HBC has developed a number of biographies of some of the important people involved in World War I. It is quite a cast of characters. Our focus is of course their childhood and clothing, but we also provide some basic information on their adult lives. In many cases, their childhood played an important role in forming their chsracter and conduct of the War.
Lack of progress in the Palestinr campaign resulted in major changes to the British command. After the two failurea at Gaza, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George recalled Sir Archibald Murray and replaced him with Edmund Allenby, one of the most competent British commandr of the War and nicknaned 'Bloody Bull' (June 1917). He was ordered to capture Jerusalem by Christmas 1917. He was given substabtial reinforcements to accomplish this.
Herbert Henry Asquith was born in Morley, Yorkshire (1852). He was an important reformer as the leader of the Liberal Party, but his historical place is primarily centered unfavorably on his World war I war leadership. He had aestinguished parlinentarian career and rose to lead the Liberal Party. He served as Home Secretary (1892-95) and as Chancellor of the Exchequer (1905-08). As Prime Minister (1908-16) he ushered in imprtant economic. political. and socual reforms. The reforms included
social insurance (old age pensions) and reducing the power of the House of Lords. Rather like President Johnson in the United States, his reform program was largely forgotten in the terrible carnge of World War I. It was Asquith that took Britain into World war I and ordered the British Expeditiory Force (BEF) to Belgium, an action that prevented a German victory (August 1914). But as the public came to see the war as a great mistake, this inevitably reflected on Asquith's popularity. Few people even tiday stop to think about the consequences of a German victory. He came to be seen as vacillating and not a strong war leader. There were trrible battlefield losses, most prominently the Somme (1916). Some historians looking back point out his administrative ability and innist that many of the major reforms which led to victory were formulated by Asquith. Even so, in the popular mind it was Asquith's replacement, Dabis Lloyd George, who was 'the man who won the war'. It was the military who persued the tactics that led to mass caualties, not Asquitr, but as the war primen minister, the public held him responsible. The rift that develooed between Asquith and LLoyd Gerorge contributed to the demise of the Liberal Party.
Alec William Campbell was the son of a commercial traveller (salesman) and had a Scottish grandfather who had migrated to Australia. Alec was born in Launceston, Tasmania in 1899. He did his schooling at Scotch Oakburn College in Launceston from 1910-1915 where he was good at Aussie rules footy and cricket. He was a boyish looking 16 year old child when he lied about his age to join the Australian Infantry in June 1915. His mother farewelled the boy soldier at the dock but his dad was too upset to go off to a probable early death. Mrs. Campbell had lost a nephew in the same war. Alec was trained up and left with the 15th Battalion for the dreaded Gallipoli campaign.
British statesman and author, considered by most historians to be the greatest of all primeministers for his role in warning about the dangers of Germany' military buildup in the 1930s, and after being ignored, leading the seemingly hopeless resistance to the NAZIs during the darkest days of World War II when Britain stood alone. While best known for his World War II role, he also played an important role in World War I as well, serving as First Lord of the Admiralty. He was born at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire and had a trurbulent childhood. He was born into one of the most illustrious families in England, a descendent of the Duke of Marlborough. His father was a brilliant parlimentarian who considered his son slow and a disappointment. His mother was the beautiful American hieris, loving but tied up in the social swirl of the time. He was educated at Harrow and Sandhurst, the Royal Military Academy.
Georges Clemenceau was the oldest individual to play a major role in World War I. He served as French primier twice (1906-09 and 1917-20). He was not premier when Germany invaded Belgium and France and launched the War, but he was in the final years of the War. He became known as 'The Tiger' in French politcs because of his fiery republicanism. He was an early opponent of Emperor Napoleon III. He trained as a medical doctor, but lived in United states working as a a teacher and journalist. He retuned to France (1869, just before the Franco-Prusian War and the demise of Napoleon III. Clemenceau played an importnt role in the War in that during his first premiership he importantly settled many diiferences with Britain making posible the close World War I relationship. Clemenceau succeeded Paul Painleve as premier (November 1917). At the time, Britain and France were bracing for a massive German offensive. The Germans having won on the Eastern Front were prepating to win the War with vicyory in the West. Americ had enterested the War, but the American Expeditionary Force was not yet fully armed and trained. He formed a coalition cabinet, reserving the post of minister of war for himself. Clemenceau worked tirelessly to revive French national spirit which had been adversrly affected by the terrible losses. The French Army in particular had been damaged. Importantly, he persuaded the Allies to agree to a unified military command under French commander Ferdinand Foch. He forcifully pursued the War to a forceful conclusion (November 1918). At the Paris Peace Conference Clemenceau insisted that Germany be prevented from ever launching another war. He advocated German disarmament and reparations. Historians have criticised him for this. It should ne rembered tht much of the War was fought in northern France which the Germans occupied at the onset of the War. Huge damage ensued while Germny itself was undamaged by the War. France also won back Alsace-Lorraine. He was disatisfied with the resulting Versailles Peace Treaty, clashing with U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, whom he viewed as idealistic and timid.
General Sir Arthur William Currie was born in ???? (1875). He was was a senior officer of the Canadian Army which fought in France during World War I. He had the extrodinary distinction of beginningb his military career at the bottom as a pre-war militia gunner, Anwithout any military training rose the the ranks to become the first Canadian commander of the Canadian Corps. Currie unlike many Wirld War I commanders adapt brigade tactics to the demands of trench warfare. He formulated set piece operations and what he described as 'bite-and-hold' tactics. He refused to cioomiot his men to senceless slaughter as other commanders were prone to do. He is widely considered to be among the most able commanders on the the Western Front, welding the relatively small Canadian Corps into a vital part of the British war effort. His performance at Passiondale is legendary. Under gis ciommsnd, the Canadian Corps played an imprtant role in blunting the German 1918 Sopting Offensice asnd kleading the Btitish part of the Hundered Days Campaign that won the War, culminating in the liberation of Mons. He is certainly among the finest commanders, if not the finest, in Canadian military history. Disgracefully few know of him today, even in Canada. Only those with a real interest in World War I will recognize his name. When Gen. Pershing, the AEF commander, returned home there were riotous crowds to welcome him. When Gen. Currie returned home to Canada, hec was igniored by the Canafian public.
