On February 4, 1915, Admiral Hugo von Pohl of the German High Seas Fleet warned that ‘every enemy merchant vessel’ in British waters would be targeted and that ‘it may not always be possible to prevent attacks on enemy ships from harming neutral ships’.

Although committed to democratic principles, the Weimar Republic and President Ebert faced persistent challenges from both the left and the right amidst the daunting task of guiding Germany through economic turmoil, political polarization, and the drafting of a new constitution.

The Military Service Act made all single men and childless widowers between the ages of 18 and 41 liable to be called up. It received royal assent on 27 January but was met with a protest demonstration of approximately 200,000 people in London’s Trafalgar Square, while by July almost 30% of those called up to fight had failed to appear.

While the Council itself did not trigger the First World War, historians have seen its deliberations as emblematic of the geopolitical tensions that would eventually erupt with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914.

The Allies’ continuous advances, coupled with internal unrest and food shortages, left Germany with limited options and the Supreme Army Command demanded that the government seek a ceasefire immediately.

The Austrian delegation to Paris was led by the Social Democrat minister Karl Renner who had little choice but to agree to the redrawing of national borders that saw the emergence of several independent nations and the reduction of Austrian power.