The First World War Essay
The First World War
The First World War though had the majority of the countries of the world involved in it, yet the major protagonists were European. Some of the historians and researchers even go as far as to name this war as an Imperialistic war. This is because one of the major reasons for the war to erupt was “due to the rivalries triggered off by the pressures of highly organized financial monopolies operating in the different European countries“(Henig, 2002, p. 38).
Though this does not entirely explain the cause of the war, it nevertheless points towards the prominent presence of the European countries in the war. One of the major reasons for the war to erupt was due to the German’s interest in occupying colonies in Africa and Far East. There was a deep mistrust of the remaining European countries about its objectives. The colonial ambitions till this point were dominated by England, Russia and France, and to an extent Spain, and these countries had fought multiple wars amongst themselves regarding their colonial expansions.
This created a power bloc in the European region which emerged clearly during the Morocco crisis. France entered the war fearing an invasion from Germany and also because of a long dispute for the areas of Alsace and Lorraine which it had lost to Germans in an earlier was in 1870-71. England entered the war because the successful invasion of France as well as Belgium would have made Germany very powerful. Germany and Russia in turn were in the war because they wished to defend themselves against their powerful European enemies.
However much of the tensions caused due to this reason would have been sorted out without the need for any need for a war on such a scale. The catalyst for the war was yet another European crisis which actually led to the World war. The crisis occurred in the Balkan regions. Germany and Russia in order to gain allies supported Balkan countries i. e. Austria-Hungary and Serbia. When France Ferdinand, the crown prince of Austria-Hungary, was murdered on 28th June 1914, Serbia emerged as the hand behind it because they wished to be free from Austria-Hungary.
Russia supported the Serbs because it considered it to be strategically important. This led to Germany declaring a war on Russia, from which point the war started and quickly spread through the entire Europe and in turn their colonies due to the tensions already present between the countries. Japan, though was not a colony of any of the European countries entered the war because it had a military agreement with Britain to aid it in any war, and so Japan declared a war on Germany (Strachan, 2001).
There were two countries – Italy and United States, who had policies for a neutral approach during the World war at the start. In case of Italy, Allies persuaded it in to the war against its former allies i. e. Germany, Austria- Hungary by promising large territorial gains in the Austria-Hungary region. This made Italy join the war with the Allies in 1915. United States was one of the last countries to enter the war. United States was purely a capitalist country and had no interest in subscribing to wars.
In fact President Woodrow Wilson had declared a policy of absolute neutrality in the war at its outset. However, President Wilson was the one to break its stance and join the war. This was because of the German stance for unrestricted submarine warfare which would have threatened America’s commercial shipping. The American commercial shipping was directed towards the Allies, and so it did have a great risk of being attacked by Germans, and when the attack did take place America reluctantly joined the war towards the very end in 1917.
The impact of the World War was huge on all the countries involved. There was a huge loss of life and property on both the sides. Imperialism lost out and there was a period of intense socialism and communism, especially in Russia. The social class system became more liberal especially in Britain and France. Since the cost of the war was in billions, there were heavy taxes put on the traders to recover the costs, and this led to large scale economic problems in many countries, which was brought to a head during the Great Depression period in the 1920s and 1930s.
United States came to be reckoned as a world power because of its decisive role in the war. In Europe many new states were created. League of Nations was created to sort out international problems, which would prove to be a failure soon. To take care of the down spiraling economic conditions many countries like Russia, Italy and Germany went in for military dictatorships (Henig, 2002). However, the impact was worst for the losing side. Germany became an outcast in front of the rest of the world.
Million of people had died or become disables which meant a huge scale of unemployment. It was excluded from the League of Nations and had to give up a lot of territory to the winning side especially the disputed area of Alsace and Lorraine. Austria and Germany were separated and there was a limit on the size of the army of the countries. The countries also had to pay a lot of money to the winning sides to pay for the war damages which did moral as well as economic damage to the countries and the people living in these countries (Strachan, 2001).
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 19 April 2017
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