Josephus Daniels was born in North Carolina during the Civil War (1862). He became the state's most important newspaper editor. He used the paper to promote a progressive agenda. He like quite a number of progrssives at the time was a vicious racist. It is amazing the people now being called racist. But here you have a real, unabashed and very influential racist. He was involved in the Wilmington insurrection (1898). As editor of the Raleigh News and Observer, the state's major newspaper, he became influential in the Democratic Party. He helped Woodrow Wilson win the Democratic nomination (1912). North Carolina voiting Democratic was a given as it was part of the Solid South. Wilson rewarded Daniels with the post of Secretary of the Navy (1913). Wilson of course was not offended with Daniel's racism because he himself was a confirmed racist. He knew nothing about the Navy and had no naval experience. Daniels would be Navy Secretary throughout World War I. His Assistant Secreatry was his not verty loyal Franklin Roosevelt. Daniels was not particularly engaged as Navy Secretary and left it largely to Roosevlt to run the Department. He was a stern moralist and confirmed teetoaler who banned alcohol aboard U.S. Navy ships. He also banned prostitution near naval bases. But he did mnakje some important decisions that would have an impact on World War II. Daniels set up the Naval Consulting Board to encourage inventions that had military potenbtisl. Daniels asked Thomas Edison to chair the Board. Daniels would also be the first Secretary of the Navy to sponsor naval aviation. He established the first naval air station at the Pensacola Navy Yard. He took a cery foreward looking view and saw thar 'aircraft must form a large part of our naval force for offensive and defensive operations.' [Carrison, p. 117.] Before leaving office he oversaw another moralistic campaign this time with questionable tactics -- the Newport Naval Sex Investigation for which he and Roosevelt would becriticized by Congress. Despite his disloyalty, Daniels never broke with Roosevelt and supported his later presidential aspirations. President Roosevelt in turn, appointed him Ambassador to Mexico, not the most politic appointment. Daniels as Secretary of Navy had ordered the bombardment of the Mexican port of Veracruz (1913).
Auguste Yvon Edmond Dubail was an important French Army general during World War I. Dubail commanded the French First Army and Army Group East during World War I. When the Germans declared war and invaded Belgium, Dubail was given command of the First Army. Rather than taking a defensive posture and preoare to meet the Germans, the French rashly launched an offensive to begin to retake territory lost in the Franco-Prussian war. Dubail led the First Army against well-prepared Gernan defensive positions in an effort to retake Loraine. The effort was supported by de Castelnau's Second Army. The Germans repulsed the French French and inflkicted heavy losses. As a result the First and Second Armies were in aeakened condition to help stop the German drive through Belgium and on to Paris. After the Fermans were stopped on the Marne, Dubail was promoted to commander of Army Group East occupying positions around Belfort and Verdun (1915). From this posdition he watched German reinforcements and supplies floing into the position opposite his trenches. Dubail concluded thst the Germans were preparing a major offensive against Verdun. He requested reinforcements and heavy artillery and the new Allie tanks to defend Verdun sector. The rench commander-in-chief, Field Marshal Joseph Joffre, did not agree tht a German offendive was imminent and did not reinforce Dubail's Army Group East. When the Germans attacked in force (February 1916), Joffre criticized Dubail and dismissed him (March 1916). Dubail was humiliated and charged that he was being made a scapegoat for Joffre's poor judgement. Dubail was ultimately given a new job, the military governor of Paris.
German Chief of Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn, accurately concluded in 1915 that the key to winning the war lay not on the Eastern Front, but on defeating the French Army on the Western Front. Germany coud not dfeat all three of the Allies, but von Falkenhayn decided to focus on forcing one out of the War and thus disable the Allied alliance. Falkenhayn maintained that if France could be defeated in a major set-piece battle, Britain would have no other option than seeking terms from Germany. This of course is a strategy the Germans could have pursued in 1914. If they had attacked France directly instead of through Belgium, they would not have had to fight the Belgians and British and in all liklihood would have prevailed on the Western Front. Falkenhayn correctly assessed that the French would consider the defense if Verdun as a matter of honor. His plan was essentially to bleed the French white in the defense of Verdun. One historian claims this is what all commanders said after their offensives failed and that he was actually trying to achieve break through. [Strachan] He was largely succesful, the French Army was redered in capable of offensive oerations and almost broke. What von Falkenhayn did not calculate was the extent to which the German Arm itself would also be weakend in the process. Von Falkenhayn would be replaced by Hiddenberg and Ludendorf, the heros of the Eastern Front. He was then sent to Palestine to advise the Ottoman Army.
Francis Joseph's nephew Francis Ferdinand was made heir to the throne after the untimely death of Archduke Rudolf. I know little of his childhood or how he was dressed as a boy. Historians have written a great deal about Franz Ferdinand and very little of it has been very positive. Franz Ferdinand has been referred to as a miser, a bigot, and a spoiled child. He was shunned by the elite of Viennese society. One observer called "the loneliest man in Vienna". Francis Ferdinand appears to have lacked the two key elements for success in political life--charm and elegance. His Family life, however,
appears to have been surprisingly better. His marriage to Countess Sophia von Chotkowa und Wognin, Duchess of Hohenburg in 1900 was called one of the world's great love affairs. Unfortunately the Emperor considered the Duchess a commoner and tried to convince Franz Ferdinand he was marrying beneath his station. They went through with the marriage against the Emperor's wishes but had to renounce rights of rank and succession for their children. In the years to come, Sophie would not be allowed to ride in the same car with her husband during affairs of state.
