World War One
- Pages: 11
- Word count: 2714
- Category: War
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For the first time, in 1914- 1915, the world in its entirety participated in a war whose threshold encompassed the whole globe. The war itself saw the world polarized into two groups. One side of the globe was headed by Germans, while the other comprised the United Kingdom and her supporters. The latter group was also known as the Allies, whereas the former, under the tutelage of Germany was also known as Central Powers.
The uniqueness of this war surpasses just the mere fact that this is the most pristine of the times in which the whole world was entangled in a war. Rather, it was because for the first time, the intensity and the scale of the war reached unprecedented levels. More men than ever before had been conscripted into the war and new technologies were used in militancy in a way that the world had never witnessed. It is estimated that close to 70 million soldiers had taken part in this conflict. 60 million of these soldiers were Europeans. Machine guns, advanced and technical logistics, better artilleries, submarines, poison gases and aerial warfare were put into use in a stark fashion.
Because of the above conditions, it is true that the war claimed many casualties (approximately 40 million lives were lost). Apart from the above outcome, the war also brought with it, consequences in international relations and politics, financial and social implications, among others. These implications shall therefore be touched on at a greater depth, based on viewpoints of different people from different parts of the world so as to give a comprehensive scope over the entire matter. These views are from excerpts that were in Willy- Nicky Telegrams. This document contains Document Archives of the events that unfolded in World War One.
Writers such as Levine (1920) point out that never in the world was there such a profound loss of lives in the world through war. Apart from the 40 million military casualties that lost their lives, the Willy- Nicky Telegram points out that there were also 20 million civilians who perished alongside the soldiers. On a more social front, it is pointed out that because of this, many nation states witnessed the state of social imbalance as many marriages experienced the death of a spouse to the war.
Levine (Ibid) elucidates further that the death of spouses to the war led to the increase in the number of single parent families. The situation was aggravated by the fact that the participants in the war were rather young, meaning that the spouses they left behind were also young. Many governments at the moment did not come up with clear cut policies to take care of the needs of the bereaved. This situation only catapulted a sexual revolution as the young single parents sought for sexual fulfillment from elsewhere.
Leading social scientists and anthropologists (Harding 1914) posit that it is at this age that people in the developing world shifted from holding on to the ideals of the Victorian age, as far as sex was concerned. Initially, sex in the Victorian age was an affair so sacred so that activities related to it were only constrained within the boundaries of marriage. However, this World War One brought a complete overhaul whereby the relatively younger widows now began seeking to satiate their sexual needs outside.
There are multiple attestations of an increasingly number of divorce that took place after the war. Other social scientists point out that 45% of the married partners who returned from the war maimed physically or/ and sexually were divorced by their spouses. Harding (Ibid) maintains that the situation was most prevalent among those who were newly married and as such, had not yet sired any children. In other cases, those who came from the First World War are the ones who opted for the divorce after discovering for themselves that their spouses had not been that faithful. Sexual unfaithfulness in most cases happened in two ways. According to Barodofsky (1989), this unfaithfulness stemmed from the wife who was left behind, finding herself vulnerable to the lure of adultery. Second to this, the divorce happened when the ex militant came back, either too traumatized to fulfill conjugal obligations, or too injured to do likewise.
On an economic front, the war dealt a devastating blow to the world. This is because during the World War One, the participants and virtually all nations had diverted all the resources in arms race and military warfare. For instance, Britain is said to have invested about 5,000 million in making the HMS Droughnut, a military ship. On the other hand, Germany is estimated by economic pundits to have dispensed 45,000 million in the war, according to Charles (1914). The world was to brace itself for more economic and /or financial woes since, during this two year epoch, international trade had literally come to a standstill. For Germany, the problem was more glaring since unlike other countries, it totally abandoned industrial activities. For many developed nation states, industrial activities and production, if at all it still existed, only did portend the mass manufacturing of weaponry and artillery. This led to the subsequently sharply plummeted industrial output.
