Archive for the ‘Russia's Great War’ Category

July 23, 1914: Austria-Hungary’s Ultimatum to Serbia

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

July 23, 1914: Wladimir Giesl von Gieslingen, Austria-Hungary’s ambassador to Serbia, presented a ten-point ultimatum to the Serbian government, demanding a response within 48 hours. The Austrian government had carefully crafted the ultimatum to be unacceptable, thereby either providing the Austrians with a pretext for war or fatally undermining the authority of any Serbian government craven enough to accept it.

It had been nearly a month since the assassination by Serbian nationalists in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne. The Austrians were caught on the horns of a dilemma. The natural horror at the assassination of the Archduke and his wife had temporarily rallied popular sympathy for Austria. The Austrian Empire was, however, incapable of taking advantage of that fleeting moment, and not simply because the proverbial (and often overstated) incompetence of its bureaucracy.

Of Europe’s five great powers—Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia, Austria-Hungary was on the verge of slipping to the next rank to join Italy and the Ottoman Empire. Its population was smaller and its military more impoverished than Europe’s other powers. Most importantly, any confrontation with Serbia immediately raised the possibility of war with Russia, which shared ethnic and religious ties with the Serbs and was engaged in a long-term contest with Austria for influence in the Balkans. The Austrians could not provoke a crisis with Serbia without first assuring themselves of German backing. They had gotten German support, but it took time.

By July 23, rumors of Austria’s plans to issue an ultimatum to the Serbs circulated through Europe’s foreign ministries, though the precise nature of Austrian terms was still unknown.

Liveblogging Russia’s Great War

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Liveblogging the First World War on the Eastern Front

One hundred years ago today, the July Crisis leading to World War I began with Austria-Hungary’s delivery to Serbia of an ultimatum deliberately designed to be unacceptable.

I use that anniversary to begin an experiment: liveblogging Russia’s Great War a century after the fact, tracing the key events and developments as far as possible as they happened, without the benefit of hindsight. While of course I cannot put aside my knowledge of where this story is headed, I will try as much as possible to present events as they appeared to observers at the time, hoping to restore immediacy and suspense to things long past.

Brad DeLong has been doing something similar for World War II, though primarily through the presentation of quotations and excerpts from sources on the war.
My hope is to do things a little differently than that–talking about and explaining moments in the war for an audience of non-specialists.

My goal is somewhat different as well. Western knowledge of the Second World War is highly uneven, but it’s hard to deny that the place of World War II in popular consciousness is far ahead of World War I in the English-speaking world. Certainly the 1914-1918 war looms large in places where it formed a central part of national identity, as in Australia and New Zealand, or where it shaped the culture and politics of a generation, as in Britain. But living memory of the First World War is almost gone and with it much of the most basic knowledge of the events of the war.

So I intend this livable to restore some basic knowledge of the Eastern Front to the Western public. I also want to showcase two forthcoming publication projects, one particular, the other collective. I myself have completed a book on Russia’s military experience in the First World War, forthcoming shortly from the University Press of Kansas.

The other project is a much larger collective work, Russia’s Great War and Revolution, drawing on the efforts of an international team of dozens of editors and over a hundred contributors to present the state of our knowledge of all facets of Russia during the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the subsequent Russian Civil War. The first books in the project, offering a broad and comprehensive look at Russian culture during the war, will be available soon.

Russia’s Great War: A Call for Papers

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Sometime back, we introduced readers of The Russian Front to a new scholarly initiative aimed at re-examining Russia’s central role in shaping modern history. “Russia’s Great War & Revolution, 1917-1922: The Centennial Re-Appraisal” is an international project comprised of forty leading historians from Russia, North America, Europe, and Japan. They are working to develop a more complete understanding of how Eurasia’s “continuum of crisis” marked by war, revolution, and civil war transformed history and laid the foundations of the twentieth century.

The project’s ultimate contribution will be a series of peer-reviewed volumes expected to be published (both in analog and digital formats) during 2014-2017 — in time to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Russia’s world-altering events. Additional outcomes, including an interactive website containing images, maps, digitized texts, and audio-visual resources designed for the general public and public school teachers, are also in the works.

Professional historians and advanced graduate students whose research focuses on any aspect of the Russian past from 1914 to the early 1920s are urged to contact series editors.

Followed the highlighted link to make you way to the official Call for Papers.

And tell ‘em The Russian Front sent you.

Russia’s Great War

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

With the AAASS annual conference having come and gone, I’d like to extend my thanks to the dozen or so folks who showed up for the Russian Front lunch. It was a great success. We’ll aim to reprise the event at next year’s meeting in Philadelphia.

The big news out of the New Orleans conference involved Sunday’s heavily attended roundtable devoted to “Russia’s Great War in Global Perspective, 1914-1922.”

In contrast to the typical conference roundtable which brings academics together to jawbone this or that subject, Sunday’s gathering served as the informal launch of a new long-term scholarly project. The session’s chairman, John W. Steinberg, announced that he, fellow roundtable members (Anthony Heywood, Steven Marks, David McDonald, Bruce Menning, and Grayson Tunstall) and others have been hard at work laying the foundation for a major new research initiative devoted to re-examining Russia’s experience in the First World War. Steinberg, et al. then used the occasion to describe the broad outlines of the initiative and to invite participation from scholars as well as current (and future) graduate students.

According to the project’s directors (Steinberg and Heywood), “Russia’s Great War in Global Perspective” aims to produce seven volumes of new essays each dedicated to a separate theme concerning the War in the “East.” These are:

1. Military Operations

2. Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs

3. European Russia

4. Empire (Western borderlands, Caucasus, Central Asia)

5. The Far East

6. Central and South-Eastern Europe

7. Culture

The compilation of these volumes will involved perhaps as many as 150-200 separate contributing members drawn from scholars across the globe. Publication will be timed to coincide with the centennial of the War, Revolutions, and Civil War (2014-2022). [An eighth “virtual” volume incorporating the latest in new media technologies is also in the works.]

In short, it’s an immensely ambitious and important project; one that promises to fundamentally alter the way historians and laypersons understand World War I and to shape research agendas for the next hundred years.

You’ll be hearing more (perhaps, a lot more) about “Russia’s Great War” here at TRF in the future. In the meantime, kudos to these historians for thinking big about the twentieth century’s most important conflict.