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Assess the effects between 1914 and 1921 of the First World War on the civilian population of one European country

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Introduction

Assess the effects between 1914 and 1921 of the First World War on the civilian population of one European country The First World War was a military conflict which transformed from a local European war to a 'Great War' connecting thirty-two nations. It was the first "total war" in which triumph was determined by a country's economic and social resources as upon the military skills of her armies at the battlefields. Throughout the essay I will assess how the lives of Germany's civilian population had been affected by the incapacitating effects of British blockade, the results of food shortage, a new gender emerging in the industries and war aftermath. During the war, British blockades were built around Germany to stop any imports into the country. It was undoubtedly a success for Britain as it brought an economy of chronic shortages for Germany and led to problems with her supplies of food and raw materials. The food problem was severe since Germany did not have enough agricultural production to feed her population. She had to import these primarily by sea but the blockades prevented this from happening. After the outbreak of war, German trade with USA, Canada, Australia and Latin American virtually stopped. ...read more.

Middle

The weekly wage of workers doubled however prices increased by four times. German civilians entered the war with pride and expected victory but this unpredicted situation lowered public morale vastly and lost their respect for the government. Apart from the regular class citizens, the upper-class were also feeling very discontent because luxury goods like champagne, coca-cola and caviar were short in supply. In October 1914, there was a serious shortage of grain; therefore the government authorized the baking of "war bread" which consisted of 80% grain and 20% potato starch. To rest this severe problem of food shortage, bread-rationing was introduced by the government in 1915, and then followed by all other foodstuffs. The government provided limited amount of food to the civilians each day at low prices. Tragically the failure of potato harvest in 1916 caused greater suffering as it was their main source of food. The winter of 1916 to 1917 was known as the 'Turnip Winter' because turnips were used the only abundant alternatives of potatoes. Turnips were used as animal foodstuff and the thought of eating them repelled many as they were the food of cows and pigs. This shortage of food as a result brought on malnutrition-related diseases, such as tuberculosis, rickets, dysentery and typhoid fever. ...read more.

Conclusion

The war had become a financial burden for the country; it was believed that it cost 36 million to conduct the war per day at the beginning but 146 million towards the end. The Government no longer had reserves to finance this conflict. Finally in 1917, the Reichstag voted for immediate peace with Allies. Germany was made to sign the Treaty of Versailles, a peace settlement. The settlement was unfair for Germany as she was blamed for the cause of the war, lost all her colonies, paid reparation of 6600 billion pounds and to be disarmed. I agree with Taylor that the settlement was "indelible disgrace" for the German civilians and they were so shocked by the war that they almost had near total disrespect for the government. The war led to economic disaster and a serious loss of man power. It was estimated that over 2,000,000 German lives were lost in the First World War. Apart from its negative impacts, the government gave women the right to vote in 1918 to show gratitude for their war effort. To conclude, the effects of the First World War on the German civilian population were almost wholly negative. I believe that the British blockades were the main cause for German suffering and the Treaty of Versailles had tremendous harmful effects on the civilians for the next twenty years. ...read more.

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