Ferdinand Foch was born Tarbes (1851). His father was a civil servant. He knew from biyhood that he eanred to be a soldier. He joined the army in time to serve in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71).
Foch commanded the Ninth Army at the critical at Nanc He lked the cririval attack at the Marne which stopped the German Armny befiore Oaris (Deptember !914). He was then given command of the all important Northern Army on the Western Front (October 1914). He continued in this positioin through the Somme offensive (1916). This was oart of the effirt to relieve Verdun. He was criuticused for tyhe huhe losses and moved to the less important Italian front. General Philippe Petain, the hero of Versib, replaced Robert Nivelle, and saw to it Foch was recalled and made Chief of the General Staff (1918). Primne-minister Georges Clemenceau insisted that Foch be was given overall control of the Allied forces and served as Allied Supreme Commander (March 1918). The Americans were now moving into frontline positioins. There were disagreements with Gem. Pershing over the disposition of the AEF units. Foch oversaw the Allied defaeat of the German Spring 1918 iffensice, culminating in the Second Battle of Marne (July 1918). Foch was made Marshal of France. He oversasw the Allies Hundred Day Offensive that broke the German Siegfried Line wide open. Foch accepted the German surrender (November 1918). He wpuld play a a major advisory role at the Paris Peace Conference (1919).
Of all the Hapsburgs, one of the longest ruling was Francis Joseph I (1830-1916). He also proved to be end of the reining monarchs. By uniting himself with the conservative absolutist foces, he preserved the monarchy for over a half century. In the end, however, his refusal to allow basic democratic reforms would eventually lead tonthe end of the monarchy a few years after his death in 1916. Francis Joseph may indeed be the most tragic figure in the twilight of European monarchies. While he reigned for 7 tumultuous decades, his life was filled with tragedy. His brother Maximilian was executed in Mexico. His son Rudolf, a man of liberal ideals who might have saved the monarchy, commited suiside in a torrid love affair. His beloved wife Sisi was stabbed by an anarchist. His heir Francis Ferdinand was assasinated. His Empire had alrady begun to crumble in World War I, even before his death. Francis Joseph's rule was both magnificent and at the same time pathetic. The Austrian monarchy was one of the most prestiogious in Europe. The Emperor himself was the most long-lived soverign. Yet he lived to see Austria reduced to a second rate power by Germany, his loved ones die in tragic circumstances, and his Empire begin to desintegrate.
George V was crowned only a couple years before the war began. He was a national symbol during the War, but had less to do with the conduct of the War than other European monarchs because of changes in the British political system during the 19th century. He was forced to change the family name from Saxe-Coburg to the less German-sounding Windor. Prince George wore sailor suits as a boy. His father helped establish the sailor suit as a boys' garment. His children pratically lived in sailor suits.
David Lloyd-George was another Libral prime minister. He was elected to Parliament (1890) and held the seat for 55 years. As was often the case, the position of chancellor of the exchequer led to the David Lord-George's primership. He was chancellor of the exchequer under Asquitt (1908–1915). Lloyd-George and the Liberals not Labour were key to the many reforms which laid the foundations of the British welfare state. He became known as the Irish Wizzard and was a masterful debater in the Commons. Lloyd-George relaced Asquith at prime minister in the middle of World War I (1916). The horror of the killing field of Flanders had come home to Britain. He was the highly active Prime Minister of the Wartime Coalition Government (1916–22), both during and after the War. And the Germans were preparing a U-boat campaign to starve out the British. He pushed through the convoy system over the opposition of the Admiralty. He had aclose relationship with Chuchill and brought him back into government. A major goal was to bring America into the War. He became a major player at the Paris Peace Conference producing the Versailles Treaty (1919). Historians argue that had a greater impact on British life than any other 20th-century leader, primarily because of his pre-war social welfare reforms, but also because of his war leadership, his post-war role in reordering Europe, and hisrole in partitioning Ireland. He proved to be Britain's last Liberal prime minister. Despite his achievements, his political role undermined the Liberal Party. Much of his Parliamentary support came from the Conservatives rather than his own Liberal Party. The Liberal split led to long-term collapse of that party. The more radical Liberals joined Labour and and the more conservative joined the Conservatives.
Thomas Watt Gregory (1861 - 1933) was an American politician and lawyer. He like President Wilson was a social progressive. He spoke passionately about progrssive issues. Then as now, progressives had a long list of political and social objectives -- free speech and civil liberties was not one of them. Gregory was active in Democratic Party politics and was close to Col. Edward House, Wison's most important advisor. The President chose Gregory as his attorney general and Gregory served throughout most of the 8 years of his administration (1914-19). Gregory cooperated with Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson to conduct a campaign to crush any domestic dissent to the war effort. Gregory helped draft the Espionage and Sedition Acts which directly attacked constitutional guarantees of speech and press freedom. Gregory helpred secure Congressional approval fiorthe Acts. In addutioin to the legal authority provided by the Acts, Geegory encouraged patently illegal surveillance activity by the American Protective League. He oversaw the procecution of more than 2,000 war critics. Gregory would brag, 'It is safe to say that never in its history has this country been so thoroughly policed.' [Peterson abd Fite, p. 20.]
Prince Henry and his older brother Wilhelm were very close as boys. Henry left the nursery 2 years after his brother to join him in the schoolroom iverseen by their titir Georg Hinzpeter. Their father taught them to swim and sail. The boys sailed a boat together with an American friend. It was said that this was the birth of the Kriegsmarina. This is more important than it may seem. Many in England had for several centuries viewed Prussia and the other German states as allies against England's mortal enemy--France. English kings since George I had been Germans. George I did not even speak English when he came to England. A variety of factors explain the gradual shift of British thinking to view Prussia and Germany as a foe rather than an ally. Perhaps no single factor was more important than Wilhelm's decission to build the Kriegsmarina into a force that threatened the Royal Navy. Henry was to become a Grand Admiral in the new Krirgsmarina. He mairred Irene of Hesse and the Rhine (1866-1953).
Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg was the most famous German commander to emerge from World War I. Along with Ludendorff, he oversaw the brilliant German successes on the Eastern Front in 1914. The Russian offensive forced the Germans to transfer forces from the attavk on France. This saved Paris, but the victories at Tannenberg and the Pripet Marshes shattered whole Russian armies. It was the beginning of the demise of Tsarist Russia, although the Russians fought on until 1917. Hindenburg and Ludendorf oversaw the final German offensive tht failed in Spring 1918. He defeated Hitler in the Presidential election of 1932, but turned the country over to the NAZIs when he appointed Hitler Chancellor (1933). Hindenburg actually disliked Hitler, but did like the NAZI-promoted myth that the German Army was not defeated in 1918, but betrayed by politicians.
Hitler with the outbreak of World War I immediately enlisted in the Bavarain Army (1914). Thus while born in Austria, he wouund up serving with the German Army. The Bavarian Army was a kind of national guard reflecting the German Empire's still federal structure. He served on the Western Front. He advanced to the rank of corporal and was awarded two iron crosses. His primary assignmrent in the days before radio was to serve as a runner. Informnation about his military service is sketchy. The principal available source is Hitler's own description in Mein Kmmpf. He paints a picture of valiantly carrying messages through enemy fire. He was in a military hospital at Pasewalk near Berlin, temporarily blinded from a gas attack when he learned of the Armistice. He wept at the news. This of course is hardly an unbiased source. Yet many historians, perhaps anxious to move on to his rise to power have accepted it uncritically. Yet it leaves unanswered questions. Why if he was such a decorated war hero did he not rise above the rank of corporol after 4 years of service? Men with leadership qualities did rise from the ranks, but Hitler never did. And however you view him, he certainly had leadership capabilities. And why were his war comrads not among those who flocked to his leadership of the NAZI Party. And why did they nor write books and articles about serving with him. Why gicven the often-described comradeship of the trenches were some of these men among his suppoters? We now know the answer to some of these questions. He did indeed receive two iron crosses, but his runner assignments were not dangerous ones and he lived in regimental headquarters behind the front lines. Many headquarters staffers got such awards as long as they did what they were told. The first one was ironically awarded by a Jewish commander. Front line soldiers referred to rear echelon men like Cpl. Hitler as Etappenschweine--rear pigs. Hitler apparently in the early years as he was building the NAZI Party found little support from his old comrads. Apparently they did not like him. [Weber] He appears to have gone on and on about the glories of serving in the trenches--even though he lived safely behind the lines. He never condemned the War like the men who actually fought at the front. He was not adept socially and did socialize with his comrades. And many of the nen who actually served at the front were not enthusiastic about another war. Even so, Hitler, appears to have found fulfilment in the War. Although he was only promoted to corporal, it was the first time he found any success in life.
It is said of Herbert Hoover that no one in history saved the lives of more European children. Some Americans might have added during the 1930s that few people did less to save the lives of American children during the Depression. One week before Hoover celebrated his 40th birthday in London, Germany declared war on France (1914). The American Consul General in London asked Hoover to help get stranded tourists home. Hoover's committee in 6 weeks helped 120,000 Americans return to the United States. Then Hoover turned to a far more daunting task, how to feed Belgium, which had attacked France through neutral Belgium and overrun most of the country. When the United States entered the war, President Wilson appointed Hoover head of the Food Administration (1917). Hoover succeeded in cutting consumption of foods needed overseas and avoided rationing at home, yet kept the Allies fed. Europe had been devestated by the War. The desestation and the battlefield losses significantly affected agricultural production. After the Armistice, Hoover, a member of the Supreme Economic Council and head of the American Relief Administration, organized shipments of food for starving millions in central Europe. He extended aid to famine-stricken Soviet Russia (1921). When a critic inquired if he was not thus helping Bolshevism, Hoover retorted, "Twenty million people are starving. Whatever their politics, they shall be fed!" This was the greatest exercise in international relief in world history. Had it not been for American food aid after the War, millions mostly children would have starved throughout Europe.
French military commander Joseph Joffre became the supreme Allied commanfr on the Western Front . He was born Rivesaltes near the Spanish fborder (1852). He studied at the École Polytechnique. He first saw actioin n the Siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War (1871). He was a military engineer in Indochina, West Africa, and Madagascar. He became a general of a division (1905) and chief of the French general staff (1931). It was Joffre that command the the French fiorces at the citical First Battle of the Marne (1914). He became the supreme commanbder of French foirces. A sluggish response to the German buildup leading to the Battle of Verdun hurt his reptation and he was gradually eased out of command. The Allies had a separate command structute until Ferdinand Foch was appointed "Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies" (March 1918). After stipping the Germn 1918 Spring Offensive. It was Foch who over saw the final, war-winning offensive on the Western Front (1918). [Addington, pp. 167–68.]
Charles Francis Joseph, Charles I or Karl I (Charles IV of Hungary) (1887-1922), was another of Francis Joseph's nephews. Karl replaced Francis Joseph when the Emperor died in 1916. Even before his death, Francis Joseph had planned to confer the rights of co-regent on Charles. Karl I was the last of the Hapsburg rulers. Although he was the eldest son of the Archduke Otto (and nephew of Francis Ferdinand), he was little known in Europe until he married Princess Zita of Parma. Durng the War he commanded an Austrian Army on the Transylvanian front (Romania), but returned to Vienna to rule after Francis Joseph's death. Both Otto and Zita favored a negotiated end to the War. He favored the French claim, for example to Alsace-Loraine. Their efforts at diplomacy to end the War, however, only allienated their German allies and bear no real fruits.
