Significance of World War I

Updated: 8/19/2023
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10y ago

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The Great War was incredibly significant in terms of men and materials lost, in the downfall of empires, and most importantly in the setting up of World War II. With over 10 million dead after the war, England and France, in particular, lost an entire generation of men who would fill leadership positions. The sons of the rich and powerful went to war and with so many dead, there was nobody to fill leadership roles throughout the 1920s and 30s. The same mentality that started WWI was still around, and that helped cause WWII. Empires such as the Ottoman Empire ended, leaving a huge vacuum of power in the Middle East which the British filled. The problems they stirred up in Palestine and other areas are still with us even today! Most significantly, though, was the terrible Treaty of Versailles that ended the war. Germany was forced to make war payments and reparations that they never could make. The awful conditions in that country after the war led to the rise of the National Socialist party under Hitler. We tend to forget that WWI even happened yet it was a major cause of WWII and the setting up of the world as we know it today. WWI was the very first total war, meaning that everyone was involved. At the home front, civilians were being attacked for the first time in any war. WWI also led to the ratification of the 19th amendment which gave women the right to vote. The war also led to women having a more important role in society and gave women jobs they normally wouldn't have.

The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia towards the end of the war led to 'Red scares' and encouraged conspiracy theories and anticommunist movements like Fascism. World War 1 left Europe and some other parts of the world disorientated and unsettled.

Modern historians consider World War One to be the seed that caused virtually all major conflict in the 20th century. That is, if you look at any conflict post-1918, you can relatively easily trace back causes to something that happened as a direct result of World War One.

Here's a short list of immediate effects that WW1 had:

  • Creation of the USSR. - the Communist takeover of the Russian Empire would never have occurred without WW1. Indeed, the most likely path that the Russian Empire was on would have resulted in it becoming a Constitutional Monarchy much like Britain, were it not for WW1.
  • The Great Depression - debt and spending patterns established (or forced) by WW1 directly led to the collapse of the world economy once they played out.
  • World War Two - without the disastrous mismanagement of the "peace" and subsequent (poor) realignment of countries at the ending of WW1, WW2 would never have occurred.
  • The rise of National Socialism, and Adolf Hitler. The rise of Nazism is directly traceable to the Great Depression and the settlement of WW1.
  • The Holocaust.
  • The rise of the United States as a Superpower.
  • The ceding of Western literary leadership from Europe to the United States. So many men of letters and talent died in WW1 that the new generation of influential writers and philosophers were almost exclusively American, simply because no one else was left alive. Thus, leadership in the arts passed to the US from Europe.
  • Advent and justification for Total War, and the concept that civilians were legitimate targets for industrialized warfare.
  • Change in government styles to concentrate power in National governments. That is, the movement towards nations run by highly complex bureaucracies where practically all political power resides at the National Government level (ie., the effective end to devolved sovereignty and the rise of strong central governments).
  • Concept of global security organizations (and, more importantly, the ideas behind having a global community with actual supranational organizations)
  • The impetus to create the Atomic Bomb.
  • Movements of national self-determination
  • The Cold War (and the various conflicts that arose from it: Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, the Cuban Missile Crisis)
  • The seeming unending African civil wars was due to the breakup of Empires during the 1920s to 1940s.
  • The establishment of Israel as a country it is now.

The list goes on and on...

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10y ago
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14y ago

The First World War is the seminal event of the 20th Century. Some of its causes, nationalism and militarism, continue to affect the world today. The peace treaty between the Allied Powers and Germany, the Treaty of Versailles, limited the size of Germany's army to 100,000 men, restricted the size of her navy and forbid the use of submarines or aircraft; it also forced Germany to pay huge sums of money in reparations to the Allies. This ultimately lead to the causes of the Second World War.

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11y ago

New ways of fighting in war were introduced: the airplanes, tanks, submarines, also new weaponry. And another biggie was the new treaties, like the Versailles Treaty, the Fourteen Points that President Wilson gave the world in order to prevent another war. Also the United States became a world power after WW1. There are more but these were the main significances of WW1.

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13y ago

World War 1 was a contributing factor to the creation of the Soviet Union due to the negative economic effects inflicted on Russia which lend to the Russian Revolution. World War 1 helped create World War 2, since it led Germany into an economic depression due to the unreasonable terms of the Versailles Treaty(and just the effect of the war in general.)

World War 2 was also created by the Great Depression and rampant inflation in Germany. The Versaille Treaty also create a resentment of England, France, etc from Germany.

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Lauren Mawer

Lvl 2
2y ago

World War One changed the course of European history forever. The Versailles treaty turned two of the great empires of Europe into almost insignificantly weak states, with the best example being the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Versailles treaty was a huge kick in the pants to the central powers, setting the stage for the rise of Adolf Hitler. The fall of the Ottoman Empire during WW1 led to the Sykes-Picot agreement, drawing arbitrary lines in the sand in the Middle East which still affects global politics to this day. Too, the terrible economy, organisation and general incompetence of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II was called out, leading to the communist October Revolution and the creation of Lenin's USSR. WW1 could also be accredited to breaking the USA's isolationist policy, leading it to intervene in WW1 and future wars. Without World War One, there would be no rise of Hitler, no rise of Lenin or Stalin, no Al-Qaeda, and with them no World War Two, no Cold War, and no War on Terrorism.

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