'A Berlin crowd listens as a German officer reads the Kaiser's order for mobilisation on 1st August 1914', courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, © IWM, Q 81755

Centenary Countdown: Germany declares war on Russia

Posted on centenarynews.com on 01 August 2013
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Today marks exactly one year before the 100th anniversary of the German declaration of war on Russia.

After Russia's partial mobilisation on the 28th July 1914, and then general mobilisation on the 29th, Germany issued an ultimatum to Russia calling for it to cease doing so.

Russia insisted its mobilisation was directed at Austria-Hungary, which had declared war on Serbia on the 28th July.

Russia refused to stop mobilising its forces and Germany declared war on the 1st August 1914.

Both France and Germany mobilised their forces on the 1st August before the declaration of war.

Russian Centenary plans

In an interview with Centenary News, Professor Evgeny Sergeev, of the Russian Academy of Sciences said that: "In general, people in Russia are not as enthusiastic about World War One as about World War Two, because, as you know, Russia was not among the winners of the conflict".

The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the rise of Bolshevism and the Soviet Union means that the First World War - labeled an "imperialist war" by Lenin - has been somewhat overshadowed.

Professor Sergeev highlighted the efforts underway to develop a commemorative programme to mark the Centenary in Russia, which involve both "state and public organisations", as well as a "commemorative lecture" on the conflict to be delivered to schoolchildren in September 2014.

The professor added that President Vladimir Putin's administration has "recognised the importance of joining other European countries, the USA and Japan in the commemoration of the First World War’s beginning in 2014".

Russia's participation in commemorating dates of international significance during the Centenary period is therefore expected.

The Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, ordered the creation of an "organising committee" in March 2013, to make preparations to mark the Centenary of the First World War.

It is expected that more plans from the committee will emerge in the coming year.

In Moscow, a major international conference examining 'Russia in the First World War' will be held in June 2014 at the National Research University Higher School of Economics.

Additionally, a new statue dedicated to the memory of First World War soldiers is to be erected in Moscow.

German Centenary plans

German plans to mark the 100 year anniversary of the conflict at a national level have not yet emerged.

However, Germany will provide funding towards events in Sarajevo to mark the Centenary.

Plans at regional level - particularly amongst museums - to mark the conflict are beginning to take shape, and more news is expected from them in the coming year.

Representatives of the German Government are expected to mark dates of international significance, particularly on the Western Front, alongside Belgian, British and French dignitaries.

The will to commemorate the conflict in Germany - both at public and political levels - may be a factor affecting German Centenary plans.

The end of the First World War brought political and economic instability to Germany and is often viewed as central to the rise of Nazism in the country, and therefore sits uncomfortably in the nation's history.

Coupled with the fact that - in general - the Second World War overshadows the First in Germany, the Centenary may not be marked in the same way in Germany as it is elsewhere.

At a conference held at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City in March 2013 entitled A Century in the Shadow of the First World War, Dr. Reiner Pommerin of the Militärgeschichtliche Zeitschrift told the conference that "nothing is going on" in Germany to mark the Centenary.

Furthermore, Germany may choose to mark the end of the conflict: the sailors' mutiny at Kiel in 1918; the German Revolution; and the Armistice for many Germans had a greater bearing on Germany's history than the conflict itself.

Further Centenary plans from Russia and Germany at regional, national and international levels are expected in the coming year.

Posted by: Daniel Barry, Centenary News