T.E. Lawrence is one of the iconic figures of World War I. He not only played an important role in the War, but helped shaped the modern Middle East. He was an obscure academic before the War, sent to Egypt as a junior officer to work with British intelligence because of his language skills. He had no real military training, but managed to turn the disorganized Arab Revolt into a potent force. First he seqized Aqaba which the British though imoregnable. This provided a way of supplying the Arab Army. Using guerrilla tacgtics, Larence and the Arab Army attavled the Turks who had controlled the Arabs for four centuries. They blew jup trains ans attacked isolated Turkish outposrs. The Turks were driven to distraction attempting to counter the hit and run tactics. One author suggests thst Lawrence's success was in avoilding personal glory and instead enpowered his followers. [Schneider]
Erich Ludendorff was born in Kruszewnia, near Poznań, then part of Prussian Poland, now oart of Poland (1865).
He was the son of an impoverished and not ariticratuc landowner and cavalry captain. His mother, howevr, was a member of an aristocratic military family. Almnost his entire life was associated with the military. He attended a cadet school andwas commisioned as an infantry officer. As he exhibited outstanding leadership and organizational talents, her rose rapidly and was promoted to the general staff. His career was damaged becausev he was dabling in right-wing politics. It was revived again by World War I. He and Hindenburg managed to defeat two massive Tsarist armies at the Battle of Tannenberg (1914). Rather than a quick victory the war bogged down on the Western Front. He and Field Marshall Hindenberg essentially established a military dictatorship as the war progressed. Ludendorff was largely responsible for the German 1918 Spring offensdive which they expected to win the war. It did not because Hindenberg and Ludendorff were also resoponsible for bringing America into the War. He was dismissed, alhough Hindenbrg remained for a time as Chieff of Staff . He moved to Sweden where he wtites his menoirs essentiakky saying that the German Army was never defeated, but stabbed in the back, pointing prticulzrly at the Jews. Hindenbery wouls aldo tke tht line, but Ludendorff first was aone of the easrlierst voices. [Clifford] He beczame a major figure ikn the right-wing politics following the War. He joined the NAZI Party and was with Hitler with the failed Beer Hall Putsch (1923). After this he continued to be involved with right-wing politics, but not as part of the NAZI Party.
Vice Admiral Newton Alexander McCully (1867-1951) was an U.S naval officer who served in the Spanish-American War and World War I. Aftter being enbeded with the Soviets forces in Manchuria during the Russo-Japanese War (1905-06), he became the Navy's expert on Russia. When America entered World War I He was promoted to Rear Admiral and given command of American naval forces off northrn Russia. His mission was to deliver supplies to the Tsarist forces through Arkangel and Murmansk. After the War he was given an intelligence mission, to join the White forces in southern Russia and report on them and the Bolsheviks. Struck by the unfolding humanitarian disaster and developing famine, he adopted six Russian children and brought them back to America. His major assignment after leaving Russia was to command the U.S. Navy Scouting Fleet.
Anton Ludwig Friedrich August von Mackensen was one of Germany's most brilliant World War I military commanders. He is not as well known in the West, largely because his campigns were all conducted in the East.. Noably, they were stunningly sucessful. He was born (1849). His life spoanned the Kingdom of Prussia, the North German Confederation, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, and the post-war Allied occupation of Germany. He was ennobled as 'von Mackensen' before his major successes (1899). He oversaw important World War I offensives (East Prussia, Galacia, Serbia, and Romania). He became one of the German Empire's most prominent and competent military leaders. Only Hindenberg and Ludendorf received more accolades. nd he was not tarniuxshe by the disaster in the West. The victorious Allies interned Mackensen in Serbia for a year (1919). When he was released, he retrned to Germny and retired from the Army (1920). The NAZIs attempted to bask in his glory. Uponseizing power, Hermann Göring made him a Prussian state councillor (1933). Mackensen remained, however, a stsunch monarchist, but refrained from any active opposition. He sometimes appeared at official functions in his World War uniform ihout any NAZI acoutements incvluduing the swastica even when apparing with Hitler. NAZI officviala suspected him of disloyalty, but he was never connected with active opposition. He was apauled with NAZI barabrities in Poland and even wrote to Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch (Februry 1940). He died shortly after the end of the War, primarily concrned with his chickens.
Prince Louis was actually a German who because there was no real German navy at the time came to England to persue a naval career. He rose to First Sea Lord when World War I began. He eventually had to resign because of his German origins. Like George V, he had to change his family name from Battenburg to Mountbatten. His son Louis wore sailor suits a boy and made a name for himself as Lord Louis Mounbatten of Burma in World War II.
Tsar Nicholas II had perhaps the most difficult jobs in the world, ruling Russia. He was an absolute soverign in a Europe where liberal reforms had increasingly limited the perogatives of monarchs. He did no want a war with Germany, but saw no way of preventing it. While the Germans struck at France first, dreadful reverses in 1914 and 15 caused the Tsar to take command of the army. It was a mistake as the reslt was that he was personally blamed for the continuing losses. Like many European royals, he lost his crown in 1917-18, only he and his families were executed by the Bolshevicks. Nicholas wore sailor suits as a boy and his son Alexi is perhaps the most famous boy who ever wore sailor suits.
