5 Lecture - The Great War and the Making of the Modern World.docx

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18 Apr 2012
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The Great War and the Making of the Modern World
The First World War unleashes the totalitarian demons
Setting the pace: WWI and the century of the “mega deaths”
The age of total war how was the war conducted and what were the consequences of this
Unleashing the totalitarian demons the impact of war on Russia, Italy and Germany
The First World War is a crucible creates something new out of all the elements leading up to the
outbreak; a new age is born (modern age the world we know)
Before war romantic sense of self, idea of progress; to age of despair, destruction of human life
By the end of the century about 200 million people were either killed or allowed to die due to human
Pace 9 million people die (WWI) in a relatively short period of time “6000 people die every day for
1500 days
“Generation of 1914”
Hitler and Mussolini WWI is a political awakening; Lenin and Stalin WWI is the opportunity they were
waiting for
Trenchocracy Mussolini’s idea before the war
Mutilated peace men left cheering, came back disfigured and mutilated, emotionally scarred.
Shakes the supreme self confidence that helped Europe reach Zenith
Hollow years generation lost, men who would not be married, children who would not be born
Economic price France and Belgium destroyed, Germany has to pay for war effort lower middle class
on the edge of poverty, pushed over the edge
“it is beautiful and noble to die for one’s country” becomes the old lie
The long fuse: changing balance of power, nationalism, franco-German rivalry, Russian expansionism,
imperialism, anglo-German naval rivalry, public desire for war, domestic political and social problems,
alliance systems
Irredentism: form of nationalism, longing for national unification, people who are not united in the state
Spark: the assassination of the archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia, by Gavrilo Princip
Assassination => germany’s blank check => tsarist pan-slavism: support for Serbia => franco-German
rivalry => anglo-German naval rivalry
Germans give full support to Austria (blank check)
Pan-slavic nationalism wanted all ethnic-similar people together
Revanchism franco-German rivalry: Alsace and Lorraine
British want to maintain control of the seas (naval expansion by germans)
Italy in alliance with Austro-Hungary, they betray their ally and join with British, French, Russians
Trench warfare ensures that the war is not over by Christmas makes a stalemate
Makes both sides look for breakthrough new technologies
Battle of Verdun attrition not territorial gain but wearing the enemy down
Battle of Somme bloodiest battle British gain 120 miles, 400 000 casualties. More British soldiers
were killed in 3 days, than American soldiers killed in WWI, Korean war and Vietnam war combined; 3x
more than those killed in 15 years of the Napoleonic wars
Peace Settlement
Immediate consequences:
- casualties, epidemic, famine; political; civilian targets devalued human life
- swept away order
- Projection of state power
- Power of central government is increasing
- The consequence of trench experience brutalization, sense of community
- Unprecedented use of mass propaganda (censorship included)
- Mass mobilization required by total war. brought out of private sphere to join the cause
- Militarism and nationalism march on Fiume
- Genocide
Social and economic crisis radicalization of politics revolution and reaction: Russia, Germany, and
Italy ; famine, inflation of prices
The biggest consequence of the first world war is the Russian revolution