Monday, January 31, 2011

Synopsis of Readings on World War I

Remarks below taken from the following sources:
G. J. Meyer. 2006. A World Undone, The Story of the Great War 1914-1918
Barbara Tuchman. 1966. The Proud Tower.
Barbara Tuchman. 1962. The Guns of August.

The war that took place from the summer of 1914 until November of 1918 was truly a world war, the first world war, the great war, the first industrial war, and the end of an era. Over 60 million soldiers took part, about half of whom were killed, wounded, or lost. The two largest participants were France, which lost 17% of its mobilized troops, and Germany which lost 10%. Disease, genocide, and starvation killed many more - see Aftermath and Consequences below. To see a map of how the world was aligned during the First World War, click this link:
The Allies shown in green and the Central Powers in yellow

The Allies or 'Triple Entente"
British Empire
Russian Empire
United States
Japan, Belgium, Serbia, Romania, Greece
Portugal, Montenegro, etc.
over 43 million troops total
over 22 million dead, wounded, MIA

The Central Powers
German Empire
Austrian-Hungarian Empire
Ottoman Empire
over 25 million troops
over 16 million killed, wounded, MIA

Battle Locations
Western Front: Belgium, the river Marne, the river Somme, Ypres, Yser, northeastern France
there were over 600 km of trenches
the Germans came within 100 km of Paris
one of the most famous battle locations was Verdun
Eastern Front: what is now Poland, Russia, Austria, and Hungary
Balkans: primarily Serbia
Italy: northeastern Italy, along the Isonzo and Piave Rivers
Ottoman Empire: Gallipoli/Dardanelles, Mesopotamia, Caucasus, Armenia, Romania, Serbia

Origins of the Conflict
28 June, 1914: Bosnian Serb assassinates the Austrian Archduke, inheritor of the throne
-Growing Nationalism: Russian, Serbian, Italian, German, etc.
-Imperialism: conflict over the Balkans and the colonies
-Preceeding Unresolved Conflicts: Balkan Wars, punitive reparations and loss of Alsace- Lorraine from the 1870s Franco-Prussian War
-Fear: France feared growing German power, Germany feared Russia, etc.
-Rivalry of France and Germany: demographic and economic

Technological Innovations
-Telephone and wireless technology
-Armored tanks
-Aircraft and parachutes
-Machine guns and automatic weapons
-Bigger and more accurate cannons/howitzers with a range of 100 km and powerful shells
-Trench warfare
-Poison gas: chlorine, mustard, phosgene
-Submarine U-Boats
-Sophisticated propaganda campaigns

Aftermath and Consequences
The Treaty of Versailles, 29 June 1919
Germany paid enormous war reparations
Germany lost territory: colonies and Alsace-Lorraine, Poland
Germany accepted full blame for the war
Austria-Hungary was partitioned
The Ottoman Empire was carved up
-The Collapse of 4 Empires and their Monarchies
German Empire became the Weimar Republic, later Third Reich, then Federal Republic
Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire became separate countries, 1st Austrian Republic
Ottoman Empire: Republic of Turkey and separate countries
Russian Empire: Romanovs deposed by Bolsheviks during Russian Revolution,
later became the Soviet Union in 1922
-Death and Injury
War dead and injured: about 30 million
Disease: Influenza of 1918 killed 50 million worldwide
Starvation: Germany 1 million, Lebanon 1 million, Russia 5-10 million
Genocide: 1 million Armenians killed by the Turks
1 million Jews and Germans killed by the Russians
Belgians killed by the Germans
"Lost Generation" young people injured or disallusioned by the war
-Destroyed Lands
120,000 hectares of northern France unusable because of shells or pollution, 'Red Zone'
3,000,000 hectares of northern France were devestated
-Germany's 'Stab in the Back Theory'
German leaders claimed that Germany had not lost the war militarily
Blamed Jews, Bolsheviks, Communists for sabotage
Supported rise of nationalism and anti-semitism
-War Debt and Economic Dislocation
almost half of French agricultural workers were taken out
many countries had crushing war debt
resulting inflation and recessions
-War led to Centralization of Power and the Rise of Nationalism
-Creation of Jewish Homeland in Palestine
-Voting Rights for Women
-League of Nations in 1919

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