Vittorio Emanuele Orlando was born in Palermo (1860). He was an Italian statesman and prime minister during the concluding years of World War I and ked the Italian delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference (1919). Hecwas educated in Palermo, Siucuily. He estabkish himself in jotnmalism, writings anout electoral reform and government administration. Based on that reputation, he won election to the Chamber of Deputies (1897). He was appointed minister of education (1903–05) and the more imopoertant post of minister justice (1907–09) and reappointed (1914). With rhe outbreak of World War I, (August 1914) a debate arose in Italy over participation. Italy had been allied with the Central Powers. Orlando favored entering the War on the Allied side wehivh id what occurred (May 1915). The Italian decesion was primarily based on 1) British offers to finance Italian paricipation and 2) the desire to acquire Austri-Hunharian trerritiory inhabited by ethnic Italian. The ensuing southern front proved static fir 2 years, but did draw German and Austriuan troopos from tge Easrern and Westerb fronts. The Germans and Ayustrians broke the Itaian front at Caporetto (October 1917). It at this time that Orlando became prime-minister and rallyed the country to continue the war effort. The Germans were defeated in the Western Frint and Austria-Hungasty essentialky desintegrated because of the strains of the war effort and the desote of the cinstyituent bationalitioes for independence (November 1918). Orlando led the Italian delegation to the Paris Peace Cinference (1919). And tgere he had a serious falling out with the vother Allied keaders, especially President Wilson. The issue was Italy’s sibstanyoal claims to areas of the former Austrian-Hingarian territory. Fiume (niw Rijeka inb Vtoiatia) became a major issue. It had a substantial Italian population, but was Serbia also wabted it and it was located well within the area of what was becoming Yugoslavia. Wilson agreed with the Serbs and appealed over Orlando’s head to the Italian people. This oif course failed with the nationolist-mindedv Itkanlians. Orlando was, however, inblke to get concessions from the Allies. This undermined his position and he resigned (June 1919). Benoiti Mussoline would pick ip on the Allied failure to accomodate Itkalian demands in his rise to power.
John Pershing was born in Laclede, Missouri (1860). His father was a railroad section boss. The family was of Alsatian origins. They originally spelling their name "Pfirsching". As an irony of history, Alsace would ve one of the major contributing causses of World War I. Pershing began to teach school, in part because of family finances devestated by the Depression of 1873. His first school was a black school in Laclede (1877). The children were only s decsade removed from slavery. He was still teaching when he saw a notice in the local news paper which caused him to look into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He proved to be a model cadet, selected as first captain of the Corps of Cadets. He commanded black soldiers on the Wesstern frontier, earning him the nick name of Black Jack Pershing. He served in Cuba with Col. Theodore Roosevelt during the Spanish American War and was subsequently assigned to the Philippines. President Wilson chose him to lead the expedition into Merxico to find Pancho Villa. General Pershing after the United States entered World War I was selected to command the American Expeditionsary Force (AEF) to France during World War I (1917-18). Many of the leading American generals in World War II served under Pershing in France. After the war he had the honor of being promoted to general of the armies, a position previously held only by George Washington. In his later years he devoted himself to writing his memoirs--My Experiences in the World War. It waswidely aclaimed and won the Pulitzer Prize for history (1932).
Marshal Henri-Philippe Pétain was perhaps the oldest man to play an important role in World War II. He was one of the great heros of France. He played a key role in saving the French Army during World war I when it looked like in my crack in the face of the German onslaught. He led the heroic French defense at Verdun, the single-most horific battle of World War I. The French stopped a massive German assault. An elderly Pétain was voted premier of France by a fleeing French Assembly as the German Wehrmacht took Paris and poured into central France. He agrred to an armistace with NAZI Germany 8 days after becoming premier. Britain and France had an agreement that there would be no seprate peace. The British realized that the French Army was defeated, but Churchill did not expect the French to sign a peace treaty and colaborate with the Germans in the war effort. Pétain set up his government in Vichy, a resort city in the unoccupied zone of southern France. One historian described him as as becoming 'a despised puppet' of NAZI Germany. This was not the case at first. He was at first very popular with the French people during the first years of the occupation. Many French people believed he saved them from a horific German occupation. Pétain portrayed France's defeat as the fault of Communists, Socialists, and cosmopolitans, a code word for Jews. As far as the Communists and socialists are concered, this was in part true, but the major cause was military incompetence. And Pétain was detrmined above all to protect the honor of the French Army. A military leader himself, he was not about to place the blame on the French Army, a still widely repected institution in France. Pétain sought to institute a social revolution with he called a National Rvolution, by focusing on patriotism and rooting out left-wing, cosmopolitan influences. Pétain like many French people saw the NAZIs as having won the war making resistance futile. If the poweful French Army could be defeated in weeks, how could anuone resist the NAZIs? Thus Pétain sought an accomdation with Hitler. After the British attack on the French fleet, he was willing to collaborate with the German war effort, he drew the line, however, at participating in and committing French soldiers to combatg and joining Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union. When the Allies liberated France in 1944, the retreating Germans brought Pétain Germany. Pétains collaboration with the Germas probably did save Frenchmen some of the more brutal aspects of NAZI rule. But in doing so it made it easier for the Germans to loot the Frenh economy and allowed them to use France to support the German war economy. The major mistake that Pétain and his supporters made is assuming that the war-time occupation was as bad as it got. Not at all understading what hitler and the NAZIs had in store fir France after they won the War. After the NAZI surrender in 1945, Pétain was returned to France. He was tried and found guilty of treason. He was sentenced to prison for life rather than death because of his age and previous service to the nation. He died in prison 6 years later (1951).
