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WW1 Total War

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Linde Smeets IB European History year 2. TOTAL WAR Instead of relying on their military force, the participating countries of World War One relied on their economic ability to produce a continuous supply of goods for their armies to win the war. If one looks at the causes of this change, can one therefore conclude that the First World War was a total war? And if it were one, what were the effects of it on the people of the participating countries? When one evaluates the First World War, one sees that a very unique factor of this war was that the people from the participating countries all seemed to be so enthusiastic about the upcoming war. They all wanted to be a part of it, and all the people were in complete support of their governments. The French writer Doregeles wrote about his experiences in Paris. He wrote "...thousands of men eager to fight would jostle one another outside recruiting offices, waiting to join up." And, "...sheafs of flags appeared at windows, and howling processions rolled out on the boulevards." The people hadn't seen a war before and they were ignorant about its consequences. ...read more.


This strategy of attiration cost all the participating countries a lot of soldiers, and diminished the significance of the individual. This was also a cause of the centralization of power, because the decisive government was not in the warzone and therefore did not see the soldiers as human beings. It is more likely that they saw the soldiers as pawn that no real worth. A similar phenomenon occurred in the involved countries politics. The governments seemed to recognize that the national interest was more important than the internal conflicts between different political parties. The emperor of Germany said: "I recognize parties no more. I recognize only Germans!" These different political parties did not criticize the authorities anymore, which allowed the participating countries' governments make claims to authority that they could never have made in times of peace, and had drifts towards totalitarian political methods. The governments' increasing power and influence led to the centralization of power. In the beginning of the war, the governments did not see the need to think about their economic status. Most countries thought like the Chief of Staff Moltke of Germany. He said: "Don't bother me with economics. ...read more.


All rights were suspended to the government. Newspapers and magazines throughout Europe were censored to so that they also promoted and support the war. This inside total war also triggered outside total war. When the civilians of a country become a part of the war effort of a country, they also become targets for that same country's enemies. Hereby, the Allied as well as the German side undertook actions that we would now define as war crimes against humanity. The first world war is a total war because of the impact it had on civilians daily life, and on the fact that basically entire countries revolved around war in political sense as well as economic sense. People were no longer seen as human beings; they were pawns in the governments' game. A human life had lost its worth. Also, the war propaganda and illusions that the governments used to keep the civilians in support of the war lead to a fierce hatred between the countries involved. The hatred between the countries lead to the complication of the peace negotiations. This was a key fact for the start of the Second World War, for one of the main causes of that war was the fact that the Germans were unsatisfied with the outcome of the peace conferences of the First World War. ...read more.

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