World War One Of A Kind

World War One—one of the most catastrophic and bloody wars in world history, however a war which catapulted the world into an era of new war technologies, battle tactics, and ally agreements. There are multiple theories explaining why WWI began: competing political ideologies, naval rivalries, unrealistic ambitions of men in power, and most of all, the unstoppable momentum of militarism. Militarism, especially, was the primary catalyst of the war. Militarism is the race between nations to come up with the newest equipment for war, and to use it most effectively. For example, the war prompted countries to come up with poisonous gas, which knocked attackers out or blinded them, the submarine, which could shoot missiles underwater and take out enemy ships, and tactics such as trench warfare (however trench warfare did more harm than good, giving disease to soldiers, were infested with rats, and didn’t even protect well against bullets and other weapons). Among the other causes of World War One were nationalism and imperialism, which ultimately drive any war that occurs, but were nonetheless huge factors to the beginning of World War One.

A big part of World War One was the ideaology of imperialism. This is the domination of a smaller, weaker, nation by a more powerful nation. For example, the Balkan Peninsula was the "powder keg" of Europe because nations within the region wanted independence and uprisings were tearing nations apart. This was a perfect time for powerful European nations to swoop in and "save" or "destroy" those vulnerable nations and take control of the peninsula. Unfortunately, more than one nation shared this idea, which caused tensions to boil, meaning one single spark could easily ignite the powder keg of Europe. In 1914, there were almost ten global empires trying to one-up each other which essentially caused friction. Countries such as Great Britain, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Spain, the United States, Portugal, the Ottoman Empire, Holland, and Italy were competing to be better than one another which eventually caused an explosion.

Nationalism is dedication to ones nation or ethnical group. It can be used as unifying force between countries, as seen in world war 1 between Germany and Italy. However, nationalism can also tear a country apart as seen with the Ottoman Empire and the Austria-Hungarian Empire. Nationalism is the cause of some of the most intricate and important cases in WW1. Nationalism gave people countries the push they were looking for in order to go to war, for example Europe.

At the start of the war, Germany was largely on the offense–against

just about everyone. Germany and Austria-Hungary declared war against
France and Russia, forcing the Triple Entente to defend their land
against the invading German and Austro-Hungarian troops. Named after
General Count Alfred Von Schlieffen, the Schlieffen plan was the war
strategy that Germany planned to follow throughout the war. The plan
detailed that first Germany would dominate the western front by
defeating France and blockading Great Britain on the coast. Next they
would march to the Eastern front and take on Russian forces that would
be waiting for them. All of this would have to occur before foreign
troops (the USA or Japan for example) had the chance to arrive and
combat Germany. The plan would have worked if it weren't for quite a
few unexpected upsets which ultimately lead to the Schlieffen plan's
demise. First, when they arrived in France Germany did not prepare for
a long battle and were unpleasantly surprised when the battles lasted
longer than anticipated and called for more troops than they had sent
to the western front. The long lasting battles on the western front
were largely caused by the new form of warfare used called "trench
warfare" which resulted in abnormally long fighting periods and
increased number of casualties on both sides. Eventually in late 1914
Great Britain, Japan, and Turkey had joined the war and in April of
1914 Italy had left the central powers and joined the allies. Germany
now found itself entirely surrounded by enemies with Great Britain and
France on the western front, Italy to the south, and Russia on the
eastern front. The Schlieffen plan fell apart and the United States
finally joined the war after intercepting the Zimmermann Note which
was from Germany to Mexico which stated that in the case of war with
the United States, Mexico should ally with Germany. This act was one
of many which lead to the United States joining the war in 1917. After
a series of battles on all fronts and ample casualties, the war ended
in 1918 when the armistice was signed on November 11th.

The aftermath of World War I saw drastic political, cultural, and social change across Europe, Asia, Africa, and even in areas outside those that were directly involved. Four empires collapsed due to the war, old countries were abolished, new ones were formed, boundaries were redrawn, international organizations were established, and many new and old ideologies took a firm hold in people's minds.

By: Rheanna Skelton, Shayne Jones, Emma Chew, Reiley Marko, and Sydney McIntyre

European nations began World War I with a glamorous vision of war, only to be psychologically shattered by the realities of the trenches. The experience changed the way people referred to the glamour of battle; they treated it no longer as a positive quality but as a dangerous illusion.

Virginia Postrel

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