 he attended the War School in Vienna, after which he served in various staff appointments. Having earlier been raised to the Hungarian nobility, Boroevíc was promoted to general of the infantry in 1908 and received command of the VIth Army Corps at Kaschau (modern Košice) in 1912. The outbreak of the First World War saw …

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…

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…