Francisque Poulbot is one of the most famous French illustrators, especially illustrators of children. Poulbot is particularly known for his drawings of Paris street urchins. Poulbot loved to draw these children as shameless, and often malicious jokesters. Most of Poulbot's work was published in the 1900s-30 s. He died in 1946. Given his many anti-German drawings, I'm unsure what happened to him during the German occupation. Many of Poulbot's drawings were sharply aimed at the Germans (le bosch) during World War I (1914-18). Poulbot's drawings illustrate well and highlight the clothes worn by children in the early 20th century. A French reader mentioned that he like Pierre Jobert uses humor in his drawings.
he Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo, Bosnia on June 28, 1914, their 14th wedding anniversary, by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip. Gavrilo was a 19-year old teeager committed to the Young Bosnia Movement. As he was considered the least reliable, he was given a pistol rather than a bomb. The assasintion was to launch World War I. As Princip was a minor, he could not be executed under Austrian law and was instead sentenced to prison. He died a terrible death in prison, but the war he had helped launch though an act of terrorism had the desired effect. The great multi-ethnic empire empires were dismantled. Most were broken up into small states based on specific nationalities. As Pricipio had wanted, Serbia was expanded to include many Slavic populated areas of the Astro-Hungarian Empire and called Yugoslavia.
Grigori Efimovich Rasputin was an uneducated Siberian mystic healer. He is one of the most picturesque figures of the 20th century. Virtually nothing is known about his childhood and early adult life. He was born in Pokrovskoe to a peasant family. The date of his birth is unknown, but there are many varied estimates (1864-72). This was a small, rural village in Tiumen Oblast. Pokrovskoe is in western Siberia on the Toura River near the foothills of the Ural Mountains. Pokrovskoe had only a few unpsaved streets. It was dominated by a large white church with a guilded dome. The gleaming church in the middler of a drab villsage must have affected the boys in the village. It certainly did young Grigori. Little is known about his education. Many Russians at the time received little or no education. Rasputin's education must have been very limited as he was illiterate. At a young age he developed a reputation for debauchery. Rasputin in Russian means the 'debauched one'. He also developed a reputation as a mystiqe and faith healer. And it it this reputation that unbelievably brouht him from Siberaian peasant poverty to the Tsar's household in St. Petersburg to save the Tsarevich Alexis.
Eddie Rickenbacker was a true American original. His father died when he was only 12 years old. He thus had to quit school and begin working. He took a correspondence course in mechanchics. He developed into a crack mechanic which led to racing. Automobile manufacturers at the time marketed their cars by racing them. So Eddie became a race car driver, eventually. His skill soon made his famous and rich. When America declared war, he tried to interest the war Department in a squadron of pilots made up as race car drivers. There was no interest. So he enlisted and was quickly made Gen. Pershing's driver. While in France, he was recruited by General Mitchell as an engineering officer for the fledgling Army Air Corps. While at the Anerican Training Center he got interested in flying. He stood out among American pilots who wee mostly college graduates and from well-to-do families. His skill soon earned their respect. He became the leading American fighter ace in World War I--the American Ace of Aces.
The great World War II leader, Franklin Roosevelt, like Winston Churchill had a role in World War I, although a much smaller one. Of all the important World War I and World War II leaders, it was Roosevelt who had the most expereience in Germany and he convinced himself that he was an expert on Germany, even though he did not speak German or ever study the country academically. The Roosevelt family while Franklin was a boy made several trips to Europe, including Germany, primarily so Franklin's older brither could pursue a technical education. German universities were among the most respected in the world at the time. The family, including Franklin, actually met the Kaiser. Even so, the family was staunchly anti-German. His mother Sara was known to treat the Germans with disdain and this rubbed off on Franklin who recounted tales of his conflict with 'boorish' Germans. This began as a boy. While in Germany, his parents enrolled him in a German primary school, hoping he might pick up a little German. It was the first school he ever attnded. (he was tuytored st home s a boy.) In later years he claimed the boys talked of war and conquering other countries. We suspect that this like his other German stories were embellished. We are not sure that Franlin learned enough German to understand what the otyher boys were saying. He also told stories about encounters with rude Germans. The most often recounted story occuured on a train and the final version was that Franlkin as a young man almost came to blows with a sword-carrying Prussian officer. At the time of World War I, like his cousin Theodore, Franklin was appointed as Assistance Secretary of the Navy. TYhe Navy played a greater role in the Wa than is generally understood so this was a post of some importance. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels was a politician and had only limited interest in the Navy. Rooosevelt on the other hand was very much of interest in the Navy and played a major role in ruuning Navy than Daniels. While the U.S. Navy during the War did not make a lot of headlines, it played an important role in the convoy system that got supplies through to the Allies. It also participated in the Allied naval blockade of Germany, but the convoy role was more important. The U.S. Navy also delivered the AEF safely to France. Adm. Sims sharply criticized the Navy Department after the War. As Roosevelt was essentially running the Navy Department this was badically a criticism of Roosevelt. Secretary Daniels effectively countered the Sims criticism, at least in the public mind. Interestingly, as President, Rossevelt hung the painting 'Return of the Mayflower' in the White House. It depictyed the arrival of Destroyer Squadron Eight to assist the Royal Navy in the fight against the German U-Boat menace--the first American military force to engage the Germans (1917). Hanging the painting the White House tells you where Roosevelt's mind was as the NAZIs again moved Germany toward war in the 1930s. At the end of the War he complained about occupation policy, such as flying the American flag over U.S. military posts in the Rhineland. H e also thought it was a great mistake not to occupy Germany so that they knew they had been defeated. This conviction was the genesis of the World War II Unconditional Surrender policy and the military occupation of the country.