At the same time, it should not be forgotten, the fact that the massive number of deaths that were reported also had multifaceted but adverse implications on world economy. With 60 million people already dead in war, millions wounded and disabled, the world witnessed an acute dearth in source of skilled, unskilled manpower and source of labor. The writer of The Frontier of the Eastern Sea War Diary, George (1942), also does not fail to mention that the resultantly reduced number of men meant that birth rate in the world had become very unstable. This further complicated the lack of manpower and source of labor further, pushing the problem to at least two generations to come. It is estimated by George (Ibid) that Germany forfeited 15.2% of its male population, France, 10.5%, while Austria-Hungary lost 17.5%.
The trauma and the shock that accompanied the post World War One veterans to their civilian lives did not matters either. Harding (1914) maintains that on the contrary, men, the chief source of labor manpower came back with psychological scars that had stemmed from gas and bomb attacks, the death of comrades and kinsmen, shell shock and loss of limbs. Harding (Ibid) testifies in The Guardian Magazine that after that he came from the world war one, there is nothing much he could do for his family so as to provide it with necessary victuals, vestments and decent domicile. The wife is the one who assumed the role of the breadwinner since he was already maimed from the war.
More problems set in because of shortage of food. Apparently, during the First World War, very little attention was being given to food production as too much focus had been placed on militancy. As a result of this, it is estimated that approximately 750,000 of German civilians perished to starvation, though historians also accredit the death toll to the UK blockade at the time of the war.
Effects on health
The war was also succeeded with the outbursts of epidemics. Most of the time, this state of affairs was blamed on the use of germ warfare. There were major outbreaks of influenza which began in Western Europe. This spread to other parts of the Europe, and then to the rest of the world. On a similar wavelength, the Spanish flu alone wiped out 50 million people. Typhus fever on the other hand killed 150,000 in Serbia, whereas 30 million typhus infections facilitated the death of 30 million Russians between 1918- 1922 alone. It is reported by George (1942) in Northwest Frontiers Letters Vol. 5. that by 1922, Russia had 7 million children who were homeless as a result of the devastations of the war.
Political implications of World War One
Immediately after the war, the Allies came together to form a treaty that was to ensure the existence of peace. This peace treaty was to be imposed on Germany and the Central Powers. This treaty was known as the Treaty of Versailles. The Allies ensured that Germany remained compliant by keeping her under the blockade until she signed the treaty to prove her conformance. This culminated into the end of the war. It was that Germany was to make reparations for the war. Although Germany tried to settle the subsequent deficit by borrowing from the US until when the reparations clause was suspended owing to the questioning of the “The Thesis of Guilt” in 1931, Germany had lost a lot to the ruling.
The Treaty of Versailles caused an intense acrimony in Germany. The Nazis and the rest of the German nationalist movement used the Conspiracy Theory (the Dolchstosslegende), to counter the Guilt Thesis. The Treaty had facilitated the downfall of the Weimar Republic since it sparked the runaway inflation that materialized in the 1920s.
On top of the above, Germany forfeited most of her colonial possession, such as the Alsace Lorraine, which was her chief source of coal. Germany also through this sad state of affairs, saw the dissolution of the Ottoman and the Austro-Hungarian empires materialize completely.
There were new comers in the field of international relations as states that were under the hold of Germany such as Austro-Hungary were not only made autonomous, but partitioned along major ethnic divides. It is courtesy of this state of affairs that new states such as Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Transylvania, Austria, Hungary, and the Greater Romania emerged, as a result of the Trianon Treaty.
Likewise, Russia which had withdrawn from the World War One earlier (in 1917) owing to the October Revolution also forfeited much of its territories that were in its western frontiers. These units that were fragmented from Russian empire were also made into nation states. Some of these new nations were Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Finland and Lithuania. Romania was also given Bessarabia which had been Romania’s territory in the 10th century.
The Ottoman Empire was later fragmented so that the territory that was not under Anatolia was assigned to different states that were on the side of the Allies. The rest of the Turkey, especially the area that fell at its core were reorganized and acknowledged as the Republic of Turkey.
