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Francs-Tireurs

(355 words)

Author(s): Kramer, Alan
Francs-Tireurs Abbreviation for the French “francais-tireurs,” meaning French snipers. First coined in 1792 during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871, francs-tireurs was used to indicate members of the volunteer French units, formed in October 1870, which officially constituted the foundation of the new Republican Army in the revolutionary tradition of the leveé en masse. From the point of view of the Germans, the francs-tireurs were illegal because they failed to wear complete uniforms. Accordingly, when captured they were normally executed, a…

Lusitania

(653 words)

Author(s): Kramer, Alan
Lusitania A British luxury liner that was torpedoed on May 7, 1915, off the south coast of Ireland by the German U-boat U-20 while on its way from New York to Liverpool. A total of 1,198 passengers (according to another estimate: 1,201) lost their lives, including 127 Americans. The incident occurred during the phase of unrestricted U-boat warfare, during which the German naval command intensified its efforts to sink British merchant ships in order to cripple the British economy. Whether or not the Lusitania had munitions on board was controversially debated for many years…

War Atrocities

(955 words)

Author(s): Kramer, Alan
War Atrocities War atrocities may either be in direct violation of international law or contravene the generally accepted conventions of war, or else be conform to international law but nevertheless condemnable. The basic premise lies in the particular atrocity of the type of warfare or in the choice of victims. When defenseless people deliberately become the target of acts of war (civilians, shipwrecked persons, captured or wounded soldiers), the afflicted side perceives such acts as war atrociti…

The First World War and German Memory

(13,798 words)

Author(s): Kramer, Alan
Kramer, Alan - The First World War and German Memory Keywords: First World War | German memory | lightning warfare | Weimar Republic ISFWWS-Keywords: Germany | Legacy | Intellectuals and the War | Literature | Culture | Politics | Belgium Abstract: This chapter outlines the German memory of the First World War. It discusses collective memory, political culture and historical scholarship in the period 1918 to 1939, the Second World War, and since 1945. The memory of the war was increasingly a battleground in the final …

Deportations

(1,069 words)

Author(s): Kramer, Alan
Deportations Forcible expulsions were practised for various reasons, and by all sides, during the First World War. Initially, they were a means of securing zones of conflict and occupation. During the German invasion in the West alone, at least 10,000 French citizens were deported to Germany and interned in barracks that stood vacant. The number of Belgians deported in 1914 is unknown, but may have amounted to several thousands. These first deportations, which included women and children, were in…

Martial Law and War Crimes

(6,911 words)

Author(s): Kramer, Alan
Martial Law and War Crimes International Law and Martial Law before 1914 Considering the multiple violations of the regulations and spirit of international law in the First World War, many contemporaries had doubts about the purpose and possibilities for international laws in the age of total war. At the outbreak of the World War, the individual countries already had a corpus of time-honored rules of war, as well as martial law on the basis of more recent international agreements. Attempts at “humanizing” w…

Occupation (West)

(1,527 words)

Author(s): Kramer, Alan
Occupation (West) Occupation is the temporary authority over foreign territory during war. According to international law, a territory is considered occupied when “it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army” ( Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, Article 42). Not to be viewed as occupation are the systems of government in Ireland, Alsace-Lorraine, the non-Russian part of the Tsarist Empire etc., even though their administrations developed techniques of asserting their authority which resemble…

Louvain

(769 words)

Author(s): Kramer, Alan
Louvain (Flemish: Leuven) Belgian university town west of Brussels, celebrated for its university and magnificent Gothic buildings. Here between August 25 and 28, 1914, German troops killed 248 civilians and destroyed a sixth of the buildings. The university library, with its valuable collection of manuscripts from the Middle Ages, was burned to the ground. One of the best known single events of the war, Louvain became known worldwide as a symbol of German war atrocities. The German military leadership explained the destruction of Louvain as a justified punitive measur…