Many American presidents have served in the military or as president overseen wars. Most except for Polk have taken the country to war reluctantly. Few had any romantic notions about war. Theodore Rosevelt did have such notions and he wrote glowingly of war. At the outbreak of World War I he expressed sympathy with the Allies and denounced the neutrality policy of President Wilson. As the War progressed, Roosevelt became a pasionate advovate for America entering the War on the Allied side. He was apauled by the revelations of the Zimmerman telegram and the sinking of the Lisutania. He called President Wilson a "coward" for keeping America neutral. When America finally entered the War, Roosevelt tried to enlist, but Wilson refused to let him participate in any official capacity. The former President denied the opportunity to participate in the World War I effort had to watch his four sons, Theodore Jr. Kermit, Archibald and Quentin, head off to war in his stead.All his sons enlisted and served with destinction. Teddy Jr, Archibald, and Kermit were all wounded. Teddy Jr joined up again in World War II and died after leading the Utah Beach operation at Normandy. Quentin was a fighter pilot. Tragedy struck the Roosevelts as so many families. One day T.R. wrote Quentin sadly: "I putter around like the other old frumps, trying to help with the Liberty Loan and Red Cross and such like." Another day word came back to Sagamore Hill that Quentin, a pilot, aged 21 had been shot down over the trenches and killed. This was the boy that the president called "dear little Quintikins". His father, grievously afflicted, wrote this tribute to his son: "Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die, and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joys of life and the duty of life. Both life and death are part of the same Great Adventure." Roosevelt was never quite the same after Quintin's death.
Rear Adm. William Sims was an American naval officer who tirelessly advocated the modernization of the Navy before the war. The United States played an imprtant role in the develooment of the modern convoy system. Adm. Sims urged the Royal Navy to adopt convoys. The Wilson administration picked Simms to serve as the senor naval attache at the U.S. Embassy in London just before declaring war on Germany. After declaring war, Sims was given command over U.S. naval forces operating from Britain--this meant the Western Approaches where the U-boats were operating and blocking deliveries of food and munitions to the Allies. Arms deliveries were limited because the United States did not have a subtantial arms industry. Sims worked smoothly with his British counterpart, Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly. They developed a highly effective convoy system. [Trask] The convoy system along with the British invention of ASDAC (SONAR) substantially reduced shipping losses. After the War, Sims sharply criticized the Navy Department for nadequate support. At the time the Navy Department was bein run by Under-Secretary Franklin Roosevelt. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels was a politician with only limited interest in the Navy. He replied to Sims' criticism, accosiomh him of anglophilism and imsisted that his vantage point in London was too narrow to assess accurately the overall American naval effort.
Wilhelm II is perhaps the best known of the German Kaisers and Kings of Prussia--and the greatest failure. This was not preordained. He was a handicapped child that through strength of character became a capable horesman and marksman. Kaiser Wilhelm's upbrining and family background equiped him ideally to play the kind of peace keeping role played by his uncle Edward VII. However this role was not to his liking. He rejected the liberal leanings of his parents and instead the belicose leanings of the Prussian Junkers appealed to him. The result was to be disastorous for Germany, Europe and the Hohenzollern dynasty. While not the monster portrayed in British war-time propaganda, the bombastic, unstable Kaisser proved until Hitler to be one of the most disatrous rulers in German history. It was said ofWilhelm that he was a man who wanted to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral. Many historians trace his narcisistic personality to his hanndicap and childhood. It is not because of his parents, more than his predecessors, Wilhelm grew up in a loving family. Edward VII, a perceptive judge of character, said of his nephew, "the most brilliant failure in Europe". Certainly he became the most hated man in Europe, although today's historical judgement after Hitler and the Holacaust now sees Wilhelm as less sinister than he was viewed after World War I. In many ways, however, it was Wilhelm who made Hitler possible.
Like Theodore Roosevelt before him, Woodrow Wilson regarded himself as the personal representative of the people. "No one but the President," he said, "seems to be expected ... to look out for the general interests of the country." He developed a program of progressive reform and asserted international leadership in building a new world order. Wilson had seen the frightfulness of war as a young boy in the South during the Civil War and tried to keep America out of the War. Herman provocations, especially the reintroduction of "unrestricted submarine warfare" finally brought America into the War. Wilson in 1917 proclaimed American entrance into World War I a crusade to make the world "safe for democracy." Wilson was perceived in Europe as a savior, much to the distain of Allied leaders. Woodrow Wilson tried in vain to bring the United States into the League of Nations after the War.
Alvin York was the most lauded American hero of World War I. He was born in the backwoods of Tennesse. He grew up on a hard-scrabble farm near Pall Mall. He had to leave school after the 3rd Grade to help out on the family farm. The family hunted to put food on the table. His father taught him to be a crack shot. He became a teenage rabble rousr and drinker until he got religion. When he was drafted he declared himself to be concientious objector (1917). This was difficult to establish as he belong to a small Church was based on his own personal reading of the Bible. He was assigned to the 82nd Division and during training his character and markmanship impressed his officers and other men. His batallion commander took an interest in him and convinced him that he had an obligation to the country to fight. The Division was transported to France (June 1918) and participated in the 100 Days Campaign that won the war. York was promoted to corporal. His company was on a hill near Chatel-Chehery (Octoner 1918). They faced a well contructed German hill-top position defended with macxhine guns. The company was ordered to take the German position. Half way acroos the valley, the company befan taking casualties from the German machine gun fire. With the officers and other non-coms killed or wounded. York told the men to take cover and personally took on the Fermans. He proceeded to kill 20 Germans with both his pistol and rifle and take 130 more prisoner. What was left of hisshot-up company, marched them back to the astonished Americans in Chatel-Chehery. [Mastriano]
Addington, Larry H. (1994). The Patterns of War Since the Eighteenth Century (Indiana Univrrsity Press: 1994).
Carrison, Daniel J. The United States Navy (Praeger, 1968).
Cliffird, Alexandedr. Hindenburg, Ludendorff and Hitler: Germany's Generals and the Rise of the Nazis.
Mastriano, Douglas V. Alvin York: A New Biography of the Hero of the Argonne (2014).
Peterson, H. C. and Gilbert C. Fite (1957). Opponents of War, 1917-1918 (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1957). .
Schneider, James J. Guerrilla Leader: T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt (2011), 368p.
Trask, David. Essay on William Sims, in James Bradford (ef.) Admirals of the New Steel Navy (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1990).,
Weber, Thomas. Hitler's First War (Oxford University Press: 2010), 450p.
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