One of the most important results of the First World War in the international spectrum is that it led to the formation of the League of Nations (LoN) which mainly came into existence as a result of the Treaty of Versailles. The importance of the LoN is not invested on the fact that it is merely an international outfit, but that for the first time, the fundamentals of human rights were addressed at the global level. At the core of the interests of the LoN, was to ensure that disarmament, the rights of man, collective or universal security and the extirpation of war, diplomacy, international negotiations and the enhancement of human lives were a reality. The power of the LoN was sheltered under the statue that the Allies were to be the custodians of the LoN principles. When needed, the Allies could furbish the LoN with military personnel.
How the movie the Great Dictator depicts the World War Period
This movie was filmed in the 1930s, and critics say that though it may not be Charlie Chaplin’s best, yet, it remained quite a masterpiece even to his finest hour. More weight is added to the importance of the movie, because of its creativity, but above all, because of the courage that did underlie its production. In this movie, Charlie Chaplin acts as a Jewish barber.
In the movie, not only is Hitler and Nazism condemned, but the Jew is also vindicated. In the movie, the entire world is seen to be either complacent about the ongoing large scale cases of human rights abuse, or as being sympathetic to this unjust cause. However, the latter case only applies to only some quarters of the world. The most censured institution during this epoch is the Roman Catholic Church. The movie The Great Dictator depicts the Roman Catholic Church as hiving turned a blind eye to the overwhelming cases of manslaughter and torture, in spite of claiming that it is the light of the world and the conscience of men.
This complacency is portrayed in the movie as having two points of origins. The first case is that of having a do- not- care attitude, of which the Roman Catholic Church falls under this rubric. The second source of this complacency is fear. The media’s source of failure is fear, for at one end, it does not want to have any part in international politics or conflicts, the failure to assuage the blatant brutality by any given regime, notwithstanding. At the other end, the media in the movie is presented as being under the patronage of specific governments, and as such, must adhere to the laws of the land.
It is these factors (the limitations of the media) that also underpinned the world being bereft of the goings on at the time. Interestingly enough, America is depicted as being a very clean slate, as far as knowledge and understandings on the developments in Europe and Germany is concerned (Dixon 2006).
In the movie, the pre-World War Two Jewish holocaust is depicted as a reality that the average man does not have any clue about. At the same time, there is a vast majority that is being misled into thinking that there is nothing wrong about the holocaust as it involves just but a small fraction of the earth’s socio-linguistic grouping- the Jew. In the same vein, many are brainwashed already into hating the Jew.
However, in spite of all the hopelessness, a Jewish barber is the only one who takes a stand against fascism and Nazism. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that the vast majority are not sympathetic to Nazism and fascism. The only exceptions are some of the world’s leaders who take part in censuring Charlie Chaplin, giving him the epithets, “a premature antifascist”
Actually, the movie depicts a situation whereby it was not at all politically correct to pose anti Nazism or / and antifascist stance. Unprecedented waves of change only began to set in as the war in America broke out.
Last but not least, it is important to note that strong antifascist sentiments are issued. At the same time, anti-Semitism is a vice that is not at all tolerated. This is done cleverly in the movie as Charlie Chaplin guises himself as, or impersonates Adenoid Hynkel who is said to have loathed anti-Semitism, fascism and Nazism to the core.
It is true that the LoN as an organ failed since it lacked autonomy, courtesy of its over reliance on the Allies. It is because of the dependency on the Allies that the LoN could not convince leaders such as Benito Mussolini or Hitler out of their insidious plans. However, the LoN was, according to many historians and political scientists, the United Nations in embryo. It is because of the ideals of the UN that at least democracy, international diplomacy and the upholding of human rights have been safeguarded as matters too sacrosanct to be trivialized. All nations that are democratic are expected to subscribe to the ideals of the UN.
Dixon, W. (2006). A Short exposition of the movie: The Great Dictator. Michigan: Michigan University Press.
Harding, L. (1914). The Guardian Magazine. Terespol: The Guardian.
Levine, D. (1920. Willy- Nicky Telegrams. London: Stoughton and Hodder Ltd.
George, P. (1942). The Frontier of the Eastern Sea War Diary. Petrograd: Eastern Sea War Diary.
Barodofsky, S. (1989). Northwest Frontiers Letters Vol. 5. Petrograd: Oriental Rug Reviewing Co.
Charles, T. (1914). Nation Master: the first two years of World War One. Ardennes: Nation Masters.